Welcome to summer in lively New York City, where you’ll find plenty of appealing attractions and family fun activities. The summer season is the busiest of the year and packed with things to see and do, so plan to get an early start not only on your travel plans but on your itinerary. Use my guide on how to spend a day in New York City with kids to get an idea of how to plan your time in this bustling city.
Rise and shine with breakfast of eggs benedict, always cooked to perfection, or Waz-Za waffles that run over with fresh fruit and a delicious yogurt at Norma’s, a popular family restaurant known for its artistic and exotic presentation of breakfast foods. Located at 118 W. 57th Street in LeParker Meridien Hotel, this restaurant is less than two miles from historic Central Park, a family-favorite with various attractions and recreational venues for everyone. You’ll have all kinds of fun in this 843-acre historic park, laced with gorgeous gardens, unique fountains and bridges, hundreds of paths to wander, miles of hiking and biking trails along lakes and ponds, classical architecture, and educational opportunities.
Nothing beats the zoo for some enjoyable family fun! Everyone will get a thrill at the Central Park Zoo and Wildlife Center. Located in the heart of the park, you’ll see over 150 different critters from all over the world and 1,400 animals including a rare red panda, polar bears, sea lions, snow leopard, and harbor seals.
Check out Central Park’s model boat pond (officially called the Conservatory Waters). Bordered by the Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson statues, it’s located among some of the most beautiful landscape. On warm summer days, the pond is filled with boats of all shapes and sizes, and you can rent boats to sail yourself. New to sailing? Learn the basics of sailing with remote controlled sailboats.
From the balcony of Belvedere Castle, catch incredible views of Central Park’s most beautiful and famous landmarks including Turtle Pond and The Great Lawn, the site of many concerts throughout the summer. Designed in 1865, the castle offers a vast collection of natural history artifacts, and various free family programs including astronomy talks and story telling. Stroll the gardens, where fountains and shaded trees create a cool urban oasisAfter you admire the castle, head for Victoria Garden’s, one of the most popular family amusement parks at Wollman Skating Rink. Kids will love the passenger crop duster plane ride which offers amazing views of the city.
On a hot summer day, kids will love to take a dip in cool, clear water at Heckscher Playground Splash Park situated at the southwestern corner of Central Park. There’s a variety of kids’ activities and fantastic water play areas complete with slides, a Jungle Jim and a stream that crosses over a number of hills with tunnels, ladders and a set of sprinklers.
To the west of the park, you can spot the carriage horses lined up. Your kids will be thrilled when drivers let them feed the horses carrots. Or go for a horse-drawn carriage ride.
You can enjoy some of the best pizza in the city at Lombardi’s Coal Oven Pizza, located at 32 Spring Street. It’s a NYC tradition since 1905, and the most well known pizzeria in the city. Personally, their coal oven thin crust pizza is the best I’ve ever had, and I’m a pizza fanatic. This restaurant is really cozy with its old-style Italian atmosphere, checked tablecloths, and black and white pictures hanging on painted brick walls
The entire family will discover that Math is anything but boring and have fun at the newest National Museum of Mathematics, nicknamed MoMath. It’s the only museum of its kind in the United States devoted entirely to math with a playground feel. Here, you’ll find a variety of interactive, enjoyable, and challenging exhibits and attractions for everyone. Kids can ride the Coaster Roller, a clear plastic sled that glides smoothly over acorn like shapes; visit the “Tessellation Station,” a wall that visitors can cover with like-shaped magnets; and take a smooth ride on a square-wheeled tricycle that offers a connection between math and music.
The 19,000-square-foot museum, that is changing the way people think about math, is located at 11 East 26th Street. It’s on two floors of an office building north of Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, and open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 pm.
Every kind of food imaginable can be found in New York City. There are hundreds of ethnic restaurants from Jewish to Chinatown and Little Italy. Be sure to sample some of the fresh-baked breads and rolls, seafood and corned beef—some New York treasures. Since you sampled NYC pizza earlier in the day, opt for gourmet macaroni cheese haven S’Mac, classic Italian at Franny’s, or candy-store-and-restaurant combo Sugar and Plumm. For a decadent treat, head to Serendipity 3. This ice cream parlor serves larger-than-life sundaes kids love.
After Dinner, you’ll have to visit an iconic New York City sight. A must-see is famous Empire State Building, which is nothing short of spectacular. On a clear day, you can see almost forever. Ride the elevator to the top of Rockefeller Center observation deck for can’t-get-enough incredible views!
New York City has the widest array of hotels in the world. It pays to shop around because rates can be quite high. The Mark, 25 E. 77th Street and the Pierre Hotel, 2 E. 61st Street are conveniently close to Central Park, and are in a safe area. There are numerous New York City Midtown hotels in and around Times Square, placing you in a prime location for sightseeing and accessing Manhattan.
From natural beauty combined with just the right mix of recreation, top-notch activities, fantastic attractions, relaxation and spectacular views—it’s all here! There’s so much to see and do in New York City that as soon as you leave, you’ll already be planning a return visit.
Follow this guide to spend a day in New York City with kids. From food to attractions to sightseeing, you’ll see some of the best of kid-friendly NYC.