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10 Best Toddler Friendly Attractions in New York City

Great things to do if you've traveling with a three to five-year-old!

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Visiting New York City with a toddler or preschooler? There are my suggestions for the best places to visit with them!

More: Best Things For Families to Do in NYC | Best Free Things For Families in NYC
More: Kid-Friendly Restaurants | Family-Friendly Broadway Shows

1. American Museum of Natural History

African Hall, American Museum of Natural History  The centerpiece of the African Hall is this diorama of an elephant herd.
InSapphoWeTrust/skinnylawyer/flickr.com Creative Commons License
Rainy Day Friendly! From the famous dinosaurs to the big blue whale, young children will be enthralled by just about every exhibit at this sprawling Upper West Side museum. They also offers activities and programs specifically for families and children, including story hour and science and nature programs. The Discovery Center, while technically geared toward kids 5-12, is a great spot to include on your AMNH visit with lots of hands-on activities.

Visitors Guide: American Museum of Natural History
Tips: Tips for Visiting AMNH

2. Central Park

Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park
Over 800 acres of fun for the whole family await in Central Park. Favorites for kids include Central Park Zoo, the Woods and Water Exhibit at Belvedere Castle, boat rides at the Loeb Boathouse, and the Central Park Carousel. In the summer there is storytelling at the Hans Christen Andersen statue.

3. Bronx Zoo

Baby Snow Leopard at the Bronx Zoo
Mario Tama/Getty Images
With over 4,000 animals to visit, the Bronx Zoo is a great place for children of all ages. The bug carousel, children's zoo and camel rides are sure to be a hit with young children (additional charges apply). Visiting the Bronx Zoo is an all-day activity (bring your stroller or rent one there!), but if you're looking for a smaller zoo to visit with your toddler, consider the Central Park Zoo.

4. Children's Museum of the Arts

Workshop at CMA
Rainy Day Friendly! Hands on creative activities at the Children's Museum of the Arts include everything from collage to clay to encourage children's imaginations. Their Wee Studio offers interactive arts activities specifically designed for kids five and under. They even have drop-in sessions of their Wee Arts program that visitors can participate in. Each session includes exploration of art materials such as play dough, paint, and chalk, as well as stories and music.

5. New York City Fire Museum

New York City Fire Museum
Heather Cross
Rainy Day Friendly! Learn about fire fighting and fire safety while you explore the New York City Fire Museum's extensive collection. The problem of fires in early New York will surprise young children and they can even see the first fire alarms -- which were nothing more than wooden rattles.

6. New York Transit Museum

Rainy Day Friendly! Does your toddler love trains? Then you shouldn't miss the New York Transit Museum, where kids can climb aboard numerous historic subway and train cars, fuel and drive a bus and more. Located in Brooklyn Heights, this museum is easily accessible from Manhattan, as well as a great spot to include if you're visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park or planning to explore Brooklyn Heights.

7. Children's Museum of Manhattan

Toddler Enjoying "City Splash"
Rainy Day Friendly! Frequently changing exhibits at the Children's Museum of Manhattan are interactive and engaging for young children and primarily book-themed. During the summer the "City Splash" exhibit offers an outdoor water-play area (I encourage you to bring extra clothes and/or a towel.)

8. New York Hall of Science

New York Hall of Science
Photo by Heather Cross, licensed to About.com
Rainy Day Friendly! More than half of the 400 exhibits at the New York Hall of Science are hands-on, which is a great way for children of all ages to learn about science. The Science Playground features fun exhibits on balance, sound and more. The Preschool Place is perfect for toddlers and has a wide variety of activities to engage them.

9. New York Aquarium

Sea Lion
Photo by Heather Cross, licensed to About.com
Rainy Day Friendly! Take the subway to Coney Island and enjoy a day at the New York Aquarium, home to over 10,000 species of marine life. Sea lion demonstrations, penguins, seals, and walruses are all great fun to for your toddler to see. You can easily walk along the Coney Island boardwalk from the aquarium if you want to dip your toes in the sand (or the ocean!)

10. Brooklyn Children's Museum

Brooklyn Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Children's Museum, used with permission.
Rainy Day Friendly! Brooklyn Children's Museum was the first museum created specifically for children when it first opened in 1899. The Totally Tots exhibit is specifically geared toward children five and under and features interactive experiences to promote literacy and development. Kids will also love playing in the neighborhood area that has a grocery store, pizza place and more.

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