I lost my camera after a 4 day weekend in New York City (somewhere between the taxi and the airplane). These are a couple pics from Beth’s iPhone. Fantastic city, fantastic trip.
Updated: January 12, 2017
The Best New York City Tours for Kids
- Get Your Guide – Great site for finding tours and getting good discounts.
- New York City Explorer Pass – Great way to save money. Buy passes for 3, 5, 7, or 10 of New York’s top attractions. The 10-attraction pass is the best deal but even the 3-attraction is worth it. Passes are good for 30 days.
- Half-Day Pizza Tasting Bus Tour – History meets pizza. The tour takes 4.5 hours and visits the best pizzerias in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Kids love this one.
- Brooklyn Chocolate Tour – A great way to explore Brooklyn with kids. Lots of fun distractions at some of the best chocolate shops in the city. Tour starts from Union Square in Manhattan.
- Cupcake Tour of Greenwich Village – 2 hours of cupcakes and gelato from 6 different shops. An easy going tour through this historic neighborhood. To say this tour gets 5 stars from kids would be an understatement.
- Helicopter Tour of NYC – Incredible views. Expensive – but worth it.
- Disney on Broadway Behind the Magic Experience – It doesn’t get much better than this: try on original costumes (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, and more), see backstage and in the prop room at the New Amsterdam Theatre, get the history on some of Disney’s biggest hits. Both kids and adults love this tour.
- See It All Full-Day Sightseeing Tour – Great if you don’t have a lot of time. Hotel pick-up and drop-off make it super convenient.
- Skip The Line: Empire State Building • One World Observatory • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island • 9/11 Museum • Museum of Natural History • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Theater Tickets: The Lion King • Aladdin • Cirque du Soleil Paramour • STOMP • Matilda • Wicked
- Note: Check age requirements for all tours and tickets. Some tours you need to be age 6 or more. Broadway shows are typically age 4 or more. And the 9/11 museum is probably best for those 10 or older.
The 45 Best Things to do in New York with Kids
If you’re in New York City with children then New York City Pass is a great deal. The pass allows you to visit the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, The MET, the Statue of Liberty as well as several other top attractions.
Open every day, 365 days a year rain or shine. 8am to 2am. Reviews.
A visit the Empire State Building with its dazzling city views from the 86th floor is a great New York experience, but it can be a hassle without careful planning. You’ll have two potential lines to cope with—buying tickets and waiting for the elevator. Skip the ticket line by ordering tickets online in advance, or minimize the elevator wait by coming at the least crowded hours, first thing in the morning or late in the day. Dusk is an ideal time to see the city and watch the lights twinkle on, a magical sight. You can eliminate the elevator line altogether by buying express tickets. Tips: Make the most of your time by using the rest room on the second floor before you ascend. Everyone must go through a security check so speed things up by being prepared—no liquids, no tripods. There is no check room, so don’t bring anything you cannot carry comfortably. If you must visit at busy times, bring something to entertain the kids while you wait.
Spring/Summer Hours: (April 1 – October 31) Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm. Saturday, Sunday & Holidays 10:00am – 6:00pm. Fall/Winter Hours: (November 1 – March 31) Daily (including Holidays) 10:00 am – 5:00pm. Reviews.
Allow several hours as there’s a lot to see—exploring the historic (and enormous) aircraft carrier itself, nearly 30 vintage planes on the flight deck, a guided missile submarine, and the space shuttle Enterprise. The Exploreum on the hangar level is full of interactive fun for kids like climbing into a helicopter and steering the wings of a plane. Save time and lines by buying tickets online in advance and be forewarned: many enticing exhibits, guided tours, and the space shuttle pavilion require extra fees. However, there is plenty to do without the extras. The Intrepid is best suited to older children who can appreciate the history. There is lots of walking, much of it outdoors, so sunscreen and hats are advisable. The best way to get here is the #50 crosstown bus headed west, which brings you right to the door.
Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30am – 5:30pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays. Reviews.
Sony’s introduction to the secrets of technology is the best free entertainment in town. Kids (and parents) can have a ton of tech fun, creating video games, animated movies and music. Want more? Learn what makes the internet work, be a virtual surgeon, program a robot, see yourself on TV. In addition to the exhibits, check the web site for a calendar of screenings, family workshops and Tech for Tots programs, all free. You can take your chances and show up hoping space is available, but this is a popular attraction so reservations are strongly advised. They must be made at least seven days in advance by phoning 212-833-8100 Tuesday through Friday between 9am and 2 pm.
Tuesday to Friday: 10am – 5pm. Saturday: 10am – 7pm. Sunday: 10am – 5pm. Reviews.
If you’re traveling with young children, visit this nirvana designed for ages six and under. Age-specific exhibits include Playworks for the youngest visitors and Adventures with Dora and Diego for ages 2 to 6. Changing exhibits show how children live in other lands. City Splash water play is a favorite in warm weather and offers the chance to sail a boat, paint with water, and play with sand. The museum provides waterproof smocks but it may be wise to bring a change of clothes in case of splashes. Stop at the information desk for the daily schedule of special workshops and performances, all included with admission. No food or drink is available in the museum but hand stamps at admission allows you to come and go all day. Grab a sandwich at Artie’s Delicatessen at Broadway & 83rd then head to nearby Riverside Park for a pleasant break.
Open daily from 10am – 5:45pm. Reviews.
This great museum covers two square blocks and can’t be covered in one day so start by looking at the floor plan and deciding on the exhibits that best match your own family’s interests. The dinosaurs are the biggest draw but don’t forget the giant blue whale, the African elephants, the animal dioramas, or the fabulous gems and minerals with treasures like the 56-carat Star of India sapphire. Check out the Discovery Room where kids can hunt for animals in a replica African baobab tree or examine specimens such as minerals or skulls. The museum adjoins the Rose Center for Earth and Space with exhibits and spectacular shows at the Hayden Planetarium. Nature films on the huge IMAX screen are another draw. When you want a lunch break, look down. Spoon and fork displays in the floor point the way to the nearest restaurants. The museum shops have wonderful selections of educational toys as well as inexpensive treats for the kids. Order tickets in advance to skip the long lines.
Open 24 hours. Free. Reviews.
Get the camera ready for this walkway high above the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn with endless panoramas of the skyscrapers of Wall Street and lower Manhattan along the way. Biking is fun but walking allows for easier stops The walkway is 1.3 miles long and can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your pace. You’ll get the best views if you start on the Brooklyn side with the city ahead. Stay left (the side closest to the Statue of Liberty) for great souvenir photos of your gang with the skyline as an unforgettable background. The closest subway stops in Brooklyn are York Street on the F line or High Street on the A and C lines – all stops are several blocks from the bridge so be sure the kids are up for a good walk. In Manhattan, the 4, 5, and 6 trains stop at nearby City Hall. Bring water along if the day is warm and try not to choose a breezy day as it’s always windier on the bridge than you expect.
Sunday – Friday 10am to 11pm, Saturday 9am to 11pm. Reviews.
A three-story indoor ferris wheel is the centerpiece of this playful wonderland, one of the biggest toy stores in the world. Fun features include a life-size animataed T Rex, a giant Barbie Dream House, sections for video games, and Hot Wheels and a Legoland with imaginative constructions. Superman flies above it all. Of course, you’ll probably be wheedled into a purchase or a visit to Candy Land and the ice cream store downstairs. The only problem is the crowds. Try to come at off hours: in the morning at opening or in the late afternoon. If you are crowd-phobic don’t go near this store at Christmas time.
Open everyday 7am to 10pm though this can change with the seasons. Reviews.
An abandoned overhead freight railway has been transformed into a remarkable elevated park running roughly from 15th to 34th streets on the city’s far west side. A great stroll, it offers river and city views from a lofty perspective and features lush landscaping that reflects the wild plants that grew up along the neglected railbeds. Along the way are art installations, videos, a place to take off your shoes and wade in an inch-high pool, or to sit back, relax and take it all in. Many programs in July and August are geared to kids. On Wild Wednesdays, hands-on nature sessions might feature leaves, butterflies or earth worms. Thursday mornings offer music and stories for little ones at the 23rd Street Lawn. Saturday has art projects for ages 4 and up. Food and treats are available at several places along the way. A visit can mean a 30 minute walk or can fill several hours. Don’t forget hats and sunscreen in summer
Tuesday – Friday 10am to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Reviews.
Housed in a 1936 decommissioned subway station, this museum tells the amazing story of New York’s subways, beginning with how tunnels were dug underground from 1904 to 1927 for the opening of the system. Exhibits continue to follow the construction of the enormous 842 miles of track to the present. Visitors can walk through actual vintage subway cars and see the many kinds of tokens used to enter the subway before the advent of the Metrocard. Another popular interactive exhibit, On the Streets, traces the development of trolley and bus transportation in the city and invites kids to board a 12-seat bus and child-size trolley. Plan to come on weekends when free programs for young visitors are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm. The free Grand Central Terminal branch is small but worth a stop for changing exhibits and model train displays.
April 1 – August 31: Monday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm. Saturday & Sunday 10am – 6pm. September 1 – March 31: Tuesday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm. Saturday & Sunday 10am – 6pm. Reviews.
Children at this excellent museum are so busy having fun they hardly realize that they are learning. Science, space, sound, light, physics, astronomy, technology, and math are some of the areas explored through 450 hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, films and workshops. Enticing exhibits include Realm of the Atom, The Search for Life Beyond the Earth, Seeing the Light, Hall of Mirrors and Sound Sensations: The Inside Story of Audio. Favorites include the “Build-It” hall downstairs, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Sports Challenge where kids can test their reflexes with activities like jumping, arm wrestling, and wheel chair racing. Preschool Place and an outdoor Science Playground entertain the youngest visitors, and there is a miniature golf course outside. Tips: Avoid New York school holidays when the museum is most crowded and be aware that admission is free on Fridays from 2 to 5pm and Sundays from 10 to 11am. Don’t miss a look at the Great Hall, originally constructed to wow crowds at the 1964 Worlds Fair, with undulating walls that rise 100 feet with no corners or straight segments.
Sunday: 11am – 9pm. Monday to Thursday: 10am – 9pm. Friday & Saturday: 10am – 11pm. Reviews.
Think Candyland come to life, with a giant lollipop tree in the center, candy patterns on the walls and embedded in the stairs. Dylan’s Candy Bar claims to house over 7,000 confections making it one of the largest selections of candies anywhere and enough sweet stuff to satisfy the wildest cravings. Pick up a bag and take your pick from the dozens of bins (you pay by the weight) or choose from the endless array of chocolates and other boxed treats. Pillows, pajamas, and personalized mugs are among dozens of candy-theme souvenirs. Fudge-makers are at work downstairs and upstairs the gigantic sundaes come with three scoops and three toppings. Perfectly Peanut Butter is among several unique choices. While the kids indulge in ice cream parents can relax with a pink cotton candy martini.
Departs every half hour. Reviews.
This 25 minute, five-mile sail is one of the world’s best free rides with unbeatable views of New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan. At the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan, a 75-foot-high entry hall greets riders with panoramic views of the downtown Manhattan skyline. On fine days a rooftop viewing deck with benches is an excellent place to go while waiting for the next boat. The closest subway station is South Ferry, served by the 1 and 9 lines. The ferry is basic transportation to Manhattan for residents of Staten Island so avoid morning and evening rush hours when commuters crowd the terminal. This is one city attraction that is quieter on weekends.
Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm. Reviews.
The first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899, this museum remains an innovator. Recently doubled in size, the Collections Central area now has room to show off some of the enormous permanent collection of nearly 30,000 objects, from minerals and fossils to a complete skeleton of an Asian elephant to musical instruments, masks and dolls. In Neighborhood Nature kids can get a fish-eye view by crawling in a tunnel inside the pond aquarium, and dig, play and harvest pretend plants in the garden. New World Brooklyn, a world of kid-sized shops, highlights diversity with stores where you can build a lantern for Chinese New Years, make pretend dough at a Mexican Bakery, and create cloth patterns, construct slat chairs or have a go at drumming in a West African emporium. Whether kids choose to be shoppers or play cashier, the International Grocery is a chance to see products from around the world, The only drawback to this terrific museum is the trek to get there. The subway ride from Manhattan takes nearly one hour and any route requires a six or seven block walk from the station. If you have the time and energy, however, it is a worthwhile trip.
14. Bronx Zoo
March 23 to November 3: Monday-Friday 10am – 5pm. Weekends & Holidays 10am – 5:30pm. November 4 to April 4: Daily 10am – 4:30pm. Reviews.
