My kids, especially my daughter, love musical theater. Living in Boston, we are lucky to live just a few short hours from NYC. We have several great Boston to NYC transportation options, so it’s pretty easy to get to the city for a quick getaway. A few years ago, on a girl’s trip with my daughter, I wanted to take her to a show. We ended up seeing Annie on Broadway, which was a perfect first show for a young girl.
Then, last year, during spring break, I saw Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella with both children. Now, in 2018, I’ve seen six different shows on Broadway with my daughter. At first, I was concerned about taking my kids to a Broadway show solo, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Here are some tips I learned for visiting Broadway with kids – including the best Broadway shows for kids (updated). These tips are specifically for families traveling to NYC, but some can be applied to touring shows as well. If you have other tips, add them in the comments.
Choose an Appropriate Show on Broadway With Kids
There are lots of shows on Broadway that are not appropriate for kids. Do your homework in advance and have a good idea of what the best shows are. Scroll down to see our current picks from what is currently running on Broadway. If it’s a traveling show, you may want to talk to friends who’ve seen the show in another city. Definitely take a look at the running time of the show as well. While you may love a three-hour show, a young child will likely have a difficult time sitting through it.
Find Reasonably Priced Tickets on Broadway
If you absolutely have to see a new, popular show, you are going to have a more difficult time finding tickets. We are more flexible with our choices, and have purchased tickets from the TKTS Discount Booth in Times Square. The booth sells same-day tickets at up to 50% off. There’s also an app that you can use to see what is available for the day. I looked at the app a few times prior to us arriving and got a general idea of what shows were currently being offered (although it definitely can change).
It’s best to arrive at the TKTS booth as early as possible for the best tickets. You will usually need to wait in line though. I’ve found that the lines can be long during school holidays, on weekends, and on matinee days. If you’ve already purchased through TKTS, you can return with your ticket stubs within 7 days and use the Fast Pass window. Cash, credit cards, and some debit cards are accepted.
Choose Good Seats
You won’t have control over where you sit if you get discounted tickets. But if you can choose, it’s always good to sit in the front of any of the sections. That way your kids will have less heads to see over. Most theaters also will have booster seats for kids. Grab one of these as you head into the theater, and if you can’t find one, ask an usher. These are hard plastic, and can be uncomfortable after a while. Putting a jacket over it may provide a bit more padding.
Go to a Broadway Matinee
My kids get very tired at night, so I prefer to bring my kids to matinees. Most Broadway shows have matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. This page shows current shows and times. If you do decide to go to a night show, try to find one that starts at 7pm, rather than 8pm.
Eat Lunch (or Dinner) First
Most matinees are between 2-3pm – pretty much between meals. I made sure my kids had eaten plenty before they went to the shows, so they weren’t hungry during the show. Here are two popular restaurants in the Times Square area (busy ones, so go early). Restaurants in Times Square do tend to be busy on matinee day, so keep that in mind.
The lines will be long heading into any Broadway show, so you’ll want to arrive early. You’ll have to go through security, get your tickets scanned, and find your seats. I always prefer to go with plenty of time so that I’m not in a hurry to sit right away.
Use the Restroom Prior to Sitting Down
My kids always seem to need the restroom right when the show starts, so I’d recommend taking them before you sit down. There’s always the intermission if they need to go during the show. Many Broadway theaters are small and don’t have lots of restroom options. So, it’s always a good idea to find out where the restrooms are and have a plan to get to them during intermission.
Best Broadway Shows for Kids (Updated in October 2018)
I’ve paid for all of the show that we saw, with the exception of Frozen, which we saw as part of the Adventures by Disney NYC Long Weekend press trip.
When looking at the best Broadway shows for kids, your options will depend based on the ages of your kids. For younger kids, you’ll definitely want to consider the Disney musicals. There are currently three on Broadway – the Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen. They are all wonderful, so consider what your kids like the most. It can also be more difficult to get tickets to Frozen right now, as it’s still a new musical. There are other kid-friendly shows as well, including School of Rock (closing in January 2019) and Anastasia.
If you have teens or tweens, you’ll probably consider some other shows as well. My teen loved Aladdin and Frozen, but also enjoyed Hamilton. There’s also Mean Girls, Dear Evan Hansen, and Come From Away that appeal to teens. It may be more difficult to find discounted tickets to these more popular shows. In that case, it’s better to buy tickets in advance so you’ll have the best seats.
Any other tips?
Originally written in 2015, updated in 2018
More resources: Read our New York City Travel Tips post here to read hotel, attraction, and restaurant reviews, tips, and ideas.