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These Are Best Things to Do with Kids in NYC That Are Open Now

These Are Best Things to Do with Kids in NYC That Are Open Now

50 things to do in New York with kids—and reasons to love (and explore) the great city that is our backyard.

We live in—arguably—the greatest city in the world, and for a year and a half we were unable to take advantage of all the city has to offer because of the coronavirus. So, we compiled an NYC bucket list for families of things to do in New York with kids—the Central Park Zoo, Empire Outlets stores, and the High Line to many things we consider “touristy” (but now’s the perfect time for New Yorkers to visit!), like Ripley's Believe it or Not!, Hershey's Chocolate World, and the Empire State Building. Consider this the ultimate NYC bucket list for kids, whether you live in the area or are just visiting.

As with anything, since things change, make sure to call locations before visiting to ensure they’re still open. And if you check off any of these items and post about your adventures on Instagram, make sure to tag us, @NYMetroParents!

NYC Bucket List for Kids

1. Get lost amongst the animals at Bronx Zoo.

A staple in any New Yorker’s childhood, the zoo is home to more than 6,000 species, so everyone in your family is sure to see their favorite animal. Plus, the naturalistic setting exhibits mean you can view the animals cage-free (you’re separated by other barriers such as deep moats and fences).

2. Make your way to the top of the iconic Empire State Building.

You'll see spectacular views of Manhattan. The new museum features 12 interactive exhibits, and the new 102nd Floor Observatory shows off 360° floor-to-ceiling glass views. This is a rite of passage for every New Yorker!

3. Take a moment of remembrance at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

See artifacts, hear personal stories, learn about the events of Sept. 11, and honor those killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and 2/26/1993, those who risked their lives to save others, and all who demonstrated compassion in the aftermath.

4. Feed the alpacas and sheep at Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

And don’t forget to stop in to see the elusive Pallas’s cat, or as the zoo calls them, the original grumpy cat.

5. Hop aboard a Seastreak boat in NYC.

You can enjoy a whale watching cruise or a trip to Sandy Hook beach in New Jersey!

6. Explore the wonders of the ocean at New York Aquarium.

Located in Coney Island, Brooklyn, you’ll meet turtles, sharks, jellyfish, sea lions, seals, sea otters, and more!

7. Discover unbelievable mysteries at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square.

It’s the largest Believe It or Not! in North America with more than 20 galleries and more than 500 artifacts. Shrunken heads, the world’s tallest man, two-headed calf, and more await!

8. See part of the 1964 World’s Fair atop the aviary at the Queens Zoo

Located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, you'll meet animals from North and South America without leaving the World’s Borough!

9. Spend time playing, learning, and exploring in Staten Island Children’s Museum.

The museum’s 10 indoor and 2 outdoor interactive exhibits harness the natural curiosity of children, plus it frequently has free outdoor shows and performances!

10. Take in the view from the Top of the Rock.

With sweeping views of Central Park and Manhattan's Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown skyscrapers, its indoor and outdoor viewing decks are truly unforgettable. Plus, this vantage point offers one thing the Empire State Building can’t: A view of the classic art deco ESB itself.


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11. Go to the Central Park Zoo.

A classic zoo experience in the middle of Manhattan, it’s a smaller scale than its Bronx cousin, but it still includes polar bears, seals, and snakes. Plus, the children’s section has a petting zoo.

12. Go see a Yankees or Mets game.

Because it doesn’t get much more New York than that!

13. Get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty aboard Statue Cruises.

While you might not be able to go inside the statue just yet, you can explore the grounds, then stop over to explore the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Want an extra-cool experience? Reserve tickets for the Hard Hat Tour, which takes you on a 90-minute guided tour of the unrestored Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex.

14. Immerse yourself in and experience the joy of color at Color Factory.

The experiential art exhibit is full of Insta-worthy photo ops!

15. Walk the High Line.

Stroll on what used to be a train line and is now a well-architected park on the west side of Manhattan and view special art installations along the way.

16. Do a lot of sightseeing in 90 minutes with Hornblower Cruises.

The Downtown Sightseeing Cruise includes must-see sights such as Governors Island, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Hudson Yards, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. 

17. Brush up on history at New-York Historical Society.

The society’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum (currently open Friday-Sunday by reserved tickets only) offers kids a look at what life was like in NYC in the 17th-20th centuries, as told through the stories of youngsters who lived in the city during those times.

18. Go shopping at Empire Outlets on Staten Island.

It’s NYC’s only outlet shopping destination!

19. Snap some pics with your favorite celebrities and characters at Madame Tussauds New York.

Jimmy Fallon, King Kong, the Ghostbusters, Marvel superheroes, and more! And don’t miss the new Marvel Universe 4-D movie.

