During my student days, I spent lots of time in the city that never sleeps. But that was many years ago. Oddly, I’ve never visited New York with my children. Not exactly sure why I haven’t. About time, perhaps…

Today’s guest post comes from freelance writer Anna Dewinter. I’ve asked Anna to find some fun and unusual things to do with kids in New York, both Upstate and in New York City. She has certainly given me some ideas. Enjoy!


Visiting ‘The Big Apple’ is always a treat. From the natural wilderness areas Upstate to the hustle and bustle of the City, there’s something for everyone in the Empire State. However, traveling with kids will always present special challenges wherever you go in the world. Keeping them occupied and interested can be difficult. Luckily, New York has some wild and wooly attractions that are perfect for the whole family.

With kids in Watkins Glen

With kids in New York

Watkins Glen, located near Elmira, NY is a hidden wonderland for family travelers. Within the Glen is Watkins Glen State Park, one of the few places where visitors can enter the world of waterfalls and get a stunning up-close view of the gorge. A mile and a half long trail winds through areas with enchanting names such as Jacob’s Ladder and Rainbow Falls. Stone stairways cut into the edge of the gorge provide wide, safe walkways through the breathtaking scenery.

For younger hikers or families who prefer an easier stroll, there is the option of riding a shuttle bus up to the top of the gorge and walking back down to the parking area. Be sure not to miss a sweet treat from the nearby Great Escape Ice-cream Parlor after the hike.

Adults will appreciate the proximity to New York’s famous Wine Trail and NASCAR racing is a popular local attraction. Nearby Elmira has several luxurious family-friendly hotels to retire to at the end of the day. This all makes Watkins Glen a perfect family-friendly New York destination.

With kids in Niagara

Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls

While the Falls may be one of the biggest attractions in the state, families with children may find that one day is enough to exhaust the traditional activities of riding the Maid of the Mist boat into the spray of the mighty cataract.

Visiting the Butterfly Preserve on the Canadian side is also a great day out.

Martin’s Fantasy Island is an amusement park on Grand Island, just outside of Niagara, NY. Martin’s water park and amusement rides offer a welcome distraction that will also keep the kids entertained for an entire day. Admission charge to the park is reasonable, and covers as many rides as you wish to enjoy.

With kids in New York City

Visitors to New York City will quickly discover a cultural extravaganza. There’s more to do with kids in the City than you could accomplish in a lifetime. A highlight is the Toys R Us Times Square store, a veritable wonderland that includes a ride on an indoor Ferris wheel.

Harlem Meer fishermen

Catch-and-release fishing is permitted in Central Park’s Harlem Meer. Poles can be borrowed from the Charles. E. Dana Center, located on the North Shore. Bait is also provided. Visitors over sixteen will need to purchase a fishing license, but kids under 16 may fish without one.

Families shouldn’t miss a chance to see the Blue Man Group on Broadway, touted as one of the most family-friendly shows. The audience interaction and sensory aspects of the show make it an excellent choice for families traveling with children.

No matter where you travel in New York, there are attractions that are sure to please the entire family.

Photo credits: Watkins Glen Falls by Mandana (on and off), Butterfly Conservatory – Niagara Falls by St Jenna, Harlem Meer fishermen by 1hr photo.

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