Explore east: 5 New York ideas for families

The Big Apple may be famed for its world-class shopping, iconic skyscrapers and delicious food, but New York City is home to some pretty amazing attractions for families, too.

From ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre at Christmas time, to visiting the exotic animals at the Bronx zoo while the sun is shining, here are our top five NYC ideas for families to keep you and the kids entertained on your trip – all within easy reach with New York City car hire.

Central Park

This enormous oasis of calm in the centre of the city is one of New York’s most recognisable landmarks. Covering 3.5 miles of the city, the luscious expanse spans 843 acres – that’s 2.4 times the size of London’s Hyde Park.

Whether you choose to take a leisurely horse-and-carriage ride around the park or explore on foot, there are hours of fun to be had in the luscious green area of the city. Kids will love the playgrounds and riding the carousel, while the boating lake to be enjoyed can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Whatever time of year you visit, expect to enjoy gorgeous views of the city skyline.

Top of the rock

Get a bird’s eye view of the world’s most incredible skyline from the top of the 260-metre-tall Rockefeller Centre.

Kids will love whizzing up to the top of one of New York’s tallest buildings in an elevator. The ride takes less than a minute to climb 260 meters above sea level to the observation deck. Once you reach the top, enjoy the incredible views of the iconic skyline from above. Visit at sunset to watch the city turn into a dazzling array of lights.

At Christmas time, the whole outside area at the bottom of Rockefeller Tower is transformed into a magical winter wonderland, complete with a gigantic Christmas tree and a spectacular ice-skating rink.

Walk the high line

Complete with a water feature to dip your toes in and a children’s climbing area, the High Line is a creative public space in the centre of the city and one of the must-visit New York attractions for families.

Walk along the 1.45-mile-long disused railway track to discover modern art, street performers, picnic areas and an array of tasty food vendors serving up everything from hot dogs to ice cream sandwiches.

There are often live art demonstrations and dance events, which children can get involved in, along the track that runs from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street on Manhattan’s West Side. The track was originally used for freight until 1980, then saved from demolition by local residents in 1999 and transformed into the hub of culture it is today.

Times Square

The bright lights of Times Square are one of New York’s most unmissable attractions. Gigantic billboards, street performers and live music all make this one of the liveliest free attractions in the city.

Kids will love a trip to the enormous M&M World, where three gigantic floors of chocolate M&M-themed merchandise await. They can meet the famous M&M characters and fill up on tasty chocolate treats. Choose your favourite colour of buttons, or even get your face printed on yours at the M&M printer – or just go for a personalised message.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is also a must for grabbing a bite to eat in the area. It’s earned something of a cult status, with staff – comprising aspiring Broadway performers – serving up dinner while singing all the hits from the city’s top musicals. Enjoy the spectacle while you devour fluffy pancakes and tuck into colourful cakes.

The Bronx Zoo

From swinging through the Treetop Adventure park to seeing the sea lions and feeding the penguins, the Bronx Zoo is full of amazing animals and wildlife attractions, including the opportunity to have encounters with cheetahs, penguins and sloths. Budding zoologists can also learn about how to care for the animals on one of the zoo’s many educational programmes.

Hop on the Wild Asia Monorail ride to see red pandas, elephants and rhinos from above and get a birds’ eye view of the 265-acre park on the relaxing ride. It takes just 20 minutes to do a full loop of the track but check ahead of your visit to see if it’s running as it opens seasonally.

To ensure you see all the sights with the family, why not take a look at our SUV car hire options and explore New York in style with Hertz?