Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Broadway is Back
- Celebrity Minded?
- Where to Eat in Times Square
- Covid-19 Considerations
- When to Go to Times Square
- New Library
- Head to the High Line
- NYC on High
- Ripley's Believe It or Not
- Stretching Past the Heart of Times Square
- Best NYC Hotels for Families
- Manhattan Hotel for NYC Residents
- Kimpton Muse Hotel
- Additional Places to Stay Near Times Square
Wonder what Times Square is really like – up close and personal? The family-friendly area is safe and loaded with kid-friendly attractions. Read why Times Square is the place to be in NYC – for the entire family.
Times Square, named for the New York Times, is the heart of Broadway and the performing arts in New York City. This central location is a couple of blocks from the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, the theater district and Central Park.
Broadway is Back
Broadway shows are reopening; Springsteen on Broadway has already started performances. By early September, most shows will be back, and tickets are already on sale. If and when we are lucky enough to score tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I want to spend the night. The show is in two parts, and runs five and a half hours.
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But there are plenty of other shows on Broadway for families. The Lion King, Dear Evan Hansen, Aladdin and Hamilton appeal to young children through young adults. The TKTS booth in Duffy Square offers half price tickets on the day of a show.
TravelingMom Tip: Here’s how to score cheap Broadway tickets.
In New York, you can often see celebrities walking down the street. And if you go to a Broadway show, you can wait at the stage door afterwards for an autograph or a selfie. And look around at the audience if you see a show. Celebrities attend Broadway shows too.
To guarantee a celeb sighting – or at least see a celebrity likeness – head to Madame Tussauds New York. The museum has wax replicas of entertainment and sports stars, royals and famous politicians. The wax figures of superheroes from the Marvel Universe are also here.
TravelingMom pro tip: Actors have to get to their shows. If you casually stroll through Times Square a couple of hours before a matinee or evening show, you are bound to pass a Broadway actor or two.
Where to Eat in Times Square
Sure, you can eat at Hard Rock Cafe or Olive Garden, but why not head to Restaurant Row on W. 46th Street, with places like Orso or Joe Allen? Junior’s, on W. 44th Street, has deli food and great cheesecake. And Beyond Sushi, on W. 37th Street, has delicious vegan sushi.
Most Times Square tourist attractions have reopened after Covid-19 closures. But some limited time attractions like Gulliver’s Gate and Ocean Odyssey: National Geographic Encounter are permanently closed. The Disney Store and Hershey’s Chocolate World still require masks at all times
When to Go to Times Square
Anytime except New Year’s Eve. That is the black hole of midtown tourist attractions.
The former Mid-Manhattan branch library just reopened, totally transformed, as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. In addition to a new children’s reading room, the library has a rooftop terrace, open free to all.
It offers outdoor seating, a cafe and midtown Manhattan views. It is just a block outside Times Square,
TravelingMom Tip: Check out these free things to do in all five boroughs of New York City.
Head to the High Line
The elevated High Line park runs from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street and is one of our favorite free things to do in New York City. The mile and a half path has public art and (free) programming throughout the day. There is also stargazing at night.
NYC on High
No matter how old your child is, if you bring her to NYC, she will want to go to the top of the Empire State Building. I’ve only been to the 86th floor observatory, which offers excellent 360-degree views. You can splurge for a ticket to the 102nd floor AND the observatory. There is also a VIP ticket that lets you skip the line.
Free Fun in Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a midtown oasis from all the surrounding skyscrapers. Its eastern border on 6th Avenue is part of Times Square, though the rest of the park is technically just outside the district.
If you’re with a fitness-minded teen, Bryant Park has free yoga, boot camp and dance classes. You can even learn how to fence!
From October through March, visitors can ice skate for free on a pop up ice rink. During winter, you can pick up gifts at the holiday shops or play games or create art in the indoor space. During warmer weather, there are storytelling times and free shows. You might see juggling, or Broadway performers singing selections from current shows. The carousel is not free, but it’s one of the great things to do in NYC with toddlers.
Bryant Park has another important amenity that isn’t exactly fun. But it is both necessary AND free. Clean, attended bathrooms are the place to go when you are on the go. Having a safe place to do your business, and wash your hands with soap and water, is a rarity in the city.
Around the block from Bryant Park, the main branch of the New York Public Library (officially the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) has free exhibits The lovely landmark Beaux-Arts building is worth exploring. And don’t forget to see the stone lions guarding the front of the library.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
We find incredible things just walking down W 42nd Street. But you can find interactive experiences and oddities at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The Black Hole and Torture Chamber are cheesy, but they will impress even a jaded New Yorker.
Stretching Past the Heart of Times Square
The Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center also offers great views, of rooftop bars in midtown Manhattan and around the city. Though the observation decks aren’t quite as lofty as those in the Empire State Building, the cool glass elevator ride and the peek at the private Rockefeller Center garden and Radio City Music Hall make this a worthy trip.
While Top of the Rock is technically not in Times Square, a short walk west on 47th Street brings you right back to Times Square. If you aren’t a first time visitor and have been to the top of the Empire State Building, check this out.
Best NYC Hotels for Families
Immerse your family in Times Square and midtown with a stay at NYC’s first Embassy Suites. The rooms are not the typical expansive rooms found in Embassy Suites, but the set up works well if you are traveling with a young child or two who can stay on the pull-out couch. It also works for a mother-daughter getaway where you both want your own bed.
The rather tight quarters had a partial wall separating the pull out from the king sized bed. There was also a mini fridge, and fast, free Wifi.
Like Embassy Suites everywhere, the hotel had free breakfast. Omelets are made to order, with plenty of fresh vegetables. There was also a huge selection of breads, fruit, pancakes, yogurt and cereal. If you are looking for a New York bagel, leave the hotel. But for a the perfect way to start a day of sightseeing, you can hardly do better.
My daughter and I were truly impressed by the fresh fruit selection. There was sliced mango – and when it ran low, there was more.
Another Embassy Suites perk, the social hour, offers snacks and drinks daily. Usually, this is just beer and wine, but the Embassy Suites Midtown also makes cocktails.
Manhattan Hotel for NYC Residents
The Embassy Suites Midtown also appeals to New Yorkers who are looking for a good bar or outdoor movie. The hotel has a craft cocktail bar. It also has an outdoor space where there are movies, open seasonally.
Kimpton Muse Hotel
This child and dog friendly hotel is also in Times Square, right off 7th Avenue and closer to Grand Central Terminal and the Museum of Modern Art. The hotel offers toys to both kids and dogs at check in.
Additional Places to Stay Near Times Square
There are lots of options for hotel stays near Times Square, including vacation rentals. Check out our favorite NYC hotels for families, or use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.