New York City, affectionately known as the Big Apple, is a bustling metropolis filled with countless attractions, events, and activities catering to visitors of all ages. As a parent or caregiver of a toddler, you might be wondering how to navigate the city and find the most entertaining and age-appropriate experiences for your little one. Fear not! This blog post will guide you through some of the top things to do in NYC with toddlers, ensuring you and your family create unforgettable memories together.
No trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Central Park, the city’s iconic green oasis. This massive park offers endless opportunities for toddlers to explore and play. A few highlights include:
This large playground features a variety of play structures, water features, and sandboxes designed to keep your toddler entertained for hours.
Central Park Zoo
A perfect destination for animal lovers, the Central Park Zoo features a variety of animals, including sea lions, penguins, and snow leopards. The Tisch Children’s Zoo is specifically designed for young children and offers a petting zoo and interactive exhibits.
The Central Park Carousel
This historic carousel has been delighting visitors since 1871. Your toddler will love the excitement of riding one of the 57 hand-carved horses.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is a fantastic destination for families with young children. With five floors of interactive exhibits designed for kids aged 0-10, this one location offers tons of things to do in NYC with toddlers. Some of the most popular exhibits for toddlers include:
This exhibit is designed for children under four and features hands-on activities, such as a soft play area, mini slides, a pretend deli, and a fire truck to climb on.
Adventures with Dora and Diego
Based on the beloved children’s television shows, this exhibit invites your toddler to join Dora and Diego on exciting adventures through a rainforest, a cave, and a beach.
Open seasonally, this outdoor water play exhibit is perfect for hot summer days. Toddlers can splash around, play with water toys, and learn about the water cycle.
The New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden, located in the Bronx, is a beautiful destination for families looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle (and one of our personal favorites). The 250-acre garden offers plenty of space for toddlers to roam and explore. Key attractions for young children include:
The Everett Children’s Adventure Garden
This 12-acre garden features hands-on exhibits, mazes, and trails designed to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Open seasonally, the Family Garden offers hands-on gardening experiences and family-friendly workshops.
Throughout the year, the New York Botanical Garden hosts various family-friendly events, such as the Holiday Train Show and the Orchid Show.
The New York Transit Museum
Next up on our list is a spot that may not come to mind when thinking of things to do in NYC with toddlers. Located in Brooklyn, the New York Transit Museum is a unique and engaging destination for transportation enthusiasts of all ages. Housed in a decommissioned subway station, the museum features historic subway cars, buses, and other transportation artifacts. Toddlers will enjoy:
Boarding and exploring vintage subway cars
Toddlers can climb aboard and experience subway cars dating back to the early 1900s, complete with period advertisements and upholstery.
“On the Streets”
This interactive exhibit allows children to explore a cityscape filled with traffic signs, signals, and a real city bus they can board and pretend to drive.
The museum offers “Transit Tots” – a free, drop-in program for children aged 2-5, featuring stories, games, and other activities centered around transportation.
Coney Island, located in Brooklyn, is a historic seaside amusement area that offers a variety of attractions suitable for toddlers. A day spent at Coney Island can include:
This amusement park features rides and games that cater to young children, such as the Circus Candy, Seaside Swing, and Tea Party.
New York Aquarium
Located on the boardwalk, the New York Aquarium is home to a variety of marine life, including sea lions, sharks, and penguins. The interactive Aquatheater show is a hit with young children.
Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the famous boardwalk, or let your toddler play in the sand and dip their toes in the ocean.
Battery Park City
Here’s another place that’s never top of mind when thinking of things to do in NYC with toddlers. Battery Park City, situated in Lower Manhattan, is a modern neighborhood that offers numerous family-friendly attractions. Here are a few highlights:
This well-maintained park features a large playground, with play structures and a splash pad designed specifically for toddlers. The park also offers beautiful views of the Hudson River.
This hidden gem, located within Battery Park City, offers a unique playspace with slides built into a hill, a sand pit, and water features.
This upscale shopping center is home to the Hudson Eats food hall, which provides a variety of dining options perfect for families. In the winter months, the Brookfield Place ice-skating rink offers a fun outdoor activity for the whole family.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a free, 25-minute ride that offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline. Toddlers will love the excitement of being on a big boat and watching the city from a new perspective. Once you reach Staten Island, you can explore the Staten Island Children’s Museum, which features interactive exhibits and play areas designed for young children.
The High Line is a public park built on a historic elevated freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side. This unique park offers a peaceful escape from the city streets, with lush greenery, art installations, and beautiful views of the city. Toddlers will enjoy exploring the winding paths, peeking through the various viewing platforms, and discovering the park’s unique play areas, such as the Pershing Square Beams. These play spaces, designed specifically for children, feature a variety of interactive elements, including a water feature and a sandbox.
New York Hall of Science
Located in Queens, the New York Hall of Science is a hands-on science and technology center that offers a variety of interactive exhibits designed for children of all ages. Toddlers will enjoy:
This exhibit, specifically designed for children aged six and under, offers a safe and engaging environment for toddlers to explore and learn through play. The area features soft building blocks, a water table, and sensory play materials.
The largest science playground in North America, this outdoor exhibit offers various hands-on activities, such as climbing structures, slides, and sand play, that incorporate scientific principles.
Throughout the year, the New York Hall of Science hosts various family-friendly events and workshops, such as Maker Faire and Science on a Sphere.
Bryant Park, located in Midtown Manhattan, is another green oasis in the heart of the city. The park offers a variety of family-friendly attractions and events throughout the year. Toddlers will love:
This charming carousel features whimsical animals and offers a delightful ride for young children.
The Reading Room
The Reading Room offers a variety of children’s books and hosts storytelling sessions during the warmer months.
Bryant Park hosts various seasonal events and attractions, such as ice-skating and Winter Village during the winter months, and outdoor movie nights and free children’s performances during the summer.
New York City is an incredible destination for families with toddlers, offering a wide array of attractions and activities that cater to young children. From exploring iconic parks and engaging museums to enjoying the thrill of amusement rides and attending special events, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the Big Apple. By incorporating some of these top picks into your itinerary, you and your toddler will create lasting memories and make the most of your time in this vibrant city.