December 6

New York with Kids in Summer: What Not to Miss!

There are more things to do in New York with kids than just visit the museum or see a movie; this city is packed to the gills with cool stuff for those of all ages, making visiting New York with kids a real blast if you know the ropes.

Most New York City attractions for kids are safe, well organized and often quite creative. Foreign language support is also usually included in things to do in NYC with kids.

From the famed Madame Tussaud’s wax sculptures to fun and sunshine in Central Park, New York City with kids can be even more fun than you’d think.

Here, we’ll look at some of the best things to do in New York with kids, including a few hidden gems your kids will love.


Madame Tussaud Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud’s has to be at the top of our list of things to do in New York in summer. Kids will have a wild time meeting their favorite super heroes, fantasy characters and celebrities.

Shake hands with Iron Man and Captain America in the flesh – well, almost; you can keep the wax hand as a souvenir.

wax museum new york

They might not be flesh and blood, but these wax sculptures are so life like that the more mischievous parents out there could monetarily convince the little ones they are indeed the real thing.

madame tussaud new york

Kids can comfortably gawk at these ultra realistic works of art for a solid half day. Extend the visit by checking out the Marvel Universe 4D cinema. As the museum’s newest attraction, it’s an on site cinema showing films featuring the superheroes you just saw in wax form.

Be prepared though; the 4D experience means you’ll be soaked with water and blasted with wind as the cinema rocks back and forth. The overall experience is like watching a movie while on a roller coaster, and is an acquired taste for adults.

For overheated kids though, it’s one of the best NYC summer activities.


Bronx Zoo

With over a century of history, the Bronx Zoo has been one of the most popular kid friendly activities in NYC for generations.

As the largest metropolitan zoo anywhere in the country, New York summer activities don’t get much bigger than this. Over 4,000 animals are spread across 265 acres of exhibitions depicting environments as diverse as the plains of Africa to the highlands of the Himalayas.

And best of all, it is free. Yes, you read that right. It's FREE.

bronx zoo kids

The creepy Mouse House will give some kids a thrill, while Tiger Mountain rotates a list of large felines including rare animals like the Malayan and Amur tigers. Meanwhile, the World of Reptiles exhibit alone is one of the most fun things to do in New York in the summer in and of itself.

bronx zoo kids summer
bronx zoo summer

The heat of summer is the perfect time to see the alligators, crocodiles, turtles, snakes and other cold blooded creatures at their most active.

If you’re visiting New York with kids in summer, then don’t miss this one!


New York Aquarium

This legendary aquarium is another of the more classic New York family attractions.

With over 200 animals and live shows throughout the day, it’s one of the most engaging things to do in New York for kids, especially the little ones.

new york aquarium

We had been here when Teo was 3 years old, so we did not enter again. But he certainly loved it!

The Playquarium is a child friendly educational exhibition with some amazing interactive elements, and is perfect if you’re visiting New York with kids in summer.

Kids can role play as a marine biologist hunting for bioluminescent fish, explore the sea floor in a submarine and even get tactile in the touching pool.

Even better, the entire exhibition is bilingual, with Spanish language options available at every step of the underwater adventure.


Coney Island

The afore-mentioned New York Aquarium is just a short walk from the historic Deno’s Wonder Wheel, a century old Ferris wheel that makes for one of the best outdoor summer activities NYC has to offer. Luna Park is like a permanent fairground, with side shows and the famed Cyclone roller coaster.

new york in summer with kids

The Cyclone is one of the world’s few remaining wooden roller coasters, and has been among the most popular kids activities in NYC ever since. Come on weekends, and this place will be crowded with families enjoying a day out.

Better yet, all of these above attractions can be found fairly close to each other in the compact beachside neighborhood of Coney Island. When it comes to things to do in New York City in summer, Coney Island is almost a symbol of the season.

After a day of museums and Luna Park, hit up the boardwalk for a refreshing ice cream with the kids, and stay for sunset if you can.


Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour

New York with kids in summer can get rough in the afternoon, especially if you’re constantly hitting the pavement. Give your feet a rest and consider covering some New York activities for kids with a hop on, hop off tour.

nyc bus tour
hop on hop off bus

These affordable tour buses allow you to explore the city at your own pace, with frequent tours constantly plying the boroughs.

Most of the things to do in Manhattan with kids, for example, can be reached by using a hop on, hop off tour. In fact, if you’re visiting New York City with kids, then these buses can serve as short breaks throughout the day, keeping your kids from getting too tired.

Take note that you can save a lot by booking in advance. And in case you are wondering, our favorite Hop on/ hop Off bus tour company is Top View NYC as they also have some great themed Hudson River Cruises.


Empire State Building

Arguably the most mandatory of family activities in New York, you can’t leave the Big Apple without experiencing the view from the top.

new york winter empire state

The magnificent view of NYC from the Empire State building.

For much of its history, the 1,250 feet tall Empire State Building was the tallest structure in the city.

empire state with kids

Although the building lost that title in 2012, it remains the ninth tallest skyscraper in the country, and provides astounding views of the State of Liberty, Times Square and Central Park. It’s a once in a lifetime experience if you’re visiting New York city with kids.


