13 Free Things to Do with Kids in NYC

New York City is a great place for families. One thing that helps: free-admission days at museums, gratis concerts and films, complimentary story sessions and exciting events that make local entertainment more affordable than you might expect.

Guests see how chocolate blocks are blended with butter and sugar and heated to just the right temperature to be poured into trays of small molds and cooled to make a scrumptious shell. Go online to book and look for discount offers to save on the rather steep admission fee. A, C trains to 14th Street; M14 crosstown bus to 10th Avenue. Story hours are scheduled here every Tuesday and Saturday at 11am. Find the perfect fit.

Discover New York\'s best events & things to do with kids, family-friendly restaurants, kids\' shows, kids\' shops, birthday planning & classes for kids. ABOUT US National Atlanta Bump + Baby Chicago Los Angeles New York Portland San Francisco Seattle SoCal Washington D.C.
New York City (NYC) never ceases to amaze you with quantity and quality of its free culture and free entertainment whether it's summer or winter, spring or fall, January or June, May or September as NYC art, culture and entertainment scene is saturated with free events to go to, free things to do.
Discover New York\'s best events & things to do with kids, family-friendly restaurants, kids\' shows, kids\' shops, birthday planning & classes for kids. ABOUT US National Atlanta Bump + Baby Chicago Los Angeles New York Portland San Francisco Seattle SoCal Washington D.C.
Best things to do with kids in NYC this weekend The list of things to do with kids in NYC goes on and on, so find the perfect outing for you and your family.
Things to do with kids in New York City, Boston, Connecticut, Westchester, Long Island, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Los Angeles.

A guide to the best of what's happening in New York city each week for children and their partents.

Perfectly Peanut Butter is among several unique choices. While the kids indulge in ice cream parents can relax with a pink cotton candy martini. At the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan, a foot-high entry hall greets riders with panoramic views of the downtown Manhattan skyline. On fine days a rooftop viewing deck with benches is an excellent place to go while waiting for the next boat. The closest subway station is South Ferry, served by the 1 and 9 lines.

The ferry is basic transportation to Manhattan for residents of Staten Island so avoid morning and evening rush hours when commuters crowd the terminal. This is one city attraction that is quieter on weekends. Departs every half hour.

The first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in , this museum remains an innovator. Recently doubled in size, the Collections Central area now has room to show off some of the enormous permanent collection of nearly 30, objects, from minerals and fossils to a complete skeleton of an Asian elephant to musical instruments, masks and dolls.

In Neighborhood Nature kids can get a fish-eye view by crawling in a tunnel inside the pond aquarium, and dig, play and harvest pretend plants in the garden. New World Brooklyn, a world of kid-sized shops, highlights diversity with stores where you can build a lantern for Chinese New Years, make pretend dough at a Mexican Bakery, and create cloth patterns, construct slat chairs or have a go at drumming in a West African emporium.

Whether kids choose to be shoppers or play cashier, the International Grocery is a chance to see products from around the world, The only drawback to this terrific museum is the trek to get there. The subway ride from Manhattan takes nearly one hour and any route requires a six or seven block walk from the station. If you have the time and energy, however, it is a worthwhile trip. Tuesday to Sunday 10am — 5pm.

Allow a whole day for the largest city zoo in America and home to some animals. Many of the residents are found in open natural settings. Among many highlights are Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest where glass walls put you close-up to these wondrous animals. Camel rides and the bug carousel are fun diversions.

You can cut down the walking in this enormous zoo with rides by tram or monorail. Special times to arrive are feeding times for lions at 11am and 3pm and for penguins at 3: A daily calendar lists other special events.

Order tickets online to save standing in line and try to schedule this outing on less crowded weekdays. March 23 to November 3: Monday-Friday 10am — 5pm. November 4 to April 4: Daily 10am — 4: Kids love the shows featuring some of their book and film favorites like movie sets from Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. The topics are often unique and the displays are well done but each will occupy only an hour or so.

Because admission is separate for each of the three current exhibits and the tickets are expensive, this is recommended only if there is a special lure for your family.

If you do go, be sure to check the web site for current special offers and look online for any other discounts like Groupon discounts. A former movie and TV studio houses a unique treat, a museum devoted to the development of moving pictures from flip books to the digital age. Parents often are as intrigued as the kids at the chance to see exhibits that tell of the development of film and television cameras, projectors, television sets, video games, and sound recording equipment.