Allow a whole day for the largest city zoo in America and home to some 4000 animals. Many of the residents are found in open natural settings. Among many highlights are Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest where glass walls put you close-up to these wondrous animals. The African Plains populated with zebras, giraffes, and lions and the Madagascar exhibit with its acrobatic lemurs are can’t miss sights. At the children’s zoo little ones can climb into a birds nest and feed tame animals. Camel rides and the bug carousel are fun diversions. You can cut down the walking in this enormous zoo with rides by tram or monorail. Special times to arrive are feeding times for lions at 11am and 3pm and for penguins at 3:30pm. A daily calendar lists other special events. Order tickets online to save standing in line and try to schedule this outing on less crowded weekdays..
Sunday to Tuesday: 10am – 7pm. Wednesday and Thursday: 10am – 8pm. Friday and Saturday: 10am – 9pm. Reviews.
Discovery Times Square (DTS) is not a museum but an exhibition center presenting changing exhibits with topics from the Titanic to King Tut to China’s Terracotta Warriors. Kids love the shows featuring some of their book and film favorites like movie sets from Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. The topics are often unique and the displays are well done but each will occupy only an hour or so. Because admission is separate for each of the three current exhibits and the tickets are expensive, this is recommended only if there is a special lure for your family. If you do go, be sure to check the web site for current special offers and look online for any other discounts like Groupon discounts..
Wednesday to Thursday: 10:30am – 5pm. Friday: 10:30am – 8pm.
Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 am – 7pm. Reviews.
A former movie and TV studio houses a unique treat, a museum devoted to the development of moving pictures from flip books to the digital age. Parents often are as intrigued as the kids at the chance to see exhibits that tell of the development of film and television cameras, projectors, television sets, and sound recording equipment. Visitors can play vintage arcade and console games and have a variety of interactive experiences like recording a sequence of still photos that can be printed to make a flipbook or creating stop-motion animation that can be saved and emailed to friends. You can dub your voice over dialogue from a film or add sound effects and music. A simulated TV control room is the chance to watch the director call for varying shots to cover a baseball game. Clips from some of the earliest films are displayed and modern films are shown at the museum’s theater. The subway ride from Manhattan is about half an hour. Not recommended for toddlers but highly recommended for older children.
Sunday to Thursday: 10am – 5:30pm. Friday and Saturday: 10am – 9pm. Reviews.
In addition to great art from every period from ancient to contemporary, the country’s largest museum has galleries with special appeal for families such as the chance to see mummies and explore an Egyptian temple, see life size knights of old in their arms and armor, and marvel at fascinating masks from Africa and Asia. You can plan your visit by downloading a family map and children’s guides or pick up these free materials at the desk when you arrive The guides have titles like Kings, Wings and Mysterious Mummies or What Shall I Wear Today and help make the museum more fun for kids. Family audio guides are also available. Children under 12 are admitted free and passes are available online for teens who have middle school or high school identification. Note that the hefty adult fee is “recommended” – if the tab is too steep, you may pay less. This world-famous museum is often packed with visitors but you can avoid crowds by going during Friday or Saturday evening hours. Buying tickets in advance also helps.
18. Central Park
Open daily during daylight hours. Reviews.
New York’s “back yard” is full of family fun from a carousel and a marionette theater to a zoo that is the perfect size for children. An amazing variety has been packed into this compact zoo, from a tropical rainforest to a sea lion pool to a polar world of penguins. At the separate children’s zoo, little ones can feed sheep and goats and other furry friends. Be sure to see the Delacorte clock just outside the zoo on the hour or half-hour when a parade of whimsical bronze animal musician sculptures plays popular tunes. In winter you can rent ice skates for a whirl on the Wollman Rink and in summer the site becomes the Victorian Garden with slides and rides. Take a walk through the Ramble to discover deep woods and waterfalls in the middle of the city. Every Saturday at 11am from June through September storytelling for ages 6 and up takes place at the Hans Christian Andersen statue near 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. On weekends, cars are banned and park roads turn into miles of scenic, traffic-free bike paths. Bike rentals for the park are available from 9am to 7pm at 56 West 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
Late May to early September and holiday periods: 9am – 10pm daily. Rest of year, Sunday to Thursday: 10am – 8pm. Friday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm. Reviews.
Teens, who can be hard to please, usually love this museum. Why? Because they can take endless photos for their Facebook pages with the lifelike wax figures of everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Barack Obama. The themed sections feature super heroes like The Hulk and Spider Man, sports stars including Carmelo Anthony and Derek Jeter, politicians from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton, TV stars like John Hamm, movie idols past and present from Marilyn Monroe to George Clooney. Smaller fry will enjoy seeing Sponge Bob and ET. The Marvel Comics Super Heroes 4D film boasts some great special effects. Buying advance tickets online saves up to 25% off the admission price and this is often a Groupon offering, as well.
Boats leave regularly from 8:30am – 5pm. Last boat back departs at 6:45pm. Reviews.
The city views from the boat ride and from Liberty Island are spectacular and standing close-up to the Statue of Liberty is a guaranteed thrill for everyone. For kids who are old enough the climb up the torch is an adventure to cherish. The same boats that go to Liberty Island continue to Ellis Island, a visit recommended for children old enough to appreciate the chance to walk in the footsteps of the millions who came to America from other lands. But be forewarned: Even advance tickets for these iconic sights sell out months in advance, especially tours that include access to the Liberty torch (the highest point you can climb to inside the Statue of Liberty). If you don’t order tickets ahead, arrive very first thing in the morning or be prepared for long ticket lines and waits that can be hours for the timed departures.
Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday: 10am – 6pm. Friday: 10am – 8pm. Sunday 11am – 5pm. Reviews.
Children ages 8 to 13 are invited to become history detectives learning about early life in New York through a series of engaging exhibits. Turn a dial to see photos of a street as it was 100 years ago and as it looks today, put your face into a cut-out of George Washington and imagine your own inauguration speech, practice making a cross-stitch like early New Yorkers who had to sew their own clothes, meet the young newsboys who went on strike against the city’s biggest dailies—and won! The library areas is a place to rest, play interactive games, see early children’s books and find current books about the city. The museum offers programs to entertain tykes while older siblings explore. Storytime for ages 4 to 6 is at 11:30 am on Sunday and Songs and Stories for Little New-Yorkers age 3 to 5 takes place on Tuesday and Friday at 3:30 pm. Pay what you wish every Friday 6-8 pm.
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 5pm. Monday and Wednesday: 12pm – 5pm. Thursday and Friday: 12pm – 6pm. Closed Tuesday. Reviews.
This little gem is a hands on museum inviting families to explore art through intriguing exhibits and the chance to actually experiment with art materials, clay, sound and animation. The Fine Arts Studio is open for everyone to paint, draw, or sculpt a take-home art work and the Clay Bar lets novice sculptors go to work. Check for hours when the Media Lab and Sound Booth are open, places where you can learn how to animate a short film or record a song. Children under five have their own WEE Arts studio and the Ball Pond lets everyone work off excess energy before you leave. Some smocks are available but its best to come dressed in clothes that can take a bit of paint or glue. Be sure to sign up as soon as you arrive for a 35-minute session in the popular Clay Bar and for the day’s special workshop. Pay what you wish on Thursdays from 4 to 6pm.
Monday to Thursday: Sunday: 9am – 12am. Friday and Saturday: 9am – 2am. Reviews.
Temptations abound in this nirvana for chocoholics, a mouth-watering reward for good boys and girls. How about a Chocolate Chunks Pizza made with melted chocolate and topping choices of hazelnuts, bananas, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows? Or maybe a Cookieshake, white chocolate ganache blended with Oreo cookies and ice? The menu of hot chocolates is amazing along with the O.M.G Chocolate Chunk Cookies, served with whipped cream, berries and melted chocolate. There’s a food menu as well, and the super crunchy mac and cheese gets kudos. But it’s chocolate that makes this worth the trip. Be sure to make a reservation as the dining room is often packed. It can get noisy, crowded, and a little chaotic at peak meal times and on weekends.
24. Chelsea Piers
Hours vary with seasons: phone 212-336-6100 to check. Reviews.
Children who dutifully trudge through sightseeing deserve a reward. At Chelsea Piers, once defunct piers on the Hudson River have been transformed into a 27-acre riverfront sports complex that can be a welcome break. Activities include a bowling alley and indoor ice skating in winter and a summer skate park. The Field House, which serves many leagues and classes, offers a selection of Drop-In Programs for its facilities between scheduled sessions. These include batting cages, soccer fields, basketball courts, a gymnastics area, and a rock wall. Children age 4 and under have their own indoor play area. Call to find out what is available on the day you want to visit. The 23RD Street crosstown bus headed west brings you right to the entry.
Check for current offerings. Reviews.
New York’s first major theater devoted entirely to family entertainment offers troupes from around the world presenting a changing array of plays, circus acts, dancing, puppets, and surprises. Arrive an hour early for Arts Express, pre-performance hands-on activities inspired by what is on stage. “Try This” in the lower lobbies gives the chance to engage with props and design elements from the current show. Some performances have “talk-backs” where the audience has the chance to ask questions of the performers. Many workshops are scheduled with the artists teaching performance skills from puppetry to circus arts to hip hop. These are mostly for ages seven and up though there are a few for ages four to seven. Check the web site for upcoming performances and programs – each listing indicates the recommended ages.
And 20 More Great Attractions for Kids
10am to 6:30pm daily, Thursday to 8:30pm Reviews
This restored actual tenement building gives a rare chance to experience what brave immigrant newcomers actually faced in their confusing new world. Among several tours offered, families will most enjoy interactive sessions where costumed interpreters represent past residents, from countries such as Ireland, Italy and Eastrn Europe. Though many tours are recommended for age eight and up, the museum says youngsters as young as five can appreciate the Victoria Confino tour, visitng the apartment of a Greek Sephardic family and meeting 14-year-old “Victoria” who lived in this tenement in 1916. Visitors also play-act. taking the role of new arrivals and asking questions about life on the Lower East Side. Children are allowed to handle the household objects. Tours are popular and may sell out, so reserve ahead on line or by phone to avoid waits and disappointment All tours meet at the Visitor Center at 103 Orchard Street, across the street from the museum. The Center has an excellent selection of New York City souvenirs. Walking tours of the neighborhood are available, as well. For help selectng the activities best suited for your family, phone 877-975-3786 .
