Things to do with a 3- and 6-year-old in NYC?
April 19, 2017 7:26 PM   Subscribe

What should I do with my 3- and 6-year-old goddaughters this weekend in NYC?

Basically what it says on the tin! My goddaughters are coming to visit me for the first time in a while and I'm trying to brainstorm stuff. Already on my mind: the Intrepid, Central Park Zoo, and Alice's Tea Cup (although I would appreciate recommendations for other kid-oriented restaurants that aren't terrible.) Is the Lego store worth it? The Natural History Museum outside the planetarium feels really dated to me; is it still really fun for modern little kids?

We will be based in Union Square although also have a place on the Upper East Side where we can stop to refuel and nap.
posted by this, of course, alludes to sex to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Children's Museum of Art lets them paint and draw and sculpt and collage to their hearts' content, and the staff cleans up after you. There are spaces that cater to older and younger kids.
posted by Liesl at 7:59 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

Kids love the butterfly conservatory within the AMNH, and will be impressed with the big whale, elephants, dinosaurs, etc. The Transit Museum in Brooklyn is also great for kids that age, not least because they can climb on to the old buses and trains.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:04 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

The SeaGlass Carousel is pretty great.
posted by nicwolff at 8:08 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by lois1950 at 8:19 PM on April 19

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. ...ever look down, between your feet, between the not-overly-thick slats of wood your standing on? Just thinking the height might be a bit much for certain kids.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:36 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Take them to the Greenmarket for a little while, since it's right there. If they like doggos, there will be many to admire.

The Intrepid feels a little old for a three-year-old, honestly.
posted by praemunire at 8:37 PM on April 19

I avoid it myself, but a friend's 2 year old, 5 year old and 7 year old enjoyed dessert at Max Brenner.
posted by Caz721 at 9:49 PM on April 19

3 & 6? CMOM, Books of Wonder, & the Zoo.
posted by fings at 9:57 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

Dylan's Candy Bar and Serendipity? Don't know if your goddaughters are into cars, but the auto show is this weekend too. They may be too young for the crowds.

My kids loved to just take the Ferry to Staten Island and back or the subway a few stops. Don't underestimate the simple things in life that kids that young are not that used to. They loved going up to my office and playing with the photocopy machine. They would make copies of their hands and them write a poem or letter on them and give them to me as gifts.
posted by AugustWest at 10:04 PM on April 19

You mention that you'll go to the Central Park zoo -- I would make a day of Central Park and either The Museum of Natural History or The Children's Museum (mentioned above with link) instead of rushing around to a lot of different places and waiting for a lot of different trains and buses. (Both those museums are perfect for preschool to first graders -- but if you do both go to them on different days. Both often have lines on weekends.)
The Central Park Carousel is open now and is an easy walk from the zoo.
Three and six year olds can spend a lot of happy time climbing on rocks in Central Park.
posted by flourpot at 2:09 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

The Transit Museum is super underrated. Our kid had a great time there and so have people with kids we have recommended it to. There is a barbecue place in walking distance that my son enjoyed; it's not explicitly a kid's restaurant but it was fun.

If they are not city kids, the subway will probably be a treat.

AMNH is not aimed at that age, but the Brooklyn Children's Museum is. I'd also recommend looking to see what playgrounds are nearest to your destinations in case they need to run.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:22 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

The kids won't notice how (appallingly) dated the Museum of Natural History is. The dinosaur exhibit has been updated and it's quite good. On the other hand, I was fairly shocked to find explanatory signage referring to 'negroes'. I felt very much like the handling of exhibits about people was very poor--horribly dated and, unlike other museums I've been to, no mention of that fact.

Transit Museum? Three might be a little young, but then again kids tend to love trains.

When I was a kid, I could get pretty excited for new playgrounds, especially if they were likely to have other kids (okay, maybe not that likely on a weekday).
posted by hoyland at 4:29 AM on April 20

Staten Island Ferry (or any of the other ferries) and Roosevelt Island Tram. I've found that despite my best efforts to entertain visiting kids with destinations, the variety of transportation ends up being the most engaging.
posted by AaRdVarK at 5:34 AM on April 20

In Union Square, Pie is a good pizza place for kids, because you order by size of the slice (no leftovers to drag around), pay in advance (leave when you're finished eating), and they have board games to borrow while you're there.

The Intrepid is too old for them unless they happen to have plane/submarine obsessions. I think Central Park is your best bet - zoo, carousel, musicians/puppeteers/bubble/portrait artists all around.

I second the suggestion of CMA, which has lots to do for both kids' ages. Across the street is a chocolate shop that has tours: Jacques Torres.
posted by xo at 6:39 AM on April 20

You could also go to DUMBO... It's fun to see the trains pass overhead and watch boats on the river. The Jane Carousel is very cool because of the glass walls. Saturday at 4, Bargemusic has a free family-friendly concert. And there's an education center for kids with activities.
posted by xo at 6:44 AM on April 20

My kids were happy at those ages simply to play in the completely awesome playgrounds around Manhattan. Their favorites were the Ancient Playground near the natural history museum; Dianna Ross playground on the west side of Central Park; and Hippo Playground in Riverside Park. There are lots more I'm sure. My kids remember these playgrounds ~5 years later--they had that much fun. (And it's free.)
posted by Mid at 7:28 AM on April 20

posted by bluefrog at 7:36 AM on April 20

The kids won't notice how (appallingly) dated the Museum of Natural History is. The dinosaur exhibit has been updated and it's quite good. On the other hand, I was fairly shocked to find explanatory signage referring to 'negroes'. I felt very much like the handling of exhibits about people was very poor--horribly dated and, unlike other museums I've been to, no mention of that fact.

This is so true. Little kids love the AMNH for the animals. They love looking at the mammals, the ocean room, the dinosaurs... there are paleontology activity areas that are basically sandboxes for the imagination. But. Don't even go to the culture exhibits with little kids. You don't want to have to answer a 6 year old asking why those people's cultures are "natural history" and their own isn't. (And yes, some six year olds do ask.)
posted by flourpot at 8:10 AM on April 20

I loved Max Brenner and I'm a grown ass adult. Ditto the Transit Museum.
posted by clavicle at 9:36 AM on April 20

Took my 8 year old to the AMNH, and need to nth the time capsule aspect. On the plus side, we spent a lot of time talking about colonialism since every single pacific entity was still referred to by their colonial names (New Caldonia, Formosa, etc.) and the Hayden planetarium is quite good.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:53 AM on April 20

Have you considered the Superhero Store in Brooklyn?
posted by dlwr300 at 11:52 AM on April 20

One day I took my nieces to The Children's Museum of Manhattan and then for lunch (or dinner?) at Serendipity 3 (get a frozen hot chocolate to share - they are enormous).

It was a fun day for them and they were about those ages at the time.
posted by Julnyes at 1:41 PM on April 20

The Temple of Dendur! It's suggested donation admissions, so you can turn tail if they get bored, but the Met has so much, so so much, that my 3 & 6 y.o. will go there at the drop of a hat. But the Temple of Dendur is their favorite.
posted by mahorn at 6:46 PM on April 20

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