The Best NYC Attractions to Visit With Your Family

nycgo.com staff, sponsored by CityPass

There’s no better place than New York to visit with your family. No matter how old you are, there’s going to be something in the five boroughs that will amaze you and create memories to last a lifetime. Have we piqued your interest? If so, check out our guide to 10 of the City’s biggest attractions below, with tips about what to see there when you go with your family. It’s all conveniently sorted by age group.

Courtesy, Empire State Building

Empire State Building

What it is: This art-deco masterpiece may be the best-known skyscraper in the world. You’ve seen it in King Kong and probably 1,000 other movies.
Fun fact: There are offices in the Empire State Building—some people actually work there!
For kids: There’s nothing like the sense of wonder they’re going to get looking through the viewfinder at the City skyline all around them.
For teens: The Empire State Building is open late—until 2am—and is a great place to get a broad view of the City’s excitement from above.
For adults: Sometimes, there’s even live saxophone music on the observation deck. The sound of woodwinds and the sweeping vistas combine for a romantic atmosphere that’s hard to match.

Top of the Rock. Photo: Brittany Petronella

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

What it is: At the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown, a chance to take in 360-degree views of the New York City skyline.
Fun fact: 30 Rock, which gave the NYC-based sitcom its name, is where hit TV shows like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and Today film.
For kids: The interactive “Beam Walk” is a chance to see yourself in that famous photograph of workers eating lunch on a steel beam 800 feet above Rockefeller Center.
For teens: The 70th floor and its outdoor, obstruction-free views make for excellent selfies.
For adults: The mezzanine-level exhibit features artifacts, pictures, and tons of information telling the story of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Rockefeller Center.

Dinosaurs, American Museum of Natural History. Photo: Marley White

American Museum of Natural History

What it is: Almost all human knowledge under one roof—including the Hayden Planetarium, the Fossil Halls and the Hall of Ocean Life (the one with the giant diorama of a squid and a whale, as seen in The Squid and the Whale).
Fun fact: President Theodore Roosevelt donated animal specimens to the museum after a 14-month trip to Africa, and in the Hall of African Mammals there’s a taxidermied elephant he shot himself (to put it mildly, times were different back in the early 20th century).
For kids: Uh, we don’t know…Dinosaurs? Do kids like dinosaurs? Of course they do! This place has a lot of dinosaur skeletons.
For teens: The Rose Center for Earth and Space features, among other things, the Dark Universe space show—narrated by America’s favorite celebrity astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Space is cool, dudes!
For adults: The Human Origins and Cultural Halls are a place to learn, and to reflect on the commonalities among humans of all regions and eras. The dioramas, costumes, and artifacts paint a picture of cultures from all around the globe and the evolution of humankind.

Statue of Liberty. Photo: Julienne Schaer

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

What it is: The Statue of Liberty is among the most famous landmarks in the world, and an inspiring symbol of New York City’s and America’s immigrant traditions. Ellis Island was the entry point for more than 12 million immigrants from the late 19th century through 1954.
Fun fact: The Statute of Liberty was not always green. It’s made out of copper, and had a reddish-brown hue before it rusted.
For kids: Ellis Island offers audio tours specifically for children aged 6 through 10. The tours, available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, are free with admission and narrated by animal characters.
For teens: If you manage to snag crown tickets—which you’ll usually need to do at least two months in advance—you’ll get an incredible view, memorable experience and some great Instagram posts.
For adults: Trace your family history by searching more than 22 million passenger records at the American Family Immigration History Center (you can also search the manifests online at libertyellisfoundation.org).

9/11 Memorial. Photo: Marley White

9/11 Memorial & Museum

What it is: A solemn, educational tribute to those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, told through artifacts, audiovisual programming and first-person accounts.
For kids: The Youth and Family Tour of the museum is specifically designed for visitors aged 7 through 14, and explores the events of 9/11 and the design of the museum in part through interactive activities.
For teens: The exhibition Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11 tells the stories of landmark sports moments after the 9/11 attacks, including Mike Pizza’s home run in the first New York City Major League Baseball game after the attack, George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch at a World Series game at Yankee Stadium and the world coming together to compete in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
For adults: Reading the names of those lost on September 11, seeing their photographs and personal belongings, and hearing remembrances from their loved ones is an affecting experience.

