New York City’s Unique Attractions for Kids

New York City will delight both kids and their parents with interactive models at Gulliver’s Gate, the underwater world of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and hands-on modern art at the Whitney Museum.  After a busy day, snuggle into a kid-friendly classic boutique hotel.

Honey, I Shrunk the World

Stonehenge seems to have an unusual addition today at Gulliver's Gate - photo by Debra Smith

Stonehenge seems to have an unusual addition today at Gulliver’s Gate – photo by Debra Smith

Anthony Napoletano is making delicate adjustments to a scale model of the running of the bulls at Pamplona when we meet at Gulliver’s Gate. One of New York’s newest attractions, this 50,000 sq. ft. (4645 sq.) space holds the entire world – at a 1:87 scale. The most iconic buildings, landscapes, historical and cultural events from twenty-five countries and five continents have been recreated in a miniature wonderland. “Each country in the world contributed their own model”, Napoletano explains, “and they took great pride in delivering a perfectly rendered Taj Mahal or Potala Palace on a very tight deadline”.

Model cities and sites light up as the artificial sky cycles from day to night. Set pieces, like the crashing waves of Niagara Falls, become interactive with the use of a souvenir key. Watch as your smiling selfie hurtles over the abyss thanks to artists from Montreal who built the model (complete with a tiny Maid of the Mist) using aerial footage from drones, hand carving, 3D printing and multiple cameras. Or choose what band you’d like to see in on a miniature stage in London, England. There are lots of opportunities to rule the world. If you feel like you never want to leave, get “Gulliverized” down to size with a 3D modelling scanner and make your figurine a permanent citizen of this tiny world. Open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Adults $36 USD; Children 4 to 12 and Seniors (65+) $27 USD; (under age 3 free); 30% discount Family Tickets (2 adults and 3 kids). 216 West 44th Street; Subway 42 Street-Times Square or Port Authority-42 Street.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Take a Deep Dive

If you’ve ever longed to walk on the ocean floor, National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey has you covered, no scuba gear required. Be serenaded by the otherworldly songs of humpback whales, walk under the waves on a phosphorescent reef and be surrounded by 220 thousand gleaming fish in a swirling bait ball. On your journey from the South Pacific to the west coast of North America, you’ll meet a life-size 15 metre (50 foot) humpback whale, play with digital sea lions and watch two giant Humboldt squid square off in an epic underwater battle. This technological wonder is the result of years of work by Nat Geo researchers, explorers, photographers and an award-winning animation team. Fifty-five laser projectors create a seamless, interactive ocean experience.

A budding oceanographer, learning from virtual reality Nat Geo scientists - photo Debra Smith

A budding oceanographer, learning from virtual reality Nat Geo scientists – photo Debra Smith

Kids will love the hands-on Exploration Hall where virtual experts provide background and context to their experience. A portion of the proceeds help support ocean conservation, exploration, research and education. Daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday; 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Adults and Seniors (65+) $36.50 USD; Children 3 to 12, $32.50 USD; Family discounts available. 226 West 44th Street; Subway 42 Street-Times Square or Port Authority-42 Street.

My Kid Could Do That

Zoe Leonard's 1961, 2002- Suitcases at the Whitney Museum The artist adds one for each year of her life - photo Debra Smith

Zoe Leonard’s 1961, 2002- Suitcases at the Whitney Museum The artist adds one for each year of her life – photo Debra Smith

Your budding artists may be inspired, and encouraged, by a visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Pick up a copy of free Whitney Kids Activity Guide in the lobby or follow one of the knowledgeable docents on a gallery tour. Stop in at The Studio Café on the 8th floor for a bite and a chance to chat about the art you’ve seen.  The outdoor terrace has great views of  Manhattan. The museum holds works by over 3,000 influential American artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, ranging from paintings and sculpture to video and performance art.

The Open Studio on the 3rd floor has drop-in classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings where kids of all ages are encouraged to experiment with making their own art.  It’s free with admission. Daily 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Closed on Tuesdays September to June; Admission: Adults $25 USD; Seniors, students and visitors with disabilities $18; Children under 18 Free. Pay what you wish: Fridays 7 to 10 p.m. 99 Gansevoort Street. Subways A, C, E and L at 14th Street.

Walk This Way

Just outside the doors of the Whitney Museum, you’ll find the start of the High Line, an elevated public park built on a former railway line.  Along the path you’ll find flowerbeds, public art, water features, plenty of benches for lounging and lots to see and do. Take in a free Tai Chi class, join a Latin dance party, sit in on an author’s reading or start your morning with a meditation session.  Schedules are posted on the High Line website.

