New York City with kids
1. Central Park. There are 21 playgrounds in Central Park, so unless you live here, it seems impossible to play on all of them while visiting. Plus a carousel, botanical gardens, miles of running & biking trails, winter ice skating, athletic fields & tennis courts, remote control sailboat rentals, paddle boats, restaurants, Central Park Zoo… The list really goes on! Our recommendation: stay somewhere that’s walking distance to the park so that you have all of these options near you at any time of the day.
3. Gray Line City Sightseeing. We took an open air tour bus and all 4 of us loved it. Sometimes the girls napped, and sometimes they waved at people & puppies & flowers. We had a great time and would definitely do it again in this city or another. We learned so much and covered so much ground in such a quick amount of time. There are different ticket packages, and ours included 48 hours of service and the scenic harbor tour to the Statue of Liberty.
4. Battery Park. A great green space to walk around and let the kids run, with a gorgeous backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center, Ellis Island, and Governors Island. We also rode the Sea Glass Carousel which opened in August 2015 – one of our favorites! There are several restaurants here, but it’s also a great place to pack a lunch and take in some scenery. Stone Street has some trendy restaurants with a cool outdoor atmosphere and it’s not too far of a walk.
5. M&M World. Right in the heart of Times Square is a 3-story M&M store with as many colors of M&M’s as you can imagine, and with as much apparel & gift items you can imagine. We loved picking our own M&M colors and eating them all week!
6. Governor’s Island. This island off of south Manhattan is only open during the summer months. We took the ferry out of the Battery Maritime Terminal, and it’s only $2 for adults and kids under 13 are free. It is completely vacant and set up with a trust fund that only allows governmental or institutional future developments. Quite honestly, it looks like the set of The Walking Dead. This wasn’t our favorite activity since there wasn’t much going on and nowhere to get food (and we didn’t pack anything). They have a “playground”that is an actual junkyard with mud and broken pieces of plastic. The girls obviously did not go into it.
7. Times Square. This is a staple for any visit to the big apple, and kids love it here! Day or night, there is so much to see and plenty of shopping & restaurants too. This is where the New Year’s ball drops, you can see a few questionable characters in costume, and see Good Morning America being filmed. Even if the crowds aren’t really your thing, you should still make a stop thru here.
8. Riding the subway. Besides the fact that it’s the easiest way to get anywhere in the city, it’s fun! We don’t ride many trains, so it was a little treat to the girls when we did take it. Some stations have elevators, but not all. Download the NYC Metro app before you go so that you can easily map out which trains to take.
9. Central Park Zoo. Located on the east side of Central Park, is a small but fun zoo. With over 130 species of animals, we saw snakes, a red panda, sea lions, otters and polar bears. There is also a bird atrium to visit where the birds fly all around. Children can get a zoo passport to get stamped as you visit each exhibit and check them off the list. It took about two hours for us to complete our visit here.
10. Rockefeller Center. One of my favorite parts of the city! Radio City, the Christmas tree and ice skating rink at Christmas, and Top of the Rock are all here. If you visit the Top of the Rock, you will get spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, including the Empire State Building. NBC Studios are also here so you can see the Today Show being filmed, and sit in a replica chair from The Voice! They also have a gift shop where you can purchase apparel, coffee mugs, and other items from all of your favorite NBC shows, past & present. The girls favorite thing to do here was go into the Lego store! Olivia had been asking for a toy train, and we found a Mickey Mouse Lego train set here for her!
11. Empire State Building. What a fun treat to visit the top of the Empire State Building! This iconic building in New York City has views that do not disappoint. We purchased general admission tickets and when we arrived, the line just to get to security was over an hour. We knew the girls wouldn’t wait patiently through it all, so we upgraded to a VIP ticket and skipped right to the front of the line and up the elevator we went! Definitely worth the extra cost. Once you get up to the 86th floor , you are greeting with astounding views. The girls were fascinated to see how small the cars looked from that high! The staff was all smiles and incredibly helpful for our double stroller coming through.
12. Brooklyn Bridge. One of our favorite places to stroll in NYC is on the Brooklyn Bridge. The views of the Manhattan & Brooklyn skyline are phenomenal, and it’s fun to stand over the road and see the cars speeding under your feet. The bridge is just over a mile long, but there are typically so many tourists on it, that you really can’t move that fast. It’s something I want to do every time I visit the city.
13. Brooklyn. We haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn other than visiting places right along the shore. We took the Metro from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn – we never had to switch trains so it honestly couldn’t have been any easier. The girls played on the lawn, climbing some trees and running through the grass. We rode Jane’s Carousel, which is located between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. IF you have time, definitely get some Peaches ‘n Cream ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory! We had a really fun relaxing day in the Brooklyn Borough!
14. American Museum of Natural History. We enjoyed it so much, we went twice! This is my top recommendation for a day indoors in the city. Our AirBNB rental was just 3 blocks away so it was an easy walk. The suggested ticket price is $27 for adults, but since it’s just a donation, you can pay whatever you like at the ticket counter. Ticket tips: if you’re going on a too hot, too cold, or rainy day, the line to get inside will literally wrap around the building just to go through security, then you have to wait in additional line if you haven’t purchased tickets yet. You can wait in line to pay your own amount, OR you can buy full price tickets online or just inside the entrance on 81st street without hardly any line. (we are advocates for avoiding lines)
15. Highline Park. This is an elevated park on old railroad tracks on the west side of town. It stretches from Gansevoort Street (visit the Gansevoort Market for lunch, it has plenty of great options and much less crowded than Chelsea Market!) all the way up to 34th street. It is pedestrian only, which makes it super kid-friendly.
16. World Trade Center. Every time we visit NYC we take time to visit the 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center. During this trip, we learned that One World Trade Center is 1,368 feet tall, the height of the Twin Towers, but the additional antennas on top bring it to 1,776 feet – which represents the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. It’s eight sides represent the eight sides of the Twin Towers that once stood here.