12 Things to Do with Your Aging Parents in New York City

New York City can be intimidating for seniors, even those who’ve lived there extensively. Hidden amidst the towering skyscrapers and hustle-bustle of the Big Apple is an abundance of amazing opportunities for your elder loved one to participate in the vibrant culture, mingle with the city’s diverse inhabitants and enjoy exquisitely maintained natural locations. Many of the city’s senior citizen oriented events and facilities provide amenities for the elderly, but you should always consider your loved one's specific conditions when planning an outing.  

1. Join a Senior Meetup Group

Help your parent meet other seniors by signing them up for a senior’s meetup group. Groups meet in an endless variety of locations and can be purely conversation or activity oriented. Meetup.com is the premiere online meetup service with a comprehensive interface for learning about a particular group and determining if it might interest your loved one. Popular senior meetups in NYC include:

  • 60+ NYC Young at Heart group has over 600 members and meetups almost every week that include singing, dancing poetry and art activities.
  • Senior "Fitness For Life" Meetup is a new group that is geared towards having seniors help each other with exercise and advice for staying healthy.
Photo by Rich Gelson

Photo by Rich Gelson

2. Experience The Bronx Botanical Gardens

Featuring flora from around the world, meticulously arranged gardens and workshops for seniors, the Bronx Botanical Gardens merits endless visits. It is great for aging parents thanks to great amenities like abundant rest areas, a transportation trolley, a dining area and reduced rates for seniors. It is easily accessible via the 4 train and a number of buses, and is as magical during the winter time holiday pageantry as it is during spring’s first bloom.

Photo by Raymond Haddad

3. Visit The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is as big a part of NYC as Central Park, visible from the museum's front steps. 45 halls of expertly maintained exhibitions will transport you to different countries during different ages, to the bottom of the sea and high above the cosmos. Access to the mainstays and the Rose Center for Earth and Space is available by donation, with entrance to special exhibits, the IMAX theatre and Hayden Planetarium coming at a reasonable cost. The museum is great for seniors because of excellent amenities, engaging content and its quiet escape from the commotion outside.

Photo by Alesia D

Photo by Alesia D

4. Walk the High Line

High Line Park is one and a half miles of re-appropriated elevated train tracks in the Lower West Side of Manhattan. It was recently constructed and is a great way for aging New Yorkers to re-experience the city. Great views accompany beautiful floral arrangements and a walkway of singularly modern design. A walk through the High Line makes for an effective short outing with your parent with plenty of transportation and rest areas available, but the park’s administration also hold events in music, performance, art exhibitions, poetry, spoken word and star gazing.

Photo by AnnexMarkets

Photo by AnnexMarkets

5. Peruse the Sixth Avenue Antiques Market

Every weekend on Sixth Avenue, from west 24th to 27th streets vendors line up their fares for one of Manhattan’s signature events, the Annex Antique Fair & Flea Market. A one dollar admission fee will treat you to an outing with your parent that will involve a leisurely walk through jewelery, antiques, clothing, furniture, collectibles, decorations and artwork from around the world. Transportation and dining establishments are always nearby.

Photo by Eleanor Lang

Photo by Eleanor Lang

6. Visit the South Street Seaport

The South Street Seaport is a living history museum that will engage your parent’s interest and mental focus with a healthy dose of maritime history and old town architecture. This activity will include light walking through an area abundant in dining, shops, museums and cafes. This outing can be as long or short as you or your parent want it to be.

7. Participate in the Senior Splash

The Senior Splash is a senior citizen oriented water exercise event is a service of the NYC parks department that facilitates activities where seniors can socialize, swim and improve their health in a stress-free environment. The park’s indoor pools are well maintained and offer plenty of amenities for seniors. The program is offered in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. To attend you must register with the NYC parks department.

8. Sign Up for Senior Citizen Recreation Centers

NYC abounds with government sponsored recreation center activities for senior citizens. They are a great choice for something to do with your parent because of the sheer variety of locations and activities. These centers have plenty of amenities for seniors and some offer transportation. Here are some of NYC’s best recreation centers for seniors:

  • St. Johns Recreation Center in Brooklyn hosts the Senior Games, a fitness and sporting activity for 50+ seniors that is both competitive fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
  • BronxWorks Senior Centers have five locations in the Bronx that offer arts and crafts, movies, games, ESL courses, computer labs, fitness activities, health screening and trips.
  • Greenwich House Senior Centers have four locations in Manhattan to offer a great resource for seniors to meet and interact with other seniors, as well as partake in a number of arts and crafts activities.
Photo by Warren Weinstein

9. Attend NY Public Library Events

The NYC public library system is not only incredibly well stocked with a selection of materials that are interchangeable between branches, they also host some 25,000 of the city's most eclectic free programs. That include everything from educational workshops in language and computers to every imaginable arts and crafts activity, assistance with tax filing, and entertainment in the way of movies, games and even karaoke. Events are held year round with information available on the website’s calendar of events.

Photo by Whitney Museum

10. Check Out the Whitney Museum’s New Location

The Whitney Museum of American Art has been a mainstay of NYC’s contemporary art scene for nearly a century. With the opening of the new location in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2015, the curators welcome guests to wonder at the considerable increase in exhibition space and dazzling architecture by Renzo Piano. Your loved one is sure to experience nostalgia while revisiting works of art created during their youth while marveling at the museum’s acclaimed collections from newer artists. The museum is easy to get to via public transportation, and it neighbors High Line Park in case you want to visit both locations in one outing.

Photo by Danil Roudenko

11. Get Involved with Technology at OATS

Older Adults Technology Services is a breakthrough new center for seniors that aims to enable them to harness the power of computers, smartphones and other new technology in order to live with more independence and be a part of the growing global community. OATS has partnered with the New York Public Library, AARP Foundation, the City of New York, and Maimonides Medical Center to create a diversified offering of activities, workshops and events that pair seniors up face to face with experts who understand their particular learning curve.

12. Visit a World-Class Coffee Shop

NYC has no shortage of quaint coffee houses and talented baristas. Chances are that one of these venerable locations is right around the corner from wherever you find yourself in the city, thus taking your parent out for a cup of coffee is always a great idea for a quick something to do. Top ten coffee shop lists abound online, but these two cafes generally garner top billing:

  • Stumptown Coffee is so good that many of the city’s lesser coffee shops send new baristas there for training. Beautiful indoor layouts make a trip to Stumptown as enchanting as it is delicious.
  • Ninth Street Espresso Brooklyn at Threes Brewing is a lively and charming iteration of its Manhattan counterpart. Treat your parent to a trip to this coffee shop if they love mingling with crowds and indulging in one of the city’s best cup of Joe.
  • Birch Coffee has locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, where expert baristas practice a community oriented coffee shop approach wherein the friendly staff go out of their way to know your name, tastes and how to make you feel at home.

New York City’s five boroughs have distinct personalities and a countless amount of activities that lend themselves well for an outing for a senior. The best way to approach the decision is to consider both their interests and also their limitations. The above listed suggestions for things to do with your aging parent take into consideration the limited physical capabilities of seniors and have rest areas, bathrooms, food and transportation options nearby. 


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