Contrary to popular belief, Times Square is one of the best places in New York City for families to visit. Not only is there endless people-watching in Times Square itself—and more costumed characters than you can count—but the restaurants in this part of the city are particularly family-friendly. And, with the arrival this month of Pip’s Island adding to the list of must-dos, here’s a walk through this tourist fave as we pair favorite things to do in the ‘hood with a truly welcoming-to-families spot to dine in.
Pair National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey—we love this immersive under-the-Pacific experience where visitors get an up-close tech-created view of a life-sized humpback whale or walk through a kelp maze—with brunch, lunch or dinner at The Ribbon. At this massive new-to-the-neighborhood restaurant, bedecked with vintage books and photos, your kids will go nuts for the burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Just be sure to leave room for chocolate chip bread pudding and hot fudge sundaes for dessert!
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
226 West 44th St.
220 West 44th St.
Pair a show at the New Victory Theater —a non-profit devoted to performing arts theater that’s for kids and families that launched the revitalization of 42nd Street when it opened in 1995—with dinner at the upbeat Bond 45—you’ll notice it right away from its bright neon sign outside, where kids of all ages are welcomed. And, with a menu of kids faves, including the most delicious (and authentic tasting) spaghetti and meatballs, pizza and burgers, there’s something for even the pickiest of little ones.
New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd St.
221 West 46th Street
Pair Gulliver’s Gate—one of the most incredible immersive walk-through exhibits where the world becomes miniature—with lunch at Brooklyn Diner where there is literally something for everyone. We’re talking comfort food, including noodle kugel ‘like mom used to make,’ pastrami mac-n-cheese and matzo ball soup. And don’t forget to try the 15-bite all-beef frank accompanied by an egg cream or, even, a noodle kugel sundae.
216 West 44th St.
155 West 43rd St.
Friedman's at The Edison Hotel
Pair Madame Tussauds—the ideal place for a selfie or two with a favorite life-like wax figure and/or Ripleys Believe it or Not, which won’t disappoint thanks to its eew and gross photos of the man with the longest fingernails—with a pit stop at Friedman’s which has mastered the art of faves like mac-n-cheese, fried chicken and waffles and blueberry pancakes—served all day long.
234 West 42nd St.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
234 West 42nd St.
Friedman’s at The Edison Hotel
228 West 47th Street
Ellen's Stardust Diner
Pair Frozen—a musical theater experience that has transformed the Disney film to much acclaim—with breakfast at the inimitable Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Here, your favorite theater kid will go bananas watching aspiring Broadway stars serenade them while selecting such faves from the kids’ menu as a cheeseburger and fries or a hot dog and fries. Note: Strollers aren’t allowed inside but there is ample parking outside the restaurant.
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Pair Spyscape—an immersive spy museum that will most definitely appeal to the older kids in your life that’s just a little bit away from the Times Square hubbub—with a luxe meal at The Palm. Established in 1926, this is one steak restaurant that won’t look askance at your pack of kids walking in for lunch or dinner. Not only is sharing encouraged (and there’s no fee for asking for extra plates) at this warm and welcoming restaurant right off Eighth Avenue but there’s a wider-ranging kids menu than we’ve seen at other steakhouses (where else have you seen a filet n’ fries (a four-ounce filet with French fries or green beans) on a kids menu? Just whatever you do, save room for a bag of warm doughnuts. Not only do they come dusted with cinnamon sugar, but they’re served with chocolate and raspberry sauce for maximum dipping.
928 Eighth Ave.
250 West 50th St.
But Wait, There's More
None of those fit the bill?
Try the second floor food hall City Kitchen, (above) which offers something for everyone, from ramen to lobster rolls to to-die-for doughnuts.
Or Shake Shack, to indulge in a city favorite.
For a time warp to Victorian times, head to Lillie's on 49th Street (where we recommend the brunch).
Or hit up Junior's (of Brooklyn fame) now serving up classic diner food and giant cheesecake also in Times Square.
Got a family of pasta lovers? Head to Becco, where you can enjoy an unlimited amount of executive chef William Gallagher's three pasta creations, served tableside for $20.95 at lunch with salad and antipasto. (Dinner is $25.95).
Feature photo: City Kitchen