New York City is exceptionally child friendly. I’d lived in New York BC (before children), so experienced a very different city when I moved back there AC. Most major cities now have the kid-friendly world within. But in NYC it’s more than that. People open doors for you, help you carry your stroller up or down stairs, wait patiently for you to cross roads with kids. New Yorkers are genuinely friendly and helpful (yes, surprise, surprise). And then there are the countless activities for children… here are my Top 5.
- Every great city has a centre… the soul of the place. Sydney has its harbour… New York has Central Park. This is a mammoth oasis (843 acres) is filled with diverse landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and countless attractions. With younger kids, an easy day out is a visit to the east side of the park and the Central Park Zoo. Then take a ride on my personal favourite NYC attraction, the carousel. If you happen to be visiting in winter, the Wollman Ice Skating Rink is nearby.
- Times Square is iconic, and right at the heart of it is the 110,000-square-foot Toys R Us flagship store. The great thing about this store is that you can visit, have a great time, and leave without actually buying a single toy. It’s more like a theme park. Ride a ferris wheel, see a life sized T-Rex, hang out at Barbie’s house, play with toy displays… hours of fun in one colourful, flashing, noisy superstore.
- There are numerous museums that cater for kids, such as The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The Children’s Museum of the Arts… and even great kids friendly museums without the word “children” in the name, such as the wonderful American Museum of Natural History. But my favorite is the MET. With nearly two million works of art spanning more than 5,000 years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest museums. I had the pleasure of getting to know this museum well while we lived in New York. My son and I would drop in and visit our favorite areas and paintings, plus slowly make new discoveries over time. Our all-time favorite piece, where we would start every visit…? The Death of Socrates. Oh the conversations we had in front of this painting. Check out the great kids’ guides while you’re there.
- The Museum of the Moving Image is a little off the normal tourist track. It’s across the east river, in Astoria, and area of Queens worth a visit in itself. Astoria is one of the most diverse suburbs in the world, which has resulted in a fantastic array of restaurants, cafes, bakeries and specialty shops. The Museum of the Moving Image is all about the magic of movie making and is a fantastic museum for all the family. There are loads of interactive activities. Definitely worth the visit.
- One of my earliest memories was being taken to the absolutely amazing, awe-inspiring family musical spectacular, Oliver. I remember the songs, the dancing… the blonde kid who said, “More please.” This show mesmerized me… and it was just at the local community theatre. Imagine if I’d seen it on Broadway? If you’re in NYC with children over six-years you must take them to a Broadway show. In February each year, there’s a free kids ticket for every paying adult. Shows come and go but you can pretty much guarantee shows like The Lion King and Mary Poppins will be around for a while.