Year-round family-friendly activities in New York City

New York City is a top vacation destination for families around the world. Families with kids from all over flock to our bustling city to take in the spectacle of Times Square, take in the beauty of Central Park, take selfies in front of sights and landmarks, as well as experience the city’s culture. Living in New York, you know that the city is full of fun activities for kids, but often people save many of these activities for when relatives or other out-of-town guests visit.

Well, it’s time to show your kids what all the fuss is about and show them their city on a year-round basis. They will be awestruck and have their curiosity and creativity stimulated by the arts, music, and culture.

Here are my top 10 family-friendly activities year round:

Watch a film

When you hear New York and film, you do not always think “kid friendly.” There are many opportunities for kids to enjoy film that are not only appropriate but tailored for them. There are screenings throughout the year from outdoor screenings to film festivals. In March, the city hosts the New York International Children’s Film Festival. It was founded 20 years ago to support the creation of thoughtful, provocative, and intelligent film for children and teens of the ages 3–18. The festival experience cultivates an appreciation for the arts, encourages active, discerning viewing, and stimulates lively discussion among peers, families, and the film community. The event itself ends with screening of the award-winning short films and a party for families to attend, but the winners and notable entries are screened around the city throughout the year.


Visit a landmark

The city is home to so many iconic and notable landmarks. Take a day to visit some, take in some expansive views, and make memories. From walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, viewing the city skyline from the top of the Empire State Building, or visiting an iconic museum, there are family attractions that will spark your kids’ curiosity about this place that they call home!


Tour a museum

Museums are great options for year-round learning and fun! Whether your child’s interests are in art, science, or history — there are a variety of museums to visit and help flourish her knowledge of various subjects.


Listen to music

Listening to live music can be educational, enriching, and fun! Concerts are a fun experience that the whole family can enjoy — whether it is classical, folk, jazz, or current popular music. New York is home to world-renowned institutions and programming in the performing arts. Many family-friendly concerts offer an interactive component or even a pre- or post-show workshop to engage children and further develop an interest in music.


Cheer on a sports team

The New York metropolitan area has a total of 11 professional sports teams, and that means year-round fun for little sports lovers. The country’s best baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer are just a subway or train ride away. Special events like the tennis grand slam tournament (the U.S. Open) and the famed New York City Marathon draw international crowds are also family-friendly, fun events, too!


Play in the park

City parks are the perfect place to bring the kids and spend the day. Offering activities like cycling, running, walking, and even ice skating during winter will keep kids engaged in the city’s parks. There are gardens, greenery, lakes, and scenic views to enjoy in any season. City parks are perfect for picnicking and family bonding.


Attend a New York-centric event

Held throughout the year for every occasion, there are parades and street fairs, both big and small, that are family friendly. Bring the kids, watch performances, take photos, and join the revelry. Even the littlest kiddos enjoy people watching.


Try a new restaurant

In the city, there are so many restaurants to choose from, with every type of cuisine that you could desire. Taking advantage of Restaurant Week during special times throughout the year and try some new places. Want something low-key? Check out food trucks and food stands throughout the city. Walk the High Line and grab lunch or dinner along the way.


Take in a show

The theatre is a fun family experience that is perfect for all ages. Shows like “Aladdin,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “School of Rock,” “The Lion King,” and “Wicked” are great for school-aged kids. For Off-Broadway, you have some great options for kids in the “Gazillion Bubble Show” and the long-running show “Stomp.” Add your email to the list for Broadway Week, Off-Broadway Week, and Kids Broadway Week for savings.


Walk around town

Year-round walking tours are offered throughout the city. Whether it’s to see landmarks, relive history, or to taste yummy food, a walking tour is a great family activity. Nature walks and birdwatching in the city parks are both popular and educational. The famed Broadway show “Hamilton” has increased popularity of the longstanding historical tours — you can eve take a Hamiltour.


Shnieka Johnson is an education consultant and freelance writer. She is based in Manhattan where she resides with her husband and son. Contact her via her website: www.shniekajohnson.com.