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There’s more to the Times Square area than the world-famous billboards and New Year’s Eve ball drop. Don’t let the crowds put you off; this section of midtown Manhattan has many attractions for families, making it a great destination for all ages. With two big new exhibits opening up in the fall, it’s a great time to plan a visit—and, of course, Times Square is easily accessible via public transportation from within the city or the suburbs.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey (Opens Oct. 6)
You’ll want to add this new attraction to your list if your kids love aquariums. Using sound and visual special effects, visitors to the National Geographic Encounter will dive under the Pacific Ocean in this 60,000-square-foot exhibition space—with no water at all! Kids will be able to virtually interact with squid, rays, sharks, and whales via the latest technology, all while standing feet from Times Square.
NFL Experience Times Square (Opens Nov. 17)
If you know your bootleg from your drawback, NFL Experience Times Square is for you. Set to open close to Thanksgiving, this is a perfect destination for National Football League fans of all ages. Using immersive technology, augmented reality, and 4-D cinema, visitors will be placed in the sneakers of an NFL player. From the coaching back room to the Super Bowl arena, the star player is you!
An epic miniature world, built entirely to scale. “Visit” cities including New York, Paris, and London, as well as historic scenes such as The Beatles crossing Abbey Road. You can even pay to have a miniature version of yourself created to be part of the exhibit. Parents, take note: Gulliver’s Gate is not suitable for very young kids due to the height of the displays.
New Victory Theater
This popular nonprofit theater is dedicated to shows for children and young people. Its seasonal calendar features a mixture of productions from across the globe including dance, circus, puppets, live theater, book to stage, and more. New Victory also has regular performances adapted for kids on the autistic spectrum.
This famous store has been a must-visit for comic book fans since 1997. Stocking one of the best selections of Marvel, DC, independent, and alternative comics in the U.S., Midtown Comics also has action figures, T-shirts, posters, memorabilia, and more.
Madame Tussauds has been entertaining the public with her famous wax works since 1802. The celebrities may have changed but the appeal of seeing your favorite stars in wax has not. In addition to A-listers, there are movie-themed zones for Ghostbusters and Kong: Skull Island, as well as a Marvel 4D movie for fans of Iron Man and co. Kids will love taking selfies next to their favorite characters and stars such as Katniss Everdeen and Selena Gomez.
AMC Empire 25
One of the biggest cinemas in Manhattan, this theater features a whopping 25 screens housed in the building of the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre, built in 1912. With so many screens to choose from there’s sure to be something that will satisfy everyone in the family, including 3D and IMAX movies.
Museum of Modern Art
MoMA is walking distance from Times Square, and the famous, modern art space offers respite from the bustle of midtown. In addition to the many world-class exhibits, the museum features kids arts programs (except in the summer months), a kids’ audio tour, animated short films, and a drop-in Art Lab. In the warmer months, the sculpture garden is a great place to sit and take a break.
The view from the Top of the Rock is much more impressive than the view from the Empire State building, as many New Yorkers can attest. In addition to a trip to the top, the complex also has the famous ice rink and lots of food and drink options in the warren of tunnels underneath the main plaza. A trip to see the Christmas tree is a holiday must, and kids will also love visiting the Lego Store that is close to Fifth Avenue. You can also visit the NBC studios and Radio City Music Hall, home of The Rockettes.
Chocolate lovers will adore the giant M&M’s World, which features three floors of chocolate and merchandise (don’t say we didn’t warn you!). Other kid favorites are the Disney Store and Hershey's Chocolate World close by (though Hershey's Chocolate World is now closed as it prepares to move to a bigger location nearby, which is slated to open later this year).
When the traffic and noise of Times Square gets to be too much, take a five-minute walk to Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street and visit the midtown oasis that is Bryant Park. There are food and drink vendors, grass and chairs to sit on. During the spring and summer months you can watch juggling, magicians, and kids performances. There are regular story times and a carrousel. In the winter there is the ice rink and holiday shopping. For families with older kids the majestic building of the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library, is close by.
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Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
Woodhaven, NY 11421
Queens, NY 11368
Pier 62 at Hudson River Park (by Chelsea Piers)
New York, NY 10011
100 Crossways Park W., Suite 107
Emma Steven is a writer and NYMetroParents' Manhattan calendar editor. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two toddlers and two cats. See More.
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