New York boasts so many iconic buildings, museums, shows and restaurants to choose from, it’s tough to know where to start. If you’re travelling with the kids in tow, you’ll want activities that’ll entertain the whole family, too.
Here’s our pick of the best budget-friendly kids’ activities in NYC...
Monkey around at the zoo
New York has five zoos for you to choose from, with one in each borough of the city. The Bronx Zoo is not only the biggest of the them all, it’s the largest city zoo in the whole of the US, with over 265 acres to explore and 600 species to spot. This amazing animal kingdom is worth a full day of exploration, with a sea lion pool, a reptile center, a baboon reserve and pretty much the entire cast of Madagascar to see. Luckily, the zoo is open 365 days a year and is free on Wednesdays, so make sure you plan a mid-week visit.
Harlem Route, Stop: Apollo Theater / Harlem
Marvel at the masterpieces
There are over 80 museums and galleries to visit in NYC, and many of them offer free entry at various times throughout the month – you just have to pick the right day to visit. The famous Museum of Modern Art is free for under 16s and offers free entry for parents on Friday nights from 4-8pm. Here you’ll find masterpieces from Van Gogh and Picasso, one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the world, and activities like art workshops where kids can get creative. You’ve also got The Children's Museum of Manhattan, which is free on the first Friday of every month from 4-8pm, and the Children's Museum of the Arts, which offers pay-what-you-wish Thursdays from 4-6pm. Head to each museum’s individual website for all the details on free entry times and offers.
Uptown Route, Stop: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Picnic in the park
Central Park is Manhattan’s most famous natural attraction. The glorious green space is surrounded by stunning skyscrapers, so you’ll get amazing views of the concrete jungle while you’re strolling through the leafy landscape. There are manmade streams and waterfalls to wander around, statues to spot, and over 20 playgrounds for the kids to run around in. You’ll even recognize famous filming spots from loads of your favorite family movies like Home Alone 2, Enchanted, The Smurfs and Elf, to name a few. The Great Lawn, in the center of Central Park, is the perfect New York picnic spot where you can settle down with some snacks for a relaxed afternoon.
Uptown Route, Stop: Central Park Zoo
Learn to fight fires
If you’ve ticked off the usual New York hotspots, take the little ones to New York’s state-of-the-art fire safety learning center for a unique family day out. This place is located in the Rockefeller Center and is full of hands-on exhibits and activities to get the whole clan involved. You’ll get to explore a realistic fire truck, try on the bunker gear, learn how to crawl through a smoke-filled hallway, and meet a real-life firefighter who will show you the ropes and answer all of your burning questions.
Uptown Route, Stop: Times Square North
Spot the Statue of Liberty
You can’t visit New York without seeing the iconic symbol of the city – the Statue of Liberty. Get a great view of it from the Staten Island Ferry, which is free to ride, and takes you on a 25-minute journey across the Upper Bay. As well as getting the perfect drive-by view of the ‘Lady in the Harbor’, you’ll also spot the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan, and get a great view of the New York City skyline for those all-important selfies.
Brooklyn Route, Stop: Statue of Liberty / Battery Park
Play with Mario & Co
Whether it’s a rainy day or the kids are just keen to play, Nintendo New York caters to every gaming need. It’s handily located in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center and is a huge 10,000 square feet, with every Nintendo game and all the latest consoles to play on for free, including the Nintendo 3DSXL and Wii U. Brand new games are available to play in store on the day of launch so you can try them out before anyone else.
Uptown Route, Stop: Times Square North
Sample the best street food
New York’s foodie scene offers so much choice, meaning there’s something for every fussy eater. As well as chic cafes, fancy restaurants and trendy brunch spots, you’ve got plenty of street carts and snack stalls where you can grab a budget-friendly bite. Head to Halal Guys street cart on 53rd and 6th for a chicken and rice dish for just $7 (which is big enough for two). Or, tuck into some of New York’s best pizza at John’s of Times Square, which is set in a stunning 19th-century church – the stained glass ceiling even looks like a pizza. There are tonnes of toppings for you to choose from here, and you’ll get an extra 10% off with your Big Bus Ticket.
Uptown Route, Stop: Broadway Theater District
These are just a few of the budget-friendly activities you can get up to on your New York City family getaway. Ready to see the Big Apple in all its glory and plan the full itinerary? Browse our NYC bus routes to get started.