Temple of Dendur, Met Fifth Avenue. Photo: Brittany Petronella

The Met Fifth Avenue

What it is: One of the world’s great art museums, with pieces and artifacts from every culture and era of recorded history.
Fun fact: The Met has been in, among other movies and television shows, When Harry Met Sally and Gossip Girl.
For kids: Have your kids read The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler before visiting. The story of young runaways hiding out in the museum and learning from its galleries should get them excited to visit for themselves.
For teens: The Temple of Dendur is a sight to behold—a real ancient Egyptian temple built all the way back in 15 BC, and moved to its current home in the museum fairly recently. It’s been on display at the museum since the 1970s. Standing before something that’s existed for centuries, it’s going to be impossible to think that fifth period feels like it’s going to last forever.
For adults: The period rooms will make you feel like you’re using a very highbrow time machine, going from 17th-century Italy in the Bedroom from the Sagredo Palace, to 18th-century Paris in the Varengeville room, to the early 20th-century America in the Frank Lloyd Wright Room.

Courtesy, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

What it is: A fun harbor cruise with sweeping views of New York City’s famous skyline—a nice getaway within your NYC vacation.
Fun fact: Giovanni da Verrazzano and Henry Hudson themselves, early European explorers of New York, sailed near and into New York Harbor. So this is your chance to follow in their footsteps.
For kids: While the appeal of a nautical voyage transcends age, we feel that young children will be especially enchanted by the opportunity to ride on a boat.
For teens: It depends what your teen is interested in, but design enthusiasts may enjoy such sights as the Pepsi sign, architecture buffs will see all types of the city’s building styles, and yes, everyone will get a lot of cool pictures.
For adults: The tours can be a great way to get a quick overview of New York City’s architectural history, with views of Trinity Church (the tallest building in NYC until 1890) the Statue of Liberty, the Domino Sugar Factory that is now being transformed into office space, and many more—all interpreted by knowledgeable, enthusiastic tour guides.

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Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

What it is: An actual aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the Vietnam War, and has now permanently docked in New York City as one of the world’s most distinctive museums.
Fun fact: The Intrepid also served as a recovery vessel for Gemini and Mercury NASA missions.
For kids: There’s a kids’ section called the Exploreum, which features interactive exhibits where kids can climb into a helicopter, steer an airplane and enjoy more hands-on sea, air and space fun.
For teens: The prototype space shuttle Enterprise, which helped pave the way for NASA’s space shuttle voyages, is gigantic and sits inside the Intrepid. Space-loving teenagers will love it and, probably, so will you.
For adults: The Combat Information Center, located in the upstairs Gallery Deck, offers an in-depth view at the way sailors lived and worked on the Intrepid during World War II. Radar equipment, a plotting board and pneumatic tubes are among the artifacts on display that will fascinate any World War II buff.

Photo: David Heald. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Guggenheim Museum

What it is: One of the most distinctive buildings in New York City, designed in a spiral shape by Frank Lloyd Wright. More than a million visitors come each year to see the modern artwork inside.
Fun fact: It took Wright 15 years and hundreds of sketches to design the museum’s current home. We think it turned out nicely.
For kids: Chances are your kids will be into the spiral shape on the outside of the Guggenheim, and the fun ramp inside. Youngsters might also enjoy the bright, abstract works of Kandinsky.
For teens: “What is art?” jokes aside, modern works of the sort found at the Guggenheim can help expand young people’s idea of what art can be—opening their eyes to the possibilities of many forms in a different way than what they’d find at some other institutions.
For adults: Art buffs will want to see works by Kandinsky, Chagall, Miró, Picasso, van Gogh and Mapplethorpe under one roof. Go check it out.

Courtesy, Hornblower Cruises & Events

Hornblower Sightseeing Cruises

What it is: This company offers dining cruises in New York Harbor, most of which are all-ages.
Fun fact: The Hornblower Infinity, one of the company’s ships, can hold a whopping 1,200 guests. That’s a big boat!
For kids: As referenced above, we have it on good authority that kids love boats. Time and safety permitting, they can even meet the captain during this voyage.
For teens: The views will make for great photos, and a great opportunity to make teenagers’ friends feel FOMO.
For adults: The New York City Lights Dinner Cruise features a three-course meal, live DJ and dancing, and more to make for a luxurious nautical getaway in the midst of your NYC trip.

CityPASS is a great way to save 42% on the City’s biggest attractions—and, in many cases, skip the lines. CityPass tickets are just $126 for adults, and an even better $104 deal for kids aged 6 through 17. Don’t have time to visit six attractions? You can use the CityPASS C3 product and select the three that are best for you.


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