This page is protected by copyright
laws. Do not reproduce in any format.
Big Apple Playdate
Families visiting New York City can choose from a wide range of attractions without spending a fortune
For many, the words “New York City” don’t immediately call to mind family travel. But just as the city can feel like one big playground for adults, Gotham offers a diverse range of activities for kids as well. What’s more, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path attractions perfect for families on a budget.
While not exactly off-the-beaten-path, the American Museum of Natural History is a must for families. The museum, known to young ones for the film “Night at the Museum,” has been beloved by children for generations. The dinosaur halls on the fourth floor are legendary, but kids will also love the dinos in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. Visitors should also be sure to check out the schedule of programs for the museum’s Hayden Planetarium as well. Admission to the American History Museum is free, with a suggested donation of $19 for adults and $10 for kids.
Less well known but worth a visit is The Children’s Museum of the Arts, which recently moved into a new facility in downtown Manhattan. The museum features a 2,000-square-foot gallery, a hands-on media lab, a ball pit and work spaces where kids can sculpt, paint and draw. Admission is $10 for adults and kids. On Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., visitors pay as they wish.
Living in one of the densest cities in the world, New Yorkers rely on the city’s parks to keep them sane. These green spaces — especially Central Park — are a great resource for visitors as well.
Families visiting the city in winter should forego the crowds and cost of the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and head to Central Park’s outdoor Wollman Rink instead. This spot is a favorite for local ice skaters and the views here are spectacular. Admission runs $10.75 for adults and $5.75 for children ages 11 and under (Monday-Thursday) and $16 for adults and $6 for kids (Friday-Sunday). Skate rentals are $6.75.
While the world-class Bronx Zoo is well worth a visit, the classic Central Park Zoo is beloved in its own right for its famous polar bear residents — Ida and Gus — the penguin house and the sea lion feeding time. Admission is $12 for adults and $7 for kids.
Other activities for families in Central Park include fishing at Harlem Meer, renting a model sailboat at Conservatory Water and renting a rowboat at the Central Park Boathouse.
When kids want to blow off some steam, visitors should head to the Imagination Playground, at the South Street Seaport. This David Rockwell-designed creation features foamy blue shapes to play with and trained “play associates” who oversee the playground to make sure that everyone has fun. Admission is free.
Decorated in pink and black, the Eloise Shop at the Plaza Hotel is a dream come true for little girls. Kids can try on tutus in a dress-up station, listen to a story, watch Eloise movie clips and play games. There’s even a tea room where tots can sip on fancy drinks.
For another alternative, families can check out afternoon tea at Alice’s Tea Cup, a charming tearoom with three locations in Manhattan.
Sweet Nourishment and Nightlife
Of course, New York City is famous for its pizza – which will probably suit families just fine. For an after-dinner treat, however, kids will love to sample the city’s amazing candy stores. Two of the most well known are Serendipity 3 (famous for its frozen hot chocolate) and Dylan’s Candy Bar.
For nightlife, Disney’s Broadway hits, “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins,” can’t be missed. For discount tickets to shows, check out the TKTS booths in Times Square and downtown in the financial district.
Another entertainment option for families is the B.Y.O.K. (Bring Your Own Kid) musical concert series at the downtown offshoot of the 92nd Street Y. This Sunday morning series brings out top musical acts for kids. Plus, bagels, coffee and juice boxes are served.
Of course, everyone knows about the city’s big-time sports teams and venues, such as Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium, but another option is MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn. This spectator-friendly stadium is the home of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team. Visitors who come during the season can take in a game as well as ride Coney Island’s famous Cyclone roller-coaster and eat an original Nathan’s Famous hot dog.
If your clients are more interested in doing rather than watching sports, advise them to check out the 30-foot-tall rock wall, skating rink, bowling alley and driving range at the Chelsea Piers sports complex. This mega-complex overlooking the Hudson River has something for just about everyone.
| Central Park features many low-cost activities for families, such as renting a rowboat. // © 2012 THINKSTOCK|