Family travel: Experience New York City’s iconic attractions

View of Manhattan
View of Manhattan Sara Kendall

There’s so much to see and do in New York City, a full year seeing the sights might not let you see it all. When looking at a long weekend, a dose of realistic planning will help you enjoy one of the world’s great cities. For first-time families, here’s a list of iconic landmarks that will certainly fill up your time in this phenomenal city.

Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty welcomed generations of immigrants to America. Now, she welcomes over 4 millions visitors every year. People from the world over take the ferry ride to Liberty Island to get up close to this beautiful copper and steel statue given to America by France in 1886. Be prepared for long lines and security screening. If you want to climb the 377 steps to get views from her crown, you must book well in advance.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The gateway for over 12 million immigrants, Ellis Island is now a wonderful historical museum. Included in your ticket price is an outstanding audio tour. Listening to the audio narrative truly enhances your visit. Told in their own voice and words, you will hear some of the actual people who came to America through Ellis Island. It has been estimated close to 40% of all current US citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island. For a modest fee, your family can look up ancestors in the American Family Immigrant History Center located in the museum.

Empire State Building

Midtown’s most famous art deco landmark attracts over 3.5 million visitors each year. You will likely encounter long lines to enjoy the spectacular views from its observation decks. To avoid the crowds, go in the early morning or late at night. Sunset is often one of the busiest times.

American Museum of Natural History

The Night at the Museum movie has put this museum on everyone’s radar. It’s the largest natural history museum in the world spanning four city blocks and holds more than 30 million artifacts from land, sea, and outer space. But don’t let their vast collection deter you from going. You can chose to see the most popular exhibits such as Dum Dum and Dexter from Night at the Museum, and a 122 foot-long cast of the largest dinosaur ever found, Titanosaur.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

70 floors up at the Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, you will find three spacious viewing decks to take in amazing 360° views of Manhattan. From this vantage point, you will get stunning views of Central Park and the Empire State Building. You can choose the date and time when you want to visit by purchasing a timed ticket, which will reduce your wait time.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Founded in 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art commonly know as The Met, has a permanent collection with over 2 million works of art from five millennia of human history. Among the most popular exhibits are The Egyptian Temple of Dendur, The Majestic Arms and Armory Hall, and George Washington Crossing the Delaware painting.

9/11 Memorial Museum

Events of that infamous day created a moment of profound change for America. This museum honors the nearly 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. Visitors typically stay two to four hours, which may seem an astonishing amount of time in a museum, but it’s a place where visitors can pay respects and try to make sense of what happened that day.

Purchase a CityPASS

Consider buying a New York CityPASS, which includes admission to all of the above-mentioned attractions at a reduced cost. In addition to cost savings, having CityPASS tickets in hand allows you to skip the often-long ticket lines. Check their website for tips like when is the best time to arrive at a given attraction and more. Go to for more information.

Sara Kendall has traveled halfway across the globe with her kids and lived to tell about it. Stay tuned to hear about family destinations around Charlotte and beyond. Check out more of Sara’s travel at her website or email her at