20. Explore 250 acres of the Bronx at New York Botanical Garden.

You’ll see an old-growth forest, a natural Bronx River waterfall, native plants, aquatic plants, and more. Right now, you can also see KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature, on view through Oct. 31.

21. Learn the secrets and skills of spies at SPYSCAPE!

Go behind the scenes of Bond, James Bond.

22. Indulge your chocolate cravings at Hershey's Chocolate World.

Don’t miss the s’more experience!

23. Climb aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

Be amazed by the scale of an aircraft carrier, a submarine, a Concorde, and even a space shuttle.

24. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of modern architecture, the Guggenheim Museum.

See modern and contemporary art, including works by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Pollock, as well as intriguing special exhibits.

25. Circumnavigate the island of Manhattan on Circle Line’s Best of NYC Cruise!

It’s the only sightseeing experience to do so—and you’ll see iconic landmarks like the Chrysler Building, the High Line, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, the UN, and Yankee Stadium.

26. Find some hidden treasures at Brooklyn Flea.

Located in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Dumbo on Sundays, you’ll find furniture, vintage clothing, antiques, a selection of handcrafted items from local artisans, food, and more.

27. Explore the multi-sensory installations at the Museum of Ice Cream.

You’ll even enjoy unique flavors of everyone’s favorite frozen treat!

28. Talk quietly at the whispering gallery at Grand Central Terminal.

You go to one corner and your kiddo goes to another—and you can hear each other whisper. Then you can stare at the zodiac ceiling.

29. Drink a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3.

Feel fancy as you slurp a delicious, sweet, chocolate concoction near Bloomingdales.

30. Get lost in the American Museum of Natural History.

Dinosaurs, gigantic crystals, and a 94-foot-long blue whale, need we say more? Don’t forget to stop by the Halls of Gems and Minerals, where you can see more than 5,000 specimens from nearly 100 countries, including carvings and jewelry.

31. Climb on Alice in Wonderland in Central Park.

Clamber over and hide under bronze mushrooms at Alice’s feet.


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32. Get cultured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Priceless artifacts and works of art, mummies, and so much more make this a thrilling educational ride. Then stop by the Ancient Playground, right next door in Central Park, which was inspired by the museum’s Temple of Dendur.

33. Take in art at MoMA.

Because everyone needs to see Monet’s “Water Lilies” in person—and there’s plenty of other colors, shapes, and awesomeness.

34. See the world’s tallest Hot Light at Krispy Kreme Times Square.

Then see how the doughnuts are made and enjoy the special edition Big Apple doughnut, only available at this location.

35. Help your kids learn fire safety at FDNY Fire Zone.

Kids can climb on a realistic fire truck, try on bunker gear, meet a firefighter, and more.

36. Watch a show at Puppetworks Theater in Park Slope.

It’s a nonprofit puppet theater with handmade wood marionettes and deep Brooklyn roots.

37. Head to the historic boiler room of Chelsea Market to experience ARTECHOUSE.

The immersive art space currently features Geometric Properties, which combines math, nature, and architecture for an inspiring display (through Sept. 6).

38. Get your fill of sweet and sour at the Sour Patch Kids Store in Greenwich Village.

Enjoy photo ops, special edition merch, and a one-of-a-kind dessert menu featuring the sour-sweet candy.

39. See more art at the Brooklyn Museum.

No matter the exhibit, something is always bright and interesting here.

40. See a miniature version of NYC at Queens Museum.

The Panorama of the City of New York was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair and is considered the crown jewel of the museum’s collection.

41. Visit Roosevelt Island via tram.

The novelty of a tram ride over the East River combines with the wonder of visiting a built-up island with space to roam.

42. Explore Jewish culture, history, and traditions at the Jewish Children’s Museum.

The Brooklyn institution even has an indoor mini-golf course celebrating six major Jewish life events.

43. Stand 100 stories above NYC when you visit the Edge.

The highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, it features a glass floor, so you can observe the ant-like city streets below.

44. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Dylan’s Candy Bar.

Tap your inner Willy Wonka at this retail testament to sugar, which now has three NYC locations: the Upper East Side, Hudson Yards, and Soho.

45. Snap a pic with the Pepsi-Cola sign.

Located in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens, there’s plenty of space to enjoy a picnic—and if it’s hot out, the kids can enjoy the nearby splash pad.

46. Ride the Staten Island Ferry.

Beautiful views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline, while taking a peaceful boat ride—all for free. New York’s best bargain!

47. Ride Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

It’s a perfectly restored carousel with stunning views of the East River.

48. Geek out at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens.

More than 450 permanent exhibits make math, science, and technology fun (think robots, rockets, and more).

49. Visit and revisit Coney Island.

Check out rides and games or just stroll on the boardwalk beside the ocean while eating Nathan’s fries.

50. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

On a clear day, take a stroll over the water on the historic suspension bridge.

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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the former editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has 20+ years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. To unplug in her free time, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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