Are you planning on visiting New York City with your kids? If you’ve never been to the city and you’re wondering what to do with the kids, don’t despair, there are a plethora of things to do and they’re not all in Manhattan either. Today we’re sharing 8 things you can do in a week within the boroughs of NYC with your kids.
Colorado is currently my adopted state, but I spent most of my life in New York City (NYC). While I enjoy saying that I’m a Brooklynite, I’ve also lived in Queens and the Bronx, while my kids except for my youngest were born in Manhattan. While most tourists think of Manhattan when planning their visit to NYC, there are lots to do in Brooklyn and even “Da Bronx”. The Bronx is the only borough that has “The” at the beginning of it, but it’s also the home of the New York Yankees and the Bronx Zoo. The biggest zoo that New York City has to offer and one of the best. So how about getting out of Manhattan and taking a look at the other boroughs?
There are 5 boroughs in NYC. The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens. This summer, Madison and I took a mini-vacation to Brooklyn for almost two weeks where I got to live like a tourist at home. While two weeks is a lot of time, what happens if you only have a week? What can you do with your kids with such a limited time? Here’s what we did in a week in three of the five boroughs.
Kill two birds with one stone! The Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park Zoo are within close proximity of each other so you can do both in a day. The Botanic Garden is a photographer’s dream come true and you may see weddings being photographed here. Since it was summer, we were lucky to look at the roses in bloom in the rose garden, but visiting during the cherry blossoms blooming in late March or early April is spectacular. There is a free garden admission on Fridays between 8 am – 12 pm, but children under the age of 12 are always free.
Every summer I would take my kids to the Prospect Park Zoo, and after we would relax at Prospect Park while watching ducks swim by. The Zoo can be done in roughly 3hrs since it’s rather small, but it’s the small feel that makes it great for family time. The “Barn and Garden” or the petting zoo is a must-do for the kids, and getting to feed the sheep or alpacas can be a lot of fun. Stay for the Sea Lion feedings and make it a fun day for all.
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is designed with families and especially children in mind, and helps provide cultural experiences for children in a learning environment. It’s been said that New York City is a cultural pepperpot, meaning that there is such a mix and all come together to form one. Madison was able to get to know her Caribbean roots a bit more, but there’s also exhibits featuring Mexico, Japan, Africa and even the American Indians. With a play area for younger kids; and even an outdoor garden, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum should be on your list of places to visit. There is free admission every Thursday from 2-6pm.
The NY Aquarium and Luna Park are another that you can combine into a one day trip. While the aquarium was damaged during Superstorm Sandy, and there are still exhibits being worked upon, there is still a lot to be seen. The new Sharks exhibit is a must-see. Learn about sharks and how they bring value to the ocean, and get interactive. Did you know that it can take more than a year for some baby sharks to be born? And that the great white can live up to 70 years? Be sure to stay for the Sea Lion feeding demonstration and witness their brilliance. Then when you’re done, take a trip over to Luna Park aka Coney Island.
Home of the Famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Coney Island is must-do for any visitor during the summer. It’s also something I did with my own family every summer as well. Back then the rides and thrills were just called Coney Island Amusement Park, but the name was recently changed to Luna Park. Ride the famous wooden roller coaster, the Cyclone, which has been around since 1927. 😱Indulge in real New York Pizza and take in the street art. And if you’ve brought your swimwear, take a dip in the ocean. Enjoy the rides, the food and just have a blast!
While each borough has it’s own zoo, The Bronx Zoo is actually one of the largest zoos in the United States. This means that you’re going to need at least more than a day or maybe two, to see it all. There are a few free exhibits and some specialty ones that may require a separate fee, but with so much to see, you won’t even mind missing them. However, I strongly suggest visiting the Butterfly Garden if you can, and the kid will enjoy taking a ride on the Bug Carousel. The Bronx Zoo offers free admission on Wednesdays’ if you’re on a budget or want to save cash, but that also means that it’s one of the busiest days as well, so plan your trip wisely.
Most New Yorkers have seen the Statue of Liberty as kids because most schools incorporate it as a day of learning. You may have gotten a permission slip to sign your kid up for this school excursion, but if you haven’t and you’re a New Yorker, it’s coming. However, if you’re a tourist, visiting the Statue of Liberty is a must, also along with visiting the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognized statues around the world and was a gift from the French. While you can go to the pedestal or the crown, you will need reserve tickets and have to do an extra security check to do so. Right across from the Statue of Liberty is Ellis Island where many of our ancestors came as immigrants to make a better life for themselves and their family. Together, you can do both in a few hours while learning a bit of your history and making it a learning vacation. After all, holidays can’t be just all fun and games, right?
Your life isn’t complete until you’ve seen a play on Broadway, and this isn’t just for adults, but kids alike. One of my favorites is The Lion King – Musical at the Minskoff Theater off 42nd Street. This is perfect for the entire family, and not just because it’s Disney. OK, maybe because it’s Disney. However, there are lots of other family Broadway plays that you can take the kids to see, including Aladdin, Frozen, Wicked and so many more.
Then end it all with a walk along 42nd Street Times Square and take in the lights.
With so much to see and do, save up to 50% off gate prices for NYC attractions with the New York City Explorer Pass.