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13 Free (Or Cheap) Things To Do In NYC With Kids

kids playing on art installations on Governor's Island

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New York City is not a city you’d usually associate with being a holiday destination for young children. But that’s an unfair assumption to make, since we learned that there are so many things to do in NYC with kids that parents can enjoy too!

When I moved to the city, four months pregnant, I was unsure of whether having and raising a kid in a busy place like The Big Apple was a good idea.

It came as a happy surprise to discover how an entirely different the city felt being a parent with small children.

The once big bad New York City is now home to many young families, which has sparked a huge wave in family-friendly tourist attractions in NYC opening up, making it a wonderful destination to travel to with kids of any age.

To help you plan your family trip to New York City, I’ve listed my favorite NYC attractions with kids as well as shared some tips to help you get around town, know what to wear and where to stay, so you can travel to NYC with ease.

Best Free Things to Do in NYC with Kids

For one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are a lot of things to do in New York, particularly with kids, for nothing. Read more tips on saving money in New York City here.

1. Visit Governor’s Island

This peaceful neighborhood in Upper New York Bay is free to explore, with a ferry ride the only cost for your day out.

Catch the ferry from lower Manhattan or Brooklyn and take a picnic lunch (there are also food trucks on the Island), then spend the day discovering family art installations, including a giant tree house, and admiring the stunning view of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

2. Visit the Art Museums in New York City

girl walking in front of jackson pollack painting
Jackson Pollack at the MET

Some of the museums in New York, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have a “suggested donation” for entry for any New York State residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students, but you can actually pay anything you like. Otherwise, it is a fee for anyone else.

A few of the smaller ones are free all the time, such as the Bronx Museum of the Arts or the American Folk Art Museum.

All of the major museums and galleries have free days or hours – usually every Friday afternoon/evening.

Things to do in New York City with kids

The Children’s Museum of the Arts is free admission every Thursdays from 4.00pm to 6.00pm, which is perfect for a couple of hours play time before dinner.

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