by Erin Behan - 269 Reviews - 12 List
New York is often thought of as an adult's paradise, but kids can have more than their fair share of fun, too. With several zoos, an aquarium, some of the country's most respected urban parks--and that's just the outdoor activities--children and their parents have more options for kid-friendly activities than hours in the day. Read on for the best attractions to visit with kids in New York City. (Photo: Bronx Zoo)
Updated: July 07, 2011
You'll want to get an early start to properly explore all 843 acres of this New York gem. There are 21 playgrounds, a real-life zoo, a carousel, boathouse and ice skating rink in winter. Then, observe the natural wildlife--whether we're talking squirrels, roller skaters or musicians.
This small zoo features animals of the Americas--that means no giraffes or orangutans but plenty of bears, birds, coyotes and bison. Two of its biggest attractions are the sea lion pool, with thrice daily feedings, and the domestic animals area, where visitors can feed llamas and interact with pigs, bunnies and sheep.
Just steps off the Coney Island Boardwalk, this aquarium delights children with indoor tanks filled with all manner of fish--including the biggies like sharks, sting rays and giant sea turtles--and outdoor pools with sea lions, otters and walruses. The sea lion show is a crowd-pleaser.
Discover New York from a boat atop the Hudson River thanks to the Downtown Boathouse, which provides single and double kayaks to the general public for free. There's no experience necessary (kids under 16 must be bring an adult), so paddle and enjoy the view, or join a guided river tour.
Brooklyn's version of Central Park gives Manhattan's oasis a run for its money with a zoo and wildlife center, pedal boats, carousel, tennis center, the Kate Wollman Skating Rink and a bandshell where Celebrate Brooklyn takes place from June through September.
For many years the island just 800 yards from lower Manhattan (400 from Brooklyn) was closed to the public, but the former military base is now for public consumption. It opens June 5 and closes Oct. 10 in 2010, and visitors can partake in biking, art exhibits, performances, artist-designed miniature golf, picnics, tours and special events.
Like all city pools, it's open in late June through Labor Day with strict rules about what you can bring in (self, sunscreen, book) and what you can do in the water (no roughhousing). Your reward is a sparkling Olympic sized beauty with room for everyone. Little kids will love the huge children's wading pool with sprinklers.
Block off a full afternoon to visit this New York institution. From the famous T-Rex skeleton on the dinosaur floor to the life-sized model of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life, the AMNH is a must. Don't forget the Planetarium and its spectacular shows.
This Upper West Side favorite looks and feels more like a giant activity center than a museum. With a continuous rotation of fun, interactive exhibits and drop-in courses and theater performances offered daily, children ages 8 and under will happily spend several hours exploring every corner of CMoM.
For your budding technologist, there's this free four-story wonderland of technology. Like anything free in New York, advance reservations are highly recommended, but plan ahead, and you'll get access to a ton of cool exhibits, including an animation studio, PlayStation 3 test stations, the Wonder of Music lab and Moviemaker stations.
This friendly DIY craft house will occupy little ones for hours on end. Kids can paint pottery, make a mosaic, bead jewelry, stuff a cuddly animal or decorate a T-shirt. The possibilities are endless, and they'll be as excited about getting to keep their crafts as they are about making them.
Adventurous kids--and their more adventurous chaperones--will love this west side wonder. Children ages 6 and up are eligible to swing on a trapeze bar 23 feet up in the air (provided they have the attention span to listen to the safety instructions).
The field house at this massive sports complex offers classes, private lessons and daily drop-in programs in basketball, baseball, gymnastics, rock-climbing, soccer and dance, to name a few, for kids of all ages. For younger tots, head to the Chelsea Piers Toddler Adventure Center.
If Candyland and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory merged, the result would be this three-story candy emporium. Dylan's has every sweet imaginable--from basic to gourmet, retro to new-fangled--so you just might rediscover a favorite treat from your own childhood.
Upon entering this world-famous toy store, a giant clock sings out, "Welcome to the world of toys!," and it isn't lying. This spectacular bi-level mecca of all things playtime is stocked with every stuffed animal and toy your child has ever wanted--plus about a thousand more they'll be begging you to buy.
It's never too early to cultivate an interest in reading, and this independent bookstore has been providing quality children's literature for more than a quarter century. The staff is exceptionally helpful, and the store is easy to browse as it's arranged by both age and genre.