Having little ones doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the finer things in life when visiting New York City. There are plenty of ways to soak in the fabulousness of Manhattan with kids in tow. Here are some of our favorite options for where to stay and how to play with children in the Big Apple.
The ultimate ice cream sundae bar
When you’re in Midtown, check out Rockefeller Center and then treat yourself and your kids to the ultimate sundae bar at Summer Garden & Bar (which replaces the ice-skating rink at Rock Center in warmer months).
Choose from scrumptious housemade ice creams churned on the premises and indulge in an endless array of unusual toppings, such as chocolate-covered bananas, vintage sugar-swirl lollipops, birthday cake on a stick and red velvet cupcakes.
A stay fit for a king
Book a Mini Manhattan Family Getaway at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, New York. Your littlest VIPs are welcomed with a special surprise tailored to your child’s age.
The package includes two complimentary $50 gift cards to use around the property, a one-hour Carriage Ride through Central Park, a $100 daily food credit to the hotel, as well as plenty of kid-friendly amenities like childproof fixtures so you can put your mind at ease.
Plus, the signature Four-Star restaurant, Asiate, offers a great children’s menu featuring favorites for picky palates.
A new view of New York City
Take to the water and see the city at a slower pace and from a comfortable distance. For an upscale river ride, take a cruise with Classic Harbor Line. Kids will love the architecture tours, which are guided by members of the American Institute of Architects who make the history of New York come alive.
Plus, there’s a free glass of champagne for parents — because you are on vacation, after all.
For a more casual excursion, pick one of five leisurely tour options with Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. Experience state-of-the-art vessels and first-class service as you float by the skyline and some of the city’s greatest landmarks.
A secret burger bar
Even though the secret is pretty much out, Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien still lives up to the buzz. Everything from the charred patties to the French fries is simple and delicious. And everyone in your pack — from the six-year-old with basic appetites to the teenage burger snob — will be satisfied.
A magically simple Central Park picnic
Eat a well-curated lunch on the lawn when you purchase Viceroy Central Park New York’s Upicnic package. Catering company Upicnic takes care of everything, from setup to cleanup, for the afternoon outing.
Sign up for the Family First picnic to receive a customized meal, games and sunscreen at an additional fee. Choose from delectable treats like kale and white bean dip, a variety of sliders, fruit skewers and kid-friendly jelly sandwiches.
Between bites, have some fun playing paddleball, frisbee or badminton.
Upicnic also supplies a tech item, like a portable phone charger or small Bluetooth speaker, to get the party started.
For extra fun after your picnic, head to the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. This area of Central Park remained nearly untouched from 1934 until 2001, but recently opened for select tours that can be booked in advance online.
A rawther special visit to The Plaza
If your child is a fan of The Plaza’s most famous resident, don’t miss the Eloise Suite Experience. Brought to life by celebrity fashion designer Betsey Johnson, this one-of-a-kind accommodation captures the effervescent spirit of the ever-cherished Eloise, a fictional heroine who lives in the legendary Four-Star Plaza Hotel. The suite is covered from top to bottom in bright pinks and whimsical prints fit for a princess.
The playful package includes custom character-inspired amenities (a robe, keychain, copy of the book, puzzle and tote) and a $100 gift card for the Eloise Shop at the Plaza. You’ll also get a resplendent afternoon tea for two in the iconic Palm Court, where tykes can sip Eloise-approved pink lemonade and nibble on cotton candy.
Fun and educational city tours
Help your little ones get more out of their visit when you secure the NYC Kids Learning and Fun Tour. Your clan will visit some of the most popular sites in the city (including Bryant Park) and take part in activities designed by teachers to provide fun learning experiences.
Reserve your adventure with chauffeur/private transportation or via a subway/walking option; just remember that prices vary accordingly. The tour is recommended for children ages six to 11, but the company can accommodate guests under six years of age as well.
Live like a star
See the Big Apple like a celebrity with tailor-made tours from Lux Voyage. Opt for the Ultimate Candy Experience and go behind the scenes at Dylan’s Candy Bar’s flagship location. There, you’ll create your own 3-D treats and sample sugary sweets galore.
You can also embark on a scavenger hunt at the American Museum of Natural History, or even opt for an exclusive early-morning tour of premier museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art before they open to the public for the day. Take in exhibits and masterpieces with a private expert guide before the crowds descend.
A little magic
Parents traveling with kids over the age of 12 should grab tickets for Steve Cohen’s Chamber Magic at the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Lotte New York Palace hotel.
The Millionaires’ Magician, as Cohen is often referred for his shows that are filled with A-listers like Martha Stewart and Michael Bloomberg, will astonish even the most jaded teenager with mind reading, card tricks and a showstopper called Think-a-Drink.
Chamber Magic takes place Fridays (7 and 9 p.m.) and Saturdays (2, 7 and 9 p.m.). Cocktail attire is required (tie and jacket for men and dresses for women).
Four-Star The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel is home to many famous murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of one of literature’s favorite darlings, Madeline.
Reserve the Madeline in Manhattan package and pick up elegant accommodations in the heart of Museum Mile. Kids will receive a copy of the famous book, a Madeline tote bag, a doll, a specially designed cupcake from Magnolia Bakery and an exclusive private tour of the murals at Bemelmans Bar.
If you and your little ones happen to be in the city from November 4 through December 30, partake in a Madeline-themed afternoon tea extravaganza.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
For an all-ages trip to Broadway, snag a golden ticket to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
There’s eye candy around the set for the kids, and adults will enjoy the wicked humor that author Roald Dahl is famous for. Tony winner Christian Borle is divine as Willy Wonka, but the children in the cast steal the show.
Don’t miss the concession stand, which has devilishly good cocktails and extra special sweets from Dylan’s Candy Bar.