Planning a trip to New York City with kids and want a totally do-able itinerary? Keep scrolling to check out my kid-friendly New York in 7 days itinerary from my last trip to NYC!
This kid-friendly New York in 7 days itinerary was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Planning a trip to New York City with kids?
I just did a week in New York City for Spring Break with my 8-year-old son and we had a blast! In fact, it’s one of our favorite trips to date!
Keep scrolling for my detailed 7-day New York City itinerary that was tons of fun without being too exhausting. We hit up a lot of top New York attractions, ate at easy restaurants, and did some epic tours.
Follow my guide below and you’ll have an amazing time in the city that never sleeps!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of New York City blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting NYC with kids.
Popular NYC Tours/Activities
- Summit One Vanderbilt (this is the coolest observation tower in NYC)
- NYC Tour (this one drives around to the highlights and goes to the Statue of Liberty)
- Museum of Ice Cream (perfect for kids who love treats and parents who love taking photos)
- American Museum of Natural History (there are tons of interesting exhibits for kids)
- Flytographer Photo Shoot (this is an easy and affordable NYC photography option)
Kid-Friendly NYC Hotels
New York 7 Day Itinerary
Before I really get into the New York in 7 days itinerary, I wanted to note that we flew to NYC from Seattle but I wasn’t thinking about the time change and so I booked tours for the morning.
This forced us onto East Coast time and we ended up heading back to the hotel by 5 pm-6 pm most nights because we were so tired.
Day 1: NYC Tour with Statue of Liberty
New York City Van Tour
The number one thing my son wanted to do on this trip to New York City was visit the Statue of Liberty. I know you can take the free Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty (we did that on the last trip) but it doesn’t actually stop on Liberty Island.
I highly recommend this 5.5-hour tour because we rode in a large van that had 180-degree windows so we could really see all the sights. And we hopped out from time to time to see some attractions, grab food, and take photos.
A few of the highlights included seeing the Empire State Building, getting treats at Ferrara Coffee Bar, seeing the 9/11 Memorial, checking out the Statue of Liberty Museum, and taking selfies with the Statue of Liberty. All of these should be on your NYC bucket list!
Even though our tickets came with pedestal access to the Statue of Liberty, they weren’t allowing people inside the statue in April 2022.
The tour itself ended at 2:30 pm at the Empire State Building and we could have bought tickets to do that but we were both pretty tired and we were doing a different observatory later in the week.
We thought this was one of the best NYC tours for kids because there was minimal walking and it was moderately-paced. I’m glad that we booked this for the beginning of our New York in 7 days itinerary.
Since we hadn’t really eaten much on the tour, we ended up stopping at a corner deli to pick up pre-made sandwiches, chips, cookies, and drinks to take back to our hotel.
We headed back to our hotel to unload our bags and rest for a bit. But, our hotel was SO close to Times Square that I insisted we get out of the hotel for a little bit to walk over and see it before it got too late.
We had seen it briefly in the Uber ride to the hotel the night before but it was cool for my son to see all the lit-up billboards for a few minutes.
But, we really only needed a few minutes to look around and then we headed back to our hotel to eat the rest of our deli purchases and crash.
Day 2: Color Factory, Sloomoo, Museum of Illusions
On our first day, I didn’t have time to grab a caffeinated beverage. I was NOT going to make that mistake again.
Thankfully, we had a Gregorys Coffee right across from our hotel. Their chai tea is fabulous and they also sell smoothies and hot chocolate for kids. And they had a great assortment of breakfast items and treats (like a marshmallow Chex bar that was so yummy)!
I booked 10:00 am tickets for the Color Factory in SoHo. We planned on taking the subway there, but I misjudged the time and we ended up grabbing an Uber. It was nice to be able to book timed tickets, but it was super annoying that we were tied to a strict schedule.
This was such a cool place for kids! I’d call it an “Instagram Museum” because it was obviously set up for people to take photos of themselves in the different exhibit areas.
We got a little card with a QR code on it that we scanned in the different rooms to activate the cameras. Since it was just my son and myself on this trip, I loved getting photos of the two of us that weren’t selfies.
The only annoying part about the Color Factory is that they handed out treats along the way, but there was never really a good place to eat them. It started with popsicles right as we entered. So my son was slowly eating a popsicle in our photos for the first few rooms.
We ended up spending about an hour here including the time we spent perusing their gift shop. The Color Factory is a fun thing to do in NYC with teens, tweens, or kids of any age.
Our next timed ticket was for Sloomoo Institute at Noon. It was only a 10-minute walk from the Color Factory to Sloomoo, which meant we got there about 45 minutes before our timed ticket. Thankfully, they let us in early.
I had heard mixed things from other families about whether or not Sloomoo was worth a stop. However, I’m so glad we did it!
