Visiting New York City with kids over the spring break? Yes, this may seem totally overwhelming. So much to see and do, and so much hustle and bustle! The beauty of a NYC family vacation, however, is that everyday moments are transformed by the energy that makes the city so unique. Just going to a park, walking around the city, or stopping for a bite at a deli or bakery are vacation-worthy experiences on their own! Sprinkle these low-key activities with visits to our hand-picked, not-to-be-missed tourist spots for families and you may be surprised by how energizing AND relaxing a NYC spring break can be! Below, check out my go-to’s in the Big Apple.
Spending some time out of doors in Manhattan’s backyard is a must, with or without kids. Central Park bursts into bloom in the spring! The park itself is huge, so plan your visit according to your family’s interests. Some of the best playgrounds in NYC are found throughout the park, as well as the Central Park Zoo. Families might also enjoy rowing full-sized boats across the Lake by the Loeb Boathouse, exploring Belvedere Castle by the peaceful walking paths of the Rambles, or delighting in the talents of various performers found in all corners of the park. A ride in a horse-drawn carriage is an especially memorable way to experience this New York City favorite. If you have a fan in the family of the mischievous children’s book and movie character Eloise, you can stop afterward for tea at the nearby legendary Plaza Hotel.
Staten Island Ferry
A ride on the Staten Island Ferry is totally free and offers excellent views and photo ops of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Your kids will love the adventure of riding on a ferry, and you’ll love the cost-effective sightseeing tour! While this passing view of Lady Liberty may be enough for many families, those interested in a closer look can also buy tickets through another ferry service, Statue Cruises, to climb the statue and/or visit nearby Ellis Island, the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 to 1954 when it processed approximately 12 million immigrants. Now a museum, it features interesting artifacts including the immigrant luggage which Bebe Voyagers might get a kick out of. They will also love running around outside. The stellar views of lower Manhattan are not to be missed!
If you’ve got strong walkers (or willing stroller-riders), a walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge is another fun and free way to enjoy some fresh air while taking in that Manhattan skyline. The pedestrian walkway is just over a mile long. Come prepared to enjoy some quality family time on your walk. Take pictures, break out your best conversation starters or kids’ jokes, and try not to get run over by those fast-walking commuters! Best of all, waiting for you on the other side of the bridge will be…delicious New York-style pizza! Try a pie at Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s in Brooklyn. Just be prepared for long lines. Then enjoy some ice cream and incredible photo ops at the nearby pier.
The Children’s Museum Of Manhattan
A list of New York City tourist spots would not be complete without including some of the city’s many world-class museums. In case your visit coincides with a rainy spring day, these offer wonderful indoor activities to keep the whole family engaged! The Children’s Museum of Manhattan boasts multiple levels of playful and interactive exhibitions for younger children, including the new Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City, which invites kids to be the superheroes in a comic book-inspired miniature city. It is perfect for indoor play should the spring weather turn cold and rainy!
The American Museum Of Natural History
If you’ve got older kids, the American Museum of Natural History is great for all ages, featuring exciting exhibits (dinosaurs! a wooly mammoth! a gigantic whale model!) and engaging family-centered programming. And, when you are done exploring, walk a few blocks for a snack at Alice’s Tea Cup, a whimsical tea house in the style of Alice in Wonderland. This is also a perfect place for indoor play on any cold or rainy vacation days, and it is sure to impress even your most reluctant museum goer.
Museum Of Ice Cream
For a limited time only, be sure to stop by the Museum of Ice Cream, where multi-sensory installations bring everyone’s favorite dessert to life in a way that will delight both the young and the young at heart. Slide down a three-story slide or float on a magical table, and of course, enjoy some yummy specialty ice cream at the cafe. The exhibit only runs through the end of May – the perfect treat for your NYC spring break getaway!
Interested in reading about more family-friendly spots in New York City? Check out our 10 best spots in NYC post as well!