Planning family vacations isn’t easy, especially when going to a big city. It’s hard to know what the kids will like to do and what is even available. Nothing is more disappointing than spending a lot of money to do an activity and it being a big disappointment. When sightseeing the big city of New York, here are some things that you can do that will not only be fun, but will leave your kids with memories for a lifetime.
1. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
In New York this suburb is more than all the other Chinatown’s you can find around the country. This Chinatown is a place where people actually live and work, not just a touristy thing to see. One of the highlights here is the ice cream factory. While most kids are familiar with ice cream, this is different because of the unusual flavors that are made on-site! Family owned since its creation in 1978, the employees are always cheerful and taste-testing samples is a fun pastime. Be sure and try some of the different flavors like black sesame, wasabi, avocado, and the local favorite “zen butter” before deciding on a full scoop.
While many associate Broadway as being something for older audiences to enjoy, there are plenty of performances that are aimed at families. Many of these are Disney favorites like Lion King and Mary Poppins. Be sure and check around to see what shows are going and help your kids get a taste of the theater!
3. Lower East Side Tenement Museum
If you have older children, learning some of the history of the Big Apple is a great experience. Take a guided tour through this urban living museum and learn what immigrants have gone through during the history of our country. Different cultures are represented in the tour here such as Germans, Irish, Jewish, and Italians. The tour discusses the struggles of past generations but can also give a great reference point on the topic of immigration, which is still such a major debate today. Buy tickets in advance, as the tours are limited to 15 people. Most tours don’t let children under 5, but really it would be boring for anyone younger anyway.
4. San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy
Every September Little Italy has a San Gennaro Festival which is a great cultural experience. As it is known for being an 11 day feast, the festival goes on for the same amount of days. While you can try all sorts of delicious foods from authentic Italian cooking, there is a great street fair that is so much fun to walk through and experience.
5. Take a Tour in New York
Most people are familiar with the double decker buses that take tourists around to see all the sites. These are well worth the money in order to see all the famous sites in the city quickly and while seated. These fun New York City bus tours are even more fun for kids if you sit up on the top which also allows you to see more of what is going on around you.
6. Coney Island
This historical location is well known for the hot dogs, but there is so much more to see and do here than you might think. Take the subway there to experience the real New York and catch a game of minor league baseball. If beaches are more your thing, there’s a big one you can check out. There is also the famous roller coaster, Cyclone. And while it may be well known, a trip to Nathan’s for a hot dog is always a good idea.
7. Central Park
Of course a park is going to be a good place to take the family! This park is special with so many things to see and do in the massive amount of park here. Try riding a carousel or watch a sea lion feeding at the zoo. There are marionette shows at the Swedish Cottage to be seen as well as fishing available. While there are so many things available here, sometimes it’s just nice to have a place to let the kids run.
8. American Museum of Natural History
Many children might already be aware of this museum from the Night at the Museum, but seeing it in real life is just as cool. From the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex to the mummified dinosaur eggs, there are so many cool things to see here for kids of all ages.
9. Children’s Museum of Manhattan
As expected, exhibits are tailored to kids at this museum. Kids can explore with Dora and Diego as they go through all five floors. Exhibits are interactive and sure to please even the grumpiest kids who are tired of sitting and looking at things they can’t touch.
10. FAO Shwarz
This famous toy store on Fifth Avenue is a great stop for adults and kids alike. The magic begins with giant toy soldiers guarding the doors are passed into the building. Movies have shown one of the most famous attractions within this store which is a giant keyboard that people can walk and play on by stepping on the keys. Almost any toy can be found here including Legos, Barbies, Thomas, super heroes, and stuffed animals galore. Of course, be sure to stop and pick up some of the many yummy treats sold here as well.
Leslie Horning is the Web Marketing Manager at gonytours.com, a provider of discount New York City and Brooklyn sightseeing tours.