Okay, so it’s pretty easy to forget Manhattan is an island with so much happening smack dab in the middle of the city, but take the family to the waterfront, and their squeals of delight will put a huge smile on your own face. Leave the traffic behind and head for the harbors, piers, boardwalks, and beaches for some awesome water action.
New York Harbor Cruise
It’s hard — make that impossible — to see everything in NYC in a single trip, but you can give it your best shot on a New York Harbor Hop-on Hop-off cruise. It’s a super fun way to sightsee. You get great views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the boat and can hop off to visit attractions like the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Times Square, The Seaport District, and Battery Park.
Trained guides know all the juicy scoop on the city’s crazy past. Stay on the boat for the full 90-minute cruise, or hop off when you want to check out interesting sights. It’s as simple as that. With so much to see, the kids won’t even remember to ask, “Are we there yet?” Put that in the win column.
The SeaGlass Carousel
Ever wondered what the underwater world looks like to a fish? Head to the SeaGlass Carousel at The Battery Conservancy to find out. As soon as you climb on board, you’ll swear you’re underwater, swimming in a school of fish. The glowing seats are shaped like different types of fish and change color as they move. After taking a spin with the fishies, take a break in the nearby gardens while the kids burn off some excess energy — seriously, don’t they ever run out? — at the play space across from the carousel.
The Fearless Girl Statue
Wall Street’s famous “Fearless Girl” statue is only a six-minute walk from the SeaGlass Carousel. Strike your own fearless poses next to the 250-pound statue for a little bit of selfie heaven. Never heard of it? The statue is called “Fearless Girl” because she’s bravely staring down the massive, 3-ton “Charging Bull” sculpture facing her, like some kind of “Don’t even think about messin’ with me” mini Wonder Woman.
South Street Seaport District
Ahoy, matey—feelin’ like a salty dog, are ye? Well, then steer the old crew down to South Street Seaport to find heaps of grub, shops filled with treasure, and the South Street Seaport Museum’s mighty Street of Ships. Explore the five different historical ships docked at Pier 16 — or walk the plank. You can even hitch a ride into New York Harbor on one of the ships during the sailing season.
Climb aboard the “floating lighthouse” that led ships away from danger and into New York Bay. Don’t have your sea legs? Spend your time on dry land touring the cobblestoned streets and listening to tales of the district’s long-ago times as a busy port.
Head to Coney Island for nearly three miles of beaches, games, sideshows, and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs on the boardwalk. Then get ready to scream, because the rides at Luna Park include the world-famous Cyclone rollercoaster. Sticky fingers and amusement parks go together like peas and carrots. Don’t forget to pick up super-sticky treats like cotton candy and ice cream cones for everyone.
Coney Island has been around for a while and even has its own museum filled with vintage items like funhouse mirrors and cars from kids’ carnival rides. Museum admission is cheap, so step right up. The nearby New York Aquarium gives you a chance to say hello to all the marine life, like sea lions, seals, and sand tiger sharks.
Many of Manhattan’s old piers have come back to life as awesome waterfront parks. In modern NYC, the word “pier” now means Instagram-worthy views and great ways to get some sun and fresh air or work up a sweat.
On Manhattan’s west side, Pier 62 is the spot for kids. It’s home to a 15,000-square-foot skateboard park for young daredevils and a 36-foot carousel with 33 colorful wooden animals for young children — and the young at heart. Green grass? You bet. It’s rare in the city, so take advantage.
Have you explored NYC’s waterfront with your family? Share favorite photos from your last trip with us by tagging us on Instagram.