Photo Courtesy of a TripAdvisor Traveler/4CornersEmpire State Building Observatory Deck- Downtown ViewVIEW FROM BEDROOM SUITE 157 15TH FLOORNY aus der Luftuptownmanhattan lightsCentral Park ReservoirBethesda FountainSnowy Central Park

Families will love:

  • A wide array of museums and historical sites
  • Central Park's zoo, playgrounds, and trails
  • The iconic Empire State Building & Statue of Liberty

New York City is a fantastic city for a family vacation. It's world-class city with an unbelievable density of iconic museums, landmarks, top-notch entertainment, restaurants, parks, shopping, communities, cultures, and sports (try to say 'Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets' three times fast).

It's understandable that parents of rural or suburban or small-town ... more
New York City is a fantastic city for a family vacation. It's world-class city with an unbelievable density of iconic museums, landmarks, top-notch entertainment, restaurants, parks, shopping, communities, cultures, and sports (try to say 'Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets' three times fast).

It's understandable that parents of rural or suburban or small-town families might find New York intimidating, but most are pleasantly surprised at how navigable and accessible it is. And kids tend to "click" with its energy. It is a place that can be as loud and fast as they are, a place that can easily feed their need for stimulation, and then some. Like a theme park, but real, New York City is a working, thriving, dynamic place, with incredible diversity on every level and a fascinating history, commerce and culture. While there are many attractions in the Big Apple's other four boroughs (Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx), we've limited our focus to Manhattan (for now), which has plenty to offer families for a first-time visit. At times, it seems utterly crazy and improbable that there is so much going on such a small island, but somehow, it's true.

NYC's sightseeing highlights are well known. It's hard to pin down a Top Ten list, but The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and Times Square would likely be there, as would Rockefeller Center; St. Patrick's Cathedral; the Brooklyn Bridge; Chrysler Building; Broadway, the neighborhoods of China Town, SoHo, and Greenwich Village and the famous museums (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art are the most holy trinity). And in the commercial realm there are the classics: Tiffany, FAO Schwartz, and the Fifth Avenue's flagship department stores.

Every city has a tourist trap. In New York, that spot is Times Square. (South Street Seaport is probably a close second.) Less a square than a convergence of several streets, Times Square is a teeming lure for tourists and all manner of hawkers and hucksters, all under the most mind-boggling assortment of LED signs and blinking lights and high-tech ticker tapes. This is absolutely why you must experience it (go at night for the full effect), and also why you must escape as soon as you (or your kids) start to feel anxious amid all the chaos. Like most cheap thrills, the pleasure-quotient of Times Square can fade fast.

Of course, any trip to New York City isn't complete without a visit to Ground Zero. The 9/11 Memorial pays tribute to the men, women and children killed in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. Each person's name is inscribed in bronze. Admission is free, but passes are required. Additionally, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is currently under construction. Once open, it will tell the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, artifacts, and more.

Written by Deborah Bogosian less

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