NYC Family Attractions
Though family attractions and New York City are not the first thought that come mind for family vacations, many are surprised to learn of several only-in-New York family attractions. Start with Radio City Music Hall at Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.
Radio City Music Hall
DESCRIPTION: America’s music hall features three mezzanines over its orchestra seating and excellent views from each seat; staying hip with the times, they feature the latest Neo Soul and Hip-Hop stars. Every winter holiday season there’s the Rockettes, who debuted at Radio City’s opening night in December 1932, have given continuous performances ever since. In many ways, the post modern architecture of the music hall is the real star, its expensive restoration completed, a tour lets you absorb all of its the opulence and get the backstory on the events here will make your jaw drop.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sun 11a–3p
ADDRESS: 1260 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: B, D, F, V lines
DESCRIPTION: The center was the ambitious vision of a young John D Rockefeller and hosts more than works of art. It houses NBC Studio, Radio City Music Hall, Associated Press Building, TODAY Show and Christie’s Auction House, the world-famous skating rink and gold-clad statues. Take a guided tour of the TODAY Show Studio for details on the crew and history, descriptions of the marvelous artwork, and book time at the skating rink and Channel Gardens. You may be able to visit the immaculate Rainbow Room on weekends. Children under six are not admitted on the tour.
ADMISSION: Adult $10, Ages 6-16 $8
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 10a-5p, Sun 10a-4p tours every 60 minutes; NBC Studio tours and views at the top also available; reservations recommended
ADDRESS: 1260 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: B, D, F, N, R, V, 1, 6, 9 lines
Empire State Building
DESCRIPTION: Since its opening in 1931, nearly 110 million visitors have ascended to the top. This civil engineering marvel and National Historic Landmark can arguably claim to be the most famous structure by modern man. It was built on the site of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It was built in the height of the Great Depression and still it cost $41 million; though has its 102 stories and a height of 1250 feet, the foundation set in bedrock only descends to 55 feet. The lobby is another of New York’s art deco masterpieces. All bags are subject to search before traveling to the 86th Floor observatory. 102nd Floor Observatory tickets are only sold upon arrival at the Empire State Building for $15 in addition to regular admission tickets. Christmas is a favorite time to visit with the special lighting.
ADMISSION: Express Pass $$; Military and Age 5 or younger enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: daily 8a-2a; last elevators go up at 1:15a
ADDRESS: 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: D, F, N, Q, R, V, W lines and New Jersey Transit trains
PHONE: 212-736-3100 or 877-NYC-VIEW
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
DESCRIPTION: One of the most successful ships in US History and a national historic landmark; In 1943, the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier served in World War II through Vietnam; today the museum features a range of interactive exhibits that cover the heroism of our armed forces; since 1974, the decommissioned Intrepid became a memorial to honor our heroes and educate the public; in 1982, it opened as a museum in NYC waterfront; ride in the A-6 Cockpit Simulator, visit the Virtual Flight Zone, and dozens of planes that fought in wars; the most spectacular is the ability to tour the inside the world’s fastest commercial jet, the Concorde which flew up to 1,350 mph at 60,000 feet – high enough to see the curvature of the earth
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sun 10a-5p
ADDRESS: Pier 86, West 46th Street and Twelfth Avenue MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: near Port Authority Bus Terminal and A, C, E lines
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
DESCRIPTION: Once you enter, curiosity takes over as you see the likenesses of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Will Smith, Biggie Smalls, Oprah, Usher, Samuel L Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Tyra Banks, Daniel Craig and others – soon you’ll catch yourself wondering who looks most real and you’ll see next. The intricate detail in the figures ranges from good (when the representing historical figures for whom photos were the only basis available) to astounding, particularly Beyonce and Johnny Depp who modeled for wax museum staff enabling them to capture over 200 personal measurements. A new wax figure these days costs $500,000 to make
DAYS & HOURS: daily at 10a
ADDRESS: 234 West 42nd Street, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, Q, R, S, W lines
American Museum of Natural History
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1869, today it is one of America’s great museums; features five floor levels of permanent exhibits in Fossil Halls, Rose Center, Culture Halls, Mammals Halls, Biodiversity, and more in its; the visiting exhibits are also legend – like the Darwin exhibit; the museum is well-known for honoring all cultures with special exhibits, plus science programs for kids and the Discover Room for K-2 kids; admission fees vary depending on whether you include an IMAX show and take advantage of their SuperSaver package; better yet get a City Pass for the best deal; Discovery Tours conducts expeditions throughout the world
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a–5:45p; IMAX Space Show every half-hour 10:30a–4:30p
ADDRESS: Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: B, C lines
PHONE: 212-769-5200 and 212-769-5700
Madison Square Garden
DESCRIPTION: The modern world’s most famous arena. It seats 19,500 for the New York Knicks; the Garden has hosted annual family shows, concerts, theatricals, the NFL and NBA Drafts, CBS Television’s Fall Premiere, product launches, college graduations, and religious conferences. Also home to WaMu Theater which hosts concerts. The garden sits atop New York Penn Station for trains and a myriad of subway lines.
