Find Fun for the Whole Family in New York City

Here are some custom-tailored ideas for moms, dads and kids of all ages.

You’ve heard of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but when the kid’s complain there is no "children’s day,” we have the stock answer: “Every day is children’s day!” So, in honor of this “every day” holiday, here are some primo parent-offspring activities you can enjoy while in NYC. They are perfect for mothers and daughters, fathers and sons—or any pairing you choose.

Lion statue

Parent and Tot

If you have a tyke in tow, he or she will have a red-hot time trying on firefighters’ gear, sitting in a real fire truck and learning how to escape a smoke-filled space at the Fire Zone, an exhibition center under the aegis of the New York City Fire Department.

For a more Uptown experience, we are “rawther” excited about an exhibit devoted to Eloise, that perennially 6-year-old, picture-book princess who lives at The Plaza hotel. “Eloise at the Museum” at the New-York Historical Society—through Oct. 9—includes drawings, dolls and other memorabilia, in a setting that evokes her suite and the lobby of the hotel.

Speaking of classic storybook characters: You can visit the original Winnie-the-Pooh bear and his friends at the Children’s Center at the W. 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library, then enjoy storytelling hour or play at a PC station.  

You can create your own character at Little Shop of Crafts, where you gather ‘round a communal table to stuff and garb a cuddly toy or create a tile mosaic.

Yankee Stadium

New York may be a concrete jungle, but that doesn’t mean it lacks ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Yankee Stadium’s new rooftop Sunrun Kids Clubhouse is a mini-baseball field of a playground, filled with slides, hills and tunnels shaped like catcher’s mitts, baseballs and hot dogs. There’s a pitching cage, too, and TVs broadcasting the action on the diamond below.

Get back to nature at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Discovery Garden, a one-acre patch that’s always teeming with flora and fauna. Check into the insect hotel, build a bird’s nest, or learn to classify plants.

All that running around tire you out? Relax and rejuvenate at Allure Day Spa, which specializes in cross-generational services. The Mommy and Me package includes peppermint mani/pedis and party-ready hairdos. The Daddy and Me option offers a massage for dad, a facial for child and manicures for both. Champagne, sparkling cider and chocolates are included with each package.

For more substantial fare: American Girl Place has a café, where parent, child and newly acquired toy can feast on Josefina’s chicken salad and other doll-named treats. 

Parent and Teen

You can always tell a New Yorker by his or her sense of style. How to get a piece of it for yourself? Shop at a vintage clothing boutique—such as Amarcord for the gals, Rue St. Denis for the guys. Parents can revisit the fashions of their youth, while teens discover a new-old look.

The two of you could also take a how-to-apply-cosmetics tutorial at the new flagship of the brand Make Up For Ever, sitting side by side at an illuminated bar.

For more fundamental skin care, Metamorphosis Day Spa’s Mother-Daughter package customizes facials for the complexion—the traditional European kind for adults, the Clean as a Whistle version for breakout-prone teens.

Pioneer Schooner in NYC

If swinging is more your kid’s thing than styling, swing like a modern-day Tarzan at the Bronx Zoo’s Treetop Adventure, which has seven aerial climbing courses and a zip line over the Bronx River.

Ropes also come into play when cruising through New York Harbor on Pioneer, an 1885 iron schooner: The two-hour trips include lessons on hoisting sails, tying sailor’s knots and other maritime skills.

If your teen is more the brainiac type, head to the National Museum of Mathematics, where interactive exhibits and ingenious displays connect math to everyday life; spring for a private guided Derivatives Tour to uncover hidden “Easter egg” secrets scattered about the cube-shaped space.

Insight into rules of probability and numerical calculations might come in handy for tabletop strategy games like Settlers of Catan, chess and mah-jongg—all of which you can play for free at Bryant Park’s Game Socials, held several times a week. 

Where to Have a Great Family Day in NYC