My son was ready for some hands-on activities, especially after having so much fun at the Color Factory. As soon as we entered, there were tons of vats of scented, colorful slime ready for playing.
A few highlights included the slime slingshot, the slime walk, and adding to the epic slime wall. And of course, he had a blast making his own slime.
There’s also an option to “get slimed” and I’m honestly so glad we didn’t do that option. We watched a family do it and they went in barefoot and wore shower caps and plastic ponchos. A staff member poured buckets of watered down slime on them. It looked cold and uncomfortable. But it was fun to watch!
Insider tip: Roll up your sleeves and make sure to wipe down the counters before adding color to your slime. It can stain clothing. They do have a special solution available to clean clothing there, but you won’t want to walk around with damp clothes.
After we did Sloomoo for a bit, we still had about 3 hours before our timed ticket at the Museum of Illusions. So, I figured we could do the 30-minute walk to the Museum of Illusions instead of taking the subway.
As we were walking, we saw the Minetta Playground and my son asked if we could stop. We hadn’t done any NYC playgrounds yet and we had time to kill, so it was perfect!
Lunch at Washington Square Diner
I admit the main reason we stopped at the Washington Square Diner was that my son needed to use a restroom and it looked like they might have one.
I’m glad we did because the food was either really delicious or we were really hungry! I had a deli sandwich and my son got a burger and we both had chocolate egg creams to drink.
Museum of Illusions
After lunch, we still had about 2 hours before our Museum of Illusions timed ticket, but I figured it was worth a shot to see if we could get in early. I’m glad we did because we could! And it’s definitely one of the best cool museums in NYC!
This was a cool, but cramped, museum that is pretty fun for taking cool photos. I think there were 30+ exhibits between the two floors.
Some of the exhibits (like the hologram pictures) were hung a bit too high for my son to see them and he’s too heavy for me to pick up, so he just missed out on those.
But, he had a blast in the room with infinite mirrors, posing for a photo where his head was on a platter, and doing optical illusions.
We ended up doing this museum in about 45 minutes. This is mostly because my 8-year-old sort of raced through the different areas.
Harry Potter New York Store
So, one of the things that were high on my son’s NYC itinerary was visiting the Harry Potter New York Store. But, I was really confused about how we could actually visit since it sounded complicated with needing to scan a QR code on the door and then getting a text back when it was our turn.
Since we finished the Museum of Illusions at about 2 pm, we figured we’d walk the 20 minutes to the Harry Potter store and try our luck. We ended up only having to wait 15 minutes to get in!
The store is two-levels and it includes New York-specific products in addition to tons of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise. Plus, there are some cool photo ops and a Butterbeer bar near the exit.
Insider tip: If you order the Butterbeer in the souvenir cup, be sure to stop at their cup-washing station to fully rinse your cups before throwing them in your bag.
Dinner at the Red Flame Diner
After we got back to our hotel, we were pretty tired and I wanted something “easy” for dinner. We really wanted to order room service at our hotel, but it was unavailable.
So we went right next door to our hotel to eat at the Red Flame Diner.
The food was fine. I ordered a steak and baked potato and my son had a grilled cheese sandwich with fries.
Day 3: NYC Walking Tour and Summit One Vanderbilt
After grabbing drinks at Gregorys Coffee, I made sure that we had plenty of time to head to the subway station. We needed to purchase subway tickets.
I ended up putting $22 on each of our cards because I wasn’t sure how much we’d be using them the rest of the week. We rode the subway a lot and we never ran out of money.
NYC Walking Tour
There are a TON of New York City walking tours, but I chose this one because it also included food samples. That’s what my son was most interested in and I figured it would keep him motivated.
This NYC walking tour hit up 30 attractions and several food stops. There were lots of opportunities to stop for photos, grab coffee, and ask tons of questions. We ended up walking about 7 miles and my 8-year-old barely complained (which is saying a lot)!
The main food highlights included getting fried dumplings and ice cream in Chinatown, canolli in Little Italy, and $2 pizza.
The other tour highlights included seeing the Vessel, walking the Highline, seeing the Bull on Wall Street, seeing the 9/11 Memorial, going inside the World Trade Center, and hearing all the stories along the way.
I highly, highly recommend this 5-hour NYC tour. It was one of the best tours in New York City.
Summit One Vanderbilt
Since our NYC walking tour ended at 3:00 pm in Times Square, we had an hour to get to Summit One Vanderbilt for our 4:00 pm timed tickets. It only took us about 10 minutes to walk there from Times Square.
Summit One Vanderbilt is the newest NYC observatory and it’s incredibly cool! The only weird part was watching the video in the lobby about how the idea of this observatory came about. I expected a safety video and it was just sort of bizarre.
After you take a lightning quick elevator, you’ll get to explore 3 floors of this beautiful building. The main themes are glass and mirrors.