This still-growing 84 acre park covering 1.3 miles between the Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods has transformed Brooklyn’s East River waterfront. A former industrial space and decaying piers have become a world of gardens, promenades and bike paths with spectacular views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the New York skyline. The park has activities galore. Pier 2 offers courts for basketball, handball, bocce, shuffleboard and hopscotch, as well as a roller skating rink. Pier 4 is a sandy beach with a boat launch. Pier 6 has a volleyball court. Pier 3 is reserved for quiet walks and reading. Several playgrounds are located around the park and an old fashioned carousel awaits near the Dumbo entrance. The pleasantest and most direct way from Manhattan is by boat. Ferries run from 39th Street and the East River, Water Taxis from 39th Street on the river. By subway, choices include the A or C train to High Street, F train to York Street, 2 or 3 to Clark Street, 4 or 5 to Borough Hall. All these stops require a 10-15 minute walk to reach the park. Piers open 6am to 11pm, playgrounds open dawn to dusk. Reviews
There’s a fairy tale quality to this medieval castle high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. The late John D. Rockefeller,Jr donated the land and the building, which holds his incomparable collection of medieval art. To make this art more fun for children. make a game of searching for the heroes, saints and fanciful figures like unicorns to be found in the tapestries, paintings and glowing stained glass windows. On many Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. free family workshops for ages 4 to 12 cover topics such as Robes and Regalia, pointing out what heroes wore from monks’ robes to knight’s’ armor or Looking at Shapes showing how medieval artists used familiar forms like circles, squares and triangles. Check for workshop dates. Fort Tryon Park surrounding The Cloisters is a treat, with soaring views along its promenades and terraces, plus playgrounds and eight miles of paths, many of them meandering through woodland. To reach the Cloisters, take the A train to 190th Street, a 30-minute ride from midtown, then a ten minute walk through the park or one stop north on the M4 bus. The M4 runs all the way from midtown, about an hour’s ride. Daily 10am to 5:15pm March through October, rest of year to 4:45pm Reviews
Come for the sea breezes along the 2 ½-mile boardwalk, the surf, the rides, the arcades, the legendary hot dogs at the original Nathans and a visit to the growing New York Aquarium. A great day is guaranteed! The Luna Park amusement center boasts classic rides like the 1918 Wonder Wheel and the 1927 Cyclone roller coaster along with plenty of state of the art scream new machines and gentle thrills for little ones including a carousel. The New York Aquarium is smaller since it was flooded by hurricane Sandy in 2012, but there’s still plenty to delight, including colorful denizens of a coral reef and an African lake, walruses and sharks and a wonderful daily sea lion show in the Aquatheater. A major addition is under construction. Baseball fans can add a game at the friendly, affordable MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets farm team. And there are fireworks every Friday night in summer. Take subways F, D, Q or N to Stillwell Avenue, about 45 minutes from midtown. Luna Park open March through November, daily Memorial Day to Labor Day, weekends rest of the season. Aquarium open daily 10am to 4:30pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day 10am-6pm. Pay what you wish Friday 4pm-5pm in summer, Friday 3pm-3:30 pm rest of year. Reviews
Almost every TV show ever filmed can be viewed at this center which boasts an archive of more than 150,000 TV shows, radio broadcasts and commercials. Visitors have their own TV consoles and ear phones and can call up favorites past and present, from I Love Lucy to early Sesame Street. , This is an entertaining nostalgia trip for all ages, and a favorite for teens old enough to remember the old shows. Curators have compiled intriguing Top Ten lists of classics including The Beatles, Seinfeld, Nickelodeon, the Olympics. Super Bowl ads and Halloween specials. Themed screenings take place.in the downstairs theater and personal appearances are often featured. Recently the cast of Veep and Anthony Bourdain have appeared. Wednesday-Sunday 12pm to-6pm Reviews
This spectacular collection of historic fire engines and equipment from the late 18th century to the present tells the story of firefighting from the days of bucket brigades to hand pumps, horse drawn steam engines to high-tech fire boats. The accessories are fun to see, as well; who knew that some firemen once wore top hats to work? The enormous, shiny fire wagons of old will wow all ages and everyone can enjoy the fun of posing for souvenir snaps in firemen’s coats and hats, available in sizes from toddlers to grownups. Prepare for plenty of temptations in the gift shop. A moving memorial gallery to the firefighters lost at the World Trade Center in 2001 is tactfully set apart so that families can decide whether they wish to visit. Occasional special events for children include coloring contests, Easter egg hunts and a kids’ Halloween party. Check the web site for schedules. The museum is housed in a 1904 triple bay firehouse with its sliding doors, brass sliding pole and winding staircase intact. To round out the day, the Children’s Museum of the Arts is just a few blocks away. Open daily 10am to 5pm Reviews
For a peaceful afternoon and a look at a different side of New York, head for this newest waterfront neighborhood, begun in the 1960s partially on landfill created from the building of the original World Trade Center, and mostly completed by 2011. The 92-acre complex, now home to some 10,000 residents, offers miles of beautifully landscaped, art-studded paths for strolling or biking with peerless State of Liberty views as well as parks and playgrounds with many activities for children. The two residential sections are centered by Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center) an office complex with many shops and dining places and a big, tranquil outdoor terrace overlooking a marina of sleek yachts and sailboats. Rockefeller Park at the north end of the area, has basketball and handball courts, swings and a Parkhouse with ping pong and billiards tables, a play kitchen and toys, games and play equipment free to borrow from May through October. The waterside walkways continue to Battery Park and beyond. .1/2/3 or A/C to Chambers Street. Walk west along Chambers and cross the West Side Highway into BPC. Reviews
Noisy, crowded and utterly fascinating, Chinatown makes for a colorful stroll and tasty dining. Start on Canal Street where food stands are stacked with mysterious vegetables and dried foods, and all manner of seafood shimmering on beds of ice. Turn onto Mott Street, the main artery, for a sampling of lures like chopstick shops, bakeries beckoning with cookies and soft buns filled with roasted pork or beef, and souvenir stands selling slippers, back scratchers, dolls, toys and bamboo plants, which the Chinese consider good luck. Buy a mini-stalk to take a little luck back home Stop into the Eastern States Buddhist Temple at #64 to see offerings piled high on altars and over 100 golden Buddha gleaming in the candlelight. Turn left to Bayard Street for the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory’s unique homemade flavors. Stay on Bayard to Columbus Park for a playground and the chance to see residents practicing Tai Chi. Then return to Mott and choose among the many restaurants for a final Chinese treat. One caveat: the crowds and commotion may not be ideal for young children and there is little room for strollers. Take the 6, N or R trains to Canal Street. Reviews
34. Nintendo World
Paradise for fans of Wii or Nintendo games, this store offers the chance to try out all the newest games and find a host of unique souvenirs, including hard-to-find plush characters. The second floor is a mini-museum displaying every console and character ever created, a great nostalgia trip for older kids (and many parents). The “ambassadors” around the floor all are enthusiasts who seem to enjoy showing visitors around and teaching how to use various devices. Fans line up outside for product introduction days and to see life-size costumed favorite characters like Mario or Pikachu when they appear for photo ops. Check the web site for dates. It’s all free, but guaranteed you won’t leave without a purchase. Monday-Thursday, 9am to 8pm; Friday, Saturday 9am to 9pm; Sunday 11am-7pm Reviews
35. Best Bowling Alleys for Kids
When the weather is too hot, too cold or too rainy, New York’s bowling alleys are great escapes for family fun. Many of these swank, state-of-the-art facilities become singles hangouts after dark, when age restrictions are the rule, but all welcome families during the day. Frames Bowling Lounge (550 Ninth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, 212-268-6909) in the Port Authority Bus Terminal offers family packages Monday through Saturday before 5pm, and all day Sundays. They include two hours of bowling, shoe rentals, arcade games, a pizza-chicken bites platter and drinks. Bowlmor Times Square (22 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, 212-680-0012) features 50 lanes in seven NYC-themed lounges, from Chinatown to Central Park. Advance reservations are suggested.at this popular midtown spot. The Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers (Pier 60, 23rd St and West Side Highway, 212-835-2695) is smaller and less crowded and offers an arcade, a small laser tag arena and an aerial ropes course for children 48 inches and up. Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge (624–660 West 42nd Street, 646-829-0170) adds billiard tables to the fun and a nice food selections like burgers of the month, tacos, and wings. Rates are lower Monday to Wednesday.
The world’s largest collection of modern art and sculpture is housed in a striking contemporary glass building with soaring sightlines that families will enjoy as they escalate from floor to floor. The chance to see iconic paintings such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Salvador Dali’s melting watch in The Persistence of Memory and Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians certainly merits a visit. The problem for families is the size of this museum, which can seem overwhelming. A wise approach is pre-visit research to decide which of the many galleries will most appeal and to locate the don’t-miss paintings. (You can also buy tickets in advance.) Art activity cards and gallery games to make the most of the visit can be picked up at the museum or downloaded in advance. MOMA also offers many Saturday and Sunday morning family tours and hands-on art programs divided by age, for 4-year-olds, ages 5 to 10 and tweens ages 11 to 14. Most programs meet at the Cullman Education and Research Building, 4 West 54th Street, with registration beginning online ten days in advance. Check schedules on-line and time your visit for these free events if possible. The lovely sculpture garden outside is a nice break if kids grow weary. Daily 10:30am to 5:30pm, Friday to 8pm Free admission ages 10 and under, free for all Friday 4pm-8pm. Reviews
It’s hard to imagine a museum more intriguing to children than this Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece where the “galleries” are a spiraling ramp with art on one side and amazing views from floor to domed ceiling on the other. The Guggenheim’s permanent collection, especially known for its Kandinsky paintings, is not always on view but temporary exhibits are usually intriguing and there is always a trove of masters like Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, and Monet on display in the Thannhauser Collection galleries off the main ramp. If schedules allow, plan to visit on the second Sunday each month when family tours are held at 10:30am and hands on workshops take place at 1pm. Friday-Wednesday 10am to 5:45pm, Saturday to 7:45pm. You can buy tickets in advance or there’s pay what you wish Saturday 5:45pm-7:45pm. Closed Thursday. Reviews
38. Sports Arena Tours
Sports fans will find action year round in New York at arenas that are as exciting as their teams. Some are iconic, like Yankee Stadium, home to baseball’s winningest team, and Madison Square Garden, where the basketball Knicks and Liberty and hockey Ranger teams play. There are exceptional newer venues, as well including the glistening Barclays Arena, host to Nets basketball and Islanders hockey, and retro Citi Field where the Mets play baseball and the food stands get rave reviews. It is exciting to be part of the cheering crowd, but these arenas are fun to see even when the teams are not in action and all offer behind-the-scenes guided tours. Each tour is unique, but you can expect to go on the field or the court, visit locker rooms and dugouts, see the exclusive VIP boxes, and tour the teams’ halls of fame. Tour times vary with seasons and schedules. Check web sites for current schedules.
The New York City Ballet, one of the world’s great companies, dances at Lincoln Center in fall, winter and spring with many programs that are ideal for families. During the holiday season, George Balanchine’s beautiful, whimsical Nutcracker is a traditional treat for generations of New York families. Classics like Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia with its dolls come to life and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and its dancing donkey are great introductions to this art. The ballet also has special performances introducing children to ballet and many inexpensive 45-minute workshops on weekends for children ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 where participants actually learn steps from professional dancers. Workshops are usually held before family-friendly matinees and are great introductions to the performance. The season is usually mid-September through October, late November through December, mid-January through February and mid-April through May. Reviews
Working shops and classic ships help tell the story of. the days when this area was a bustling port, its piers crowded with ships from around the world, bringing trade that helped build a thriving New York and the growing United States. Start at the Visitors Center, 12 Fulton Street, for interpretive displays, then head for the “street of ships, Pier 16 at John Street where several vintage vessels are docked. Two may be toured, the 1907 lighthouse ship Ambrose, and the four-masted barque Peking. From May through October, visitors can actually go for a sail on the Pioneer, an 1885 four-masted schooner, and help hoist the sails. The Boone Printshop at 207-211 Water Street, is the chance to see demonstrations of early letterpress printing and examples of 19th century crafts such as woodcarving. The rest of the Seaport area is a collection of shops and restaurants, some of them at the end of Pier 19 with wonderful water views. Take subways 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, or Z to Fulton Street walk east towards the river for about 10 minutes. The M15 bus stops right at the Seaport on Fulton Street. Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm except for Print Shop, 11am to 7pm. Reviews
An inexpensive 10-minute ferry ride brings you to this former U.S. military base, an important part of the system of early forts designed to guard New York City. When the base closed in 2006, some 22 acres of the 172-acre site because a National Monument offering wide open spaces, gardens, bike and walking paths with city views and an interesting slice of history. National Park Service Rangers-lead tours that include Castle Williams, the first American circular fortification ever built, and the star-shaped Fort Jay, which has served over time as fort, music school, and prison for Confederate prisoners. Weekends bring special events from art shows to concerts. The rest of the island is in the midst of development that by 2017 will include The Hills, a 10-acre park where man-made mounds from 25 to 70 feet high will offer climbers peerless perspectives. There will be a shortcut to the top for children, and one mound called Slide Hill will have four slides down, sure to be a kids’ favorite. Bike rentals and food are available on the island. Open Memorial Day to end of September. Ferries leave Marine Maritime Terminal in lower Manhattan 10am to 4pm weekdays to 5:30 p.m. weekends and holidays. Reviews
42. Best NYC Book Stores for Kids
Even as bookstores continue to dwindle, New York still boasts several really great children’s book stores, good for whiling away a peaceful hour or two and for a special selection of books to take home. The Bank Street Book Store (2780 Broadway at 107th Street, 212-678-1654) is part of the city’s outstanding college for teacher education. It offers a large, carefully selected choice of books, games and educational toys, as well as a schedule of some 600 events including music, puppet shows, a toddler story hour and other entertainment for kids. Books of Wonder (18 West 18th Street, 212-989-3270) celebrated its 35th birthday in 2015 as a delightful source of new children’s literature as well as rare collectible children’s books and a selection of book-oriented art and posters. The store features story hours for young readers every Saturday and Sunday morning and many author events where older children can meet their favorite writers. The well-stocked Book Culture (114th Street and Broadway, 646-402-3000), has three locations in the Columbia University neighborhood. The Broadway store devotes the entire downstairs to a Children’s Reading Room, open from 10am to 8pm daily and an ideal spot for a rainy afternoon.
