FAMILY FUN IN NEW YORK CITY
—The Young at Heart Can Have a Blast in the Big Apple with Exciting Activities, Attractions, and Entertainment Year-Round—
New York, NY (August 1, 2006) – Kids of all ages love New York City—it’s a place full of the world’s greatest toy stores, ballerinas, space shows, tigers, dinosaurs, parks, ships, speedboat rides, circuses, great stuff to eat, hands-on museums, behind-the-scenes tours and so much more that they might mistake this world-class city for a giant theme park. Here are some best bets in the Big Apple, great for toddlers, teens, and the little ones in between.
Not Your Everyday Museums
New York City’s many cultural treasures include the American Museum of Natural History whose dinosaurs, wild-animal dioramas, 94-foot whale, and cool shows at the Rose Center for Earth and Space will keep them busy all day long. In Queens the New York Hall of Science features 400 interactive exhibits and an outdoor science playground.
At Madame Tussaud’s in Times Square, visitors can get up close and personal with more than 175 amazingly lifelike wax figures of top celebrities and world leaders.
All aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, a converted World War II aircraft carrier that features multiple displays on two of its decks. One favorite kids’ feature, “The Navy Flight Simulator,” lets them virtually land a fighter jet in the middle of the ocean. There’s also a submarine to tour and a Concorde to see.
Around town there are so many places to learn the ways of the world. Experience ancient civilization at the Brooklyn Museum, home to a rich collection of Egyptian antiquities; or explore Eastern traditions at the Asia Society and Museum.
At the Ellis Island Immigration Museum retrace the steps of the 12 million people who came to America in the early 20th century. Learn more about the immigrant experience at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where great guides bring the building’s former tenants to life. Study American history at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, which is in a restored tavern where George Washington bade farewell to his troops.
Fire and police museums are a draw for family members young and old. At the Midtown FDNY Fire Zone, the city’s fire-safety learning center, kids can climb onto a real fire truck, try on bunker gear, and meet New York’s Bravest. Downtown, the renovated 1904 firehouse that has become the New York City Fire Museum presents the history of firefighting through its collection of historic NYC Fire Department artifacts including uniforms, tools, and fire engines. At the New York City Police Museum, headquartered in the city's First Precinct stationhouse, visitors can learn how detectives look for clues, tour the Hall of Heroes, and see exhibits on old police uniforms, cars, and motorcycles and NYC's notorious criminals.
Of course, you can’t go wrong at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Staten Island Children’s Museum.
More Family Fun
Two quintessential New York attractions are the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. On the second floor of the Empire State Building, travel over, under, and through some of New York City's most spectacular attractions with the virtual New York Skyride.
Every borough has a zoo -- the biggest and most famous is the Bronx Zoo, with more than 6,000 animals in beautiful settings. There’s also the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn; Queens Zoo; Staten Island Zoo; and the Central Park Zoo.
In Brooklyn, Coney Island has games, rides, a boardwalk, beach, and the wonderful New York Aquarium with its dolphin shows and children’s programming. Astroland-- the Coney Island amusement park that features the legendary wooden Cyclone roller coaster -- is open on weekends from April 4 and open seven days a week as of mid-June. Kids will love strolling through Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, a meticulously recreated historic village akin to Colonial Williamsburg.
Cruise the rivers on a sailboat, speedboat, water taxi, ferry, catamaran, or yacht; take the free Staten Island Ferry, or a speedboat ride on Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise’s The Beast.
The South Street Seaport is a 12-square-block historic district that includes the South Street Seaport Museum, ships to tour or cruise in, shops of all sorts to browse, and many concerts and other family-friendly events.
Older kids will love to see the sets of their favorites TV shows. Take a behind-the-scenes tour at the NBC Experience Store/Studio Tours or Inside CNN. See a TV show taping (nycgo/tv), or take a tour of TV locations with On Location Tours. There are many other family-friendly tours from Gray Line New York Sightseeing double-decker bus tours to Hush Tours.
New York City is famous for special events the whole clan will enjoy such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, CultureFest, Broadway Under the Stars, Downtown NYC River to River Festival, and the Museum Mile Festival.
Shopping and Dining
Adventures await around town with cool stores and fun places to eat. Toy shopping is a thrill at Toys "R" Us Times Square with its indoor Ferris wheel, two-story Barbie dollhouse, and model T-Rex that hisses and sways. FAO Schwarz, the 143-year-old toy emporium, has just had a dramatic renovation. It now features an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor in the center of the store, exclusive toys like Madame Alexander dolls made on the spot to a child's specification, a Hot Wheels factory, an older kids' rec room with arcade games and Vespa scooters, and, of course, its stunning menagerie of stuffed animals.
Disney magic comes to life through an interactive shopping environment at the World of Disney where Cinderella's Princess Court is an engaging experience for young girls. The world’s largest Build-A-Bear Workshop opened on Fifth Avenue to the delight of children everywhere.
Theme restaurants add entertainment to the pleasure of dining out. Have a meal with the dolls of American Girl Place. Afterwards check out more dolls, clothes, accessories, a doll hair salon, and theater featuring live musicals. Girls and boys under six dine free at City Lobster & Crab Company. At Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a wooden "shrimp shack" based on the movie Forrest Gump, there's an extensive children's menu, and the waiters play movie trivia games with their young customers. Many other of the city’s 18,000 restaurants cater to kids including Mars 2112, which offers an "interplanetary adventure" that starts with a space ship ride. Teens will likely go for the fun, memorabilia, and dazzle of restaurants like ESPN Zone, which has sports-themed video and participant games on a top floor; the Hard Rock Café; and Planet Hollywood.
The Great Outdoors
Take in the beauty of botanical gardens and the charm of our parks: New York is the greenest large city in America based on percentage of parkland. Parents can rent boats at lakes in Central Park, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Queens' Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park. (Information on seasonal park activities is at http://nycgovparks.org), or enjoy the gardens at Wave Hill (675 W. 252nd St., www.wavehill.org) in the Bronx. Kids can mount the beautifully carved horses that grace carousels in Central Park, Bryant Park, and Riverbank State Park in Manhattan, Forest and Flushing Meadows-Corona parks, Greenbelt-Willowbrook Park in Staten Island, and Prospect Park.
From Belvedere Castle, a stone mini-fortress set high on a hill, kids get a wonderful panoramic view of Central Park. Prospect Park's Lake and Central Park's Harlem Meer are stocked for catch-and-release fishing. (Fishing tackle is lent out at Central Park's Charles A. Dana Discovery Center.) From a pier in Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay, step aboard a deep-sea fishing boat.
A horse-and-carriage ride through the southern end of Central Park is a treat. And starting on May 21, Central Park's Wollman Rink turns into a Victorian-themed amusement park, with rides, games, and entertainment.