Despite its size and intense pace, New York City is an amazing place to explore with the whole family. Choosing a great place to stay is important because of the amenities as well as the location. If you are traveling with younger kids, pick a hotel that's close Central Park where you'll have easy access to twenty playgrounds, a zoo and other fun things to do.
If you plan to go see a Broadway show with an older child, look for a hotel within easy walking distance of New York's Times Square so that you don't have to worry about waiting for a cab or subway after the show. If you are interested in shopping and downtown attractions, there are many amazing hotels in lower Manhattan.
1.The New York Palace
2.The Viceroy New York
3.Loews Regency New York
4.70 park avenue hotel
5.Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan
6.Park Lane Hotel
7.The Michelangelo near Times Square
8.The Lowell Hotel on the Upper East Side
9.Hyatt Union Square New York Next to the Famous Greenmarket
10.Le Parker Meridien New York
11.The Chambers Hotel
12.Manhattan Skyline Views from the Wythe Hotel
13.The Pierre Next to Central Park
14.60 Thompson Hotel in Soho
15.Moroccan Decor at the Casablanca
16.Circular Suite at the NoMad
17.Langham Place, Fifth Avenue
18.Conrad New York
19.Loft-Style Rooms at Ink48
20.W Hotel New York - Union Square
New York City with Kids: Where to Stay & What to Do
- The New York Palace, Photo: The New York Palace
- The Viceroy New York, Photo: Viceroy Hotel Group
- Loews Regency New York, Photo: Loews Regency New York Hotel
- 70 park avenue hotel, Photo: Kimpton Hotels
- Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan
- Park Lane Hotel
- The Michelangelo near Times Square
- The Lowell Hotel on the Upper East Side
- Hyatt Union Square New York Next to the Famous Greenmarket
- Le Parker Meridien New York
- The Chambers Hotel
- Manhattan Skyline Views from the Wythe Hotel
- The Pierre Next to Central Park
- 60 Thompson Hotel in Soho
- Moroccan Decor at the Casablanca
- Circular Suite at the NoMad
- Langham Place, Fifth Avenue
- Conrad New York
- Loft-Style Rooms at Ink48, Photo: Kimpton Hotels
- W Hotel New York - Union Square, Photo: W Hotel New York - Union Square
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Francois Roux - Fotolia.com
Central ParkStay in a hotel next to Central Park which will give you quick and easy access to playgrounds, ponds, lakes, the zoo and many other fun spots to visit with kids. Central Park is home to attractions that kids cannot see anywhere else. From the favorite Alice in Wonderland Statue, to the Marionette Theater and the Park's 21 playgrounds, every child will be entertained. Best of all, most of the attractions in the park are free.
While the area is very popular on weekends, it is quite empty during the week which makes it a great escape for the whole family. Older kids may like to visit the Great Lawn to watch a variety of sports on weekends. In the summer you can rent a boat at the Boathouse and enjoy spectacular views of the city. The 21 Central Park playgrounds offer a wide variety of playing equipment. The playgrounds are located all over the park, so no matter where you are staying you can take your kids out to play. One of the biggest playgrounds is located at the south end of the Park near the Wollman Rink and the Time Warner Center where you can stop for an inexpensive lunch at Whole Foods, a giant store in the basement of the building. The Central Park Zoo is a favorite with young visitors who come there to watch polar bears, monkeys, penguins and sea lions. A separate petting zoo lets kids get to know tame animals from up close. Be sure not to miss the famous Balto statue which is situated on the path leading north from the Zoo.
Central Park Zoo in Manhattan
Central Park Zoo is a wildlife oasis in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world. Located in New York City's Central Park at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, the zoo features two separate areas: the wildlife center and the petting zoo particularly popular with children. Visitors can view sea lions, penguins, polar bears, tropical birds and rare monkeys. One of the most visited events are sea lion feedings which take place in the Central Garden several times per day.
The zoo presents tropic, temperate, and polar habitats, featuring more than 1,400 animals and over 130 different species. Visit the Polar Circle part of the zoo to observe penguins dive into their pool of water. Watch the polar bear through a thick window of plexiglass swim underwater. The Leaping Frog Cafe serves snacks and offers outdoor seating during the warmer months.
Admission is $6.00 for adults, $1.25 for seniors 65 and older, $1.00 for kids 3-12, and free for children under 3. The Central Park Zoo is open Monday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm, weekends from 10 am to 5:30 pm from April to October; and daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm from November through March. For more information, call 212-439-6500. On your way to and fronm the Zoo, children like to look at the statue of Balto, located in Central Park at East Drive and 67th Street, is a favorite with kids. Situated on the path leading north from the Central Park Zoo, the bronze statue is perched on top of a rock.
