No family vacation in New York City is complete without visiting Times Square. It is, after all, known as “the Crossroads of the World.”
Many New Yorkers avoid this jam-packed stretch of Midtown Manhattan. But, if you’re game for being among throngs of people, costumed characters and those iconic neon lights, there’s a lot of family fun to be had in Times Square. For starters, it’s home to Broadway theaters, the New Year’s Eve ball drop, family-friendly restaurants and plenty of kids attractions in New York City. Keep reading for our favorite things to do in Times Square with kids.
Kids Attractions in Times Square
Today’s Times Square is far from the seedy underbelly you’d once avoid when visiting New York City with family. The area is now a major family-friendly entertainment hub. As a result, there are a ton of kids attractions in Times Square.
One of the must-do things to do in Times Square with kids is take in a Broadway show. The Great White Way offers classics like The Phantom of the Opera and hits like Hamilton. But, there are a bunch of Broadway shows for kids, too. Perhaps you’ve heard of Frozen, The Lion King, Wicked, Aladdin and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Tip from a local: Visit the TKTS booth to see if any kid-friendly Broadway shows have discounted tickets. Times and prices vary by day/show. Read reviews of Broadway shows.
Experience life under the sea in the heart of Times Square—and stay completely dry. National Geographic Encounter’s photorealistic animations put you face to face with a humpback whale, silly sea lions and maybe even lost in a mirrored kelp maze. More importantly, your family can also learn how to help save our oceans. Open Sunday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission: $31.50 adults; $24.50 kids (online rate). Family Fun Pack includes four tickets for $99. Read reviews of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey.
New York City can be a big, intimidating place for kids (and many adults). Scale things down—like, way down—at Gulliver’s Gate. This interactive Times Square family attraction features dozens of miniature world cities, including the Big Apple.
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission: $36 adults; $27 ages 4-12; free ages 3-under. Read reviews of Gulliver’s Gate.
Get up-close-and-personal with the kids’ favorite celebs—err, their wax counterparts—at Madame Tussauds. With everyone from A-listers and athletes to a Marvel 4-D experience and Broadway shows, there’s a lot to wow the whole family. Open Sunday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to midnight. Admission: packages range from $29.95-$69 if you buy online, which is cheaper than buying in-person. Read reviews of Madame Tussauds New York.
Ripley’s is one of the most unique family attractions in Times Square. It has hundreds of “curioddities” and 20 interactive exhibits to discover. If your brood includes kids 5 or older, try to solve the escape adventure Ripley’s Relic. Open Sunday – Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Admission: $26.50 adults; $19.20, ages 4-12. Admission + Ripley’s Relic: $37.60 adults; $30 ages 5-12. (Note: these prices reflect 20 percent online discount.) Read reviews of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square.
Outdoor Activities in Times Square for Kids
Yes, there are plenty of indoor family attractions in Times Square. Though there are not a lot of outdoor activities in Times Square for kids, here are five options we love.
6. Times Square Red Steps
The iconic Times Square Red Steps are atop the TKTS booth. They’re a surprisingly tranquil place to watch the crowds go by while taking a much-needed rest. What’s more, they’re highly Instagrammable. The stairs are located between Broadway and Seventh Avenue at 47th Street. Open 24/7.
Have young thespians or history nerds in the family? Even if you don’t, everyone will love this behind-the-scenes peek into Broadway’s past and present. The Broadway Up Close Walking Tour covers a manageable half-mile in an hour and 45 minutes. Hear insider tales about Broadway’s flops, hits, hauntings and history. Times vary by tour. Admission: $37, adults; $32, ages 12-under. Read reviews of Broadway Up Close Walking Tour.
Designed by Tom Otterness, Silver Towers Playground is a must-see a few blocks west of Times Square. It’s in the public park of a luxury residential high-rise. The kids will love this climbable bronze character with slides for legs. In addition, there’s plenty of room for the kids to run off some energy. The playground is in the public park of Silver Towers on 42nd Street between 11th and 12th Avenues.
