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Family-friendly New York: sights where kids can run free

Family-friendly New York: sights where kids can run free

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If you are visiting New York with young kids you’re going to need some respite from the sensory overload that is the world’s most famous city. With this in mind I’ve got some tips for family-friendly New York sights where kids can run free.

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We know from experience that city breaks with children can be crazy exhausting. But they’re also an amazing cultural experience if planned at the right pace and with the right activities.

Letting kids run off steam is a must if you’re also going to expect them to navigate city streets and marvel at bright lights. Planning in pit stops is even more important if you are short on time.

If you’re interested in seeing a fun selection of things that happen in New York in just 60 seconds then check out this fab tool from Netflights*.

Family-friendly New York City

Mr Tin Box and I visited New York as one stop during our honeymoon. We were there for three nights, which I would argue is nowhere near enough time to make the most of this incredible city.

We have a lot of unfinished business there!

When we return there’s places we would like to revisit and others that are high on our bucket list to see for the first time through the eyes of our girls.

With children in tow, these might not be the same places we had in mind 15 years ago, but we’d be just as excited to explore them now.

Here’s our top recommendations for sights in New York where kids can run free:

Central Park

Central Park is the green lung of New York and an ideal retreat from the busy city streets.

But it isn’t just somewhere to chill out with the kids.

Don’t miss the Alice in Wonderland Statue, a splash about (or ice skating, dependant on the season) in Laskar Pool, or the children’s petting zoo.

Central Park would also be a great spot to see the partial solar eclipse on 8 April in 2024. If you’re a fan of celestial events and you’ll be able to see the whole solar eclipse in Oklahoma.

The American Museum of Natural History

If your kids are dinosaur fans like ours then a visit to the American Museum of Natural History is obligatory.

We missed out on visiting any of the national museums during our honeymoon trip as we just didn’t have time, so we’d defiantly try to squeeze in a visit to this one.

Obviously the self-guided A Night At The Museum tour would be a must!

The State of Liberty

It may be a New York tourist cliche but having experienced the space at the Statue of Liberty during our last trip we think it is a great place to see with kids.

They’ll love the ride on the ferry and you can admire the iconic New York city skyline from the harbour.

When you arrive on the island there’s space for picnics, running around, and the compulsory snap with Lady Liberty in the background.

Top tip: book your ferry tickets before of your city break, especially if you’ve visiting in busy holiday periods, and take the first boat of the day to get ahead of the crowds.

The Battery

When you get back from Liberty Island you might notice the incredible open spaces and family-friendly activities at The Battery.

It’s home to the largest perennial gardens in North America with plenty of interesting plant beds to weave around and water jets for kids to dodge (bring their swim suits on hot days).

You can also spot the numerous national monuments dotted around the waterfront park. All of this is free entertainment but if you’ve want to treat the kids to an extra quirky experience the Seagrass Carousel looks like great fun.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

This interactive military attraction on the River Hudson looks like a brilliant day out for the whole family.

Mr Tin Box is in the Royal Navy so I think he’d be most excited about looking around the museum centre-piece USS Intrepid.

Hot on the heels of their dad’s enthusiasm, the girls would have a ball pretending to be pilots on the flight deck, taking a look around a submarine, marvelling at the space shuttle Enterprise and stepping onboard Concorde.

As a history enthusiast I’d be in my element.

Fitting all of this into 48 hours in New York with kids would be a feat but it’s a good selection of activities to add to a city break bucket list if you’re heading to the Big Apple.

What would be top of your list or do you have any more recommendations on where kids can run free?

*Disclosure: this post is a collaboration with Netflights. All opinions and recommendations for New York family attractions are my own.

Why not save this post about family-friendly things to do in New York for later.

Five sights where kids can run free during your city break in New York, USA

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Monday 3rd of July 2017

I absolutely loved New York so would love to go back one day and take the children. These are some great ideas on things to do with the kids. Thanks

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Monday 3rd of July 2017

Glad you found it handy!


Monday 3rd of July 2017

Great ideas here - agree that New York could feel difficult with young children, so this is a brilliant idea for a post, to let them let off some steam in between all the queues and sights. Battery Park and Liberty island are perfect examples, and obviously Central Park. I'd also add areas of Brooklyn, where there are lots of parks dotted in amongst all the cool bars and shops. I'll link to this post from our NYC with kids itinerary on Space In Your Case, if that's ok. It will be a useful addition for anyone planning a family trip.

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Monday 3rd of July 2017

Great tip about Brooklyn - we only got a glimpse while on the city tour bus. Yes please, to adding this to Space in Your Case. That's very kind!

Leanne Cornelius

Friday 30th of June 2017

I hadn't realised that New York was so family friendly!

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Sunday 2nd of July 2017

I think there's child-friendly places in most destinations. Sometimes they're not so obvious and one person's 'child-friendly' can be different to another. We'd love to give these sights a go with our girls

Pippa Vincent

Friday 30th of June 2017

I'd love to go back to New York with the kids! I found it SO magical when I visited (and I was 23!!) :-)

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Sunday 2nd of July 2017

I was 28 and overwhelmed by the place. I think a second visit is necessary to be a little less 'star-struck' by the place :)


Friday 30th of June 2017

Oh I've always wanted to visit New York and this just makes me want to go even more!

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