Children know Balto from a 1995 animated film about an Alaskan malamute who traveled 660 miles to deliver an antitoxin needed to halt a diphtheria epidemic through an Alaskan blizzard. The animated film is based on a true story. Balto even came to New York City when his statue was dedicated in 1925 near Willowdell Arch. The bronze statue is slightly larger than life and shows Balto panting with his legs braced, dogsled harness hanging from his back, while he gazes into the distance. There are other statues in the park. Nearby, you will find the historic The Central Park Carousel and several playgrounds. Further up north in Central Park are Conservatory Water, the Arthur Ross Pinetum, The Ramble and the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater which is close to the American Museum of Natural History. There are several great hotels in the area, including the Plaza Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, New York and The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park.
The Central Park Carousel
The Central Park Carousel, located Central Park at 64th Street, is a popular stop for young New York visitors, attracting 250,000 riders every year. The vintage carousel features 58 hand-carved painted horses and is one of the largest in the United States. The horses are nearly life-size in the outer ring and can accommodate adults as well as children. There are four horses in each row, beginning with two larger ones on the outside and two child-sized horses in the inside. The horsesy move up and down as the carousel goes around in a circle. Those who do not like to ride on horses can ride in two comfortable carriages.
The first carousel in the park was built in 1870s, powered by animals. A steam-powered carousel arrived at the turn of the century, replacing the original. The present structure is the fourth one and has been in the park since 1951. Each ride costs $1.25. The Carousel is open daily from April to November, 10 am - 6 pm, weather permitting. During the colder months, from November to April, the Carousel is open on weekends, 10 am - 4:30 pm, weather permitting. For more information, call 212-879-0244.
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in New York City houses a small children's theater and design workshops. Located in Central Park at West Side and 79th Street, the cottage features Scandinavian details inside the theater which seats 100 children. This is the only public marionette theater company left in the US. It writes and produces their own shows and designs its own costumes for the puppets. Some of the productions have included Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Hansel and Gretel. The cottage was placed in the park in 1876. It was originally a schoolhouse sponsored by the Swedish government for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The best way to reach it is to follow the path from the Central Park entrance near the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side.
For current performance information, call 212-988-9093. Admission is $5 for children, $6 for adults, and $4.50 for schools or not for profit groups. Reservations are required. Shakespeare Garden, located at West Side and 79th Street, between the Delacorte Theater, Belvedere Castle, and the Swedish Cottage, was dedicated to Shakespeare in 1916, the 300th anniversary of his death.
This romantic garden features flowers from Shakespeare's plays, trees, and rustic benches. Visitors often bring a book and read in this quiet area. Flowers bloom throughout the seasons and are especially lovely in the spring. The garden reaches to the top of Vista Rock and Belvedere Castle from which one can enjoy beautiful views of the Park and the city. Nearby attractions include the Strawberry Fields, The Ramble, the American Museum of Natural History and the Arthur Ross Pinetum.
Playgrounds for Kids
New York City's Central Park has 21 playgrounds for kids, scattered throughout the park. Some are large, featuring state-of-the-art play equipment, while others are small and less visited. Most open every day at 7:30 am and close at dusk. The Heckscher Playground is the largest in the Park, spanning over three acres. Situated between 61st and 63rd streets, at Seventh Avenue and Central Park South, the playground is for kids ages 6 to 12. It features 14 swings, seesaws, a water feature, a wooden suspension bridge, and its own restroom facilities.
The Billy Johnson, just north of the Central Park Zoo at East 67th Street, is known for its beautiful landscaping, swings and tables for picnic. All equipment here is constructed of white cedar and can be used by children of all ages. Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ancient Playground derives its name from the Egyptian Wing of the museum. The playground features wooden play equipment for older children, as well as bucket swings and a separate sandbox area for smaller children.
Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground, also near the Metropolitan, is a small playground for children two to five years old. It features the cute Group of Bears sculptures, a small fountain, bucket swings, a sandbox, an adventure slide, and monkey bars. The Safari Playground at West 91st Street, for kids ages two to five, features a jungle theme with 13 hippopotamuses, a canoe float in a pool, treehouses, picnic tables, and a tot-sized jogging path mirroring the nearby Reservoir running track.