43. Best Skating Rinks for Kids
Skating amidst the skyscrapers is a big city winter pleasure in New York, where many scenic outdoor ice skating rinks beckon. The Rink at Rockefeller Center is famed, so much so that online advance reservations are strongly advised. The numbers are kept at 150 to avoid crowding and there is often a waiting line (212-332-7655). Not far away at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, skating is free (though you’ll have to pay for rental skates and helmets. (212-768-4242) Central Park has two fine public rinks The Wollman Rink (212-439-6900) near the 59th Street and Fifth Avenue entrance is popular and you might consider splurging for a VIP reservation package to avoid waits. The Lasker Rink between 106th and 108th streets is less convenient so less crowded (917-492-3856). Downtown, the Rink at Brookfield Place (the former World Financial Center, 212-417-2445) is even bigger than the Rockefeller Center space and another option awaits at Fulton and Front Streets in front of South Street Seaport (212-732-825). If you don’t want to brave the cold (or the summer heat), you can skate indoors year-round at the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers (212-336-6100). Most rinks open mid-October to mid-November, close early to late March. Check individual listings for dates and hours.
For a taste of country in the city, take a trip to Floral Park and the 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum. a 300-year living history of farming. The restored Adriance Farmhouse was built as a three-room Dutch farmhouse in 1772. The surrounding 7-acre historic area shows the changes from a colonial homestead to a truck farm that served a growing city in the early twentieth century. The historic outbuildings, orchards, fields of crops, vineyard, and an herb garden bring history to life and the kids will love seeing the cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and hens at home in the barnyards. Farmhouse tours and hayrides are offered every weekend and a host of special events like sheep shearing and a corn maize keep things lively. In mid-September visitors can take in the Queens County Fair, an old-fashioned event with corn husking and pie-eating contests, pig races, hayrides, livestock competitions and midway rides. The easiest way to get there is by car, about a 35 minute drive from midtown. The Long Island Railroad is another option. The ride from Penn station to Floral Park takes 37-minutes, and cabs waiting at the Floral Park station will take you to the site for around $10. Open daily 10am to 5pm. Reviews
An excursion across the river to Jersey City leads to this big imaginative, interactive museum that will engage kids of all age. Dual-level exhibits like Skyscraper let everyone learns what it takes to design tall buildings. Then older kids can walk a high steel girder (wearing safety vests) and enter a wind tunnel, while little ones build with blocks and stack them using a magnetic mini-crane. Other popular exhibits include the da Vinci surgical robot trying the kind of simulators used by surgeons, the Lightning Show, the Touch Tunnel, and the Infinity Climber, a suspended enclosed multi story play space for climbing and crawling through paths suspended high overhead. Several exhibits are designed for younger visitors. The museum is located in Liberty State Park, with playgrounds and picnic areas and rentals of bikes and Segways to enjoy paths with Hudson River and New York skyline views. Statue of Liberty ferries can be boarded here, as well. Get here by car or take the Liberty Landing Ferry from Brookfield Place to the park, where a 20-minute walk leads to the museum. Or take Path trains to Exchange Place and transfer to the Bergen-Hudson light rail. Tuesday to Friday 9am-4pm, Saturday, Sunday 9am-5pm. Reviews
The Best Playgrounds in New York City
- Pier 25 (pictured above), Hudson River Park
- Union Square Park. Lots of fun, new, and interesting equipment.
- Central Park has 21 different playgrounds. The Ancient Playground, Billy Johnson Playground, Diana Ross Playground, and Tarr Family Playground are the among the favorites.
- Madison Square Park. There’s a Shake Shack (burgers, fries, shakes) in the middle of the park.
- Silver Towers Playground is the closest playground to Times Square.
Updated: January 17, 2017
Best Tours and Tickets for Kids in London
- Get Your Guide – Great site for finding tours and getting good discounts.
- Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour and Transfers – Full day ticket and transportation from central London to the studio. The 2 hour Private Tour of Harry Potter’s London is excellent (zip around London in a Mini Cooper).
- KidZania London – Kids absolutely love this place! Real-life role playing in engineering, medicine, construction, theatre, aviation, dentistry, banking, bus driving, fire and rescue, and about 2 dozen more.
- LEGOLAND Windsor – Tickets and transportation from London.
- Shrek’s Adventure – Good fun in central London. Best for 5 to 13 year olds – though many adults love it too.
- The Original London Sightseeing Bus Tour – Hop-on hop-off 3 different bus routes around the city. Free river cruise from Westminster to the Tower of London is included in the ticket. There’s also the London Duck Tours where the bus/boat actually enters the Thames and the London By Night Bus Tour.
- Classic London 3 Hour Bike Tour – A fun and active way to see the best of central London. With tour guide.
- Skip the Line: London Eye • London Transport Museum • Tower of London • London Zoo • Madame Tussauds • Buckingham Palace • Ripley’s Believe It or Not
- Stadium Tours: Wembley • Chelsea • Arsenal
- Stonehenge Day Trip • Paris Day Trip (Eurostar train and guided tour of Eiffel Tower, Seine, and Louvre) • Paris 2 Day Trip (same as above but with an extra day to explore the city on your own)
The 15 Best Things To Do with Kids in London
This well-preserved medieval castle is one of London’s premier attractions for families – adults and children love it. Interior exhibits are interactive and informative. The castle was eventually converted to a prison and the site of many executions. Much of its history is dark and gruesome. Arrive as close to opening time as possible and head straight to the White Tower which is loaded with interesting and kid-friendly exhibits (lines start forming shortly after the gates open and grow longer throughout the day). Next visit the Crown Jewels. There are free guided tours that start every 30 minutes and last 45 minutes – grab a program before you enter (by the ticket booth) which lists all the events for the day. (1 restaurant)
- ages: 5 +
- tube: Tower Hill
- open: March to October Sunday & Monday: 10:00 to 17:30, Tuesday–Saturday: 9:00 to 17:30; November to February Sunday & Monday: 10:00 to 16:30, Tuesday–Saturday: 9:00 to 16:30.
- costs: family £55, adult £20, child £10, kids under four years are free.
2. Tower Bridge
London’s number one icon. The bridge opens and closes almost 1000 times a year (schedule posted online and at the bridge). The Tower Bridge Exhibition provides a history of the bridge and allows access to the bridge’s top walkway by way of an elevator. You can also get a look at the steam-driven machinery that raised bridge for the first hundred years of its existence. (Historical note: The Luftwaffe didn’t bomb the iconic bridge during WWII because it needed it as a landmark.)
- ages: 5 +
- tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill
- open: April to September 10:00 to 18:00, October to March 9:30 to 17:30.
- costs: family £11, adult £8, student £5, child £3, kids under four years are free.
One of the world’s best museums has a kid-friendly attitude and fun children’s audio tours. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles, and the Egyptian mummies are some of the jaw-dropping exhibits. Get activity trails and activity backpacks (weekends and holidays only) from the family center in the Great Court as you enter the museum. (3 restaurants)
- ages: 4 +
- tube: Holborn, Tottenham Court, Goodge St., or Russel Square are all within a 5 minute walk.
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 17:30, Friday 10:00 to 20:30.
- costs: Free.
This is one of our kids’ favorite attractions in London. A great collection of buses, trains, trams, and subway cars. Kids can enter most exhibits. It’s a very hands-on and fun museum filled with video screens, posters, maps, illuminated boards, subway signs, and models. There’s an under-fives play area and a very cool museum shop. (1 restaurant)
- ages: 3 +
- tube: Covent Garden
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 18:00, Friday 11:00 to 18:00
- costs: Adults £13.50 (and good for one year of re-admission), under age 16 are free.
A stunning collection of 2300 paintings. Free tours everyday at 11:30 and 2:30. Kid-friendly audio tours are available for £1 or can be downloaded in advance. Sundays have family sessions for under 5s and 5-11s. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 4 +
- tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square.
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 18:00, Friday 10:00 to 21:00
- costs: Free
A scrapbook of British history in museum form. The gallery houses pictures of the major (and not-so major) figures of the nation’s history from King Henry VIII to David Beckham. It makes a great introduction to British history for both kids and adults. Kid-friendly audio tours are available. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 6+
- tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square.
- open: Saturday to Wednesday 10:00 to 18:00, Thursday and Friday 10:00 to 21:00
- costs: Free
If you love planes you’ll love this museum – regardless of your age. 100’s of aircrafts from every age of flight are on display. The Battle of Britain hall is particularly interesting. It does take some effort to get here as it’s located in the London suburb of Colindale – 30 minutes by tube from central London. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 3+
- tube: Colindale Underground Station
- open: Daily 10:00 to 18:00
- costs: Free
One of the best museums in the city. It features an incredible array of airplanes, tanks, guns, gear, and historical information. Displays and exhibits are meticulously detailed. Videos have survivors and soldiers re-telling the horror and challenges of war. The audio tour is a must. The holocaust exhibit on the top floor is rightfully restricted to kids 11 and older. The National Army Museum is another museum potentially worth a visit. It’s focused almost exclusively on the history of British forces and not nearly as interesting as the Imperial. The NAM does, however, have a Kids Zone in the basement that is a great play area but does get busy so reservations are recommended. (The IWM has one restaurant. The NAM has a small cafe.)
- ages: 4+ if they like tanks and planes, but older to really appreciate the material.
- tube: Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle
- open: 10:00 to 18:00
- costs: Free
Some kids find this a little dull, others love the pomp and tradition. The best place to see the guards is on The Mall, near St. James’s Palace. If your kids are small they won’t see much squashed in with the crowds at Buckingham Palace. There is also a Changing of the Guard at Windsor Palace (35 minutes outside of London by train) that sees far smaller crowds but offers more pageantry.
- ages: 2+
- tube: St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner
- times: 11:30 but be in place by 11:00am at the lastest. It takes place every day May through July and alternating days otherwise – check the schedule.
- costs: Free.
Think of this as a grandly decorated Victorian home and you won’t be disappointed. Kid-friendly audio tours available. If kids are expecting the castles of legend then Windsor Castle will better feed their imaginations. (Buckingham Palace has one cafe on the terrace.)
- ages: 6+
- tube: St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner
- open: 9:45 to 18:00 and only in August and September when the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
- costs: family £46, adult £17.50, child £10, ages four and under are free.
500 years of maritime history packed into one fantastic space. Hands-on exhibits make it fun for younger kids but this is definitely an all-ages attraction. Battles and boats galore plus free themed talks. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 3+
- tube: Maze Hill or Cutty Sark (DLR)
- open: 10:00 to 17:00
- costs: Free
One of London’s best museums for all ages. Dinosaurs, blue whales, saber-tooth tigers, elephants, volcanoes, meteors, earthquakes, and all sorts of creepy crawlies. The ideal mix of kid and adult fun. Multimedia guides are available and can be booked in advance. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 3+
- tube: South Kensington
- open: 10:00 to 17:50 daily, 10:00 to 22:30 on the last Friday of every month
- costs: Free
13. HMS Belfast
A floating musuem in the form of a retired World War II ship. 7 levels to explore and kids can go everywhere. The living quarters, naval guns, anti-aircraft weaponry, and Operations Room will fill 2 hours easily. This is a much better use of time than visiting the nearby Golden Hinde ship. (Small cafe open during peak hours.)
- ages: 6+
- tube: London Bridge (5 minutes) or Tower Hill (10 minutes)
- open: March to October 10:00 to 18:00, Novermber to February 10:00 to 17:00
- costs: Adults £14.50, under age 16 free
14. London Eye
This giant ferris wheel offers fantastic views of greater London. It takes 30 minutes to go around and the wheel moves at such a calm speed it’s not scary for any ages. Passengers are completely enclosed in air conditioned and heated glass pods that fit 25 people.
- ages: 3+
- tube: Waterloo or Westminster
- open: Daily 10:00 to 20:30. Closed for yearly maintenance in January (January 7 to 18, 2013).
- costs: Standard ticket is £19 for adults, £11 for kids 4 to 15, £60 for a family. £28 adults, £115 family for Fast Track tickets to bypass queues. Booking online saves up to 20% on all tickets
This is one of my personal favorites. Geared to slightly older kids the exhibits do a great job of tracking the history and growth of the London riverfront from Roman days to modern times. (For more London history check out the excellent Museum of London.) Sailor Town is a reconstructed Victorian port town done with fantastic detail. If you’re based in central London it’s a little out of the way but worth the 20 minute journey to East London. (2 restaurants)
- ages: 6+
- tube: Canary Wharf, DLR: West India Quay
- open: Daily 10:00 to 18:00
- costs: Free
Kid-friendly Theatre and Musicals in London
London is loaded with great shows and tickets for even the most popular shows are available on relatively short notice (though obviously book well in advance if there’s a particular show you want to see).
TKTS is the main discount site (though there are many others). They have a booth at Leicester Square but the website posts discounted tickets as well.
