The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Manhattan

Things To Do With Kids in Manhattan

Manhattan is the quintessential New York City borough. For most visitors, this is what they think of when they think of the city. It's where you'll find the iconic skyscrapers, world-class museums, and the famous Central Park. Manhattan is synonymous with a bustling, energetic lifestyle, and this fast-paced borough will never bore.

For families headed to the area, there really is no shortage of things to do. You can explore the playgrounds of Central Park, hit up the world-class museums, or check out a show at one of the countless theaters. Below are a few fun ideas for families traveling with kids to Manhattan.
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is one of the most famous areas in New York City. It's known for its brightly lit billboards which really brighten the city at night. But even if you visit during the day you'll find the area filled with energy, activity, and people. If the crowds get to be too much, there are bleachers set up on one side where you can sit and take a break. Times Square is also recognizable as the location of the iconic ball drop on New Years Eve. It's also an entertainment center for the city.

Times Square is in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
This museum was built in the style of a hillside Tibetan monastery. It maintains the largest private collection of Tibetan art in the country, and the complex offers a peaceful and beautiful setting where you can explore, sit bay the goldfish pond, or look out at the water. There are often Sunday programs and shows with music, dance, and art, that are perfect for families.
338 Lighthouse Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
If you're looking for more information about New York City, read New York City: Off the Beaten Path Things to Do and Children's Theatres in New York City.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum. It has an impressive collection of museum ships and they also offer planetarium shows as well as Astronomy Family Nights. The museum is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street, along the Hudson River, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
Pier 86, W 46th St, Upper West Side, New York, NY, 10036
Railroad Museum of Long Island
With a variety of historic train cars and engines on display, this museum is part railroad and part history, and all fun. It's great for adults and kids alike. Visitors can tour the historic rail cars, browse the museum informational exhibits, ride the "miniature" train which is large enough for kids and adults to sit inside, and view various toy and model railroads, too.
416 Griffing Ave., Riverhead, New York
Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
MoMATH offers kids the opportunity to visualize math and engineering in a fun and playful way. There's a laser "wall", a Math Square, a Jumbotron, and more. Whether your kids love math or need a gentle nudge, this museum will bring it all to life.
11 E 26th St, New York, NY, 10010
Long Island Live Steamers
This is a cross between a railroad museum and an amusement park. Here you'll find a number of scale model railroads and trains that are large enough sit in to take a ride, but not as large as a real train. It's lots of fun for both adults and children. The park is run as a non-profit and organized by model railroad enthusiasts. They are only open to the public on select days of the year, usually spring to autumn, on the 2nd and last Sunday of every month (but other days are available, too). Check their website for opening days and times.
Southaven County Park Gerard Road Entrance, Brookhaven, NY, 11719
Historic Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town is an authentic town and farm museum on Staten Island. It's a living history museum that's part of La Tourette Park and it brings everyday life from the 19th century into today. Many of the buildings are historical structures and the staff make up the community of a 19th century small town, each representing a different trade.
441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
Hippo Playground
The climbing equipment on this playground is a blast, but there's also a sandbox, swings, and, as the name implies, hippo statues that give the park a bit of personality. During the summer months they also offer a refreshing spray to cool everyone off.
Riverside Park at 91st Street, Upper West Side
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out The Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife in New York City and The Best Broadway Theatres in New York City.
Heckscher Playground
This is Central Park's oldest playground, and it continues to bring thrills to kids who enjoy climbing, running, jumping, and playing in the water. There's a separate little kids section where the young ones can dig in the sand or play on small climbing equipment and simple slides. For a blast from the past, head to the old-school section with its metal slides, swings, and monkey bars. The classics never lose their fun.
Central Park
DiMenna Children's History Museum at the New York Historical Society
This museum is designed with kids in mind. There are hands-on displays that take you back in time 350 years to learn about the history of NYC. Kids are encouraged to climb and interact with the exhibits that look at the lives of historical figures. There are also family programs available including cooking classes, scavenger hunts, games, and story time.
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, New York, NY, 10024
Delacorte Theater
This outdoor theatre in Central Park is home to the Shakespeare in the Park shows which are free. Opening in 1962, this theatre has been home to a large number of free shows which are loved by adults and children alike. While sometimes the shows are based on Shakespeare's works, other times the theatre hosts musicals and other classic plays.
Central Park, NYC, New York
Children's Museum of Manhattan
