New York City with Kids: Part 1

Happy October 1st! September is over, and our big travel plans for the year have finally come to an end.

A few weeks ago I finally conquered two fears I have been keeping to myself.

  1. Being on a flight longer than 2 hours without any extra adult help (a.k.a. the girls’ grandparents, aunts, or uncles).
  2. Traveling to a new “busy” destination a.k.a. New York City.

It’s not a secret that we like to travel with our kids, but we usually like to visit places we’ve been to before, and we usually have other adults traveling with us. To ease my worries for this trip, I made sure to do plenty of research before we stepped foot in the Big Apple. And luckily my in-laws did meet us in NYC so that made going around the city a little easier. Call us spoiled, but having the extra adult help makes such a difference. When they say it takes a village to raise kids, we firmly believe it.

When other parents found out we were in NYC, a few comments along the same theme kept coming up.

“I’ve always wanted to go to NYC, but been hesitant taking the kids! Let me know how it goes.”

“Props to you guys for taking the kids to NYC!”

“You gotta tell me how the trip goes with the kids!”

I guess I’m not the only one hesitant about bringing my kids to a “busy” destination.

Don’t let the concrete jungle intimidate you.

To ease some of the concerns others might have about visiting New York City with kids, I thought I’d share of some things I thought we’re helpful that I learned either from research prior to the trip or during the trip itself.

Because visiting NYC with kids is a lot, I’ll be covering this topic in two posts so planning doesn’t feel overwhelming 🙂

Getting to New York

When you book your flights, first thing to note is there are three airports to chose from flying to NYC: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. We flew into NYC through JFK from SFO because we got the best flight deals via JetBlue. We booked our flights about 4 months ahead of our trip and were able to get direct roundtrip flights for $218/person.

Usually we’re loyal to Southwest or Alaska Airlines, but this time around we just wanted to make sure we got the best deal. Other than a delay on our return flight, JetBlue turned out to be a great option for flying with children and all the amenities they provided eased all the worries I had prior to the trip.

Why is JetBlue great for flying with kids?

  1. There’s a TV with free movies and shows at each seat so our kids were able to watch their kid shows while we watched a movie.
  2. There’s free WiFi so once the kids were bored with the at-seat TVs, they were able to do more than watch more movies on their tablets.
  3. While they do not provide a meal during the flight, they do provide unlimited snacks and beverages. And the snack options were more than the usual pretzels and crackers.

Choosing Where to Stay

When doing my research, three distinct areas of NYC kept popping up.

  1. Manhattan (close to Times Square)
  2. Queens ( specifically Long Island City)
  3. Brooklyn

Manhattan is the obvious place to stay to be in the center of all the sights and attractions, but for some may be the most expensive option especially if you’re going to be visiting during a peak season.

Queens and Brooklyn were recommended if you want to save money and don’t mind traveling into Manhattan via subway.

Walking to the subway from our AirBnB.

Because we were going to a wedding celebration in Flushing, we ended up going with the second option. I’ll admit that yes it was definitely a lot cheaper, but if I was to visit NYC again with small kids I’d definitely stick to staying in Manhattan. Staying where we did meant taking a 25-40 minute subway ride at the beginning and end of the day to get back to our AirBnB, and while that doesn’t seem too long, it definitely made the girls even more tired.

With little kids, staying closer in Manhattan and having the option to travel back to our accommodations in the middle of the day would have been a nice option to have.

Getting Around NYC

I grew up in a big city so I’ll admit that the subway did not scare me one bit. But I completely understand if you’re not from a big city, the subway can seem intimidating. Please trust me when I say, do not let it scare you! The NYC subway system has to be one of the easiest systems to follow. Even with kids in toll, it was simple to use. My eldest daughter especially loved riding it every day.

As long as you have your Google Maps app, you should be all set. Since we were there for 6 days, we ended up getting the 7-day unlimited subway pass for $33/person. Because each kid is under 44 inches tall, they rode the subway for free. Not having to worry about a subway pass for each of them definitely made riding the subway much easier. It was nice to have one less thing to think about.

Is NYC baby friendly?

Absolutely. I’m not sure why I was so worried about the city being too “busy”. The busiest place we visited was definitely Time Square, but that was expected. Other than that, everywhere else felt “regular” busy for visiting a city.

A few baby-related tips:

  • If your small children aren’t used to walking to much, bring an umbrella stroller. Yes the umbrella strollers are hard to push around sometimes, but they’re super easy to fold when riding the subway. If you have two small littles like us, we got this lightweight double stroller from Amazon.
  • If your small child still fits in a baby carrier, bring it. It’s definitely nice to have your hands free instead of holding your baby in your arms.
  • If you need to use Uber, Uber in NYC has a car seat option. It does cost more than a regular Uber ride, but it was definitely useful for getting to and from the airport with all our luggage.
  • If your child is booster seat aged, I recommend getting the MiFold Booster seat. Super lightweight and even more secure than a regular booster.

There was also plenty to see and do with our littles from Times Square to Central Park, but I’ll be covering the specifics on what to do with kids in NYC in my next post.

Til then, happy preliminary planning!

And in the meantime, follow along our first two days in NYC over at our vlog @LivNGwiththeNGs.

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