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Activity for a New York Tuesday afternoon with kids

I have a very specific question. We are flying into JFK on a Tuesday in July. We land around 1:45pm. We are staying at a JFK hotel because our flight to Europe the next day leaves early in the am. It'll be the parents and two kids, 10 and 13.

I am looking for ideas of something to do that afternoon. Here's what I don't want to do, having done it before: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, High Line, Tenement Museum, Chelsea Market, Empire State Building, MOMA, Broadway show, Times Square. I also want to avoid similar things to what I've already done, e.g. Top of the Rock since have done Empire State.

Also, there is the issue of many museums closing at 5pm. Ideally we'd like to do the Intrepid, but given that we can be in midtown Manhattan maybe by 3:15, I don't think we have enough time. Ditto the Met. Plus with the cost of both of those attractions, I'd rather be able to get my money's worth.

Some ideas I was toying around with include Federal Hall, the NBC Studios Tour, or the Radio City Music Hall backstage tour. I would love any other suggestions for things that kids would enjoy, that are either short in duration or stay open later than 5pm. We have wide interests and the kids are veteran travelers. Thank you!

Posted by
2368 posts

My sister and I did the Radio City Music Hall backstage tour a few years ago and were surprised how much we enjoyed it. Definitely worth doing.

Posted by
6486 posts

South Street Seaport? 9/11 Memorial? -- on second thought, maybe not a great idea for young kids between flights.

Posted by
647 posts

I'd suggest the American Museum of Natural History, although it would probably be better with more time.

Posted by
696 posts

1) Depending on who is in town, take in a Yankee or Mets game if they are playing in the evening.
2) take the air train to Jamaica and then take the LIRR to Long Beach. Walk a couple of blocks and enjoy the boardwalk and a swim in the Atlantic. You will have to pay to get on the beach.
3) Take the subway to Coney Island - if the Cyclones are in town you can see them, enjoy the rides and boardwalk. You can also swim.
4) Do the hop-on hop-off bus. Sit on top and just enjoy the sights.

Posted by
3992 posts

If the Mets are in town, that is a great suggestion somebody gave. It will be closer to JFK than going to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Coney Island is going to be a cumbersome subway commute in each direction. To take a taxi or a Lyft Instead of the subway will also take a long time because of bumper to bumper traffic. The Brooklyn Cyclones minor league ball games are fun so it’s a pity.

The American Museum of Natural History closes around 5:30 PM so that won’t work.

Perhaps go to South Street Seaport and either eat outside or take one of the many boat rides available.

Posted by
7259 posts

While it does close at 5PM, I suggest you consider the Queens Museum in Flushing. It includes a fascinating 3D model of the city, about 100' long, and less intellectual art than most Met shows. When the museum closes, you could walk around (the locked) Tennis Center, and visit the Unisphere and other (vacant) 1964 World's Fair sites. But there is the ruin of the Men In Black New York State pavillion. You'd take a second cab for some serious ethnic dining in that part of Queens. (I think the elevated restaurant near the Queens Museum is only a catering hall today, but it's certainly not known for it's food.

The New York Hall of Science is a second choice, but I'm always a little disappointed by science museums. You have to look up "Coming Exhibitions" to see if either of these ideas is right for your family. I concede that Manhattan is the best bet for after-5 action. But you have done so many basic NYC sights that the annoying travel time makes me question that wisdom.

I happen to like Contemporary Art, so I'll mention MoMA PS1. But it's not right next to JFK. Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanical garden?

Posted by
3816 posts

2 new museums opened recently - A spy museum on 34 street. It is an off shoot of the one in Washington DC, and one called Gulliver’s travels. It is basically the world in miniature but they have activities for the kids to do. Google them and see which interests you.

Posted by
1075 posts

So this is turning out to be quite the puzzle. The things I mentioned in my original post ended up closing at 5 or earlier on Tuesdays. In the case of NBC they close at 2:30 on Tuesdays!

There is a Mets game that night (July 7) ... but it’s at Yankee Stadium which is much more of a haul from JFK. Also if you look at tickets the entire first half of July isn’t being sold online - practically the entire rest of the season has single game tix available except then?? Any ideas why?

Practically no museums are open late on Tuesdays. It’s crazy. Clearly I have picked the wrong day to hit NYC in late afternoon/early evening, ha!

Posted by
474 posts

It looks like you’ve focused on Manhattan in the past. How about Brooklyn? Two areas you could explore would be Prospect Park or Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo. Prospect Park is like Central Park - huge, actuality designed by the same person as Central Park, lots of possibilities.

In Brooklyn Heights, you can walk the Promenade that has spectacular views of Manhattan. It also overlooks the newly developed Brooklyn Bridge Park with many activities. From the Promenade, you can wander into Dumbo and/or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Lots of places to eat in these areas.

Of course, all of this depends on reasonable weather for outdoor activity. These areas are easy to get to from JFK on the subway.

Posted by
474 posts

Another idea - don’t try to do any sightseeing at all! It looks like you are going to have two early days in a row, so maybe it would be better to just relax. Why try to race into the city? Pick an airport hotel that has a pool for the kids, a restaurant where you can get some lunch, etc. Just veg out, watch a movie, eat a pizza, that kind of thing.

You might want to check out the brand-new TWA Hotel, built right into an old terminal at JFK with a retro theme. Infinity pool, restaurants, view of the runways. My brother had a meeting there and said it was very cool. Recommended that I go see it if I have a layover of a few hours at JFK.