Visitors can play vintage arcade and console games and have a variety of interactive experiences like recording a sequence of still photos that can be printed to make a flipbook or creating stop-motion animation that can be saved and emailed to friends. You can dub your voice over dialogue from a film or add sound effects and music. A simulated TV control room is the chance to watch the director call for varying shots to cover a baseball game.

The newest major permanent exhibit features Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. More than exhibits include storyboards, film and TV clips, costumes and 47 puppets, including favorites like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Elmo. Kids can even have a try at being a puppeteer. The subway ride from Manhattan is about half an hour. Not recommended for toddlers but highly recommended for older children. Family audio guides are also available. This world-famous museum is often packed with visitors but you can avoid crowds by going during Friday or Saturday evening hours.

Buying tickets in advance also helps. Children under 12 are admitted free. M1,2,3, 4 bus to 82nd Street. Teens, who can be hard to please, usually love this museum. Because they can take endless photos for their Facebook pages with the lifelike wax figures of everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Barack Obama.

Smaller fry will enjoy seeing Sponge Bob and ET. Late May to early September and holiday periods: Rest of year, Sunday to Thursday: The city views from the boat ride and from Liberty Island are spectacular and standing close-up to the Statue of Liberty is a guaranteed thrill for everyone. For kids who are old enough the climb up the torch is an adventure to cherish.

The same boats that go to Liberty Island continue to Ellis Island, a visit recommended for children old enough to appreciate the chance to walk in the footsteps of the millions who came to America from other lands. Even advance tickets for these iconic sights sell out months in advance, especially tours that include access to the Liberty torch the highest point you can climb to inside the Statue of Liberty.

Boats leave regularly from 8: Last boat back departs at 6: Children ages 8 to 13 are invited to become history detectives learning about early life in New York through a series of engaging exhibits. The museum offers programs to entertain tykes while older siblings explore. Storytime for ages 4 to 6 is at Pay what you wish every Friday pm.

Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday: Sunday 11am — 5pm. This little gem is a hands-on museum inviting families to explore art through intriguing exhibits and the chance to actually experiment with art materials, clay, sound and animation. The Fine Arts Studio is open for everyone to paint, draw, or sculpt a take-home art work and the Clay Bar lets novice sculptors go to work.

Check for hours when the Media Lab and Sound Booth are open, places where you can learn how to animate a short film or record a song. Children under five have their own WEE Arts studio and the Ball Pond lets everyone work off excess energy before you leave. Some smocks are available but its best to come dressed in clothes that can take a bit of paint or glue. Pay what you wish on Thursdays from 4 to 6pm. Temptations abound in this nirvana for chocoholics, a mouth-watering reward for good boys and girls.

How about a Chocolate Chunks Pizza made with melted chocolate and topping choices of hazelnuts, bananas, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows? Or maybe a Cookieshake, white chocolate ganache blended with Oreo cookies and ice? The menu of hot chocolates is amazing along with the O. G Chocolate Chunk Cookies, served with whipped cream, berries and melted chocolate.

Be sure to make a reservation as the dining room is often packed. It can get noisy, crowded, and a little chaotic at peak meal times and on weekends. Children who dutifully trudge through sightseeing deserve a reward.

At Chelsea Piers, once defunct piers on the Hudson River have been transformed into a acre riverfront sports complex that can be a welcome break. Activities include a bowling alley and indoor ice skating in winter and a summer skate park. The Field House, which serves many leagues and classes, offers a selection of Drop-In Programs for its facilities between scheduled sessions.

These include batting cages, soccer fields, basketball courts, a gymnastics area, and a rock wall. Children age 4 and under have their own indoor play area.

Call to find out what is available on the day you want to visit. The 23RD Street crosstown bus headed west brings you right to the entry. Hours vary with seasons: Arrive an hour early for Arts Express, pre-performance hands-on activities inspired by what is on stage.

Many workshops are scheduled with the artists teaching performance skills from puppetry to circus arts to hip hop. These are mostly for ages seven and up though there are a few for ages four to seven. Check the web site for upcoming performances and programs — each listing indicates the recommended ages.

