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One of the most remarkable things about New York City—other than that you can get a good slice of pizza at any hour of the day—is that the city is as fun for children as it is for adults. Though, admittedly, indulging as a kid in New York City is more about visiting kids’ museums and riding the Staten Island Ferry with glee, rather than reveling in five-star dining options and the possibilities that come with not having to drive home. Whether your family is visiting New York for the first time, or you’re from the area and just want to treat your brood to a wonderful day in the city, here’s how you can plan a perfect day for the kids in NYC:
Stroll the High Line and Have Lunch at Chelsea Market
The High Line is the perfect jumping off point for a kids-centric day in the city. The elevated park is filled with public art and history the kids can actually interact with. Bring them to the Pershing Square Beams, where the structures are coated in silicone to create a safe play area for children, and The Rail Yards where children can amble along the old, still-exposed railroad—it’s pretty fun for adults, too. After an hour or two spent at the High Line, head to Chelsea Market for lunch and let the kids choose which vendor they want food from. Kids love nothing more than to feel independent in the big city, and Chelsea Market is the perfect venue for letting them exercise that independence—as long as they take an adult with them to their preferred vendor.
Shop at (or Bask in the Glory of) FAO Schwarz
FAO Schwarz returned to New York City in November 2018 after closing its Fifth Avenue flagship’s doors in 2015. You’ll find the new FAO Schwarz at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the goal of the new store is to be even more experiential than the original shop. The Fifth Avenue store was known for its floor keyboard—which, of course, the 30 Rock location brought back, while also debuting a rocketship. Kids will have a blast visiting the on-site Build-a-Bear Workshop, zooming toy cars around the store’s racetrack, and learning magic tricks from FAO Schwarz’s magician.
Visit with the Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History
What’s the best kids’ museum in New York City? We’d make a strong argument for the American Museum of Natural History—and not just because it’s a few blocks from Levain Bakery, where you can take the kids for cookies afterward. But before cookie time comes dinosaur time. And at the American Museum of Natural History, you’ll find the “world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils.” If your brood isn’t keen on dinosaurs, other kids’ museum options abound in NYC; try the Children’s Museum of the Arts in the West Village or the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
Choose Your Own Adventure at Eataly
Head either downtown to Four World Trade or to Flatiron to dine at the holy grail of food halls: Eataly. The downtown Eataly is the newer of the two locations, and the NYC flagship Flatiron Eataly is actually the largest Italian market in the world at 42,000 square feet. With older kids, you can do a nice sit-down meal at any of the restaurants, including Manzo, SERRA by Birreria, and La Pizza & La Pasta, which all take reservations at the Flatiron location. For families with young’uns who won’t want to sit still at dinner, you can find various stations to pick up food—from prepared foods to the gelato kiosk. Grab some food to go and picnic in Madison Square Park if you’re at the Flatiron Eataly, or in Liberty Park or Zuccotti Park if you’re downtown.
Find the Children’s Adventure Garden Within the New York Botanical Garden
Venturing uptown to the New York Botanical Garden is a perfect spring or summertime activity with the family. Within the botanical garden, you’ll find 12 acres of kid-dedicated space at Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. The adventure garden has endless sources of fun, between the pond and Pond Pavilion, indoor Discovery Center, meadows, woodlands, and on-site greenhouse. You can even sign your children up for educational nature and science activities, available all year round. There’s, of course, plenty to do without even popping into the children’s garden; New York Botanical Garden is set on a lush 250 acres, and from the lily-filled pond to the Haupt Conservatory, it’s an idyllic spot to spend an afternoon.
Where to Stay
One of their recent family-friendly offers is the American Girl Place Fifth Avenue Adventure, which gives your family access to a personal shopper at American Girl Place New York, a welcome bag complete with an “exclusive American Girl doll-sized travel bed, robe, and slippers set,” and “milk and cookie turndown service.” When staying at The Langham with the family, book their Family Double-Double Room with Kitchen to pamper your whole crew.