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Best NYC Attractions for Families

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New York City is a wonderful family destination, any time of year. We've put together a list of great things to see and do with your family, including museums, zoos and more! This list emphasizes attractions that will appeal to your whole family, but if you're more interested in pleasing your kids, don't miss our list of New York City Children's Museums.

More: Free NYC Attractions for Families | New York City Carousels

1. American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
Rach @vagueonthehow flickr.com Creative Commons License
All Ages Who doesn't love to see dinosaur bones? Or a life-sized model of a blue whale? The American Museum of Natural History offers visitors of all ages wonderful exhibits where you can explore science and the natural world up close. Only after visiting with my own kids did I realize that the displays offer all the excitement of a zoo (ANIMALS!) without the difficulty of finding them in their habitat. Be warned: there are gifts shops on nearly every level, so it's hard to avoid them!

2. Bronx Zoo

Baby Snow Leopard at the Bronx Zoo
Mario Tama/Getty Images
All Ages The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo will entertain the family for an entire (possibly exhausting!) day. If you've got little ones, the Children's Zoo is great fun with lots of hands on and close-up experiences. Kids of all ages enjoy the Bug Carousel and the Asia Monorail offers wildlife viewing while you rest your feet -- a welcome break since the zoo is huge. We love to visit the giraffes and zebras, and with a little planning, you're sure to find your favorite animals to see. Not sure you're up for an all-day adventure to the Bronx? The Central Park Zoo is a good bet if you want something more easily accessible.

3. Circle Line Semi-Circle Sightseeing Cruise

Circle Line with Statue of Liberty in Background
Courtesy of Circle Line
All Ages Although a boat ride might not be the first idea you think of when looking for a family attraction, this one is a great choice for families with children of all ages. There is plenty of space for exploring, but it's easy for weary legs to take a rest as well. It offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to see New York City's dynamic waterfront, as well as to better understand the layout of the city. You'll even get a great view of the Statue of Liberty from the boat and a photo op. Try the shorter speedboat rides to the Statue of Liberty on the Shark or the Beast if you're looking for a ride that's a little more thrilling.

4. Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Photo by Heather Cross, licensed to About.com
Ages 5+ Experience some of New York City's rich history at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where children and their families can tour a tenement building and learn about the families that called it home. Seeing how families lived in these small tenement apartments is sure to make them appreciate the conveniences of modern life. The option for kids 5+ and their families, "Meet The Residents: Victoria Confino" even has a hands-on component and other tours (suited to those 8+ and 12+ and their families) offer more insight into lives of immigrant New Yorkers. Different tours are appropriate for different age groups, so be sure to reserve one that will suit your family best.

5. Top of the Rock

North View from the Top of the Rock
Courtesy of Rockefeller Center Archives
All Ages Enjoy a birds-eye view of New York City from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Although it's not as well-known as the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock lets you see the Empire State Building, as well as Central Park from its three floors of indoor and outdoor observation areas. By purchasing timed tickets in advance, you can avoid most of the waiting associated with enjoying a skyline view.

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