Check for current offerings. A restored actual tenement building gives a rare chance to experience what brave immigrant newcomers actually faced in their confusing new world from to Most of these immigrants came from Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe. The recently restored addition at Orchard, the building housing the museum shop, brings the story up to the s, adding the stories of Holocaust survivors and Chinese and Puerto Rican arrivals.

Visitors can also play-act, taking the role of new arrivals and asking questions about life on the Lower East Side. Children are allowed to handle the household objects. Tours are popular and may sell out, so reserve ahead on line or by phone to avoid waits and disappointment All tours meet at the Visitor Center at Orchard Street.

The Center has an excellent selection of New York City souvenirs. Walking tours of the neighborhood are available, as well. For help selecting the activities best suited for your family, phone Subways: M15 bus to Grand and Allen streets. This still-growing 84 acre park covering 1. A former industrial space and decaying piers have become a world of gardens, promenades and bike paths with spectacular views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the New York skyline.

The park has activities galore. Pier 2 offers courts for basketball, handball, bocce, shuffleboard and hopscotch, as well as a roller skating rink. Pier 4 is a sandy beach with a boat launch. Pier 6 has a volleyball court. Pier 3 is reserved for quiet walks and reading. Several playgrounds are located around the park and an old fashioned carousel awaits near the Dumbo entrance.

The pleasantest and most direct way from Manhattan is by boat. All these stops require a minute walk to reach the park. Piers open 6am to 11pm, playgrounds open dawn to dusk. The late John D. Rockefeller, Jr donated the land and the building, which holds his incomparable collection of medieval art. To make this art more fun for children.

On many Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p. Check for workshop dates. Fort Tryon Park surrounding The Cloisters is a treat, with soaring views along its promenades and terraces, plus playgrounds and eight miles of paths, many of them meandering through woodland. To reach the Cloisters, take the A train to th Street, a minute ride from midtown, then a ten minute walk through the park or one stop north on the M4 bus.

Daily 10am to 5: A great family day is guaranteed! The Luna Park amusement center boasts classic rides like the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone roller coaster along with plenty of state of the art scream new machines and gentle thrills for little ones including a carousel. It would be worth the trip just for the New York Aquarium and its spectacular newest exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Enter through a clear foot tunnel with creatures from the Great Barrier Reef swimming right beside you on both sides and overhead as well.

The exhibit offers 18 kinds of sharks along with rays, skates, sea turtles—some fascinating species in all. And there are fireworks every Friday night in summer. Almost every TV show ever filmed can be viewed at this center which boasts an archive of more than , TV shows, radio broadcasts and commercials. Visitors have their own TV consoles and ear phones and can call up favorites past and present, from I Love Lucy to early Sesame Street.

Super Bowl ads and Halloween specials. Themed screenings take place. Recently the cast of Veep and Anthony Bourdain have appeared. This spectacular collection of historic fire engines and equipment from the late 18th century to the present tells the story of firefighting from the days of bucket brigades to hand pumps, horse drawn steam engines to high-tech fire boats.

The accessories are fun to see, as well; who knew that some firemen once wore top hats to work? Prepare for plenty of temptations in the gift shop. A moving memorial gallery to the firefighters lost at the World Trade Center in is tactfully set apart so that families can decide whether they wish to visit. Check the web site for schedules. The museum is housed in a triple bay firehouse with its sliding doors, brass sliding pole and winding staircase intact.

Open daily 10am to 5pm. For a peaceful afternoon and a look at a different side of New York, head for this newest waterfront neighborhood, begun in the s partially on landfill created from the building of the original World Trade Center, and mostly completed by The acre complex, now home to some 10, residents, offers miles of beautifully landscaped, art-studded paths for strolling or biking with peerless State of Liberty views as well as parks and playgrounds with many activities for children.

The two residential sections are centered by Brookfield Place formerly known as the World Financial Center an office complex with many shops and dining places and a big, tranquil outdoor terrace overlooking a marina of sleek yachts and sailboats.

Rockefeller Park at the north end of the area, has basketball and handball courts, swings and a Parkhouse with ping pong and billiards tables, a play kitchen and toys, games and play equipment free to borrow from May through October. The waterside walkways continue to Battery Park and beyond. Noisy, crowded, and utterly fascinating, Chinatown makes for a colorful stroll and tasty dining.