Use Ticketmaster.co.uk to check seating maps and theatre layout but by your tickets elsewhere.
These are the best shows for kids:
- The Lion King (tube: Covent Garden) – Playing since 1999. Fantastic music and story.
- Shrek The Musical (tube: Covent Garden) – Great special effects and very funny. The dragon steals the show.
- Wicked The Musical (tube: Piccadilly Circus) – The the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Supremely entertaining for both kids and adults.
The Best Parks & Playgrounds in London
- Kew Gardens (tube: Kew Gardens) – A treetop walkway with great views, an indoor playroom, and days-full of fun.
- Hampstead Heath (tube: Hampstead) – The best place in the city to feel like you’re not in the city. Great for picnics and lakeside walks.
- Hyde Park – There’s lots here. The Diana, Princess of Wales pirate-themed playground is very popular with kids (tube: Queensway). You can also rent paddle boats and row boats or cool off in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (tube: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corneer).
- St James’s Park (tube: St James’s Park) – A beautiful park with one of the best playgrounds in the city. Visit the pelicans on duck island.
- Battersea Park (tube: Sloane Square then bus #137 or train to Battersea Park station) – Boating on the lake and the Children’s Zoo are the highlights. The zoo features kid-friendly animals (butterflies, small primates, farm animals) and an excellent playground with a fire engine (open 10:30 to 17:30 in summer and 10:30 to 16:30 in winter).
- Regent’s Park – There are several excellent playgrounds, the London Zoo, boat rentals, and a beautiful rose garden decked out with waterfowl and Japanese bridges.
- Need more parks and playgrounds: list of adventure playgrounds in London.
Using the London Tube with Kids
- The tube is easy, convenient, and safe for families to use. Most stations are far beneath street level and require a lot of steps or escalator rides. Many stations do not have lifts (elevators) from street level to the train platform making it very difficult if you’re traveling with a young child or stroller.
- This is a map of the London tube stations and their accessibility options (pdf file). The stations marked with a green circle and an A are the most accessible.
- Kids 10 and under are free on the tube and Docklands Light Rail (DLR). Kids 11 to 15 do need to pay. Be sure to travel with a Oyster card or Travelcard as they offer big savings (details below).
- If you have an Oyster card you scan it as you enter and leave the tube station. If you have a paper Travelcard you insert it at one end of the turnstile and it pops out the other side.
- If you’re traveling with kids 10 and under (who won’t have a ticket) be sure to use the gate entries instead of the turnstiles which are meant for individuals.
Riding the Bus with Kids
- The bus is a fabulous option for getting around London. Most buses are of the iconic double-decker variety and offer great views of street life and many popular London attractions from the top deck.
- Unlike the tube you won’t have to negotiate stairs, escalators, busy train platforms, or transfers between lines. Buses run about every 3 to 10 minutes depending on the route. (We’ve rarely waited more than 5 minutes for any bus.)
- The Oyster and Travelcards (details below) that are used for the tube are also accepted by the bus. Central London buses do not accept cash so you pretty much have to buy either an Oyster or Travelcard (or individual tickets from a tube station but this is an expensive way to travel).
- Here is a map of central London bus routes (pdf).
- And the London Bus Checker iPhone app.
Using an Oyster Card for Public Transit
Oyster cards are plastic (credit-card sized) cards for using the tube, bus, or DLR (Docklands Light Rail). You pre-load them with money at a tube station. To use them you swipe across an electronic sensor as you enter a bus or tube station.
With the Oyster card you get large discounts on fares and you’ll never pay more than you would have by using individual tickets – always less, usually about 50% less.
Oyster cards not only save you money but they make getting around the city very easy. There’s no having to worry about having the correct change or figuring the fare for a bus ride. It turns London into a big hop-on/hop-off network of buses and trains.
Things to know about buying and using Oyster cards:
- Oyster cards require a £5 deposit which is refundable (along with any unused balance) if you return your card at a tube station.
- Kids 10 and under are free on the tube, bus, and DLR so they don’t need an Oyster card
- Ages 11 to 15 will need to submit a photo to get an Oyster card. This can be done in advance but is still a hassle. I’d recommend doing one day travelcards for kids in this age range unless you’ll be in London for more than a week. If you’re in the city for more than a week then it’s worth it to get the photo card whether it be an Oyster or 7 day Travelcard (which also requires a picture).
Using Travelcards (and getting a 2 for 1 discount for attractions)
An alternative to Oyster cards is buying Travelcards. They are roughly the same cost as Oyster cards. Their big advantage is that they allow 2 for 1 entry to several top attractions in London: The Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, river cruises, and the ZSL Zoo. (Full list of qualifying attractions here.)
The best thing to do is to get Oyster cards for the adults and 1 day Travelcards for the kids aged 11 to 15. On the day you plan to go to one of the attractions covered by the 2 for 1 deal (the most popular being the Tower of London) get Travelcards for the adults and use them to get the discount into the attraction. (Remember that the Oyster card is simply a means of payment so if you don’t use it one day there’s no “cost”.)
Using Travelcards for the 2 for 1 discount isn’t straight forward so here are a few things to note:
- To qualify Travelcards must be purchased from a railway station in London. These Travelcards will have the rail logo in the bottom corner.
- Travelcards purchased from any other outlet (e.g. tube station) are not valid for the 2 for 1 discount.
- You can buy Travelcards from the ticket offices of the following rail stations: Paddington, Euston, St Pancras, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo and Victoria. Travelcards sold at airports are not valid for the 2 for 1 discount.
- Travelcards can be bought for 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. The 7 day or 1 month Travelcards require a photo id card. Photos must be brought to the ticket office when purchasing.
- The 1 day tickets must be used on the same day as the visit to the attraction will occur. (Although they can be bought a day or two beforehand.)
- The 2 for 1 discount also applies to domestic rail tickets to and from London. Your visit must to the attraction must fall within these 2 dates (as they naturally would for most people). Most foreign visitors to London are not arriving at London from a different UK city and then departing again by train within the country so this is mainly for UK citizens.
- And finally but very important, vouchers must be printed for the attraction you are visiting. To get the discount you’ll need 2 validated Travelcards and one voucher. (Vouchers can be printed from the Offers Page by clicking add to basket or instant download.)
Getting into London from Heathrow Airport
- The easiest way into the city is with hired car (40 minutes into the city). www.expressways.co.uk is well regarded though there are many companies. A hired car is surprisingly inexpensive when booked in advance and the best option for a family of 4 or more. Larger cars are available for bigger groups. One-way to or from Heathrow will be about £50.
- Taxi’s (40 minutes) are expensive. Walking out the door of the airport and hopping in a taxi will be almost double the price of arranging a hired car.
- Tube (45 minutes) is the cheapest. The Picadillly line connects Heathrow with central London. But if your hotel isn’t directly on the Picadilly line it will require a transfer. The tube doesn’t have any dedicated spots for luggage so if you have a lot it will be a pain (and there will be stairs to contend with on the London end.) A one way trip on the tube will be between £3 and £5 depeding on the time of day. Buy an Oyster card at the airport to make it cheaper.
- The Heathrow Express (15 minutes) can be a good option if you’re staying near Paddington Station. Otherwise, it’s just expensive – and requires another tube or taxi trip to get to your hotel or destination. Tickets are £18 and £26 for adults 2nd and 1st class; £8 and £13 for children.
Getting into the London from Gatwick Airport
- The best way between Gatwick and London is the GatwickExpress train service (30 minutes each way). It’s the cheapest and fastest, and there’s no good reason to use any other transport. One way fares are £29 for adults and £15 for children age 5 to 15. Save 15% by booking online.
- If you want to take a taxi book a hired car in advance (SimplyAirports is good) and cut the cost in half.
The Best Hotels for Families
Hotels in London are expensive – probably the most expensive place we’ve traveled with kids – and it’s a challenge to find rooms large enough for a family of 4 or more.
Tips for hotels:
- London Family Hotels – Our guide to the best hotels for families in London.
- Book early. The best deals are found online and about 2 to 3 months in advance. Larger family rooms are not common so booking them early is recommended.
- The best website for hotel discounts is Hotelscombined.com/London
- The best website for longer-term rentals and apartments is Flipkey.com/London-Vacation-Rentals
- 4 and 5 star hotels will have better deals on weekends (when business travelers on expense accounts have gone home) and budget and mid-range hotels will have better deals on weekdays (when kids, college students, and parents are at back at school or working).
- Some hotels outside of Central London but near a tube station can be a great way to save money so if you’re a little desperate use a large search area.
- Best Bed & Breakfast for Families: Bed and Breakfast Belgravia London
- Best Apartment w/ Kitchenette for Families: Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments
- Best Luxury Hotel for Families: The Langham, London
- Best Mid-Range Hotel for Families: Marriott London County Hall
- Best Budget Hotel for Families: Hart House Hotel
Hotels in London with Swimming Pools
Most hotels in London (including those listed below) have restrictions on when children can swim. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s the rule not the exception at London hotels.
There’s usually a designated time in the morning and late afternoon for when the kids can swim which means you have to plan your day in order to get back to the hotel for the swim time if that’s important to you.
- Marriott London County Hall (probably the best hotel pool in the city)
- Grange Holborn Hotel
- Marylebone Hall
- Hilton London Metropole
- Le Meridien Piccadilly
- Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel & Spa
- Rembrandt Hotel London
- Kensington Close Hotel (one of the cheapest hotels in London with a nice pool)
- The Landmark London
- The Montcalm London
- Holiday Inn London – Elstree
- The Langham London
- St. Giles Hotel London
- The Berkeley Hotel London (beautiful rooftop pool)
- The Waldorf Hilton
- One Aldwych
Eating in London with Kids
Most restaurants are fairly kid friendly. Nearly all London restaurants will happily welcome a family with well behaved kids but they’re not as indulgent as American eateries with loud or rambunctious children. Be sure to tell your kids that quiet and mature behaviour (within reason) will be expected of them.
Reservations are recommended for most restaurants that aren’t a pub or cafe. And if you’re part of a large group or family you’ll definitely get a better table by reserving in advance.
Recommended Restaurants for Families:
- Wagamama – Noodles and more in a fun environment
- Giraffe – Very kid-friendly menus
- Bella Italia – Pizza, Pasta, Gelato
- Rain Forest Cafe near Piccadilly Circus is very kid-friendly
- Masala Zone – Shared plates makes for family friendly Indian food
- Spaghetti House – The very fun kids’ menu has 2 courses for £5 or 3 courses for £7.50.
- Pret A Manger and EAT are everywhere so you hardly need to be mentioned. Decent breakfast and sandwiches for a reasonable price.
- Byron – A friendly hamburger joint with a good kids menu.
- Pubs generally allow kids in (usually in a family designated area) until 9pm though you’ll need to ask inside to be sure. There are 2 types of pub. Chain pubs (that try very hard to resemble a traditional looking country pub) that serve terrible food. And independent or trendy pubs that are more expensive but serve great food. If you see this menu in a pub you know it serves terrible food without any character so run for the doors.
Websites for Finding Restaurants:
- Buy tickets online in advance. This applies to train tickets, museums, tours, and a range of activities.
- Many of London’s top attractions are free so hit these places first: the British Museum, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
- The London Pass can save you some money but it doesn’t cover every attraction in London so be sure you want to visit the sites covered. (More detailes below.)
- Ride a public bus instead of taking a tour bus – much cheaper and still great views from the top floor of the double deckers.
- Get an oyster card or use Travelcards. You should never pay full fare for a bus or tube ride in London. It’s a must to get one of these cards.
- Get a hotel with a kitchen. London restaurants are expensive. Eating-in even once a day will save you a lot of money.
The London Pass – Is it worth buying for families?
Should you buy it? Probably not. Here’s why and some more details on how the pass works:
- The London Pass is a card you can buy that allows you into many (but not all) major attractions around London.
- You lose flexibility by buying the pass as you have to choose a 1, 2, 3, or 6 day pass and then work hard to cram all of your sites into those days.
- Remember that many of London’s most popular attractions and museums are free – and thus aren’t covered by the pass. If you’re buying the pass only for the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, or the ZSL Zoo you’re better off using a Travelcard for the day (details below) and getting the 2 for 1 discount.
- A big selling point of the London Pass is the “fast track” line skipping but this is rarely an issue for visitors as most of the attractions covered have short to non-existent lines even in summer.
- You can buy the pass with an associated Travelcard for transportation – but this works out more expensive than buying the pass and Travelcard separately.
