Planning Your New York City Family Vacation

Planning a family vacation to New York City? See our guide to put together the best vacation for your family in NYC.

Planning a family vacation to New York City? You’re in luck! We’ve put together a guide to help you plan the best vacation for your family in NYC. From attractions and how to get around the city to where to stay—let’s dive into all the details, so you can make the most of your trip to the beautiful Big Apple.

Family-Friendly New York City Attractions

When you’re planning a New York City family vacation, especially for the first-timers, there is a long list of incredible attractions to see. From Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, here are some tips for exploring the top attractions in NYC with your family including where to stay in New York City with family.

Central Park

Central Park is one of the top attractions in New York City for family visits. It’s the fifth-largest park in NYC and rests across over 843 acres, which means there is plenty to explore. There are tons of activities for children like boat rides on the lake, the petting zoo of Tisch Children’s Zoo (located inside the main Central Park Zoo), and Belvedere Castle’s Henry Luce Nature Observatory, which was designed for kids and teaches visitors about the flora and fauna of Central Park. There are also 21 playgrounds scattered throughout the park; each has its own theme, design, and type of play equipment. Central Park is so massive that you could spend weeks enjoying its nooks and crannies with your family. Finding a family hotel near Midtown Manhattan is your best bet in order to be walking distance from most attractions. Midtown has several family hotel options with family suite room selections as well as complimentary crib amenities.

Empire State Building

Located in the center of Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is one of the most iconic structures in the world and one of the most special parts of a New York City family vacation. To feel like you’re on top of the world, venture to the 86th or 102nd-floor observatories. This will give you and your family incredible views of the New York City skyline. It’s good to keep in mind with little ones that the wait can be long depending on the time of day. Try visiting late in the afternoon, when you should be able to venture up to the elevator without waiting in too long of a line. Again, this just depends on the day, the time, and the season. The nickname of the state of New York is “Empire State” thanks to this magnificent building (which means that no trip would be complete without a visit to this Art Deco skyscraper). The Manhattan skyline can also be seen in all of its glory from the top of the building.

Statue of Liberty

A gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States, seeing the majestic Statue of Liberty ranks high on the to-do list during a New York City family vacation. If you’re looking to bypass the expensive tours, take the kids on the Staten Island Ferry for free. There’s no ticket to ride and visitors can take a 25-minute voyage from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island. On the way, you’ll see beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline, the New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty. Whether you’re looking to save some money on your New York City family vacation or just looking to take the scenic route, visiting the Statue of Liberty by way of the Staten Island Ferry is one of our favorite things to do.

The High Line

If you’re in the mood to get some exercise with the family, The High Line offers a beautiful place to breathe in the fresh air and the sites of the city. Created in 2009, The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway, and rail trail. It was created on what was once the New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. This tree-lined pedestrian walkway is free to experience and spans roughly 20 blocks. It’s known as a hybrid public space where visitors can experience nature, art, and design all at once.

Rockefeller Center

Home to Radio City Music Hall and shows like Saturday Night Live, a visit to Rockefeller Center is one of the top attractions in New York City for families. Kids will love seeing the Lego version of New York City and stopping by the Nintendo Store and FAO Schwarz to browse. If you come during the Christmas season, there’s also the huge Christmas tree that you can follow with a fun visit to the ice skating rink. If you need a bite to eat, Magnolia Bakery promises yummy baked goods and the Potbelly Sandwich Shop is the best place to stop to fuel your afternoon adventures. There’s also the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, which sits 70 floors high into the sky and offers sweeping views of the city from three different viewing decks. At the NBC Studio Store, kids can also have their photo taken at the red chair from the popular show The Voice. If you find yourself here during evening time, the lights add to the feeling of wonder for the kids—and parents!

Times Square

Time Square is a major tourist destination, an entertainment center, and commercial intersection that rests in Midtown Manhattan between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. There are endless ways to spend your time at Times Square, from a self-guided walking tour to a picnic in Bryant Park. Kids will have fun grabbing snacks at the food carts and visiting the massive M&M store where they can do a “Color Mood Analyzer” to see what sort of M&M personality they have. For a memorable New York City family vacation, there’s also nothing quite like seeing a show on Broadway. Depending on when you visit, you can see everything from Harry Potter to The Lion King. Kids and parents will have fun getting dressed up and watching the actors perform in the heart of New York.

How to Travel Around NYC with Kids

An important part of visiting attractions in New York City for family memories is knowing how to get around. If you’re already nervous about where to park in New York City, it might be a good idea to leave the car at home and opt for some of these more-pleasant alternatives. However, rest assured, if you do drive—there are places to park without the hassle and headache.

Citi Bike

New York’s official bike-sharing system, Citi Bike, is a wonderful way to get around on your New York City family vacation. Go for a day pass or do something more short-term, depending on how long you’ll be looking to travel around. As you plan your day, avoid areas with cars and go cycling in places like Prospect Park, Staten Island, and Pier 54 instead. If you do go to Prospect Park, there are plenty of fun things to do in Brooklyn with your family, like visiting Coney Island or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

NYC Ferry

When you’re traveling with kids, taking the ferry offers built-in entertainment for them and stress-free travel for you. Ferries are the same price as the subway, but they come equipped with options for snacks and charging stations for phones and tablets. If children are under the height of 44 inches, they can ride the ferry for free when accompanied by an adult. The best part about NYC ferries is that the journey is equally as important as the destination—and who says you even have to go anywhere? The ferry is an event in itself.

MTA

New York City’s mass transit system, the MTA, can be found throughout the city and is made up of busses, subways, and commuter rail service. The system is relatively easy to use and will get you just about anywhere you want to go. It’s cost-effective when you’re traveling with a group and plenty of the hotels are located within easy walking distance to stops.

Taxis and Ride Share

If the idea of getting the kids on and off the mass transit system on your New York City family vacation stresses you out, you’re not alone! Opt for something simpler like a taxi or rideshare service. Uber and Lyft offer easy ways to navigate the city streets and ensure that you don’t have to think about the hassle of parking or subway stops.

Where to Stay in New York City

When you’re planning a family vacation, one of the biggest things to figure out is where to stay in New York City. Consider whether you will be walking distance from tourist attractions you want to visit and whether or not the hotel offers the kind of bed options you need for your family (two double bed, queen bed, king bed, family room, bunk bed, rollaway bed). Options for lodging are plentiful, but here are a couple of our favorites.

Hotels

New York City is home to some fantastic options for family-friendly hotels. Whether you’re looking to be near the top attractions, restaurants, or the best coffee shops in New York, you can find a hotel that will match your interests and family needs. Check out Loews Regency New York which boasts a kids and teens program or NU Hotel which comes complete with baby bathtubs and toddler step stools. Some family-friendly hotel options offer babysitting services and large bedroom suite selections to make your stay more comfortable. Midtown East and Midtown West will be the most centrally located to the city’s attractions and children’s museum. However, Brooklyn offers more affordable hotel choices for families who want to stay nearby without an expensive Manhattan room rate.

Zeus

Thanks to our fully-equipped kitchens (say goodbye to the kitchenette), washer and dryers, and smart TV’s with cable, we think Zeus is the best place to stay in NYC with family. When you’re planning your New York City family vacation, go to Zeus for affordability, safety, and easy self-check-in. Whether you want to stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn, we have family suite options for you complete with a bunk bed or rollaway bed additions so the whole family can stay comfortably.

As always, if you have any questions about our furnished rentals, or about our beloved NYC home rentals, feel free to reach out to our team today. From top city attractions to subway tips, we’re here for you.