20 Family-Friendly Things to Do on the Upper East Side

20 Family-Friendly Things to Do on the Upper East Side

The Upper East Side has a ton of entertaining activities for kids of all ages, including unique play spaces, world-class museums, and ice cream shops that any ice cream lover must stop by. Grab a bite at one of the many restaurants, take a family-friendly class, or go for a tour while you’re visiting this residential NYC neighborhood. But first, read on for everything a family needs to know before visiting the Upper East Side.   

Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter III

This whimsical restaurant is a refreshing change from the usual kid-friendly NYC eateries. Known for their traditional “Mad Hatter” tea service, tea sippers can get sprinkled with fairy dust and wear pixie wings while enjoying freshly baked scones, tea sandwiches, desserts and a full breakfast/brunch menu. This experience is like a trip to Wonderland for kids.

220 E 81st St.


The Art Farm in the City

NYC’s only indoor petting zoo will bring smiles to your children as they meet, feed, and even sketch a bunny, a turtle, or another cute critter. The Art Farm in the City offers a variety of activities by age, ranging from 1 year to 8-years-old, including play-time, art for busy kids, and animal care class.

491 E. 91st St.


Chess & Checkers House

The Chess & Checkers House is one of the five visitor centers run by the Central Park Conservancy. Players are welcome to borrow pieces from the Conservancy staff or bring their own. Dominos and backgammon are also available. The Chess and Checkers House is located in the Children’s District in the southern part of Central Park, where you can also borrow a free, kid-friendly Discovery Kit filled with guides, binoculars, and art supplies.

Mid-Park at 64th St.


Casabel Tacqueria

This restaurant has mastered the authentic, Mexican street-style cuisine. From tamales to homemade guacamole yucca fries, as well as the large assortment of tacos, you’ll be sure to find something on the menu for even the pickiest of eaters. The children’s menu offers simpler tacos and guacamole with no spice.

1556 2nd Ave


Cool Mess

Delight in NYC’s Do-It-Yourself ice cream parlor! First, choose your own base flavor and follow one of their “messipes,” or create your own flavor. Cool Mess supplies the ingredients and tools, the rest is up to you. You can also take home baked goods, candy, or a pint of gelato. 

137 E 62nd St.


Cozy’s Cuts for Kids

This children-only hair salon is designed so kids can watch cartoons and actually enjoy their hair cutting experience! With every haircut, your child receives a balloon, lollipop, and free toy from Cozy Cuts’ special goodie basket.

1416 2nd Ave.


Cry Baby Matinees

City Cinemas East offers movies for parents and babies! Enjoy a movie of your liking without fear of being shushed if your baby cries or young child throws a tantrum.

210 E 86th St.


Dylan’s Candy Bar

This iconic candy-store allows you to fill up on candies and candy-related gifts from around the world. By merging the worlds of art, fashion, and pop-culture with candy, this emporium looks (and feels) like a museum!

1011 3rd Ave.


Eloise at the Plaza

“I am Eloise. I am six.” Go visit the fabulous Eloise at the Plaza shop where kids can try on outfits, play with dolls, read Eloise books, and enjoy Eloise-themed tea-time. Eloise at the Plaza even has Eloise teacups and tableware. Located on the concourse level of The Plaza, this shop is the perfect stop for Eloise fans of all ages.

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South


Jan’s Hobby Shop

Since 1973, Jan’s Hobby Shop has been known for its selection of plastic kit models for all ability levels, including miniature model boats, pocket-size planes, small soldiers and the like!

1435 Lexington Ave #2


Jewish Museum Family Programs

The Jewish museum offers unique, engaging, and unexpected artistic and cultural experiences for visitors of all ages and abilities. This includes lively concerts and innovative art workshops. Sunday Family Day celebrations focus on temporary exhibition or holiday and include large-scale art workshops and kids’ performances.

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1109 5th Ave


Let’s Dress Up!

Try on all kinds of outfits while getting your nails and hair done! This is NYC’s only play space dedicated to dressing up and offers 'Princess Play' sessions as well as tea parties.

345 E 85th St.


Lexington Candy Shop

Upon arriving at the 93-year-old Lexington Candy Shop, stop and enjoy the historical Coca-Cola display that includes Coca-Cola toy trains and unusual bottles and cans. The luncheonette includes a 1940 vintage Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer and a 1948 vintage coffee urn. Thisquaint, old-fashioned dinerwill surely transport you back in time!

1226 Lexington Ave.


Loop of the Loom Kids Classes

Loop of the Loom offers classes and workshops to individuals and groups interested in self-discovery, healing, and having fun through weaving. It offers a “Growing Crafters” weekly after school program for children ages 7-12, and a project-based “Sprouting Weavers” class that empowers every child to create and express  without the fear of making mistakes.

277 E 87th St.


Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Start with Art” and “Art Trek” programs

This iconic Fifth Avenue museum’s art can be appreciated by members of the entire family and  offers programs specifically for kids. Familes with children ages 3-6 can attend the “Start with Art” program, where all can enjoy stories, sketching, and other gallery activities that bring works of art to life. On the first Thursday of every month, explore art and music in the galleries while you look, move, and sing. The “Art Trek” program is offered for families with children ages 7-11, and allows  participants totravel through time and around the world on a Museum adventure. You can discover favorite works of art and you look and learn together. All family programs are free with Museum admission and do not require tickets or reservations unless otherwise noted.

1000 Fifth Ave.


Sprinkles Cupcakes New York

This iconic Manhattan bakery features its own Walk of Fame and a facade adorned with Sprinkles’ trademark modern dots. Located near Central Park, department stores, and skyscrapers, you can get your sugar fix without having to break from the rest of your fun-filled day.

790 Lexington Ave.


The Sweet Shop NYC

Step back in time at this retro candy shop. Its specialize in candies, homemade chocolates, licorice, artisan ice cream, gelato, and delicious desserts. Who can experience the more intense sugar high: you or the kids?

404 E 73rd. St.


Tour of Gracie Mansion

The Mayor’s house offers free tours on Tuesdays. The art, architecture, furniture, and books all reflect an important chapter in the history of New York. The one-hour tour is led by executive director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy and will focus on the architecture of this Federal-era building from 1799.


88 E End Ave.


Two Little Red Hens

This cozy, laid-back bake shop and cafe is known for their cupcakes and custom cakes. Try their famous Brooklyn Blackout cake and their cupcakes, with a perfect frosting to sponge ratio.


1652 2nd Ave.


96th Street Library

Enjoy life music, free movies, and children’s book readings! Throughout the week they offer different preschool story-times and coloring sessions. Your child can discover new worlds with the massive amounts of children’s books, while you grab a book or magazine from your section.


112 E 96th St.