- That said, the London Pass does offer some savings, the pass can be a convenience, and the company itself is trusted and reliable. The most popular attractions covered by the pass are the Tower of London, Tower Bridge Exhibiition, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and the London Zoo.
When to Visit London with Kids
The summer months, of course, have the nicest weather but will also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. January and February are the quietest (and coldest) months but you’ll often have top museums and attractions nearly to yourself. Popular exhibits like the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum can have crowds 5 deep during July and August. In January you can be the only one looking at it.
The Weather in London by Month
(high temperature, low temperature, days of rain)
January: 43°, 36°, 16 (coldest month)
February: 44°, 36°, 15 (driest month)
March: 50°, 38°, 20
April: 56°, 42°, 18
May: 62°, 47°, 19
June: 69°, 53°, 19
July: 73°, 57°, 19 (warmest month)
August: 73°, 55°, 20
September: 65°, 52°, 17
October: 58°, 46°, 19 (wettest month)
November: 50°, 42°, 15
December: 45°, 38°, 16
All art galleries, museums, department stores, and public buildings will have public toilets. In central London there are so many cafes, pubs, fast-food restaurants, and hotels that will allow the public to sneak in and use the facilities that you shouldn’t be too far from a washroom.
Some tube stations have public toilets but these do cost 30p.
Hospitals in London for Tourists
Emergency care is free regardless of citizenship or insurance. For medical emergencies call #999.
Hospitals in London with 24 hour emergency care include:
Updated: January 17, 2017
The Best Family Tours in Paris
- Get Your Guide – Great site for finding tours and getting good discounts.
- Skip the Line: Eiffel Tower • Louvre • Versailles • Notre Dame • Musée d’Orsay
- Chocolate Tasting Tour – A 3-hour walking tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with 5 chocolate tastings, 3 pastries, and several breads. Highly recommended.
- Behind the Scenes Bakery Tour – Make baguettes in a real french bakery. Lots of fun. Also interesting: French Pastry Cooking Class and Macaron Cooking Class
- Fat Tire Bike Tours – These are wonderful fun. Recommended tours include: The Paris Tour (3.5 hours) • Versailles (8 hours) • Monet’s Garden (8.5 hours)
- Eiffel Tower & Seine River Cruise – Skip the line at the Eiffel Tower then take a 1 hour cruise along the River Seine.
- Hop-On Hop-Off Bus – 4 different routes (Paris Grand Tour, Bastille-Bercy, Montmartre-Grands Boulevards, and Montparnasse-Saint-Germain) of 1 to 2 hours each are a quick and easy way to see the highlights of the city.
The 29 Best Things To Do with Kids in Paris
Reviews • How to get up the Eiffel Tower (photos & info) • Opening Times
Kids love the Eiffel Tower. Your biggest decision will be whether to take the stairs or the elevator. I prefer the stairs as the lines are shorter, the price is cheaper, and you get a better sense of the structure of the tower. The stairs are wide which allows faster visitors to pass resting families easily. The stairs will only take you to the 2nd level however. To get to the 3rd level (the top) you can take the elevator all the way up or stairs to the 2nd level and from there an elevator to the top. The queue for the elevator on the 2nd level is shorter than on the ground floor but can still take up to 45 minutes. You can only buy tickets in advance (and skip the line) for the elevator (not the stairs) and you can purchase them up to 3 months in advance. The website will often show tickets are sold out but if you keep trying back you might get lucky as additional tickets are often released right up to the day before. If you can’t get advanced tickets consider visiting at night as lines are shorter. If possible visit on a clear day – and yet there is nothing more mysterious than seeing the tower disappear in the low misty clouds in winter. You can see as far as Chartes cathedral 80km away. It is also very windy up there and cold, so be prepared. Visiting at the end of your Paris visit can also be a good idea as kids will recognize different sites from around the city. There aren’t many shops near the Eiffel Tower so if you want to picnic on the grass around the tower then buy supplies before arriving. In winter there is an ice skating rink on the first floor. There are two restaurants both family friendly but they need to be booked well in advance on the website. There’s a small playground and carousel at the south end of the Champ-de-Mars. The best view of the Eiffel Tower is from across the Seine at the Trocadéro. Closest Métro to the Eiffel Tower: Bir Hakeim or Trocadéro.
Reviews • Open from 9am to 6pm on Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. 9am to 9:45pm on Wednesday and Friday. Closed on Tuesdays.
The biggest challenge here is limiting yourself and having a plan. It would take weeks to see everything. Pick out 1 or a few paintings in advance, learn their history, discuss them with your kids, and then seek them out when you’re there. (The Raft of the Medusa is my favorite in the Louvre and is based on an incredible tale about a shipwreck that will leave any kid enthralled.) Buying post cards of intriguing art works beforehand and then searching for them is also a fun game. Kids love that the audio guides are on a Nintendo 3DS (which you can buy in advance and use to plan your visit). There are Visitor Trails based on particular themes that you can print in advance and will guide you about the museum searching for different art works. The building itself is incredible and worth time to explore and learn its history (Six things you may not know about the Louvre.)
Reviews • Open 8am to 6:45pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 7:15 Saturday and Sunday
A marvelously impressive building. It’s easy to spend a few hours walking in and around the church looking at the gargoyles, art work, gothic architecture, and intricate facade featuring biblical characters. Over 800 years old, this Gothic masterpiece sits on top of a Roman temple. During the Revolution it was used as a stable, in 1804 Napoleon crowned himself here and during the mass to celebrate the 1944 Liberation shots rang out. Start your tour of Paris here (it forms the core for much of Paris history) and get the most from the visit by watching Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) to give the kids a real feel for Paris in the Middle Ages. Point out the easily recognizable carvings of Biblical characters on the façade and the chancel screen that runs round the centre of the church telling the story of Jesus in a medieval style-cartoon strip. It’s a working cathedral so the kids need to show respect, but as it’s free you can just pop in for a few minutes, and then climb the towers to get a close look at the gargoyles and explore Quasimodo’s world. Don’t miss the Crypte Archéologique at the entrance on the square in front of Notre Dame. Here you can see the remains of the Paris that Asterix would recognize – the Roman city of Lutetia. There is a pretty playground behind the cathedral with fabulous views across the Seine. In winter go skating in front of the nearby Hotel de Ville and in summer enjoy the fun at Paris-Plages when the main road on the Right Bank is turned into a beach. Eat ice cream at Berthillon (closed August) or croissants at Boulangerie St Martin across the street. Closest Métro to Notre Dame: Cité.
4. Sacre Coeur
Reviews • Open daily 6am to 10:30pm
Perched on the top of Montmartre hill with incredible views of Paris from both the 423 foot high dome and the steps in front of the basilica. The surrounding neighborhood features a collection of charming streets, shops, and restaurants. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon exploring the area. There’s a funicular tram to take you up to the Sacre Coeur if the steps are too much. Parisians have mixed feelings about the sparkly white basilica of Sacre Coeur. It was built to celebrate the end of the Paris Commune in 1871, which was born and brought down in Montmartre. As a result it is a highly conservative building with some very nationalistic symbols. Look for Joan of Arc and King Louis IX on the front. You can climb to the top of the dome but the view from the hilltop is splendid enough. Be aware that there is a continual mass inside the cathedral and silence is the rule. The gardens in front have a beautiful old carrousel at the bottom. There is also a lovely little park behind Sacre Coeur. This is a beautiful spot for a family evening stroll when the crowds have gone home and Sacre Coeur is lit by the moonlight. The haunt of some of the greatest artists Place du Tertre is now a tourist knickknack heaven (and a short walk from the basilica), so ideal for kids who love key rings and fridge magnets. Older kids will enjoy the Espace Dali that has an interesting collection of works by the surrealist Salvador Dali. On Rue St Vincent you can see the Montmartre vineyard (the harvest celebrations take place in autumn). Away from the crowds, cool off in Square Suzzane Buisson on Rue Giradon. A statue of Saint Denis who was martyred here and gave the area its name sits in the centre of the square. Walk back down Rue Lepic, which has two of the many windmills that once dotted the hill and lots of interesting shops and cafes. It takes you to Métro Abesses, the deepest in the city.
Reviews • Open daily 10am to 11pm from April to September. 10am to 10:30pm from October to March.
Wonderful views both day and evening of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, and the rest of the boulevards that radiate out from the arch. Lots of steps up a tight winding staircase to get to the terrace on top (there is no elevator). Napoleon celebrated his victory over the Russians and the Austrians at Austerlitz in 1805 by building this triumphal arch. When it was built it was in the fields on the edge of Paris. Since then occupying and liberating troops have marched under it and the July 14 military parade takes place here. First climb the stairs to see the view. The best time to visit is just before sunset as the arch sits in the middle of an axis that runs from the Louvre to the modern arch at La Défense, which is due west. Then admire the arch itself. Point out Napoleon in his emperor’s clothes on the left base. The shields on the top are engraved with his victories and inside are the names of his generals – those who were killed are underlined. The frieze on the northern side shows his troops breaking the ice in the frozen lakes so thousands of their enemies would drown. The tomb of the unknown soldier lies underneath. It contains one of the 1.5m Frenchmen who died in WW1. The eternal flame is relit in a small ceremony at 6.30pm every day. Time to refuel – then head for the belle époque teashop Ladurée, 75 Champs-Elysées, which serves the best macaroons in the city. After have a runabout in the Jardins des Champs Elysées and take a stroll across the city’s most beautiful bridge the Pont Alexandre III. It stars the cartoon Anastasia (1997).
Reviews • Gardens: Open Daily 07.30-20.00 summer, 08.00-17.30 winter. Museum: Open Daily 10am to 6pm, closed Tuesday.
This park in the east of central Paris (Jardin des Plantes) was laid out in 1626 as a medicinal garden. In the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, The Grande Galerie de l’Evolution (pictured above) depicts a wide range of animals and highlights the diversity and evolution of life. The museum has a lot to see (my kids loved the butterfly display) and can easily fill 3 or 4 hours. The nearby Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Antatomie has a fascinating old fashioned collection of skeletons. Also in the park is the Ménagerie – the oldest public zoo in the world. It opened in 1793, when after the Revolution the last surviving animals from the King’s private zoo at Versailles were brought here. The third giraffe ever to set foot in Europe moved here in 1826. It is small and intimate zoo, classically Parisian in feel, and small children love it, even if it does not have the big safari animals. Madeline roared at a lion here in the children’s classic by Ludwig Bemelmans. When you’re done with the park head for Rue Mouffetard. It’s a cobbled street that was once a Roman road. Mouths will water at the tasty array of cakes, cheeses, and ice cream shops and there are plenty of cafes to relax in. The Mosquée de Paris opposite the Natural History Museum has an oriental café where you can taste the North African influence on France.
Reviews • Open daily 10am to 5pm, closed Monday. Last entrance 4pm.
Under Paris there is a rabbit warren of tunnels and caves. If you sliced through the limestone rock below the city it would look like a gruyère cheese. At one point there were dozens of mushroom farms below ground and there are still tons of gold bars stacked under the Banque de France. In the tunnels known as Les Catacombes are the skeletons of six million Parisians.This is a great attraction for understanding the history of Paris. In the late 18th century the cemeteries were a breeding ground for disease and illness. The graves were emptied and the bodies stored underneath the city in the Catacombs. There are 6 million skulls and skeletons – victims of the plague, the French Revolution and the guillotine. Among the bodies were the revolutionaries Danton and Robespierre and the fairy-tale storytellers Jean de la Fontaine and Charles Perrault. The bones are laid out in spooky patterns and a spiral staircase leads down to this strange underworld. It isn’t as ghoulish as it sounds and most kids are not scared by the sight. My big warning here is the wait which can be anywhere from 1 hour to 4 so get here early and have some snacks. (There is a McDonalds and a grocery store nearby if the kids are hungry – one parent can stay in line). It’s most busy on rainy days. Kids get as much of a kick taking a look at the stinky sewers, Les Egouts. They were the star of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and the cartoon Ratauoille (2007). They were laid out by Baron Haussmann when he rebuilt the city in the 1850s. The sewers run parallel to the streets above in a strange underworld. Tours are conducted on foot and occur in Quai d’Orsay area. Closest Métro to Les Catacombes: Denfert-Rochereau. Closest Métro to Les Egouts: Alma Marceau.
