Family movie night (or late afternoon, or mid-morning) is in full effect in many living rooms around town right now. And while we can’t hit the streets of the city in this time of sheltering in place, we can still see NYC in all its glory on the big(ish) screen at home. We rounded up the best kids’ movies set in NYC, so you and the family can visit new, and favorite NYC spots from the couch. (Note: we’re going for movies that feature actual NYC landmarks and locations, not Toronto or a soundstage dressed up like New York, but even we can be fooled.)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

We’re guessing you know the drill: Like Home Alone, but in New York City. Same kid, same bad guys, same merciless high-jinks during the holidays. But this version hits tons of New York City landmarks, past and present. Kevin McCallister arrives in the city over the Queensboro Bridge, and breezes through or past places like Chinatown, Radio City Music Hall, Chelsea’s Empire Diner, Central Park (where he meets a bird lady) and The Plaza Hotel (where he stays, and yes, briefly encounters Donald Trump). He even takes in the view from atop one of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: Netflix,YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse 

Winner of all the awards, (Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, etc.) with apologies to Sam Raimi et. al, this is the standout movie dedicated to the crime-stopping adventures of Peter Parker and his alter ego. In addition to pushing the envelope visually and stylistically, Into the Spider-verse features a great soundtrack, a diverse cast of characters/actors and a genuinely engaging and funny screenplay. And it’s all set against the backdrop of NYC, with animators drawing the skyline from above, Midtown and Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, residential streets in Queens and Brooklyn and others. Plus: a jaunt to the Catskills features some lovely swinging through a landscape of Birch trees sporting striking fall foliage.  

Rated: PG

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

Night at the Museum 

A rookie security guard gets a big surprise, as one of NYC’s most popular and iconic museum turns out to have a lot more going on than he realized. (Hint: At night,  museum founder Teddy Roosevelt, played by Robin Williams, is still ruling the roost, and the animals and skeletons get real rowdy.) Central Park and Wollman Rink also make an appearance. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: Starz

Ghostbusters (1984) 

Supernatural shenanigans start happening around New York City, and a trio of recently out of work (read: fired) Columbia University scientists start their own ghost-busting business. Come for the chemistry and dialogue between stars Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis, stay for Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis’ mildly scary (and goofy) transformations into possessed beings and of course, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who barrels down on Columbus Circle toward the end of the movie. Other recognizable NYC spots in the 80s classic?: the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Columbia campus, Tavern on the Green and “Ghostbusters HQ”, a firehouse on North Moore Street downtown. 

Rated: PG

Wartch on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu


A fun liveaction/animation mashup, Enchanted is a spoofy fairy tale romp through New York City as only the people at Disney could do it. (In a good way.) Amy Adams is Princess Giselle, who’s been sent to the “strange and terrifying land” of reality by evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). She of course meets a handsome “prince” (divorce lawyer, played by Patrick Dempsey) and as rom-com madcap high-jinks featuring interference from the Queens and rival prince Edward ensue, we visit Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and other iconic NYC spots. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu

The Muppets Take Manhattan

With their reliable “let's put on a show!” energy, the Muppet gang head to New York to take their original musical, Manhattan Melodies, to Broadway. And like most NYC-bound performers, they find out it’s not as easy as they thought it would be. As they work their way to a not so surprising happy ending, Kermit, Piggy and the rest of the crew are joined by famous New York faces like Joan Rivers, Gregory Hines and Linda Lavin in spots like Central Park, Bergdorff Goodman and Broadway institution Sardi’s. (You can still find Kermits portrait hung in the restaurant’s famous gallery of caricatures.)

Rated: G

Watch on: IMDB tv


A human raised by elves at the North Pole, Buddy (Will Farrell) heads to NYC to meet his birth dad. He embraces the city, decked out for the holidays, with goofy gusto, as only an elf played by Farrell can. Sites include the Empire State Building, Park Avenue, Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Tunnel, Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, and of course Rockefeller Center, its rink, and Christmas tree. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu


An early entry in the catalog of Tom Hanks movies, but still one of the best and most charming. Hanks plays Josh Baskin, little kid who makes a wish to be big on an enchanted “Zoltar” fortune-telling machine at now-defunct amusement park Rye Playland. It is, of course granted, and big Baskin naively fumbles through the grownup world with great success, getting career accolades and a love interest in the process. In addition to Playland, and typical New York locations (including Josh’s massive loft), the old FAO Schwarz Toy Store provides the setting for the film's memorable giant piano scene. The new Rockefeller Center store has a similar piano visitors can play. (Note that there is some adult humor and content in the movie.) 

Rated: PG

Watch on: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Hulu

Superman: The Movie

Of course, all Superman movies are set in “Metropolis”, and there are a few films dedicated to the Man of Steel—but the original, with Christopher Reeve in the title role, is our favorite. The Daily News building serves as reporter Clark Kent’s place of work The Daily Planet, Lex Luther constructs a glorious grotto in an abandoned subway station and Superman and Lois Lane’s night flight offers a close-up of the Statue of Liberty. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: YouTube

Mr. Popper’s Penguins 

Jim Carrey is a self-involved, highly successful businessman with a very nice view of the Empire State Building from his fancy Manhattan office. When he inherits a half dozen penguins (just go with it), his life, relationships and his deluxe apartment all change. (He converts the final into a chilly deep freeze pad for his new flippered friends.) Key NYC locations include the Guggenheim Museum (where its famous spiral is made good use of) and Central Park’s Tavern on the Green. 

Rated: PG

Watch on: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Hulu

—Mimi O’Connor


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