Kids will especially love the room that is filled with silver balls that sort of float around the room. It’s great for photos and videos but they will want to stay and play much longer than you expect.
The views from each level are stunning and you’ll want to take a million photos. It’s even a great thing to do on a rainy day in NYC.
We went in the late afternoon, but they also sell tickets for the evening so you can see the lights. Oh, and there’s a bar on the top floor if you want to hang out and enjoy a drink.
Grand Central Station
Summit One Vanderbilt is actually connected to Grand Central Station so we didn’t even have to go outside to get there.
I remember being in awe of the ceiling at Grand Central Station on my last trip to NYC so I figured that was worth a quick stop.
But, our main reason for going was to pick up dinner. There are TONS of good places to eat at Grand Central Station. We picked up food from Central Market New York and chocolate chip black and white cookies from Zaro’s Family Bakery.
Day 4: Brooklyn Pizza Walk and Museum of Ice Cream
Coffee and Slow Morning
After having to get up early for the past few days for tours, we were really excited that we could take a slow morning.
We grabbed drinks and breakfast at Gregorys and then laid in bed doing screen-time for a couple of hours.
Brooklyn Pizza Walk
Our Brooklyn Pizza Walk tour was at Noon in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. We took the subway to get there and had a little bit of time to walk around the neighborhood.
We met up with our guide and she took us to 5 pizza places in Brooklyn that served very different styles of pizza. Most of the places gave us medium-sized samples and I was so full that I could barely eat at the final place.
The tour was fascinating and we learned a lot about pizza and popped into places that I might not otherwise have known to go. I highly recommend it if you want to taste a variety of delicious NYC pizza!
Museum of Ice Cream
The NYC pizza tour ended right at 2:00 pm so we had plenty of time to take the train to SoHo for our 4:00 pm tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream.
We ended up getting there at 3:00 pm and tried to see if we could get in early but they told us we’d need to come back right at 4:00 pm. So, we hit up Uniqlo and Minisoo to shop a bit before getting back in line.
The Museum of Ice Cream is a kid’s dream! We spent 3 hours here and I pretty much had to drag my 8-year-old out because he wanted to live there.
This is another Instagram-style museum that is set up for cool photo ops, has lots of play areas, and it includes 5 places to get unlimited ice cream.
A few highlights include the indoor twisty slide, the pink subway train, the hanging bananas, and the pit of sprinkles!
Insider tip: There’s a ticket option to get an ice cream sundae at the end. We were WAY too full to eat a sundae and I’m so glad we didn’t pay for that.
After all the ice cream, we really weren’t super hungry. But, I felt like we probably needed “real” food so we went to a deli near Times Square to grab sandwiches, chips, and drinks to eat back at our hotel.
Day 5: Chinatown and Central Park
This was our first official “free day” where we didn’t have a single thing scheduled. I figured we could either go back to a place we enjoyed or explore somewhere new.
We grabbed drinks and breakfast at Gregorys and spent the morning lounging in the hotel just relaxing before heading out for lunch.
When we were on our NYC walking tour, my son asked the tour guide where we could find soup dumplings in Chinatown. He pointed out Shanghai 21. So, that’s where my son insisted we go as soon as they opened for lunch.
We ordered the soup dumplings and fried pork buns for a light lunch. The food was pretty good and on par with the Chinese food we get in Seattle.
Next, we hit up one of the shops to buy Chinese silk pajamas so my kids had something to wear for multicultural day at school (they are half-Chinese).
And then we headed back to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. We stopped here on our walking tour and my son fell in love with their lychee ice cream. So we got another one, plus I ordered their lychee sorbet and we bought a souvenir shirt!
Since we were visiting New York City on a gorgeous and warm spring day, Central Park seemed like the obvious place to go. Plus, there are so many Instagrammable places in Central Park!
We took the subway up to the Ancient Playground by the Met. When I showed my son photos of some of the Central Park playgrounds, that one seemed the coolest to him. Even though we were literally next to the Met, he still didn’t want to pop in.
After the playground, we walked over to the Alice in Wonderland statue, got drinks from a cart, and then made our way over to the Adventure Playground.
Then, we grabbed a pretzel and churro and sat on the grassy lawn for a while and just relaxed.
I’m a huge fan of “food souvenirs” and my favorite chocolate chip cookies are made by Levain Bakery. There happens to be a few locations within walking distance of Central Park, so we were able to stop.
I ended up getting a dozen cookies and they are so heavy that I insisted we take the subway back to the hotel instead of walking the 30 minutes.
We stopped by a deli on the way back from the subway station to grab sandwiches and drinks to enjoy back in our room.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
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Day 6: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
We knew we had 1:00 pm tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, so we decided to have one more lazy morning with drinks and screens.
