When you are 12 miles west of Manhattan, there’s no reason no to make New York City your playground. It’s easy to make the trip in for a day of fun with the family — either by car, train or bus — and with so many things to do, there’s no way you’ll get bored. Check out these family-friendly destinations for inspiration.
Central Park is 843 acres situated between 59th Street and 110th Street, and from 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue. In it, you’ll find 21 playgrounds alone, each with a different theme, design, and type of equipment. The Carousel, located mid-park at 65th Street, is open daily from April to October. The Marionette Theater is located at West 79th Street and West Drive at the Swedish Cottage. Shows are held Thursday through Sunday at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM and feature some of your favorite children’s stories. The Henry Luce Nature Observatory can be found inside Belvedere Castle at 79th Street. This educational site teaches visitors about nature and wildlife in Central Park. It’s free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Of course, there’s also the Central Park Zoo, located at East 64th Street and 5th Avenue and home to more than 130 species. The Zoo opens daily at 10:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and at 5:30 PM on weekends. Children’s activities, events, and a list of famous sites to see are available on the website.
Little Park is located inside Hudson River Park near at Pier 55 and West 13th Street. It opens daily at 6:00 AM and closes at 9:00 PM or later, depending on the time of year. It’s free to visit the park, though events held at The Amph require paid tickets. Visitors can experience the lush, seasonal landscape and explore the hills and paths that lead to extraordinary views. It’s a unique urban oasis designed to stimulate the imagination and encourage play. Little Island is host to programming for all ages, including theater, dance, and music, as well as educational programs and community events.
The High Line is another unique green space in Manhattan. Opening daily at 7:00 AM, this 1.45-mile-long elevated rail structure runs from Ganesvoort Street to 34th Street on the West Side. It’s formerly home to a freight rail line that was operational from 1934 to 1980. It offers a number of spots to stop and take a look around, taking in the area from a whole new view. Explore art, gardens, and programs, grab a snack, or simply enjoy a walk away from the main hustle and bustle of the surface street.
Grand Central Terminal is a NYC institution. So much more than just a transportation terminal, it’s home to shops, dining, and activity. It is located at Park Avenue and 42nd Street and is easily accessible from public transit. There’s a dining concourse downstairs with plenty of kid-friendly options. Grand Central Market is full of local vendors and unique shops. Tours are available as well. Whispering Gallery is an especially neat area inside the terminal. Because of the architecture and low ceramic arches, you can stand in one corner and talk to someone in the opposite corner.
This museum is a must-see. The entrance is located at Central Park West at 79th Street. Permanent exhibits include the Biodiversity and Environmental Halls, Birds and Reptiles and Amphibian Halls, Earth and Planetary Science Halls, and Fossil Halls. Highlights within these halls include a slice of a giant sequoia tree, a 107-million-year-old series of fossilized dinosaur footprints, a stegosaurus, and a cast of a 122-foot-long Titanosaur. The Hayden Planetarium Space Theater displays planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies from a custom-made projector.
Perhaps one of the most famous bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge is a mile long connecting downtown Manhattan with Brooklyn. You can walk across for views of the Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Governors Island. On the Brooklyn side, you’ll be in the Dumbo neighborhood, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. There you’ll find cobblestone streets and architecture dating back to the industrial days. Nearby is Brooklyn Bride Park, which is full of fun things for kids to do, including New York’s largest sandbox, a playground, and the Water Lab, where kids can cool off in the water-jet field. Kayaking is also available.
This museum is located in the Tisch Building at 212 West 83rd Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. Current exhibits have something for every age group. Adventures With Dora and Diego (ages 2-6) is where kids can learn about animals and their habitats and explore a cave, beach, and rainforest. Inside Art: Create, Climb, Collaborate (ages 3-10) introduces kids to contemporary art and artists. PlayWorks (ages 0-4) combines play and learning and includes free, daily, drop-in Art Lab programs. CMOM is open daily from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM.
This museum features the aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, and other aircraft and vessels. It also has a fully-interactive space exhibit where visitors can climb inside a Bell 47 helicopter. The museum also offers 3-D films, simulators, and guided tours. It is located on Pier 86th, 12th Avenue and 46th Street, and it is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 6:00 PM.
Pier 25 is the longest pier in Hudson River Park, at 985 feet long. It is home to an 18-hole miniature golf course, volleyball courts, a snack bar, and a flexible turf field. Perhaps the biggest attraction for kids, however, is the playground, complete with water features and climbing structures. The park also offers views of sailboats, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. Pier 25 is located at North Moore Street.