Family Vacations in New York: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

12/06/2011 02:07 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011
  • Megan Farrell Fuchsloch The Huffington Post

Family vacations in New York can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about New York family vacations.

Vanderbilt Mansion

Get a taste of the good life from the Gilded Age at one of the oldest and most renowned Hudson River estates. The Vanderbilt Mansion, a national historic site in Hyde Park, N.Y., is a testament to what a country estate looked like in the post-Civil War era, when industrialization influenced political and cultural change and shaped economic and social status. Tours of the luxurious house and gardens showcase the spectacular architectural and landscaping accomplishments of the day.

Address: 119 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
Phone: 845-229-7770
Hours: Vanderbilt Mansion is open daily for guided tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Tour hours vary November through March, so call ahead for the schedule. Guided tours are required for access to the mansion. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.
Price: The guided tour is $8 per person and free for kids 15 and younger. Access to the grounds is free.

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is world renowned for it collections and exhibits, but this science museum offers more than just its amazing collection of animal displays and dinosaur bones. It also has an IMAX theater, shows and special exhibits for the little ones.

Address: Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024
Phone: 212-769-5100
Hours: The American Museum of Natural History is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Price: Suggested general admission: adults, $16; children 2 to 12 and student with valid ID, $9.

FAO Schwarz Toy Store

Kids of all ages, as well as adults who are kids at heart, will get a thrill out of the flagship FAO Schwarz New York City toy store. The Grand Hall features more than 20,000 colored lights and the famous giant dance-on piano keyboard. The toy store also has workshops for kids and exclusive collections.

Address: 767 Fifth Ave. at 58th Street, New York, NY 10153
Phone: 212-644-9400
Hours: Store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Price: Free.

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Also in Hyde Park is Springwood, the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States. The grounds feature the first U.S. Presidential Library and the Rose Garden, where FDR is buried. A guided tour of the house and gardens and a self-guided tour of the library and museum provide a wealth of information about the United States' longest-serving president.

Address: 4097 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
Phone: 845-229-5320
Hours: The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Tour hours vary, so call ahead for the schedule. Guided tours are required for access to the home. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.
Price: The guided tour is $14 per person and includes admission to the home and library for two days. Kids 15 and younger are free.

Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children's Museum of Manhattan has five floors filled with exhibits and displays for every age and interest. It has classes, science projects, a literature room and plenty to climb on and touch. Special exhibits feature kids' favorite characters like Dora the Explorer and Curious George.

Address: 212 W. 83rd St., New York, NY 10024 (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
Phone: 212-721-1223
Hours: The museum is open Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday until 7 p.m.
Price: Adults, $11; seniors, $7; children under 12 months, free. Target sponsors free hours the first Friday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m.

Main Beach

Listed as one of the top 10 beaches in America for 2011 by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), Main Beach in East Hampton has all that one might expect from a beach in the Hamptons. White sand, dunes, surf and even some possible celebrity sightings make this Long Island destination a must-visit in New York.

Address: 101 Ocean Ave., East Hampton, NY 11937
Phone: 631-324-4150 (Town of East Hampton)
Hours: Main Beach is open weekends and holidays from Memorial Day until the last Saturday in June. From July to Labor Day, the beach is open daily. It is open weekends from Labor Day to Sept. 30. Main Beach is closed during the winter season.
Price: There is no entrance fee to the beach, but you must purchase a $25 parking permit each day to park at the beach.

Central Park Zoo

Central Park is an attraction all on its own, but it is also home to the Central Park Zoo. With more than 130 animal species, the zoo provides an exciting afternoon of observations and educational activities. There is also a children's zoo, where kids can feed pigs, sheep and goats.

Address: East Side of Central Park between 63rd and 66th streets; entrance at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10065
Phone: 212-439-6500
Hours: The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from April through Oct. and Nov. through March daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Price: Tickets include the Wildlife Center and children's zoo: adults, $10; seniors 65 and older, $7; children 3 to 12, $5; children under 3 years, free.

What are your family's favorite New York destinations?