Start on Canal Street where food stands are stacked with mysterious vegetables and dried foods, and all manner of seafood shimmering on beds of ice. Turn onto Mott Street, the main artery, for a sampling of lures like chopstick shops, bakeries beckoning with cookies and soft buns filled with roasted pork or beef, and souvenir stands selling slippers, back scratchers, dolls, toys, and bamboo plants, which the Chinese consider good luck. Buy a mini-stalk to take a little luck back home.

Stop into the Eastern States Buddhist Temple at 64 to see offerings piled high on altars and over golden Buddha gleaming in the candlelight. Then return to Mott and choose among the many restaurants for a final Chinese treat.

Take the 6, N or R trains to Canal Street. Paradise for fans of Wii or Nintendo games, this store offers the chance to try out all the newest games and find a host of unique souvenirs, including hard-to-find plush characters. The second floor is a mini-museum displaying every console and character ever created, a great nostalgia trip for older kids and many parents.

Fans line up outside for product introduction days and to see life-size costumed favorite characters like Mario or Pikachu when they appear for photo ops. Check the web site for dates. Monday-Thursday, 9am to 8pm; Friday, Saturday 9am to 9pm; Sunday 11am-7pm. Many of these swank, state-of-the-art facilities become singles hangouts after dark, when age restrictions are the rule, but all welcome families during the day.

They include two hours of bowling, shoe rentals, arcade games, a pizza-chicken bites platter and drinks. Advance reservations are suggested.

The Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers Pier 60, 23rd St and West Side Highway, is smaller and less crowded and offers an arcade, a small laser tag arena and an aerial ropes course for children 48 inches and up. Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge — West 42nd Street, adds billiard tables to the fun and a nice food selections like burgers of the month, tacos, and wings.

Rates are lower Monday to Wednesday. Every Saturday afternoon, the store hosts a completely free and fabulous event that is different every week, from book readings to character visits to pirate ship adventures.

Union Square Greenmarket and Playground: The Union Square Greenmarket is the best I have ever seen, with so many local farmers offering up a variety of wonderful foods. It is open year-round on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. After we explore the food and flower stalls, we like to visit the great playground. It is beautiful and modern, and has separate sections for different ages of kids.

The toddler area has nice mats and a water-and-sand area better in the summer , and a nice-sized climbing area for little ones. Everyone in my family loves to explore this market 75 9th Avenue, between 15th and 16th Sts. There is a little table where children can read and color, and all of the shelves are low enough for the little ones to find their favorite books. Oh, and Fat Witch Bakery will even give out free brownie samples!

Haupt Glass Garden is also open to the public days a year and is a fantastic place for visitors to enjoy as well. For us, the garden offers a reprieve from the streets and business of the city. My kids love the calm, quiet environment and looking at the beautiful plants, most of all in the winter when it is too cold to enjoy the outdoors.

Visit the beautiful Grand Central Station. Grand Central is a treat in itself—watching the trains come and go, looking at the amazing ceiling, seeing all the hustle bustle, and it also has a huge food court if anyone gets hungry.

Located right outside The Oyster Bar great place to get a bowl of chowder, completely caught in time , one of the most magical things is the Whispering Wall. You go to a corner of the wall, and someone goes to the opposite corner This historic train station is especially festive and kid-friendly during the holiday season.

Watch the activity at the Boat Pond in Central Park. Look for affordable kid-friendly hotels to stay in New York City. Heckscher Playground in Central Park: This playground West side, near 61st and 63rd Sts has recently been redone, and it is fantastic. It is perhaps the best playground in the city. Boat Pond in Central Park: On the first Friday of every month, admission is free from 5pm to 8pm.

Still, with four stories, each geared to a different age level, this museum offers an adventure that could last all day long if you want it.

Discover the best things to do with kids in NYC, including kid's events, family attractions, children's museums and more TODAY THIS WEEK THIS WEEKEND Subscribe to Time Out New York Kids. Best things to do with kids in NYC this weekend The list of things to do with kids in NYC goes on and on, so find the perfect outing for you and your family. New York City is a great place for families. One thing that helps: free-admission days at museums, gratis concerts and films, complimentary story sessions and exciting events that make local entertainment more affordable than you might expect.