Robert Bendheim Playground at East 100th Street for ages 2 to 5 is the only playground that accommodates disabled children. The West 100th Street Playground for children of all ages is one of the oldest. It features painted wood equipment stands in sand-covered area, monkey bars, tire swings, two tree houses, a roller slide, pyramid slide, a wooden bridge, a star-shaped fountain, and a sprinkler.
Explore New York's Central Park on your Family Vacation
- Mother Goose Statue: The granite Mother Goose statue is located at East 71st Streetk. A fun sculpture for kids, Mother Goose by Frederick George Richard Roth was placed here in 1938 after it was donated by the City of New York. The granite statue is located at East 71st Street. Mother Goose is shown flying on her oversized goose against the wind. The sculpture includes other characters: Humpty Dumpty, Little Jack Horner and Little Bo Peep.
- The Falconer: The Falconer is a bronze statue located at mid-Park on south side of the 72nd Street Drive. The statue shows a human figure holding a falcon high up in the air. The falcon is depicted with its wings spread wide apart. The Falconer was created by George Blackall Simonds in 1875. There are several other statues located nearby. Mother Goose Statue is located at East 71st Street, Balto at East Drive and 67th Street, and Alice in Wonderland at 74th Street near Fifth Avenue.
- Wollman Skating Rink: At the Wollman Rink, you can rent skates and glide on the ice surrounded by the city skyline and upbeat music. The atmosphere is especially romantic at night and during the winter holiday season. Go skating at the Wollman Rink and admire awesome NY skyline views. For more information about the Wollman Rink hours and fees, call 212-439-6900. If you need more information, the Visitor Information Center is situated just to the north of the rink. You can pick up a list of current Park events, or purchase a guidebook in the Gift Shop.
- The Visitor Center in the Dairy: The Visitor Center is housed in the Dairy, a 19th century Swiss chalet with Gothic touches. The visitor center, open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, features a permanent exhibit about the history of Central Park, and a gift shop. From the Dairy loggia, visitors can see the Wollman Rink and the city skyline. You can also pick up a list of current Park events and programs, including free concerts in the summer and various programs for kids. Nearby attractions include the Zoo, the Carousel, and the statue of Balto.
- Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park: Alice in Wonderland is the children's favorite sculpture in Central Park in New York City. Kids climb on it, touch it to experience different textures, and interact with the characters. Located at the northern end of Conservatory Water, the statue features characters from Lewis Carroll's 1865 classic tale Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The sculpture, dedicated in 1959, was commissioned by philanthropist George Delacorte from Jose de Creeft. Alice is seated on a giant mushroom, while March Hare and Mad Hatter flank the sculpture on both sides. The timid mouse is perched on top of a smaller mushroom, while the Cheshire cat looks over her shoulder.
- The Statue of Hans Christian Andersen: The statue of Hans Christian Andersen is located near Alice, west of Conservatory Water, at 74th Street near Fifth Avenue. The sculpture was designed to be climbed on, which makes it popular with kids. The statue includes a duck gazing up at Hans Christian Andersen who is holding an open book with opening lines of The Ugly Duckling. In the summer months, visitors gather around the statue for storytelling, featuring famous fairy tales, such as The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Emperor's New Clothes.
- Conservatory Water or "The Model Boat Pond": Conservatory Water is also known as the model boat pond located in Central Park at 74th Street near Fifth Avenue in New York. Inspired by model boat ponds of Paris, Radio-powered model boat races take place between members of the Model Yacht Club. Visitors can rent their own miniature boats from a nearby concessionaire's wagon. Bird watchers often meet at the pond with telescopes and binoculars to watch for red-tailed hawks who nest on a Fifth Avenue apartment ledge. In the winter, children enjoy sledding on Pilgrim Hill which surrounds the attraction. You should also not miss two famous statues - Alice in Wonderland and the statue of Hans Christian Andersen. Kerbs Boathouse a features a terrace cafe open for light snacks, and restrooms. In the spring, flower beds in front of the boathouse are planted with beautiful tulips of various colors. The garden is well maintained by volunteers year-round. During the warmer months, the pond is filled with water and used for model boats.