Reviews • Open daily 11am to 10pm, closed Tuesday
The Pompidou Centre is a building turned inside out. Its pipes and escalators are on the outside. Water pipes are green, air-conditioning ducts are blue, and electricity cables yellow. The building is named after Georges Pompidou, who was President of France 1969-74. He loved all things modern and this quirky building designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano is his legacy along with the motorway that thunders along the Right Bank. Take the escalators to the roof for beautiful views across Paris. Inside is a fabulous modern art gallery. Best for children is the permanent exhibition of art from 1905-60. It contains work by Chagall who drew illustrations for the fables by Jean de la Fontaine. You can buy the book in the bookshop which has a great selection of children’s books. Besides the highbrow, there is the interactive Galarie des Enfants, aimed at kids, and a junior’s cinema that sometimes shows films in English. Kids love the street theatre in the square in front of the Pompidou Centre. It’s pedestrianized area and perfect for kids to let off steam. Good kid-friendly cafes are by the adjacent Stravinsky Fountain with its enchanting mechanical sculptures.
Reviews • Open daily, 7am to 1 hour before sunset.
A beautiful park with a great playground, a fountain pond for sailing small wooden boats, a marionette theater (puppet shows at 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30 in summer), an old fashioned carousel (designed by Charles Garnier, who also built the Opéra), and many statue-lined paths to explore. Beware that the costs can quickly mount here as most attractions have a fee – even the playground. A visit here will show how much you can miss about a city if you don’t have kids. This is the place to discover just what it is like to have a privileged Parisian childhood. The park with its old men playing chess under the trees has been cloned across the Francophone world, so it may seem strangely familiar even to first time visitors. Ernest Hemmingway was a hard up parent and used to push his son around the park in his pram. When the policeman wasn’t looking, he would quickly lure a pigeon over with some grains, strangle it, and take it home to cook. Nearby Rue Vavin has some extremely stylish childrens’ shops and it is a short walk to the Tour de Montparnasse which offers amazing views across Paris. The streets around Marché Edgar Quinet is the place to eat crêpes. Open daily: 07.00-dusk, winter 08.00-dusk; Métro: Odéon
10. The Conciergerie
Reviews • Open daily 09:30am to 6pm
Kids are drawn to the fairy-tale towers of the Conciergerie that rise up from the Seine on the Ile de la Cité. This is all that remains of the royal palace built in 1300. When the kings moved to the Louvre it became a notorious prison run by a steward, the concierge. After the Revolution thousands of prisoners were held here before being taken to the guillotine, among them Marie Antoinette. Before you go tell the kids a brief outline of what happened in the Revolution in 1789 as there are no explanations aimed at children here. There is a cartoon version of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities set in London and Paris during the revolution (2002). Inside point out the huge vaulted ceilings of the largest surviving medieval hall in Europe, the gruesome prison cells will appeal, as does the model of Marie Antoinette in the chapel. If it is a sunny day, pop into Sainte Chapelle when the stunning stained glass windows glow in the sunlight. They tell the story of the bible in a simple way that is easily accessible for kids. Both buildings are still part of the complex that makes up the Palais du Justice. Cool off in the Place Dauphine, where you can often see people playing boules. Picnic in Square du Vert Galant, a magical spot that looks west up the Seine and is just below the Pont Neuf. You can sail away on a tourist cruise along the Seine after lunch, be shudder at the thought that the Vikings once sailed down the Seine. Closest Métro to The Conciergerie: Cité
Reviews • Tours daily, usually morning and afternoon.
I can not recommend these tours highly enough. They are so much fun and while they’re not designed with families in mind if your kids are into trying some new things they’re a great introduction to Paris food and culture. The main food stops are cheese, chocolate, and pastries – pretty kid friendly. After walking around a Paris neighborhood collecting snacks and visiting small specialty stores the tours stop at a wine shop (juice for the kids) and a warm friendly picnic takes place with lots of stories and explanations of where the food comes from and how it got made. The tours are especially helpful if you do them at the start of your stay as you’ll get loads of tips and recommendations on where to eat, shop, and explore. The guides are simply wonderful. Tours fill up about 2 to 3 weeks in advance so book before arriving.
Reviews • Tours daily, usually at 11am
This is a very fun tour around the central Paris attractions. Tours start from the Fat Tire main office (near the Eiffel Tower) where you’re fitted with a bike. You stop and have lunch (not included) in the gardens near the Louvre. The guides offer brief, thoughtful, and often hilarious historical descriptions along the way. The ride lasts just over 4 hours (but goes really fast it’s so fun) and you end up riding about 4 or 5 miles with very few hills. Fat Tire also does a Versailles tour (visit a market, picnic on the palace grounds, skip the line for Versailles – highly recommended) and a Paris night tour (which involves more riding than the day tour so probably better for older kids). 20″ and 24″ kids bikes are available but you need to reserve them in advance.
Reviews • Open daily 07:30am to 7pm. In April, May, & September closes at 9pm. In July & August closes at 23.00
The park dates from the 17th century and was once part of the Palais des Tuilleries which was burnt down in 1871 by an angry mob. It stood where the Arc du Carrousel now stands in front of the Louvre. The story has it that Charles Perrault the author of the fairy tales Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots persuaded Louis XIV to open the royal gardens to the public. It has a boating pond, two playgrounds and a carrousel. It also has a good traditional restaurant with outdoor tables, Café Renard. In summer there is a fun fair. At the opposite end of the park from the Louvre is Place de la Concorde. The guillotine stood here and from 1792-4 the square ran with blood, quite literally. The obelisk in the centre is 3,200 years old and was a gift from the Pasha of Egypt in 1829. He was given a clock that never worked in return. The square is at its best after dark when the views are magical.
If you fancy a real treat, the family friendly Hotel Crillon is a popular spot for Sunday brunch. Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli, is a 19th century tearoom known for its hot chocolate. Métro closest to Jardin des Tuilleries: Palais-Royal-Musée-du-Louvre/Concorde
14. Musée d’Orsay
Reviews • 09:30am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday; closes at 9:45pm Thursday
Across the river from the Tuilleries is one of the city’s best art museums. Art galleries in France are geared up for kids and at the age of three they are busy copying Matisse in the classroom. Kids are impressed by the impressionists and the post impressionists love of colour and light. To top it the museum is in an old railway station. Point out the old station clock. Show them the Van Gogh paintings, the works of Matisse and the dotty, pointillist pictures by Seurat and Signac and Degas’ ballet scenes. To get the best out of the trip introduce the kids to some of the lives of the great painters like Van Gogh before you go. Now it’s time for a treat. Debauve & Gallais is the city’s oldest chocolate shop and they once made sweets for Marie Antoinette. Kayser, 18 Rue de Bac, is a great bakery and a good stop for lunch. Métro closest to Musée d’Orsay: St Germain du Prés/Solférino
Reviews • Open daily 10am to 6pm from April to October. 10am to 5pm from November to March.
Housed in the main building of the Hôtel des Invalides (built by Louis XIV to house injured soldiers) the Musee de l’Armee has an incredible collection of military weapons. The rooms devoted to the 20th century are especially interesting for older children. Napolean’s tomb sits in Eglise du Dôme at the center of the huge complex. Make this trip towards the end of your time in Paris as by now the kids should have heard of Napoleon and this is where the great man is buried. He lies under a golden dome that dominates the skyline. He died in exile but was to be given a state funeral and a hero’s return in 1840. His remains lie inside six coffins. The French are proud of his reforms and state restructuring as well of his military prowess. The Hôtel des Invalides was built as an army hospital by the war mongering Louis XIV. For time out from tourism, head south to the little playground on the tree lined Avenue de Breteuil. For something unusual go to Rue de Bac and check out Deyrolle, at No 46; this taxidermist has been stuffing animals since 1831.
16. Cite des Enfants and Cite des Sciences
Cite des Enfants reviews • Cite des Sciences reviews • Great hands-on fun at Cite des Enfants. There are 2 sections: one for 2 to 7 year olds and one for 5 to 12 year olds. Your ticket is good for 90 minutes and you can do both separately. It’s highly recommended to buy tickets online in advance. The Cite des Sciences is for older kids and adults, is largely in french with english audio guide available, and also has a planetarium. Open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm Sunday, closed Tuesday.
Reviews • Facebook page • Open 10am to 11pm, Monday to Friday, 11am to 11pm Saturday and Sunday.
My favorite bookstore in Paris. It’s an amazing and enchanting shop that is larger than it looks from the outside and just across from the Notre Dame. There are childrens’ readings mixed among the regular stream of literary events.
18. The Pantheon
Reviews • Open daily: 10am to 6pm
The sheer size of the building will impress the kids. Then comes the intriguing fact that this cathedral-like building is not a place to worship God but the heroes of France. Louis IV intended it to be a church but they went out of fashion during the Revolution and the Pantheon became a temple of reason. The historical frescoes give a crash course in French history. Point out the giant pendulum that hangs from the ceiling as this was where Leon Foucault carried out his experiments in the 19th century to prove the earth rotated on its axis. In the crypt you can see the final resting places of the great and the good among them the queen of radioactivity, Marie Curie. You can visit her laboratory which is just around the corner on Rue Pierre et Marie Curie. Before you go, climb the dome for some fabulous views of Paris. The Pantheon is next to one of the best schools in Paris, the Lycée Henri IV but school is out for your kids. Next stop travel back in time. On nearby Rue Monge is the Arènes de Lutèce. It was one of the Romans biggest amphitheatres and could seat 15 000 people. Be sure to bring a ball and kick about gladiator style in the arena. There is also a playground. Métro closest to Pantheon: Maubert Mutualité/Cardinal Lemoine.
19. Musée Grevin
Reviews • Hours vary so check website
Meet kings, queens and celebrities in this classic wax work museum, which was founded in 1882 by newspaper proprietor Alfed Grévin, so his readers could get a look at the rich and famous he was writing about. It’s pricey but a good break from highbrow culture and is in a fabulous fin de sciècle building. Queues are shortest at lunchtime or buy tickets in advance on the website. The tour starts in the Palais des Mirages, a kaleidoscopic sound and light show built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It is breath-taking but as you are plunged into darkness before the show begins so be sure to warn small children not to be scared and pick toddlers up. The historical wax work scenes will bring history to life for kids, so it’s best to visit once they have got to know a little about the city. Then it’s on to meet the stars. The museum is far more authentic than London’s Madame Tussauds. Next to the museum are Les Passages, the world’s first shopping malls. Passage Jouffroy has some good cafes and interesting shops while the Passage des Princes has been taken over by a huge toy shop. A La Mere de la Famille, 35 Rue Faubourg Montmartre, has been selling wonderful sweets since 1761. Stop for a drink in the rooftop café at Printemps, which has a fabulous view across the roof tops and the Opéra. Métro closest to Musée Grevin: Grands Boulevards/Richlieu-Drouot.
Reviews • Open daily 10am to 6pm
The 8eme district of Paris was laid out in the second half of the 19th century and the rich and famous flocked here. Paris remained a revolutionary city and one divided between rich and poor. To understand the anger that led to the 1871 Commune come here to wonder at the glitz and wealth created by the Eduoard Andre and his wife Nélie Jacquemart. The museum has a family events and an English activity book for kids. It also has a wonderful café which is good for a family brunch or tea. Then take a walk around Parc Monceau (7am to 8pm, 10pm in summer), for a feel of what it’s like to be a modern parent in this wealthy part of Paris. It is a very historic spot. Proust used to like to stroll here and many of the communards were executed here in 1871. The kids won’t worry about that and will enjoy the sandpit and the playground. If you want to picnic there are shops on Rue Prony opposite the park’s golden main gates. If you are with older kids take a quick walk along to see the onion domes of St Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral. In the 19th century so many Russians lived in the city that the Tsarist secret police set up a Paris branch. Métro closest to Musée Jacquemart-Andre: Miromesnil.
Reviews • Times vary for each attraction
You are more likely to know this by its colloquial name of Trocadéro. It’s the best point from which to gaze at the Eiffel Tower by its fantastic fountains, especially at night, but it is also home to some fascinating museums. There is a playground, carrousel, and often street theatre. The Palais was built for 1937 in the International Exhibition. The Musée de l’Homme has an extraordinary collection of prehistoric items. In the Musée de la Marine you can see Napoleon’s barge. The Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (Wed-Mon 11am to 7pm) has some of France’s most famous buildings in miniature. The nearby Palais de Tokyo (Wed-Mon, noon to midnight) has a good family friendly restaurant, a small art museum with no crowds and great pictures by some of the world’s most famous artists and it also hosts trendy exhibitions. The Palais de Chaillot is also home to Cinéacqua (open daily 10am to 7pm). It is a fabulous aquarium, where you can also watch films. It is perfect for exhausted parents who can sit down and relax while the kids continue to have fun at the movies! It also has a restaurant with a giant fish tank. Métro closest to Palais de Chaillot: Trocadéro.
