New York City is not a city that lacks family friendly fun. The choices of things to do with kids in NYC is endless between seeing the Statue of Liberty, exploring Central Park and taking in a museum.
One family friendly thing to do in New York City that is often overlooked is taking a guided tour of the United Nations. Although many people think that touring the U.N. might not be appropriate or interesting for children, there is a special tour designed just for children every Thursday afternoon at 4:15 pm for kids between five and 12 years.
The U.N. Children’s Tour teaches about the U.N.’s mission and offers a brief introduction to the Millenium Development Goals in a kid friendly way. The tour also explores the Security Council and topics like disarmament and peacekeeping. Throughout the tour, the tour guide stops and discusses different topics and then the children reflect on their thinking and what they have learned in an activity packet that makes a nice keepsake to bring home (and saves you a stop in the gift shop).
The one hour tour is led by a guide who at least in our case, was very good at eliciting engagement from a small group of children whose background knowledge about the United Nations was quite diverse. The children were especially interested to learn the history of the “escopetarra,” a guitar made from a modified gun, which was created by peace activist Cesar Lope and is now a symbol of peace. The children were challenged to invent their own creation by modifying something that could be considered a weapon for more peaceful purposes.
Another highlight of the U.N. Tour for kids was a simulation where children had the opportunity to take on the roles of different governments in a conflict, while another child acted as the U.N. Peacekeeper.
Our favorite part of the tour was getting to see the Security Council and pretending to listen to conversations between the Security Council members in translation. Even just pretending to listen intently to governments discussing issues of world importance, the kids seemed to understand that big things happened in this room. Selfishly, the translator devices helped my daughter who is being raised bilingual understand the importance of speaking multiple languages as she saw the relevance outside of our house.
Although the tour for kids does not take a deep dive into the United Nations, it does provide an introduction to the U.N. for children and is a great activity option for families that are looking for things to do while staying in New York City.
Tickets for the United Nations children’s tour can only be purchased online. (Note: Group size for the tour is very small, so families that are hoping to take the Children’s Tour should plan in advance to reserve their tickets.)
If you’re looking for a place to stay near the United Nations building, Hilton Manhattan East is only a four-block, five-minute walk away.
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.