Hell’s Kitchen Park is another playground near Times Square. It’s accessible and has climbable structures, too.
The park is located on 10th Avenue between West 47th and West 48th streets.
Head two blocks east on 40th Street from Times Square and take a spin on the Bryant Park Carousel. In addition, there are frequent story times and magic shows at the carousel, too (and lots of shade and seats). Open daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission: $3 per ride, or $20 for 10 rides.
Stores to Visit in Times Square with Kids
Of course, no visit to Times Square with kids is complete without visiting these big-name retail stores. Just know in advance they can and will get packed.
This is a smaller version of Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But, the family can still enjoy “the great American chocolate bar” and so much more here. We dare you and the kids to pass up having Hershey’s s’mores made just for you from a camper in the heart of NYC. Open daily, 9 a.m. to midnight. Read reviews of Hershey’s Chocolate World.
You’ll all be wowed by the colors and flavors found in this three-story M&M’s shop. Commemorate your family vacation in New York City with customized M&M’s. You can get them made in-store in about two minutes. Open Sunday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to midnight; Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Read reviews of M&M’s World.
The kids will love seeing all the latest Disney merch in this Times Square store. Plus, there are frequent special events. In addition, one guest is chosen every day to help open the store—and nab an exclusive keepsake. Contact the store for info.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Read reviews of the Disney Store in Times Square.
Best Restaurants in Times Square for Kids
There are quite a few options for best restaurants in Times Square for kids, no matter your family’s eating preferences.
There are two offshoots of this Brooklyn mainstay near Times Square, one on 45th and the other on 49th. The portions are as big as the menu options, and it offers a good kids menu. Save room for a family-sized slice of its world-famous cheesecake. But, if ice cream is what you scream for most, Junior’s hot fudge is some of the best on the planet. Open Sunday – Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday – Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Read reviews of Junior’s.
Bubba Gump is one of the best restaurants in Times Square for kids. The kids menu includes several healthy grilled items, and meals come with a drink, side and Jell-o. The huge regular menu will please even your pickiest eater, too. In addition, it’s a great place to watch all the Times action while you eat. Open Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Read reviews of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Buca di Beppo offers two sizes of family-style Italian dishes. The kids menu has mac-n-cheese, two pizzas, chicken parm and spaghetti with meatball or fettuccine Alfredo. Open Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight. Read reviews of Buca di Beppo.
Shake Shack is a another kid-friendly restaurant in Times Square. What kid (or adult) doesn’t love crinkle-cut fries, burgers or dogs and shakes? Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to midnight. Read reviews of Shake Shack.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a great family-friendly restaurant a few blocks north of Times Square. The ’50s-themed diner has a singing wait staff, many of whom go on to star on stage and screen. The whole family will enjoy the classic diner fare as much as they will singing along. Open daily 7 a.m. to midnight. Read reviews of Ellen’s Stardust Diner.
Best Hotels in Times Square for Kids
There are several options for best hotels in Times Square for kids. Each keeps you close to all the family attractions in Times Square. In addition, they’re near subway lines that’ll get you everything else you want to see while visiting New York City with family, too.
This Westin is one of the best hotels in Times Square for kids. Its rooms are sizable when compared to other New York City hotels. In addition, the Westin Family Kids Club offers a welcome bag with activity book, crayons and more. Read reviews of the Westin New York at Times Square.
The Marriott Marquis offers several room options, such as two-bedroom family suites with several beds and a sofa bed. Plus, it’s home to The View, the city’s only revolving rooftop restaurant. Read reviews of the New York Marriott Marquis.
The chic rooms at the InterContinental are also sizable and include a nice-sized workstation the kids can use for coloring or playing. Plus, the spa-like bathrooms will help mom recharge after a day exploring Times Square with kids. Read reviews of the InterContinental New York Times Square.
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