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Travel

Family friendly things to do in New York City from The BEAST to The Met

Looking for the most enriching — and fun — activities in New York City for families of all ages? Check out this list of 10 — some tried and true and some brand-new — for children and the adults who love them. More ideas include rock climbing at Chelsea Piers, Slide Hill at Governors Island, pizza tours and family activities on the High Line.

Chelsea Piers

Get climbing at the bouldering cave at Chelsea
Photo Credit: Chelsea Piers/Scott McDermott

Rock climbing, golf, sailing, ice skating, bowling — you can do all these activities on Long Island, but not all in one place with Hudson River views. With 25 different sports to choose from, you can spend a whole NYC weekend trying them out. Help your budding golf pro hit balls on a driving range that juts 200 yards out into the Hudson River, watch sailboats glide by as you glide on ice or jump with your kids on trampolines into foam pits. Each sport has its own hours and rates, so check the Chelsea Piers website for the latest information. INFO chelseapiers.com

High Line family programs

On Manhattan's High Line, Friends of the High
Photo Credit: Friends of the High Line/Joan Garvin

Crowds have been converging on NYC’s High Line ever since this abandoned elevated train track, spanning 20 city blocks, was turned into a narrow, linear urban park replete with landscaping, places to sit and public art. Though strolling the walkway — with views of the Hudson River, roadways and architectural wonders — is plenty of fun for any kid, Friends of the Highline offers family programs as well. The most popular is The Children’s Workyard Kit — a crate of planks, pulleys, wheels, ropes and gears to engage even the youngest builders and architects in your family. Other programs include performances, group gardening and collaborative art projects, all free. INFO thehighline.org

For the active family: The BEAST Speedboat

Run by the Circle Line, the 70-foot BEAST
Photo Credit: Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

You’ve been to the Statue of Liberty and brought your parents on the leisurely Circle Line tour around Manhattan. Now, it’s time for some screaming, soaking fun on NYC waters. Run by Circle Line, the 70-foot BEAST zooms down the Hudson River at 45 MPH, comes to a “screeching halt” at Lady Liberty for photo ops, then makes it back to the dock within 30 minutes. Kids must be at least 40 inches tall, and, as this is a very bumpy thrill ride, no pregnant women or people with heart or back problems. INFO Adults $29, kids $23; ridethebeast.com

Governors Island

In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016, photo visitors
Photo Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

Getting on a ferry that takes you to a small island in New York Harbor is a thrill in itself, but there are places and programs on Governors Island built just for active families, starting with The Hills — a 70-foot man-made mound that affords views of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor. The Hills encompasses four slides, one the longest in New York at 57 feet. Slide Hill (pictured) also has a wide “Family Slide” and one ADA accessible for kids of all ability levels. Every year, as funding becomes available, this former military post will become more and more enticing, with additional play areas, art installations and food vendors. Open May 1-Oct. 1. INFO Free, round-trip ferry $2 per person; govisland.com

For the foodie family: Pizza tour

Scott Weiner leads his Pizza Tour in New
Photo Credit: Michael Falco

Any proper family trip to NYC would be incomplete without a visit to at least one pizzeria. But which one? Time to enlist an expert — someone who can introduce you to the most mouthwatering pies in the city. There are two standout pizza tours in the boroughs: The first is Scott’s Pizza Tours (pictured), which takes you and your pizza-loving brood on either a 4.5-hour bus tour (through several boroughs; $65 per person) or a three-hour walking tour (choose from Times Square, Little Italy Cross-town, Greenwich Village, East Village or Brooklyn; $40 per person). The second is A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tours, which is really a bus tour of Brooklyn with a stop at two iconic pizzerias, Coney Island and lots of movie locations (4.5 hours; $80 per person). INFO scottspizzatours.com, asliceofbrooklyn.com

For game lovers: Watson Adventures scavenger hunts

Kids love "How to Train Your Dragon 2?"
Photo Credit: Watson Adventures

Kids love a scavenger hunt, and they love it even more when they’re running around and helping solve riddles with parents in on the game. “Our hunts are like walking tours spiked with caffeine,” claims Watson Adventures, which hosts these fast-paced escapades in large cities across the country. Each public scavenger hunt highlights secrets of renowned places and showcases the skills of team members who must solve clever clues. In Manhattan, three public hunts are fantastic for families with kids: The Grand Central Scramble scavenger hunt for kids ages 7 and up, and The Wizard School and Whodunit scavenger hunts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured) for kids 10 and up. Reservations required. INFO Grand Central: adults $22, kids $18. Met Museum: $42.50 adults, $30.50 kids 10-17, includes museum admission; watsonadventures.com

For the cultured family: E.T.C. tours

2017 SUMMER FUNBOOK - BROADWAY UP CLOSE AND
Photo Credit: E.T.C.

Join a walking tour of Literary Central Park, a comic book tour of downtown or a themed tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. E.T.C.’s most popular program, though, is “Broadway Talks” — a chance to have lunch or dinner with an actor currently in a Broadway show. These intimate meals allow outsiders to discover firsthand what the acting life entails. Base cost for Broadway Talks is $100 per person (two-person minimum) and goes up with venue and actor. (E.T.C. is now booking meals with actors from “Hamilton.”) INFO Walking tours $35; etccustomevents.com

Pictured: Savannah Frazier, of “Amazing Grace,” with her "Broadway Talks'' lunch dates.

Start with Art program at the Met

START WITH ART AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM (KIDS
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

It’s never too early to introduce your children to art, and what better place than the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met makes discovering paintings and sculptures fun and palatable for kids, with lots of movement, sketching, singing and other gallery activities perfectly suited for families with young children. The program (for kids ages 3-6) runs Saturdays and select Thursdays; see website for times. INFO Free with Museum admission, $25 adults, children 12 and under free; metmuseum.org

The Pierre Taj Hotel

The Pierre/Taj Hotel in Manhattan caters to children
Photo Credit: Taj Hotels

For a splurgy family weekend, a stuffed Pierre the Penguin (to take home) welcomes your family to the luxurious Pierre Taj Hotel, across the street from the Central Park Zoo, where you can see the real deal at the popular Penguin House. The Pierre has taken catering to kids to a whole new level through its Kids @ Taj program, with a designated children’s concierge, Cookies and Milk Kids Turndown, and a slew of books, sketch pads and games stocked in the room upon arrival. Perhaps the most extravagant offering is the exclusive in-house two-hour hands-on cooking class for kids (ages 4-7 or 8-12 sessions), taught by Pierre executive chef Ashfer Biju. INFO Kids Cooking class $190 per child, room rates start at $600 per night; taj.tajhotels.com

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