9 great experiences for families in New York

Whatever the age of your children, there’s something to keep everyone happy in the Big Apple. Fresh from her own family holiday to New York, travel writer Anna Hann shares nine ideas to make it an action-packed trip they’ll never forget.

Test your spy credentials at Spyscape

If your kids (or you, for that matter) aspire to be a spy, Spyscape is a fun and highly interactive morning near the south side of Central Park. Everyone starts with a QR code on their wrist, and as you make your way around the space, you stop to answer personality quizzes, try lie detector tests, and negotiate laser rooms to test your spy potential. In the end, your scores are totted up to tell you exactly what spy role you’re perfect for.

© Spyscape HQ

Peer over the Edge

One of the best ways to get your bearings of New York’s sprawling metropolis is to see it from above — and it’s a view you’re unlikely to ever forget. Edge is the highest outdoor Skydeck in the Western Hemisphere, and the experience begins as you’re guided through a series of multimedia displays revealing what it took to build this remarkable structure. Then, a 52-second elevator whisks you smoothly to the top, where you’re met with far-reaching views across the city from 100 storeys high. If your kids are 13 or over and meet the height and weight requirements, they can get harnessed up and scale the outside of the Edge — guaranteed to be something they’ll be telling their friends about!

Take a trip to Governors Island

Glorious Governors Island is a short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn. Hire bikes, including four-seater Surrey bikes, and cycle the island's circumference. Governors Island is an intriguing place where historic buildings and barracks hint at its military past, but there’s an abandoned feel to this place that lets children’s imaginations run wild and feels distinctly different from the city, even though you can see the magnificent skyline at every turn. Plan for at least half a day on Governors Island, stopping to admire the Statue of Liberty across the water and taking a pit stop at Slide Hill, which features the longest slide in all of NYC.

Play at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

On the Upper West Side, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is a must for little ones — there are five floors of interactive activities, water play, role play, and experiences designed to help them get ready to start school. Before or after, you’ve got the playgrounds of Central Park to the east, or head to the Hudson River Waterfront Greenway a couple of blocks west so they can play while you look out over the Hudson.

Taste your way around a neighbourhood

Food tours are a brilliant way to get to know a neighbourhood better and eat as you go — plus, you’ll learn a bit more about an area from an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. If you’re a family of pizza fans, the Original Brooklyn Pizza Tour takes you to some of the Borough’s best pizzerias and sights — including a trip to Coney Island at the seaside. Or you could try a food tour of Greenwich Village and taste some Cuban delicacies alongside pasta and sweet treats.

Catch a movie, NYC style

If everyone needs some time to chill, catch a new release together at Alamo Drafthouse (there are outposts in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn), where you can have dinner as you watch a movie. In the summer, see what’s showing at the Seaport Cinema, an outdoor venue where you can watch iconic family movies on an enormous screen with the Brooklyn Bridge behind it. There’s a selection of great restaurants, and you can wander the cobblestones around this historic pocket of Manhattan.

© Seaport District

Experience the thrills of Coney Island

Who said only Florida and California had all the theme park fun? New York’s kitschy Coney Island is home to Luna Park, where you’ll find some old-fashioned-style rides, including the famous Cyclone roller coaster that opened in 1927 and a boardwalk and beach. Families can enjoy classic boardwalk games and try Nathan's famous hot dogs on a bucket-and-spade break from the metropolis.

Run free at Domino Park

Where the Domino Sugar Refinery Site once stood in Williamsburg is a completely reimagined five-acre park. Pick up some tacos and let them explore a playground based on parts of the old factory, including the Sugarcube Centrifuge and the Sweetwater Silo. Then, for a fabulous view of Manhattan, stroll along the elevated walkway, cantilevered off columns retained from the factory’s sugar warehouse.

Spend an afternoon in Central Park

New York’s Central Park is a genuinely iconic destination. The sheer size of it impresses many first-time visitors, and there’s even more to this green expanse than meets the eye. Aside from a wide selection of playgrounds, kids can fly kites and go fly fishing, and families can hire boats on the lake. Look out for guided tours, especially for families, such as a Discovery Walk of the Shakespeare Garden or a playground adventure for young urban planners.


Feeling inspired by these incredible family experiences? Call us and our travel experts will recommend where to stay and share invaluable tips to maximise your time in the Big Apple.

This feature was published on 3rd July 2023. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Anna Hann.

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