Four family-friendly attractions you can visit in and around NYC’s Grand Central Station

NYC Rockerfeller Plaza
Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, as seen in January 2018. (Epicgenius photo per WikiMedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

There’s no better place to start your family’s adventures in the Big Apple, NYC, than Grand Central Station. The well-known landmark is located in vibrant midtown Manhattan, home to some of the city’s best attractions and within convenient walking distance of great places to stay like the historic Westgate Hotel. Please click here for more information on The Westgate NYC Hotel, then read on for some of the things that await you and your family in the area:

Whispering Gallery

The unmarked ceramic arches just outside the much-lauded Oyster Bar and Restaurant are some of Grand Central’s most striking features. This area, known informally as The Whispering Gallery, is home to a fascinating acoustic phenomenon that will surely inspire awe and wonder in your kids. Test it out by standing on opposite corners of the gallery and leaning your heads in against the tiles. From there, you should be able to hear the person on the opposite corner, even if they’re speaking in a hushed voice. Every word will be audible, even over the noise of people walking by!

The event is caused by the way the arches have been constructed. The walkway employs the Guastavino Tile Arch System: the tightly-set tiles and perfectly curved ceiling create the perfect circumstances for sound waves to travel unhindered from one corner to the other. We won’t tell if you choose to tell your children that it’s magic, though.

New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store

A gallery of rotating exhibits managed by the New York Transit Museum can be found just off the Main Concourse at Grand Central, next to the Station Master’s Office. Called the Grand Central Gallery or the Gallery Annex, it features changing exhibitions, educational programs, and regular events.

One such event is the Annual Holiday Train Show. Every year over the holiday season, the Gallery hosts a miniature city exhibit featuring some of the Big Apple’s most well-loved landmarks. Model trains from the Transit Museum’s Lionel train collection weave in and around the tiny replica city on a 34-foot long dual-level track. Any child (or adult!) with an interest in miniatures and model trains will surely love it. The show usually runs from late November to February, and admission is free.

Bryant Park

Located only a couple of blocks away from Grand Central, Bryant Park is the only large-scale public park in Midtown. It prides itself on being a year-round family destination with a full calendar of events and plenty to see and do.

Head over to Le Carrousel for a whimsical ride on its 14 custom-built animals. The area around the carousel is also used for kid-centric programs such as live storytelling, magic shows, puppet shows, or science experiments. Be sure to check the Bryant Park calendar online before you visit to see what’s going on. There’s also the magical Winter Village if you can catch it: Bryant Park’s holiday wonderland opens between October to January and features a food hall, shops, and the city’s only free admission ice rink. Programs include skating classes, knitting sessions, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and more.

Rockefeller Center

Fans of the holiday classic Home Alone 2: Lost in New York will recognize Rockefeller Center as the site of the film’s climax. The expansive complex is home to historic landmarked buildings and various shops, restaurants, and attractions.

The world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is one of the highlights at the complex. It is placed above the Prometheus statue overlooking the ice rink around the end of November. The festive tree lighting ceremony usually occurs a week after Thanksgiving and is attended by hundreds of spectators. The event features several musical performances and airs live on NBC.

Other points of interest include the Top of the Rock Observation Deck where you and your family can catch the best panoramic views of the city; The Channel Gardens, a stretch of perpetual spring that runs the length of the International Complex; and the iconic Radio City Music Hall, an Art Deco performance space that has hosted the likes of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, The Grateful Dead, and more. Some of the acts to look forward to at Rockefeller Center in 2020 include Jill Scott, Josh Groban, Lauv, Alicia Keys and John Legend.

Centrally located and beautiful year-round, Grand Central and the area around it is the best place to spend your family’s vacation in NYC. From quintessentially New York experiences to smaller local activities, you’ll soon discover that there’s something for everyone here.

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