Although a visit to New York state is often overshadowed by one of its seductively infamous cities, death defying skyscrapers, Broadway’s esteemed theater community, the famed 30 Rock and its NBC Peacock network and Central Park’s lush greenery, there’s so much more to the state. Here’s a guide to the lesser known but not-to-miss family attractions throughout the state of New York.
This is a must-do for visitors to the Big Apple as it allows guests to visit all of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, in 48 or 72 hours, with one tour pass. It provides a comprehensive guide of to all NYC’s major attractions including Greenwich Village, Times Square, Empire State Building, Chinatown, Little Italy, Rockefeller Center ,Apollo Theater, The Museum Mile, The Brooklyn Museum and the Grand Army Plaza. It even includes things that are off the beaten path, such as the Harlem Market and the Dakota Apartments. The expert travel guides are fluent in NYC trivia and facts and provide tour-goers with a wealth of knowledge on everything New York.
800-669-0051. 777 8th Avenue, New York, NY. Buses depart from Times Square. Tours run daily from 8:30am-6:00pm and the night tours run from 5:30pm–9:00pm. $49 per adult and $39 per child when purchased online.
Heaven on Earth for those with a sweet tooth, this 15,000-square-foot colorful and magical candy emporium is bursting at the seams with everything sweet. Decorated with 3-foot tall lollipops and featuring earwax and booger flavored jellybeans, candy cell phones and even edible bikinis it is a candy land come to life.
646-735-0078 1011 Third Ave., New York, NY 10021. Monday through Thursday 10am–9pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-11pm, Sunday 11am-9pm.
The New York Aquarium
Situated on 14 acres in Coney Island along the infamous Boardwalk, this naturalistic habitat for aquatic animals is the only aquarium located in the NYC area and the only place to see Pacific walruses on the upper east coast. Families can get up close and personal with sharks, penguins, walruses, sea otters, fur seals and thousands of fish, take part in special events, educational programs and gain a better understanding of worldwide efforts to save wildlife, wild lands and ensure the future of wildlife.
718-265-3457 602 Surf Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11224. Adults: $13; children ages 3-12 $9; seniors $10.00; children under 3 free.
At their animals’ lifestyles wing, families can get up close and personal with the zoo’s mascots, Hymydrias Baboons, and learn about animal habitats like treetops, mountains and crater lakes. Kids can peruse planted pathways which wind through lush gardens and marshes where red pandas, otters, prairie dogs, and kangaroos live. Families can also hang out at their barn and garden and check out the Barbados sheep, pygmy goats, Aggie the cow and alpacas and their picturesque garden with a waterfall, wooden bridge, and pond which attracts local ducks and butterflies.
718-399-7339. 450 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY. Hours: April through October: Monday through Friday 10am–5pm.; Saturday & Sunday 10am-5:30pm. November through March: 10am-4:30pm every day. Admission: Adults: $6; $2.25 senior citizens; $2 children ages 3-12, free for children under 3.
On these 600 acres of land owned by the Seneca Native American tribe, families can marvel at many miles of self-guided trails, a replica of a 17th-century Bark Longhouse, self-guided tours and interpretations of the destruction of Ganondagan in 1687. As New York’s only official Native American historic site, it also offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about a group of people that were important to the development of this area.
585-924-5848. 1488 State Route 444 Victor, NY 14564. May 1 through September 30, Tuesday through Sunday 9am-5pm. During October, Tuesday through Saturday, 9am-5pm. Trails open 8am to sunset, year-round. $3 for adult $2 for children for interpretation and bark longhouse Trail: Free
This kaleidoscope is housed in a 56-foot tall silo of a restored 19th century dairy barn and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. When visiting, families will enjoy one of three shows, depending on the season: America, The House We Live In; Metamorphosis; and Hexagram Holiday.
877-688-2828 5340 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457. The Kaleidoshow is open Sunday through Thursday 10am-5pm; Friday through Saturday 10am-6pm. $5 per person; children under 12 free.
This 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades, offering vistas year-round. Its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes and explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts. Kids can roll down its hills, race across the Great Lawn and wander along flower beds and connect with nature in ways that are spontaneous and unstructured. Every weekend, families are invited to get naturally creative in ways that take inspiration from Wave Hill’s landscape. During the summer they can enjoy “Discovery Walks” Sunday mornings, a read-aloud story hour Tuesday mornings, family yoga Friday mornings, and some special events, including Target Arts and Wonder Weekend, Making Music in the Garden Day, Get Your Hands Dirty Day and two-day quilting bee.
718-884-4043 West 249th Street and Independence Ave., Bronx, NY 10471.Tuesday through Sunday 9am–5:30pm. Adults: $8; student and seniors: $3; children ages 6–18 $2; children under 6 free.
The New York Botanical Garden’s 250-acre historic landscape features engaging programs hands-on gardening and plant exploration activities for kids, and spectacular displays of flowers and flowering trees within the 50 gardens and collections. Families can wander through the Tropical Rain Forest and Desert Galleries of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, stroll in two gardens designed especially for kids, the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden and enjoy hands-on activities.
718-817-8700 Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road Bronx, NY 10458. Tuesday through Sunday 10am–6pm. Adults: $20; $18 for seniors and students with ID; $8 for children ages 2–12, children under 2 free.
Themed around the “Lost City of Atlantis,” it blends science and nature with myth to create an informative and entertaining environment. They offer a variety of experiences including Touch Tank, Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit, Coral Reef, and the Amazon Rainforest. It is also home to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, New York State’s only authorized marine mammal and sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center. Families can take a Shark Dive, snorkel with tropical fish, feed a stingray, watch a sea lion show, all while emphasizing the importance of marine life and environmental preservation.
631-208-9200 431 East Main St., Riverhead, NY 11901; Open year-round (closed December 25) 10am–5pm; Children 3-17: $18.50 plus tax; Adults 18-61: $21.50 plus tax; Seniors 62+: $18.50 plus tax; Children 2 and under: Free
Coined “New York’s Biggest Little Zoo,” at 8 acres the zoo is small enough to see in one day and large in the animal experiences it offers. Located in an oasis of greenery at Barret Park, the zoo is inhabited by native and domestic animals in outside exhibits. Their Children’s Center includes a “Kids Korral” where families can pet and feed the animals. The zoo hosts educational programs for groups like Breakfast with the Beasts where visitors have breakfast, learn about different types of eaters and then make breakfast for an animal at the zoo and watch it feed. They also host animal presentations every weekend during the fall, winter and spring and every day during the summer.
718-442-3100. 614 Broadway, Staten Island, NY 10310. Daily 10am-4:45pm. Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year; Adults: $8; Children ages 3-14: $5; Seniors (60 and older): $6; Children under 3 and members: free.