This hands on museum is perfect for kids who want to get their energy out, play, and explore. The museum's exhibits are designed to be touched and played with and kids will learn about culture, history, and science in a fun and hands on way. This museum is perfect for young kids that are 6 and under.
212 W 83rd St, Upper West Side, New York, NY, 10024
Chelsea Waterslide Playground
Located in Hudson River Park, this colorful playground is fun for all ages! There are water features, fun fish shaped climbing equipment, a sand area, and shaded seating that's perfect for a parent to who needs to rest their legs. After a busy day exploring, everyone will feel refreshed after a stop at this fun playground.
Hudson River Park
Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a small, 6.5 acre zoo that has three different habitats. The Tropic Zone, the Temperate Territory, and the Polar Circle offer visitors a chance to see animals from each unique biome. There are Antarctic penguins, a children's area with farm animals, and a sea lion pool, among other things.
830 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 83
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in The Best Science Museums in New York City and The 17 Best Children's Museums in New York City.
Central Park Carousel
This vintage carousel located in Central Park (at the southern end of the park near East 65th Street) is the fourth carousel to run on this site, as a carousel has been here for many years. Kids love it, whether they are locals or visitors alike.
65th Street Transverse, NYC, New York, 10153
Central Park
Central Park
The heart and lungs of New York City, the famous, expansive, and huge Central Park is an iconic destination in the city featuring a variety of smaller attractions and features within itself. From ball fields and jogging paths to botanical gardens, concert spaces, cafes, ponds, playgrounds, and more, the park offers something for everyone. Don't forget to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park - one of the quintessential tourist activities in the city.
New York City, New York
Bronx Children’s Museum
This rolling museum is located in an actual bus! It has temporary exhibits and travels throughout the the Bronx, offering programs for young kids, particularly in under-served neighborhoods. You'll find the museum at a number of events around town.
The Bronx
Battery Park
Battery Park is most notable for its beautiful views that look out over the water towards the Statue of Liberty. This is a larger park that can offer a quiet retreat from the chaos of the nearby Financial District. But it also serves as the departure point for the ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, so there can be crowds of tourists in certain areas. Street performers are common in the park as well, but be prepared because watching for too long will likely come with a high price tag.
Ancient Playground
Piggybacking on the Egyptian Art collection found at the Met, this playground offers climbing equipment, slides, swings, and water features that inspire kids of all ages to become explorers and archeologists. This playground, in Central Park, is the perfect place to pass some time before heading out to see more sites in New York City.
Central Park
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
This is one of the largest museums in the world and it is made up of 28 interconnected buildings that house 45 permanent exhibition halls. There's also a planetarium and a library. The museum's collection includes more than 33 million specimens of animals, plants, minerals, fossils, rocks, and more.
180 Central Park West, Lincoln Towers, NYC, New York, 10024
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in Things to Do In New York City on a Rainy Day and Children's Theatres in New York City.
How much do family-friendly activities cost in New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $12 to $1,099. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $127. A few of the best options are below.

Where to Stay in New York City

More Ideas for New York City

The Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Williamsburg, BrooklynThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Flushing, QueensThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Park Slope in BrooklynThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Prospect Heights in BrooklynThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, and Fort GreeneThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in the Financial District of New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Tribeca in New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Greenwich Village & West Village of ManhattanThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals by the Empire State Building in NYCThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals around Times Square in New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in the Upper West Side of New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in the Upper East Side of New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals on Staten IslandThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in the BronxThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Harlem in New York CityThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in Chelsea in ManhattanThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals in the Lower East Side of ManhattanThe Best Vacation Rental Apartments in Midtown ManhattanThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals near Broadway and the Theatre District in ManhattanThe Best VRBO Vacation Rentals near Grand Central Station in NYC

Budget Your Trip

Budget Your Trip has average travel costs for thousands of cities around the world, all provided by other travelers. You can also register to organize your spending by category and location with graphs, maps, charts, and tables.

Search for Travel Costs

Read More
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out Educational Places and Activities in New York City.
Share This Page

Some of the links on this website are sponsored or affiliate links which help to financially support this site. By clicking the link and making a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price of your purchase.