New York City on a Budget: Best Family Attractions Under $20

Jocelyn Murray March 20, 2012 No Comments

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Whether you live in New York or are visiting on a family holiday, you don’t need to go broke to have some fun. Below is an alphabetically ordered list of great family attractions in New York City that are affordable. Come discover these gems.

 

American Museum of Natural History – Manhattan

American Museum of Natural History - Dinosaurs Hall

See dinosaurs and more at the American Museum of Natural History

This prominent museum is home to 46 permanent exhibition halls, an IMAX theater, space shows and more, with something for everyone. Although there is a suggested general admission price, visitors can pay whatever they can afford to gain entrance (shows and special exhibits are a separate charge), making it affordable to everyone. See dinosaur fossils, ocean life, mammal dioramas, gems and minerals, meteorites and much more. There is even a Discovery Room for children ages 5-12 to explore. For more information visit their website www.amnh.org this

See Also: 5 Top Museums in New York

 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden – Brooklyn

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is a 52-acre haven

Stroll among cherry trees, fragrant roses, herbs and countless other plant and floral specimens at the 52-acre verdant Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Visit the conservatory with its tropical collection, and meander through the tranquil Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with its winding paths, pond, hills, waterfall, wooden bridges, stone lanterns and so much more.  As of 2012 admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12. Tuesdays and most Saturdays 10-12 are FREE days. For more information visit their website www.bbg.org

 

Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Brooklyn 

Brooklyn Children's Museum - exterior

The Brooklyn Children's Museum has lots of hand-on exhibits

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has numerous interactive exhibits that engage children of all ages, and includes countless objects and artifacts, musical instruments, plants, insects, animals, games, crafts and so much more for hands-on exploration and discovery. As of 2012 admission is $7.50 with free admission days available monthly as well. For more information visit their website www.brooklynkids.org

 

Central Park – Manhattan

Central Park

There are lots of lush trails to explore at Central Park

This iconic New York park boasts several lakes, ponds, an outdoor amphitheater, Belvedere Castle, a marionette theater, lots of enclosed playgrounds for children, the much loved Central Park Zoo with 4D theater www.centralparkzoo.com (general admission is $12 for adults, $7 for kids ages 3-12), wildlife sanctuary, conservatory garden, monuments and memorials, the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park www.victoriangardensnyc.com with delightful rides and games, an historic carousel ($2.50 per ride), trails galore for exploring by foot, bicycle, on horseback or skates, and much more. While admission to Central Park is free, there are loads of fantastic affordable paid attractions. For more information visit their website www.centralparknyc.org

 

Coney Island – Brooklyn

Coney Island

Stroll the beach, boardwalk, or enjoy rides and more at Coney Island

A trip to New York would not be complete without visiting Coney Island. The beach-front charm and carnival atmosphere pulsates with a cheerful energy as you roam the boardwalk with its restaurants, concession stands and shops, or enjoy rides, games and attractions. Visitors can also check out the Coney Island Museum ($5 admission), or see a variety of shows and performances. Admission to Coney Island is FREE, while the various attractions there are individually priced. For more information visit the Coney Island website www.coneyisland.com

 

New York Aquarium – Brooklyn

New York Aquarium sea lion show

The sea lion show at the New York Aquarium is great fun

Over 300 species of marine animals are featured at this enjoyable 14-acre aquarium located next to Coney Island in Brooklyn. Some highlights include the California sea lions, sea otters, sand tiger sharks, giant pacific octopuses, pacific walruses, sea turtles, jellies, penguins and more. Great interactive shows and feeding presentations are fun to see as well. As of 2012 admission is $14.95 for adults and $10.95 for children ages 3-12. For more information visit their website www.nyaquarium.com

 

New York Hall of Science – Queens

New York Hall of Science - Realm of the Atom

Free interactive science demonstrations are held daily at the New York Hall of Science

Explore over 450 hands-on exhibits on physics, biology and chemistry at the acclaimed New York Hall of Science where innovation is celebrated.  Free interactive science demonstrations are held daily as well. Children can also play in their acclaimed Science Playground, Preschool Place, and the Rocket Park Mini Golf. As of 2012 admission is $11 for adults 18+ and $8 for children ages 2-17. For more information visit their website www.nysci.org

 

Prospect Park Zoo – Brooklyn

Prospect Park Zoo

See fluffy alpacas at the Prospect Park Zoo

The delightful Prospect Park Zoo sits on 12 acres and is home to a variety of animals including kangaroos, porcupines, the red panda, California sea lions, baboons, poison frogs, geckos, Indian peafowls and more. It also features daily sea lion feeding demonstrations,  a children’s play area, and discovery zone with hands-on activities. As of 2012 admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12.  For more information visit their website www.prospectparkzoo.com

 

Queens Zoo – Queens

Queens Zoo

The Queens Zoo aviary features friendly feathered friends

This lovely 5-acre zoo features an aviary, California sea lions, antelope, bison, Andean bears, puma, lynx, alligators, coyotes and more. There are also daily sea lion feeding demonstrations, as well as a variety of domestic animals with a petting zoo that includes Flemish giant rabbits (weighing up to 26 pounds), llamas, sheep, goats and pigs. Children can enjoy the discovery center for a little quiet exploration time, or the wildlife conservation themed playground. As of 2012 admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12. For more information visit their website www.queenszoo.com

 

Staten Island Ferry – Manhattan

Staten Island Ferry views

The Staten Island Ferry affords stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, lower Manhattan and Ellis Island

If you want to see great views of the Statue of Liberty, the lower Manhattan skyline, Ellis Island and New York Harbor, then hop on the Staten Island Ferry for FREE! This clean and spacious ferry offers smooth, 25-minute frequent rides to Staten Island where more affordable attractions await. For more information visit their website www.siferry.com

See Also: Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty

 

Wave Hill – Bronx

Wave Hill

The gardens at Wave Hill are a fragrant sanctuary

28 lush acres with gorgeous views of the Hudson River and Palisades will have you strolling among fragrant gardens, shady woodland, a conservatory, and more at Wave Hill. This tranquil paradise is a magical place for all ages and includes free children’s activities on the weekends. As of 2012 admission is $8 for adults, $4 for students, $2 for children 6+. Onsite parking is $8, or guests can park nearby offsite for free and take the complimentary shuttle service that operates continuously. Free admission days are also available. For more information visit their website www.wavehill.org

 

Related Articles:

New York City for Families – Part1
New York City for Families – Part2
Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty
Our Family Visit to New York City – Off the Beaten Track

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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