9/11 Memorial

There are many fun things in NYC for kids, but the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is not one of them. It is, however, an experience they will never forget, and offers a sobering moment of reflection for families visiting the city.

new york in december with a baby

The World Trade Center Memorial

The site sits on Greenwich Street, occupying the former location of the Twin Towers.

Today, white oak trees shade the tranquil, solemn memorial complex. Reflecting pools now trickle where the towers once fell, and the on site museum is very informative.


Statue of Liberty Cruise

Less somber but equally mandatory is a visit is the Statue of Liberty. In terms of family things to do in NYC, Lady Liberty herself is best viewed from one of the regular cruises that run throughout the year.

sunset nyc dinner
new york dinner cruise start
dinner cruise nyc

Sunset cruises are extremely popular, even though many locals swear the best time to view the statue is early morning. Breakfast and brunch cruises are some of the best summer activities NYC has to offer.


Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Hudson

Kid friendly New York cruises are available throughout the year, but best enjoyed in summer, when the evenings are pleasant and mild. Cruises usually include passes of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, though tickets can be scarce in peak season.

Along with ensuring you don’t miss out on a table, booking ahead can also mean getting steep discounts when compared to same day prices.

sunset cruise nyc
sunset cruise dinner nyc
cruise hudson nyc kids

And while the dinner is nice, and the cruise is very pleasant, be aware that most of the time they end up being a great party in which the whole boat will have a lot of fun!

summer in nyc

Click to play


Brooklyn Bridge


Connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, this famed bridge is a National Historic Landmark, and is often visible from both boroughs.

However, the bridge is best admired by actually crossing it; either by car, bike or on foot.

If you’re walking, the bridge can be accessed from both sides, though the stroll is perhaps a little more scenic if approaching from the Brooklyn side.

.

brooklyn bridge


Walk/ride Around Central Park

New York City in summer is epitomized by a breezy stroll through Central Park. From the main entrance across the road from the American Museum of Natural History you can easily access the more popular walking paths, like the the East and West Drive Loop, which covers many of the park’s main attractions.

central park walk

Most paths can be done on bike, and given the popularity of this it may well be the best things to do with kids in NYC, especially on weekends when the park really comes alive.

central park with kids

New York City for kids doesn’t get much better than the park.


American Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs? Check

Wild animals? Check

Birds? Check.

Space entertainment? Check.

american museum natural history
american history museum nyc

The American Museum of Natural History is a nice walk across Central Park from the South Gates, and definitely worth a visit if you have young kids who love dinosaurs or any kind of wildlife.

summer in nyc with kids

It's big enough to keep you busy for a couple of hours if you want, and has several exhibitions including the Hayden Planetarium with its own exhibition that everyone- including adults- will love.

Price at time of writing (summer 2022) is 16-23 USD per person depending on age, and you must book your time of entry in advance.


Governor’s Island Bike Trails

If you’ve already covered Central Park, one of the best summer NYC activities further field from the city center.

The island is laced with walking and biking trails, and is chock full of New York City summer activities for the whole family. While on the island, consider taking a pit stop at Slide Hill, which features numerous twirling slides that will keep the kids occupied for an hour or two.

It’s one of the more unusual things to do in NYC, but worth the detour.


Where to Stay

When visiting New York in summer with kids- or during any time of the year, really- your best bet is to be close to where all the action is to keep your little ones from having to walk too much.

Unfortunately this usually comes at a price that many will not want to pay, and either will have to look for a location that is not a convenient or stay at a simpler place.

bentley hotel nyc

And you'll probably want space; hotel rooms in New York (specially in Manhattan) are smaller than average in the US.

After some research we chose the Bentley Hotel. It overlooks the Hudson River, the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island; in other words, it has the quintessential NYC views. It is also in a quiet area but close to restaurants and shops, yet within walking distance to Central Park and many attractions.

Rooms are comfortable and well appointed, and we stayed in a corner suite which has even better views and allowed for Teo to be in his own bed/ room.

If you're not sure if the Bentley is right for you, you can look for other hotels in the map below.

Conclusion

Visiting New York City in summer with kids is a great idea as there is no lack of things to do, temperatures are pleasant, and getting there is simple with several major airports close by connecting cities all around the world.

There is one thing you'll find disturbing though, and that is the price of things in general. New York has become an extremely expensive city, and your money will not yield as much as it would in other destinations. Above all, be ready to pay a lot for hotels.

This aside, you'll have a great time! 



Accommodation in New York

Booking.com has over 500 hotels in New York including apartments and resorts. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee. Check prices.

Flights to New York

Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees). Download the Skyscanner App. It’s an all in one flights, hotel and car hire search engine app and makes it easier for you to find the best travel deals!

Rental Cars in New York

RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, and Alamo. Check prices for New York airport.

RV Rentals New York:

Outdoorsy is the largest RV rental marketplace on the planet. They offer ease, flexibility and some unique and cool campervans for your Oahu road trip. Find your RV rentals for new York here. 



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