The Big Apple is made up of five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Each area has enough attractions, places to stay and restaurants – and enough personality – to be a city in its own right.
Curious George, the beloved monkey from the children’s book series of the same name, has been unvieled as New York’s official family ambassador and the cheeky chap is encouraging families to visit all five of New York boroughs. To help get you started, we’ve rounded up the the number-one family attractions and the best places to stay in each New York neighbourhood.
Animals, exhibits and more
The Bronx Zoo recreates the diverse natural habitats of its numerous residents, from the gorillas of the Congo to the snow leopards of the Himalayas. The zoo boasts both indoor and outdoor exhibits to guide you through multiple landscapes and view their wildlife inhabitants. You’ll see mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians, fish and insects all while in the central hub of New York City.
You can purchase general admission tickets or take part in the Total Experience package, which gives you unlimited access not only to the zoo’s exhibits, but also to their special rides and attractions of the day. Special rides and attractions include the Bug Carousel, Butterfly Exhibit and a Dinosaur Safari.
As part of the Total Experience and a special seasonal event, Boo at the Zoo is running 4 October – 2 November 2014. Weekends during this month feature many fall and Halloween themed treats. You can visit spooky night creatures, like bats and owls before venturing into a hay maze.
Price: General Admission adults, £11; children (3-12), £8. Total Experience adults, £21; children (3-12), £15.
Where to stay: Opera House Hotel, from £107 a night for a family of four, including breakfast.
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View from the top
No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to the Empire State Building, the most photographed building on the planet, apparently. Rising more than a quarter of a mile above the heart of Manhattan, if offers panoramic views of up to 80 miles in every direction.
The Empire State Building’s main attractions are its two observations decks. The Main Deck on the 86th floor is ‘the highest open-air observatory in New York’. It provides 360 degree views of the city from its wraparound decks. Sixteen floors above the Main Deck is the Top Deck – where you can see the city from the clouds and all of the New York City’s major landmarks, like Central Park. Ride the manually operated elevator, Otis, and see the sweeping views of the city.
Home to more than its top floor decks, the Empire State Building has two exhibits inside that detail both its history, and future goals. The Dare to Dream Exhibit aims at ‘chronicling the planning and construction of the world’s most famous office building’. Located on the 80th floor, it’s a perfect stop before reaching the Main Deck. On your way in, don’t miss the Sustainability Exhibit on the 2nd floor which explains the Emprie State Building’s plans to decrease energy usage and costs for a healthier environment. With lots of exciting activities and views, the Empire State Building is a must-see during any trip to New York City.
Price: Tickets cost £17 for adults and £14 for children (children under six go free).
Where to stay: Pod 39 Hotel, costs from £221 a night for a family of four. Located in the heart of New York, it’s in within walking distance of many of New York’s other famous attractions.
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Swot up on science
The New York Hall of Science is a family-friendly museum-cum-science and technology centre where every single exhibit is interactive. Open daily and located in the neighborhood of Queens, NYC, it was founded in 1964 for the World’s Fair and has since transformed into ‘New York’s center for interactive science’.
There are more than 450 exhibits, workshops and special events. Play a round at Rocket Park Mini Golf where the course displays the effects of gravity and the laws of motion, mimicking that of a spaceship (open weekends). Next, wander over and let the kids play on the award-winning 60,000sq ft Science Playground. Weather permitting, it’s open daily and lets kids see and experience all the scientific elements, like motion and balance, as well as Earth elements like sun, wind and water. It’s the perfect combination of learning while having a blast.
3D film fun
If you’re looking for more low-key fun at the museum, visit their state-of-the-art 3D theatre. You’ll find a wide selection of award-winning science films, animations and educational programmes too. With new exhibits coming and going, there’s always something new to learn and fun to do at the New York Hall of Science.
Price: Tickets for adults cost £6.50; children cost £5. For the 3D Theatre, tickets cost an extra £3.70 for adults and £3.10 for children.
Where to stay: Four Points by Sheraton Long Island, from £130 a night for a family of four.
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NY’s famous Coney Island
If you’re looking to escape the skyscrapers and loud sirens of New York City, then venture off to Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Just a 22 minute drive out of the heart of New York City, Coney Island offers thrills and spills and a unique brand of entertainment.
Coney Island boasts great sites and rides, including the legendary wooden roller coaster the Cyclone. The fun continues inside Luna Park – Coney Island’s amusement park. Home to many rides and attractions, the options for fun are endless. Whether you race around on go-carts or fly through the air on the Balloon Expedition, it’s guaranteed fun for both the kids and the parents.
Price: An unlimited four-hour ride wristband will cost about £20.
For more low key fun, relax while riding ’round and ’round on the historic B&B Carousell. Expertly refinished, it is a staple in Coney Island’s attractions. Another great attraction is the New York Aquarium where kids can gaze at clown fish, penguins and sea otters. Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to grab a Nathan’s Famous hot dog, which has called Coney Island home since 1916!
Price: Tickets cost £7 for ages 3 and up.
Where to stay: NU Hotel Brooklyn, from £143 a night for a family of four.
Find out more: coneyislandfunguide.com
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Play and learn
With giant board games, creepy-crawly exhibits and a fabulous interactive children’s theatre, Staten Island Children’s Museum is the perfect place to mix education with fun.
You’ll be spoilt for choice by the plethra of exhibits and activities. Ladder 11 invites kids to dress up as firemen, ring the alarm and slide down the pole, while over in the Great Explorations room, they can drive a dog sledge, dive the ocean floor in their own submarine, and hike through a rainforest canopy.
Tread the boards
The main attraction, Portias Playhouse, is a children’s interactive theatre where costumes and stage props help kids escape into a world of make-believe. Children will love trying out the wacky sound effects and performing their skits for their families.
The Children’s Museum is spread out over four impressive floors, with enough exhibits to guarantee kids and parents a full day of play, learning and laughs.
Price: Museum tickets cost £3.60 a person, ages 1 and up.
Opening times: Tuesday-Friday noon-5pm; weekends 10am-5pm.
Where to stay: The Hilton Garden Inn costs from £81 a night for a family of four.
Find out more: sichildrensmuseum.org
For more details about New York’s bustling districts, and what they have to offer families, visit nycgo.com/family.