New York City offers a top destination for families with sites like Empire State Building and Central Park. Most visitors are surprised to discover the top NYC attraction is actually a National Park Service site, The Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty is the most popular national park site in NYC. Though National Parks TravelingMom says, be sure to discover the other 10 NYC national parks with kids. New York City offers days of historic sites to tour in-between theatre shows and foodie musts.
NYC National Parks with kids
Family fun abounds in New York City with theater shows, world-class museums and desserts galore, only nightfall draws families to back to their rooms. During their visit, most families will pass by the Statue of Liberty and most visitors never visit the other 10 NYC national parks with kids.
Statue of Liberty National Monument
A symbol of freedom and liberty known worldwide, the Statue of Liberty sits on a 12-acre island in the middle of the New York Harbor. Learn about the construction of the statue in the museum or climb the stairs to the pedestal base or crown (additional ticket required).
Take the ferry, operated by Statue Cruises, that departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan or Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, to explore the Statue of Liberty. First ferry leaves at 9:30 a.m. and last one departs at 3:30 p.m. with extended hours during peak seasons. Reservations are a must.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
From 1892 until 1954, Ellis Island welcomed 12 million immigrants to the United States. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum walks visitors through the facility that processed close to 5,000 people a day.
Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Since it’s a separate island in the New York harbor, the only way onto the island is by the Statue Cruises ferry, an additional stop on the Statue of Liberty ferry.
Castle Clinton National Monument
Located next to the Statue of Liberty’s ferry dock, a sandstone fort became the first immigration station. Before Ellis Island opened, 8 million people passed through Castle Clinton. Originally built from 1808 to1811 as a fort, the building transitioned from defense to immigration.
Located in Battery Park at the tip of lower Manhattan, the Castle Clinton National Monument is open seven days a week from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
African Burial Ground National Monument
Learn about the final resting place of more than 400 African-Americans in lower Manhattan. A mass burial site from the 17th and 18th century retells the story of free and enslaved people in colonial New York.
The visitor center is on the first floor of the Ted Weiss Federal Building at 290 Broadway in lower Manhattan. The Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the outside memorial open until 5 p.m. Free to enter.
Federal Hall National Monument
Located on Wall Street, this building served as the first Capitol of the United States, the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch offices. George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall as well.
The visitor center is located at the Pine Street entrance. The Federal Hall National Monument is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and during the summer, it is open Saturdays as well. Free to enter.
General Grant National Memorial
Visit the largest mausoleum in North America at the General Grant National Memorial. Former President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, reside in the 1897 granite and marble tomb.
Located on Riverside Drive and 122nd Street, the visitor center is open Wednesdays until Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
Governor’s Island National Monument
Quietly protecting New York City, Governor’s Island served as a military post and command headquarters from 1794 until 1966. Then served as a U.S. Coast Guard command unit. Governor’s Island now hosts seasonal events during the summer.
Located in the New York Harbor, take a ferry (adults $2 and kids under 13 free) from Battery Maritime Building or Pier 6 in Brooklyn.
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Tour the historic country home of Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury. Named after his ancestral home in Scotland, “The Grange” that now resides St. Nicholas Park.
Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Hamilton Grange National Memorial offers tours. Free to enter.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
During our visit to NYC, my teen daughter liked this museum the best since it walked us through history.
Tour a preserved tenement building from 1863 until it was shuttered in 1935. In a building that housed 7,000 working class immigrants, different apartments preserve different time periods. With specialized tours focusing on Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants and sweatshop workers along with neighborhood tours, get an understanding of an immigrant’s life over a hundred years ago.
Start at the visitor center, located at 103 Orchard St., open every day from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. on Thursdays). Reserve tours in advance and admission varies according to tour.
Stonewall National Monument
Visit the first national monument dedicated to LGBT rights in the West Village. At the site of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall National Monument received its national monument designation in 2016.
As a new monument, Stonewall National Monument doesn’t offer a visitor center yet. Though the monument includes Christopher Park, located across the street at the intersection of Christopher Street and W. 4th St.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Walk through a Victorian era townhouse where Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, spent his childhood. With five decorated rooms, learn about how “Teddy”, a sickly child, used exercise to strengthen his body and spirit.
Located at 28 E. 20th St., the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
Junior Ranger Program: NYC National Parks with Kids
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Rangers present them after completing their booklet.
Most national park sites in New York City offer Junior Ranger Programs. Ask a ranger at the visitor center for a booklet to complete, based on age.
NYC National Parks Tips from a TravelingMom:
- Make reservations for the Statue of Liberty as soon as possible, especially for pedestal and crown access. During the busy summer season, tickets sell out months in advance.
- For the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, visitorss pass through airport-like security. To tour the pedestal and crown, visitor can’t carry backpacks, though lockers are available for rent.
- Give Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island half-a-day to tour.
- Concessions aren’t available at most NYC National Park Service sites.