Our original plan had been to do the Harry Potter store this morning, but since we were able to go earlier in the week, it freed up some time.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway
We were beyond excited to finally watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway! Instead of doing the 2 parts, they condensed it to one 3.5-hour show.
They opened the doors at Noon, so that’s when we got there. That gave us plenty of time to take photos outside of the theatre and pick up drinks and snacks inside.
I splurged for really good seats since this was my son’s first Broadway show and I wanted to make sure he could see the stage.
The show was EPIC and worth every penny. Plus, there were tons of other kids there and many of them were dressed up in Hogwarts robes.
Insider tip: Try to get aisle seats on the main floor for a close encounter!
Joe’s Pizza in Times Square
The show ended around 4:30 pm and since we didn’t really have lunch, we opted for an early dinner. My son loved eating at Joe’s Pizza in Brooklyn, so he was excited to see the Times Square location.
We ordered a few slices to go and then ate them back at our hotel. That also gave me plenty of time to pack up.
Day 7: Departure
It’s also a good opportunity to do some last-minute shopping.
But, we had a morning flight and traffic was pretty brutal so we spent our last day packing up and getting ready for the flight home.
Tips for Visiting NYC with Kids
Stay Near Times Square
My friend Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew recommended the Algonquin Hotel specifically because it was located near Times Square. Having been to NYC before, I wasn’t a fan of Times Square, but I totally trusted her suggestion and booked it.
I’m so glad I did because it was SO convenient. It was an 8-minute walk to Grand Central Station, 6-minute walk to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and about 5 minutes from the Times Square subway station.
Ask Your Kids What THEY Want to Do
Kids love to be included in planning trips and it makes them more excited about the itinerary. My son chose the Brooklyn Pizza Walk, NYC walking tour with food stops, and the Museum of Ice Cream and those were some of his highlights.
I asked him about visiting the Met or the Museum of Natural History but he wasn’t remotely interested in either. I had those on my original itinerary and I’m so glad we swapped those with things he actually wanted to do.
He also wanted to do a day at Coney Island, but I had a feeling we’d be pretty wiped and so we did our Chinatown and Central Park excursion instead. That was a great plan for us!
Color Factory vs Museum of Ice Cream
When I was originally writing up our New York in 7 days itinerary, I figured we didn’t need to do both the Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream because they seemed similar. But my son insisted that we do both and I’m glad we did.
But, I know a lot of families might want to just pick one, so here’s a quick comparison.
The Color Factory has a photo pass that’s included in admission where you can download your photos. That means everyone can get in the photo instead of someone always needing to take the pictures. They also offer tasty treats, but there’s no place to sit and eat them.
The Museum of Ice Cream has plenty of places to sit and eat ice cream but you’ll need to take all of your own photos, meaning it’s tricky to get photos of your entire family.
We spent about one hour at the Color Factory and we spent about 3 hours at the Museum of Ice Cream. Personally, I’d pick the Museum of Ice Cream.
Consider a Broadway Matinee
Even though we were coming from the West Coast and the time difference meant that we’d be staying up late, I booked us a Wednesday matinee for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The perks of doing it was that it was mostly tourists (I mean, who else can do a mid-week matinee) and there were TONS of kids.
That meant my child wasn’t the only kid whispering during the show or fidgeting around. And it meant that most of the audience was dressed pretty casually.
Check online before you go to see which New York City kids shows are playing. There was also Aladdin and the Lion King playing when we were there.
Use GPS for Subway Routes
I admit that I was a bit intimidated at visiting New York City specifically because of the subway system. I’m directionally-challenged and I was stressed out thinking about missing trains.
It’s awesome that we live in a world with GPS because I was able to easily get the subway route including which stop was right before the one I needed to get off at, plus it told me which exit to take (so I ended up on the correct side of the street).
New York Itinerary with Kids FAQs
Absolutely! There are so many New York family trip ideas depending on the ages of your kids and their interests. My top tip for traveling to New York City with kids is to set realistic expectations. Your kids might not be able to keep up with all the walking or they might need time to play at a park or rest back at your hotel.
Are you wondering what to do in New York City with kids? There are almost unlimited options, which can feel overwhelming. A few of my top suggestions for kid-friendly New York City activities include doing a sightseeing tour, seeing a kid-friendly Broadway show, eating authentic NYC pizza, getting cookies at Levain Bakery, and playing at a local playground.
There are plenty of attractions in New York City for kids. A few of the top things to do with kids in New York City include checking out an observatory (like Summit One Vanderbilt or the Empire State Building), seeing the Statue of Liberty, visiting the Museum of Natural History, and exploring Central Park.
New York City Family Vacation Wrap Up
I hope this post helped you figure out what to do with kids in New York City! This was one of my favorite kid-friendly trips in the United States and we can’t wait for our next family trip to NYC!
I recommend checking out some New York City shows for kids, as well as pop-up events, and anything else you can’t find in your hometown.