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New York, New York: Family Travel Guide

Inspiring museums and sprawling parks make New York a true playground.
Image: Sarkozy Joins NYC Mayor Bloomberg To Celebrate 125 Years Of Statue Of Liberty
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

What to do in New York City

When you vacation in the Big Apple, there are about a million possible answers to the age-old kids' question, "So what are we doing today?" Inspiring museums will enrich their minds (there are ones devoted to firefighters, subways, math and chocolate, to name a few), Broadway shows like "Harry Potter" and "Frozen" will delight them, and there are sprawling parks and inventive playgrounds when they inevitably need to burn off energy.

Where to go in New York City

You could easily spend a week at the American Museum of Natural History: Highlights include the Butterfly Conservatory, the ultra-realistic Hayden Planetarium and the world-famous collection of dinosaur bones. The city has its share of picture-perfect merry-go-rounds but the beautifully restored Jane's Carousel, which is housed in a glass pavilion on the Brooklyn waterfront, is open year-round and close to the Brooklyn Bridge walking path (another NYC bucket-list item).

Take the whole crew to the American Museum of Natural History, a cultural and educational activity for all ages.AP

For a stunning panorama that will help kids get a sense of the city's scale, splurge on tickets to the One World Trade Center Observatory (also known as the Freedom Tower), currently the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The family-friendly experience starts with a high-speed elevator ride: You'll climb 102 stories in 47 seconds.

At One World Trade Center's observatory, take in the 360-degree view of the city and its outer boroughs.Reuters

Where to stay in New York City

Even if you don't have kids, there's lots to love about the Parker New York, including its convenient midtown location (two blocks from Central Park), indoor rooftop pool and popular on-site restaurants like Burgerjoint, which delivers room service, and Norma's, which specializes in breakfast. Check the website for packages that include complimentary upgrades to junior suites. Clean and comfortable, the Holiday Inn Express Midtown West is close to waterside attractions like the Intrepid, Circle Line boat rides and the Hudson River Greenway for biking or walking. Request the 9th floor for sweeping city views and don't miss the cinnamon rolls at the free breakfast.

Where to eat in New York City

If your kids are early risers, use it to your advantage and get the crew to Bubby's in Tribeca before the crowds start to descend. This brunch destination has been dishing out beloved morning staples like fried chicken, nutella pancakes and eggs Benedict for nearly three decades. Parents who need a pick-me-up will appreciate cocktails like the mimosa flight (a sampling of the classic, along with grapefruit-lemonade, blood orange and pomegranate flavors) or the banana-rum old fashioned. Should food coma descend after your meal, it's just two blocks to the inventive Pier 25 playground, which has a climbing wall and sprinklers during the summer.

Looking for more of the best vacations with kids? Check out TODAY's Family Travel Guide.