Reviews • 11am to 7pm Tuesday – Sunday, closes at 9pm Thurs, Fri, Sat
This is Paris’s ethnographic museum and it has a fascinating collection of objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. It opened almost ten years ago and is striking for the original way in which the exhibits are displayed. The museum uses film and music in the most engaging ways that draw children in. The plus is that this is also a very relaxing museum, especially if you visit late in the day after school hours, as it has subtle lighting and you can sit down to watch the moving exhibits. There is an English activity book on the website that you can download and an iPhone app. Among the things you will see are the treasures brought back by the Citroën team, who drove across Asia in 1931, and you can follow in the footsteps of the great French explorers. The museum was President Jaques Chirac legacy to the nation and draws on France’s rich tradition of anthropology and ethnography. The museum has a modern garden and in summer there are events for kids. You can picnic here and the museum café has outdoor tables in good weather, with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Métro closest to Musée du Quai Branly: Iéna/Alma Marceau
23. Les Guignols
Les Guignols are a key part of any Parisian childhood and have been for hundreds of years. Guignol is a puppet rather like Punch. He was invented by a dentist just after the Revolution to distract patients having teeth pulled. The puppet shows have changed little over the years and are to be found in the city’s parks. The action although in French requires little explanation and easily crosses the language barrier. Performances are usually on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday afternoons, when there is no school.
• Les Guignols des Champs-Elysées, Rond Point des Champs-Elysées
• Guignol du Jardin d’Acclimatation, Bois de Boulogne
• Guignol au Parc Floral, Bois de Vincennes
• Guignol de Paris, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
• Marionettes du Luxembourg, Jardin du Luxembourg
• Marionettes de Montdouris, Parc Monsouris
• Théâtre des Marionettes de Paris, Orée du Bois de Vincennes
Reviews • 10am to 6pm Tues-Sun, closes 9:30pm Thurs.
This museum of inventions was founded just after the revolution in 1794 and in keeping with the spirit of the age it is housed in an old abbey. Plan your visit so you can see Foucault’s pendulum swing and the Théâtre des Automates in action; these mechanical toys once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Also on show is the laboratory of the founder of modern chemistry Lavosier, an 1897 plane inspired by a bat and the first calculator made in 1642. Off the tourist track this museum doesn’t have a queue issue and also has a nice courtyard cafe in summer. Be sure to point out the date Year III engraved over the gate. The revolutionaries introduced a new calendar and Year III was 1794. Harry Potter fanatics will love Paris’s oldest house, 51 Rue de Montmorency. It was the home of the alchemist Nicolas Flamel, who was in the story Dumbledore’s friend. Playground time is to be had in nearby Square du Temple, once the stronghold of the Knights Templar. La Maison Stohrer is one of the oldest patisseries in Paris and is a short walk away on 51 Rue Montorgueil. Founded in 1725, they once made cakes for the kings of France. Métro closest to Musée des Art et Métiers: Arts et Métiers.
Reviews • Open daily 10am to 7pm
This amusement park in Bois de Boulogne in the western part of Paris was opened by Napoleon III in 1860. There are farm animals, plenty of water to cool off in and rides for all ages, including of course a vintage carrousel. The park still has a real belle époque feel. La Maison de Kiso was a gift from Japan in 1860, and the aviary is original. The theatre puts on musical shows on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and there is a puppet theatre in Napoleon III’s stables. Small kids will love the Rivière Enchantée, the Enchanted River, which dates from 1927. Fortunately, the human zoo of African peoples closed down in 1912. The rides soon mount up, so if you are on a budget spend your time in the farm and playgrounds that are included in the admission price. Bring a picnic as the food in the park is pricey. The park is not only busy on weekends but Wednesday afternoon when junior schools are closed. It is worth remembering this when planning child-centred activities across France. The surrounding park is great for a bike ride and you can hire bikes near the Jardin d’Acclimatation but be aware that the Bois de Boulogne has a seedy side and is a prostitute pick up point in its quieter southern corners. Métro closest to Jardin D’Acclimatation: Les Sablons/Porte Maillot. A tourist train runs from Porte Maillot to the gardens.
Reviews • Open daily
The old slaughter houses in the north-east of the city have been tuned into a futuristic park that runs along the canal. There are 10 themed gardens that use mirrors, mists and acrobatics to create enchanting play places. There are lots of activities here as well as concerts and events so check the website. Here you will find one of Europe’s biggest science museums, the interactive and exciting Cité des Sciences (10am to 6pm Tues-Sun) within which there is the Cité des Enfants. Here kids from 2-12 can play at being TV presenters and get to grips with basic science. The entrance is by time slot and in school holidays you must to book in advance. In term time avoid Wednesday afternoon when school is out. There are shows in the Planetarium in English. The park is also home to L’Argonaunt, a 1930s submarine, which houses a marine exhibition and La Philharmonie de Paris, which has a vast collection of instruments, concerts and activities for children. You can watch 3-D movies in the hemispheric La Géode and can play at being part of a movie scene in the simulator in the tilting cinema La Cineaxe. You can also take a ride on a canal boat along the Canal d’Ourcq that was built by Napoleon to bring fresh water to the city. In summer the canal and the adjoining Canal St Martin are part of the Paris-Plagues beach party fun. Métro closest to Parc de la Villette: Porte de la Villette for Cité des Sciences/Porte de Patin for La Philharmonie de Paris.
Reviews • Facebook page • Open 12pm to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm Sunday, closed Monday.
A wonderful museum that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. You really do need to be a music lover who plays an instrument to fully appreciate it but if so you’ll love it. Great exhibits on instruments, composition, and the history of music. The audio guide is great and comes in english.
28. Street Performers
Performers are found everywhere around Paris. On the Champs-Élysées, near the Notre Dame, in the subway. Don’t be shy about hanging out and watching.
Reviews • Open 9am to 6:30pm from April 1 to October 31. 9am to 5:30 from November 1 to March 31. Closed Monday and public holidays.
Note: I highly recommend the Fat Tire Bike Tour around the Versailles grounds and palace. You meet the guide in Paris and they get you to Versailles, take you to a farmers’ market, and head out for a picnic in the Versailles gardens. Kids love it and it’s lots of fun • Last but not least, Versailles is the big day trip outside of Paris (30 minutes by train and then a 10 minute walk from Versailles Rive Gauche train station to the palace). Versailles is an awesome combination of superb palace and stunning gardens. In 1661 Louis XIV decided to build Europe’s largest palace. It tells you a lot about his megalomania but also his weakness. As a child he had almost lost his throne in a noble uprising and Versailles was not only a palace but a virtual prison for the nobility, who were requested to spend large tracks of the year here so Louis could keep an eye on them. Up to 6000 people lived here! Versailles is a great day trip with kids as there is so much variety of what you can see and do. The gardens are vast, so try to visit on a fine day. Buy tickets online and avoid Tuesdays and Saturdays when Versailles is busiest (the website has an updated chart on what days will be busy and quiet). For a real treat book tickets for the sound and light and firework shows. The palace shop sells a very useful guide My Little Versailles. The key thing you need to know as a parent is that Louis regarded himself as the Sun King. Point out the sun motifs to the kids and the fact that he had his bedroom in the centre of the palace directly under the axis of the sun to drive home the point that he was the centre of the world. This was also the home of his grandson Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and where the mob stormed the palace in 1789 forcing them to return to Paris. Many of the rooms won’t be of much interest to children, so head quickly for the King’s Bedroom, where he was woken by a troupe of courtiers who washed and dressed him. Then on to the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed ending WWI, and the five year old King Louis XIV forced his minister to lie down on the floor for a game. Next it’s into the Queen’s Bedroom where courtiers watched her give birth. Now it’s out to the gardens. They were just as important to Louis XIV and he hired Andre Le Nôtre to drain the marshland and flatten the landscape. Louis held fabulous boating displays on the Grand Canal and had his own orangery. There are two mini-palaces where the royals escaped the pressure of life, The Grand and the Petit Trianon. Kids will love the Hammeau de la Reine, the pretend farm where Marie-Antoinette played at being a farmer’s wife but had a ballroom disguised as a barn. It is 20 minutes on foot from the palace but you can catch the mini-train, hire a bike or an electric car. If you want to buy a picnic, go first to the bakery Maison Guinon, that opened in 1802. There are also good restaurants on the grounds. If you have time it is well worth staying a night in Versailles at the Trianon Palace. It is a great child friendly hotel. The Sunday brunch is popular with local families and something the kids will not forget. It is especially good at Christmas, when Santa comes to call. Making a weekend of it will also give you time to see the an equestrian show in the former stables, pop in to the tennis court, the Salle de Jeu de Paume, where the revolution was sparked, and visit the Potager du Roi, where exotic vegetables and fruits from France’s colonies were grown. Final note on getting around: Palace Gardens are stroller friendly but strollers can’t go into the palace rooms. Be prepared for lots of walking. Bike rentals are available from both near the train station and inside the palace complex. There are row boat rentals at the garden’s Grand Canal.
How To Get Around Paris with Kids
The bus, the Metro, and the RER (suburban rail) are how tourists get themselves around Paris.
Map of the Paris bus and Metro.
The bus is the most scenic and easiest to board. The Metro and RER can require a surprising amount of walking (both getting to and getting through the station) and a large number of steps if you’ve got a stroller.
The same tickets are used for buses (in zone 1 and 2), the Metro, and the RER (in zone 1) – these zones include most of the major tourist attractions but not Disneyland. Tickets are good for 90 minutes with no limit on the number of transfers. But a single ticket can not be used for both bus and train. Buses are boarded at the front and tickets are validated by inserting them in a small machine. To enter a Metro or RER station tickets are scanned as you path through the turnstile. Entering with children under 4 can sometimes be tricky as there is no special entrance for families. You’ll sometimes have to catch the eye of the person working the ticket booth and get them to buzz you through.
Tickets for destinations outside of Paris are purchased as individual RER trips (e.g. Versailles).
Kids 3 and under do not require a ticket; ages 4 to 9 require a child ticket; and 10 and over require an adult ticket. Tickets can be bought as a pack of 10 (a carnet).
Best Places for Desserts & Treats in Paris
- Amorino (gelato)
- Berthillon (gelato)
- Angelina (hot chocolate)
- Laudrée (macarons)
- Pierre Hermé (macarons)
Updated: August 30, 2016
The Chatrium Residence Sathon has large and affordable apartment rentals in Bangkok for families. It’s located in a quieter area of Bangkok about a 10 minute taxi ride from the Skytrain. There’s a complimentary buffet breakfast, laundry services, a large pool, exercise gym, and poolside restaurant. Units are large, nicely furnished, and spotless. (If the Chatrium has one downside it’s that the hallways and elevators are a little dark and dingy. Not terrible but noticeably different than the rooms, restaurants, and lobby area.) The suites can be rented by the night, week, or month.
The Four Seasons Bangkok is one of the most kid-friendly hotels in Bangkok. It has a great location close to the city’s biggest and most popular malls. It has large rooms, a super-friendly staff, great breakfasts, and a large outdoor pool. It’s also a very short walk from the Skytrain and 10 minutes from Bangkok’s best park, Lumphini, which has a very nice playground.
Our Family Trip To Paris
We took the Eurostar train from London to Paris.
Updated June 16, 2016
Crete With Kids – Tips and Recommendations
- Chania and Agios Nikolaos are the 2 best towns on Crete for families. Both are fun and friendly with good beaches, great restaurants, and a super fun atmosphere.
- Knossos (10 minutes outside of Heraklion) is the most interesting historical site on Crete and definitely worth a visit. I highly recommend getting a guided tour (easy to arrange at the entrance gates).
- Water Parks in Crete: Limnoupolis (Chania) • WaterCity (Heraklion, the largest on Crete) • Aqua Plus (Hersonissos) • Star Beach (Hersonissos)
The 13 Best Family Hotels in Crete
Palazzo Duca – Chania
Hotel phone: +30 2821 070460
Doge Traditional Hotel – Chania
Hotel phone: +30 2821 095466
Suites Pandora – Chania
Hotel Phone: +30 2821 043588
Atlantis Beach Hotel – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 051002
Hotel Olympia – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 029815
Palm Beach Hotel Apartments – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 025597
Cavo Spada Luxury Resort & Spa – Kolimvárion
Hotel Phone: +30 2824 022121
Aquila Atlantis Hotel – Heraklion
Hotel Phone: +30 281 022 9103
Minos Beach Art Hotel – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 022345
St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 090200
Mantraki Hotel Apartments – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 028880