- Rent a Boat at The Boathouse: Rent a boat on your romantic weekend getaway to New York and enjoy unique views from the water. The Boathouse, located on the East Side between 74th and 75th streets, offers boat rentals, gondola rides, bicycle rentals and dining. Inside the Boathouse, birders can record their observations of birds and other wildlife in a notebook. The first Boathouse was designed in the 1870s at the eastern end of the Lake. The current Loeb Boathouse took its place in 1950s after the original structure burnt down. Dining is offered year-round at the restaurant overlooking the lake, so you can have a romantic lunch with a view right after. The deck features overhead heating so that outdoor dining services can be extended into the fall. For reservations, call 212-517-2233. Snacks are offered on the outside terrace facing the bicycle rental concession. Row boats are available for rent daily from March through October, weather permitting, from 10:00 am to 5 pm. The cost for the rental is $10 for the first hour and $2.50 each additional 15 minutes. A $30 cash deposit is required. Romantic gondola rides, offered in the summer, cost $30 per half hour. The hours are 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. Bicycle rentals cost $9 to $15 per hour. A credit card, driver's license or passport are required as a deposit.
- Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle: Even though not a part of the original Central Park design, Turtle Pond beautifully complements Belvedere Castle and the Great Lawn. Situated at mid-Park between 79th and 80th Streets, the area is home to fish, frogs, turtles, dragonflies and various species of birds. The pond was completely renovated in 1997 with new features such as shoreline plants which provide a natural habitat for birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. Turtle Island, also added during the renovation, serves as a wildlife habitat where turtles lay their eggs and birds build their nests. Visitors can borrow a naturalist's kit from the nearby Belvedere Castle and observe the wildlife. The castle offers some of the best views of the Park, including the Delacorte Theater, Great Lawn and the city skyline. It is located at mid-Park at 79th Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Castle was meant to be a fantasy building with open window frames and doorways. It is home to the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, run by the Central Park Conservancy, which features telescopes, microscopes and other tools used by naturalists. Kids will enjoy reproductions of birds that can be found on the second floor. Visitors can borrow equipment that will help them explore the park - binoculars, reference material and maps. For more information, call 212-772-0210.
- Arthur Ross Pinetum at West 85th Street: A walk in the Arthur Ross Pinetum in Central Park at West 85th Street is always a surprise because of the wonderful scent of pine which surrounds the visitor as they walk among the trees. This collection of pine trees features 14 different species and more than 450 magnificent trees. The trees are situated at the northwestern corner of the Great Lawn. This area of the park features several playgrounds for kids, including the Ross Pinetum Playground for children of all ages. The large picnic area surrounded by pine trees is a perfect spot for a family picnic in the summer. In the winter, birdwatchers often spot migrating long-eared and saw-whet owls sleeping in the pine trees during the day. The Great Lawn, stretching from 79th to 85th street in the middle of the park, is the largest open space and the site of numerous events, especially in the summer. The Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera each present two free performances on the newly-restored Great Lawn in the summer. Visitors enjoy music performances surrounded by fresh green grass and outlines of city skyscrapers. You can get the schedule from the offices in Lincoln Center. During the day, people play or watch a game of softball, soccer, basketball, or volleyball. At the south end of the Great Lawn, you will find the Delacorte Theater with its famous statue of Romeo and Juliet.
- Heckscher Ballfields: Heckscher Ballfields, located at 63rd Street between the west and center drives, offer six ballfields where teams and other groups can reserve to play baseball or softball from mid-April through mid-September. In order to play at Heckscher Ballfields, groups must apply for a permit. Permits are issued by NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and cost $8 per session. Permits are free for a league composed of players 17 years old and younger. One can request a permit by phone at 212-408-0209.
Family New York Packages and Deals
Check into one of these stylish hotels with the family. Have fun with colorful storybook characters, explore Central Park with kids, visit the zoo and spend an afternoon on one of the unique playgrounds in the park. Many hotels offer vacation packages and deals for families. Here are some of our favorites.
- Children's Packages at the Plaza: The Plaza offers several packages for children. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can take your daughter to the famous Eloise shop.
- Family at Hotel Plaza Athenee: Designed for families with kids under 15 years old, the "Classic Families Package" at Hotel Plaza Athenee offers the following two rooms (connecting) or a two-bedroom suite, breakfast, gift bag for kids, tickets to the zoo and other amenities. Rates start from $1,120.
- Sophie at the Carlyle: The Carlyle is offering the Sophie Package for kids which includes: a designer dress, necklace, suite, signed book, pillow and a loaner iPad Mini to follow a virtual tour through the city. From $835 for the first night (For additional children, add $450 per child).
- Family at Le Parker Meridien: Le Parker Meridien is offering a family special from $350 which includes: junior suite (sleeps a family of 4), haircuts, access to the renovated pool.