Manhattan is an island, but it’s still big. To narrow it down, stick to the West Side for a family outing, and you’ll have a great time with these five family experiences. Starting from north to south, head to these locations.
The Met Cloisters
While the Cloisters are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the West Side, when you enter, you feel like you’re in a European medieval church. You just stroll through the rooms, seeing some of their 5,000 pieces of medieval art and looking high up at the architecture. The building is reconstructed from five European abbeys, but the beauty of the Cloisters is not just indoors. You step into the gardens and feel transported. Stop for a bite to eat at the Trie Café, which offers kid-friendly sandwiches and desserts. Before you head out, you make sure not to miss the views of the Hudson River and the playgrounds in Fort Tryon Park—there’s one right by the subway entrance!
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
After visiting the Intrepid once, you know you want to head back to this West Side attraction on the Hudson. Not only is the Intrepid a 1943 aircraft carrier large enough to hold 100 planes, but there are multiple levels to explore and plenty of interactive things to keep the kids interested. You realize you can’t see everything in one trip, so you and the kids choose to tour the Growler, a submarine with a guided missile system, stepping through low doorways to get a sense of what it was like for those who lived in it. Then you switch to the space shuttle Enterprise, which has its own building on the flight deck.
Circle Line Tour
Hop on one of the Circle Line‘s boat tours, only a few blocks south on the West Side. Whether you take the Best of NYC, the Liberty, or the Harbor Lights Cruise, you won’t go wrong. As you take your seat in the open air, you hear fascinating tidbits of history and architecture, which you can use to impress your family, all while getting stellar photos of the sites by the water. If you want to excite the kids during a family outing, opt for the BEAST, a speedboat ride. You don’t take it for its narration, but for the thrill of passing all the other boats while zipping by at 45 miles per hour.
Like it sounds, Chelsea Piers takes over three of the West Side’s Hudson River piers. Locals use the health club, kids’ sports camps and lessons, and adult sport offerings. But Chelsea Piers is perfect for visitors, too. You want to hit golf balls from the four-tiered driving range, aiming toward targets 200 feet out, while you look out at the river. Prefer hitting your balls with a bat? Check out the batting cages at the Field House. No family outing is complete without bowling, but you find the Bowlmor lanes a different experience than the typical alley, especially since you can do an indoor ropes course or laser tag there, too!
The Whitney Museum of American Art
Your last stop for this family outing is the new The Whitney Museum of American Art, which moved to this location during summer of 2015. While you explore the multiple floors of modern art, you have conversations with your kids about what art is, and what they think about when looking at it. As much as you enjoy the indoor art, you head to the generous size patios to sit in the colorful furniture to savor the views from outside.