New York City doesn’t exactly conjure up images of cherubic toddlers running down Madison Avenue. But the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps doesn’t mean your little ones can’t find their own fun. In fact, there’s tons to do for toddlers and kids alike that has nothing to do with parents frantically chasing them down a sidewalk. Here’s what to see and do in New York City with toddlers in tow.
Designed with early education in mind, the The Children’s Museum of Manhattan focuses on creativity, health and world cultures through the kind of fun that makes your toddler forget whatever their last meltdown was all about. The museum has plenty of exhibits, classes and workshops you can do with your toddler and watch their little minds get inspired. It’s also fun for grown-ups where you can learn fun facts like the number of disposable chopsticks used in Japan each year. (It ranks around 24 million). While you get your head wrapped around fun facts, your toddlers already found the cool toys and fun housed on four different floors.
Central Park Counsel and Delacorte Clock
Central Park ranks on family travel lists for just about everything, but there are spots often overlooked in favor of exploring the paths and stopping at the various playgrounds. Crafted in 1908, Central Park’s carousel features 57 hand-carved horses and old-fashioned decorative chariots. It’s a totally charming experience to take in before heading to the Delacorte Clock. Everyday 8 a.m.–6 p.m., 32 nursery rhyme tunes play on the half hour and hour where animals rotate on a track around the clock. The Central Park Zoo is also just a stone’s throw away from the clock, and is a much more manageable experience with a toddler than the expansive and over-crowded Bronx Zoo.
When tourists think of New York, they often assume the only green space can be found in Central Park and a few pockets of the city. In reality, there are more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach to community gardens and nature centers. Go to a spot locals love but visitors often miss at Wave Hill. Nestled in the northwest Bronx along the Hudson River, Wave Hill features flower gardens and alpine houses, greenhouses and a cultural center. There’s also space for toddlers to roam while parents take in the breathtaking views.
Once a haven for debauchery and dubious behavior, Times Square quickly morphed into a family-friendly destination and even has pedestrian-only walking areas. This makes it easier than ever to let your toddlers come along and explore under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad. Shops like Disney and M&M World abound, but good old-fashioned people watching will quickly become your little one’s favorite pastime.
Situated alongside the Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge Park was once full of old warehouses and undeveloped space before expanding into condos, greenspace, waterside fun and Jane’s Carousel. Located in the Empire Fulton Ferry area of the park, Jane’s Carousel is housed in a glass pavilion and adjacent to stops for treats like ice cream and iced coffee. Afterwards, take a walk through the designated pier areas to find green space, a terrace, volleyball space and a beach for volleyball and fun in the sand.