DAYS & HOURS: Tours daily every half-hour 11a-3p; otherwise its event dependent
ADDRESS: 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, Q, R, V, W lines and New Jersey Transit commuter trains
PHONE: Ticketmaster 212-307-7171
Toy R Us Times Square
DESCRIPTION: Located in the center of Times Square, flagship attractions include an indoor 60-foot tall Ferris Wheel, a 20-foot tall animatronic Jurassic Park T-Rex, Barbie’s Dollhouse with all the latest fasions and accessories. Filled with Love plush toys with birth certificates and R Zone filled with 5,500 square feet of the latest video games on a huge plasma screen, CDs, DVDs; you can spend hours here.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 10a–9p, Sat 10a-9p, Sun 10a-7p
ADDRESS: 1514 Broadway, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: S, 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, Q, R lines
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
DESCRIPTION: Located in the distinctive Tisch Building, 5 hearty floors of programs, exhibitions and games your kids will love such as Adventures with Dora and Diego. PlayWorks include Gods, Myths & Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece, Little West Side, Block Party, and City Splash. Benefitting from substantial corporate sponsorship, all exhibits are first rate, imaginative and engaging. The museum also has tremendous community outreach and internship programs.
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a–5p
ADDRESS: 212 West 83rd Street, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 1 line
Chuck E. Cheese’s
DESCRIPTION: Harlem enjoys its own large version of this national franchise for family fun restaurant near 125th Street and the Magic Johnson Theatre.
ADMISSION: free entry, but you purchase game tokens and special amenities
DAYS & HOURS: Sun-Thu 9a-10p, Fri-Sat 9a-11p
ADDRESS: 280 St. Nicholas Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: A, B, C, D lines
Jackie Robinson Park and Recreation Center
This 13-acre linear park, one block wide by 10 blocks long was renamed in honors the baseball great Jackie Robinson in 1978. Also active on warm days, it features basketball and volleyball courts, fitness center, softball field, a pool and many youth programs. The recreation center includes a small sculpture and two plaque honoring Jackie Robinson.
ADDRESS: 89 Bradhurst Avenue, New York, NY MAP
St. Nicholas Park
This is a popular linear park for families to picnic and a fantastic place to play and watch some of the best basketball in Harlem.
ADDRESS: bounded by St. Nicholas Place, 141st street, and 127th street, New York, NY MAP
Lush landscaping, gravel paths, green chairs, a carousel and throngs of people speak to its rebirth over a long history since 1842. The park has not always been so lovely. By 1979, it was the site of frequent muggings and drug deals. In 1980, a non-profit corporation was set-up to transform the park and its reputation; the results are spectacular.
ADDRESS: behind NY Public Library on 42nd Street, New York, NY MAP
DESCRIPTION: Flagship of the largest network of metropolitan zoos in the country, the 265-acre Bronx Zoo is the heart of the Wildlife Conservation Society and its work to save wildlife around the globe. Features award-winning, innovative exhibits with superb viewing for more than 4,000 animals. See Western lowland gorillas at Congo Gorilla Forest and an indoor Asian Rain Forest, just two of their our outstanding naturalistic habitats for some of the world’s most amazing wildlife. Every zoo admission fees supports conservation by more expert researchers in the field than any other zoo.
ADMISSION: $$; Wednesday Pay-as-you-wish donation; extra fees for Children’s Zoo, Skyfari, Zoo Shuttle, Butterfly Garden, Monorail and Camel rides
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 10a-5p, Sat-Sun 10a-5:30p
ADDRESS: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 2, 5 lines
DESCRIPTION: The icon of American sports since 1923 when Babe Ruth played here, has been replaced with a new stadium in 2009. The old stadium was built to specifications that ensured Babe Ruth would hit more home runs than any right-handed hitter. The new stadium has the same distances to right, center and left field fences, 550 fewer (56,325), but wider seats, more legroom between roows, cupholders, more concession stands and restrooms and a lot more lounges, cafes and restaurants. For affluent visitors, the stadium alsohas 56 luxury suites and 410 party suites.
DAYS & HOURS: event dependent
ADDRESS: 161st Street and River Avenue, Bronx, NY MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 4, B, D lines