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New York City with Kids
Though much of New York revolves around the adult pursuits of making and spending money, it's also a great city for kids. Our top activities include the following:
American Museum of Natural History. The favorite could entertain most children for a week. The dinosaurs alone are worth the trip, as is the live Butterfly Conservatory (October through May). You'll also find an IMAX theater, ancient-culture displays, and wildlife dioramas with taxidermied creatures that hit the right mix of fascinating and creepy. The space shows at the Hayden Planetarium (tickets sold separately) are a big bang with kids.
Bronx Zoo. The country's largest metropolitan wildlife park is home to more than 4,000 animals, including endangered and threatened species. Plan to spend a whole day here, so your kids don't have to choose between Congo Gorilla Forest and the Siberian cats at Tiger Mountain. The World of Darkness has a black-lighted indoor exhibit of nocturnal creatures. Special tours with a docent for children can be arranged.
Central Park Zoo. Three climatic regions—Rain Forest, Temperate Territory, and Polar Circle—are represented at this small zoo. The rain-forest frogs, red pandas, and performing sea lions are all nifty—but the winner is the underwater viewing window into the polar bear pool.
Children's Museum of Manhattan. Interactive exhibits in this five-floor museum change frequently—but they're always fun. As well as visiting with TV friends like Dora the Explorer, little ones can build castles in the sand laboratory, and—in warm weather—race boats on a zigzagging outdoor watercourse.
Coney Island and the New York Aquarium. Coney Island's aquarium is home to more than 10,000 marine species, including giant sea turtles, sand-tiger sharks, and sea otters. After the seal show, the whole family can enjoy a walk along the boardwalk to take in the beach, Luna Park's amusement rides, the landmark Cyclone wooden roller coaster (54-inch height requirement), and Nathan's hotdogs.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab. The line to get into this futuristic fantasy world might be long (entry is free) but don't worry—a slightly freaky talking robot will keep kids entertained while you wait. Inside, kids can program their own robots, record their own digital music, movies, and games, and perform open-heart surgery using Haptic technology.
DUMBO. Short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, this former industrial neighborhood is now a cool and cultural hot spot and home to family-friendly attractions like Brooklyn Bridge Park (a picnic-perfect waterfront park with several inventive playgrounds), Jane's Carousel, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, a newly opened public swimming pool, and a variety of kid-centric music, arts, and kite-flying festivals.
South Street Seaport Museum. The fleet of historic square-riggers with looming masts might be the first thing to catch your children's eyes—but there's much more going on here, including weekend concerts, 16 new galleries with exhibits that include intricate replicas of ships in bottles, and special guided tours for families.
East River Ferry. When you need the journey to be as much fun as the destination, take the East River Ferry. Operated by NY Waterway, and with seven stops along the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens waterfront, a day-pass allows you to hop on and off all day to get your fill of family-friendly attractions like creative playgrounds, markets, festivals, mini golf, local ice cream and sweets, a public swimming pool, and an outdoor graffiti museum. It's especially fun in summer when you can take full advantage of the sea breeze and summer festivals.
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