Monkey Around at the Hotel Elysee

The Hotel Elysee offers the best of past and present like this antique telephone and fast wifi - photo Debra Smith

The Hotel Elysee offers the best of past and present like this antique telephone and fast wifi – photo Debra Smith

“They just don’t build hotels like this anymore”, says John Avina, General Manager of the unique and beautiful Hotel Elysee in Midtown Manhattan. Originally built in 1927, the hotel became famous for its celebrity clientele. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe stayed here, as did pianist Vladimir Horowitz and playwright Tennessee Williams who lived here for 15 years. Actors like Marlon Brando, John and Ethel Barrymore, Ava Gardner, and Sidney Poitier, writers such as Mario Puzo, Mary McCarthy, Harold Robbins, and many more enjoyed the perfect combination of gracious service and creative ambience that continues today at the Hotel Elysee.

Each of the 100 charming rooms and suites in this 15-storey building has been individually decorated with cosy overstuffed couches and armchairs, plush rugs, carefully curated antiques and supremely comfortable beds. Guest rooms have a mini-bar, flat panel LCD television, iHome MP3 player, and in-room safe. You’ll find plush cotton robes and Gilchrist and Soames Bath amenities in the luxurious marble bathroom. The hotel’s location on East 54th Street between Madison and Park Avenues is perfect for exploring New York on foot. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and Gulliver’s Gate are a 20- minute walk or a 16-minute subway ride (E or M lines, one block away). Times Square, the Theatre District and Central Park are even closer and the newly renovated Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is just up the street.

Children will find a warm welcome, free cookies and fresh fruit throughout the day in the Club Room. They’ll love to explore the Beatrix Potter style hand-painted murals of the countryside lining the staircases. Bonus for parents: children under 12 stay free when accompanied by an adult.  The complimentary continental breakfast buffet includes a generous selection of cereals, fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, pastries and specialty coffees. The evening wine and cheese reception from 5 to 8 p.m. features a selection of Italian wines and imported and domestic cheeses also included at no charge. There is free wi-fi throughout the hotel. In-room babysitting services are available for children 8 years of age and up from the Baby-Sitters Guild of New York for an additional fee.

Don't miss the murals in the Monkey Bar - photo Debra Smith

Don’t miss the murals in the Monkey Bar – photo Debra Smith

Don’t miss the Monkey Bar, just off the lobby.  Famous for wild celebrity parties back in the day, this ever-popular piano bar features vintage hand-painted murals of monkeys behaving badly by caricaturist Charlie Wala.  60 East 54th Street, New York. Phone: 212-753-1066, email: info@elyseehotel.com

Look Way Up – Hotel Giraffe

Like it’s namesake, the Hotel Giraffe is tall and lean. Rebuilt from the ground up in 1999 by Stephan B. Jacobs Group (they just completed the new Hotel X in Toronto) this 12 storey, 73 room family-friendly hotel overlooks Herman Melville Square. A short walk from the iconic Flatiron Building, the LEGO Store and a 15-minute Uber ride from the Whitney Museum and the High Line, this chic Art Moderne inspired boutique hotel features a rooftop penthouse and terrace garden, a ground floor restaurant and a lobby bar. A pianist fills the wood-panelled, high-ceilinged space with jazz musings every night during the hosted three-hour evening wine and cheese reception.

One of many giraffes at the Hotel Giraffe - this one is on the terrace - photo Debra Smith

One of many giraffes at the Hotel Giraffe – this one is on the terrace – photo Debra Smith

Amenities and great value starts with a robust complimentary deluxe Continental breakfast. Coffee, tea, cookies and fruit are available 24/7, along with full access passes to the New York Sports Club, high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and evening turndown service. For little ones, a baby Pack and Play activity centre is available upon request as well as mini-fridges and cribs. Babysitting by the Baby-Sitters Guild can be arranged for an additional fee.  The sophisticated decor features quilted satin bedcovers, oversized leather-upholstered headboards and pops of soft furnishings in bright tomato red.  Unpretentious and welcoming, the Hotel Giraffe is a great spot to set out on your New York safari. 365 Park Avenue South, New York. Phone: 212-685-7700. Subway 23rd Street Station/28th Street Station

For more information on New York City, visit www.nycgo.com. The writer was a guest of Library Hotel Collection and NYC & Co. As always, her opinions are her own. For more photographs of New York, follow her on Instagram @where.to.lady

Here are some more articles we think you'll like!

Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.

Sign Up for Email Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *