The New York City Kids Guide
It may have a reputation as being a concrete jungle, but New York City is packed with incredible, kid-friendly delights and adventures. These are the crowd pleasing spots for little ones.
Bronx Zoo2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx | 718.367.1010
Open since the end of the 19th-century, this world-class zoo—at 265 acres, one of the largest on the globe—is home to animals from the far reaches of the planet, including several endangered species and many now thriving rescues. While the idea of keeping animals in captivity can be troubling, we take comfort in the almost true to life quality of the animal's habitats, and the fact that the zoo contributes to important research and the protection of wild animals.
This massive, man-made, historic park in the middle of Manhattan might just be the thing that makes city life bearable for so many of its citizens: With acres of green space, it’s a public oasis offering incredible playgrounds, swimming pools, public concerts, running tracks, dog parks, gondola dotted lakes, a boathouse, a wonderful zoo, and the John Lennon Memorial. It’s a wonderful place.
Imagination Playground2 Fulton St., Financial District | 212.639.9675
Imagination Playground, designed by David Rockwell, is one of the city's most deluxe parks for little ones, with an enormous sand-pit, Rockwell's own system of big blue blocks for kids, and plenty of water and sprinklers. It goes without saying, but you'll want to pack a change of clothes since they can't resist getting wet.
Nelson A. Rockefeller ParkNorth End of Battery Park City, West of River Terrace
Located in the northern-most area of Battery Park City with direct views of the Hudson, this is one of the best parks in the city, with several play structures for different age groups, a water area, and a sand pit. Kids can also climb and interact with the playful Tom Otterness sculptures installed throughout the park.
Hudson River Park’s Pier 25Harrison & North Moore Sts., Tribeca
Mini-golf, beach volleyball, a skate park, and a huge play structure are just the beginning at this Hudson River-adjacent park. There are also loads of water features (bring a change of clothes), swings, and climbing walls—and it’s all adjacent to Tribeca and Battery Park City, meaning there are tons of options when everyone get hungry.
South Street Seaport Museum12 Fulton St., Financial District | 212.748.8600
Granted, this stretch is as touristy as it gets, but it’s a great day’s outing with kids. Skip the shops, and head to the South Street Seaport Museum, where you get to climb aboard several historic ships, including the Pioneer, an authentic 19th-century schooner which hosts rides from May through October. (Don't miss Bowen Stationery, an old-world print shop, which is attached to the South Street Seaport Museum.)
Washington Market ParkGreenwich St. & Duane St.
This excellent neighborhood park—smack in the middle of Tribeca—feels like its own world. The edge is lined with trees, which gives it a veil of privacy and makes the play areas, water fountains, and jungle gyms feel like they're in a not-in-the-middle-of-a-city place.
Chelsea Piers23rd St. and Hudson River Park, Chelsea | 212.336.6666
Situated on a pier along the Hudson River, this gigantic sporting complex operates out of the "if you build it, they will come" mindset. And it’s true: Here, you’ll find year-round ice skating, a rock climbing wall, gymnastics, soccer, a driving range, and more, all situated under one sprawling roof.
Brooklyn Boulders575 Degraw St., Gowanus | 347.834.9066
Catering to serious climbers and novices alike, this massive, technicolored climbing space in Gowanus hosts casual climb sessions, lessons for kids, and serious team training. With several walls, it’s roomy enough to accommodate larger groups and families. It’s a great resource in the winter, when it’s far too cold to exercise outdoors. Also, they're open until midnight.
Citibabes52 Mercer St., Soho | 212.334.5440
Located in Soho, this club for families offers a 1,500-square-foot indoor playspace, an adult gym, a gourmet café, and a space for birthday parties and family events, all under one roof. With an excellent staff of child minders, they make it easy for moms to hit the gym while the kiddos play.
Jane’s CarouselBrooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo | 718.222.2502
Originally installed in 1922 in Youngstown, Ohio, Jane and David Walentas bought the dilapidated carousel at auction in the 80s, before turning their attention to meticulously restoring it (Jane went so far as to scrape the layers of paint off with an Exacto knife, so she could color-match the artist’s original intentions). The carousel and its 48 horses are pristine now, and housed in a fitting all-glass, Jean Nouvel-designed pavilion. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of green space nearby to make a full day out of it.
Liberty Science CenterLiberty State Park, 222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City | 201.200.1000
Sure, it’s not officially in Manhattan, but this amazing science center is just a short train trip or drive away. Beyond boasting the largest IMAX dome in the states, there’s a Tesla coil lightning show, an outdoor obstacle course that mimics the way wildlife moves through nature, and the Touch Tunnel, where kids grope and crawl their way through a pitch black space.