Welcome back friends!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I plan to share more about my trip to New York City in multiple posts. Just like being in NYC itself, there is just so much to cover. Last time I shared my initials worries about traveling to such a busy destination with kids plus my first steps in planning the trip itself. Today let’s talk what to do.
Decide How Long You Will Be There
Before even deciding what to do in New York City, you need to decide how long you will actually be spending in NYC. We initially planned on doing a long weekend in NYC, but once we factored in how long it takes to travel over there from the West Coast, we figured we needed a little longer than a 4-day weekend to get the most out of traveling with our littles.
Based off the flight deals and how much time we thought we needed to see everything we wanted to see, we decided on 5 nights in NYC.
Five nights might sound long to some folks. But given we had a full travel day going there, and our last day there didn’t count, we ended up having just 3.5 days to explore since half of one of our days was for a wedding.
If we weren’t there for a wedding, I would say 4 full days would’ve been perfect.
Getting the Kids Excited for NYC
Obviously the kids have no say about where we go on vacation, but it is important to us that they know about where were going before we start the trip.
Our kids might be toddlers, but our 3-year-old is 3-going-on-13. She always likes to know what is happening and where we are going on any given day. So for a vacation, I like to prep her for what she will see when she gets there.
The easiest way to do this for an inquisitive little mind is to read them books about your next destination. Luckily one of our girls’ godmothers gifted them a book called New York: A Book of Colors. Not only does this book teach your child about colors, but it highlights all the top sights known to NYC. We read this book many times before our trip, and by the time we were on the airplane, our eldest kept saying she couldn’t wait to see the Statue of Liberty 🙂
Our Favorite Things to do with Kids in NYC
Top of the Rock
Located on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock is an observation deck with sweeping views of the city. We debated between going to Top of the Rock or the top of the Empire State Building, and ended up choosing Top of the Rock so the Empire State Building is included in the view we saw.
Being natives to San Francisco, we have an infinitive love for bridges. We’ve driven across the Golden Gate Bridge a trillion times, but have never actually walked across it with our kids so we knew we had to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It is 1.3 miles long so it was definitely doable with kids and our double stroller. We started from the *Brooklyn side of the bridge and made our way across to Manhattan.
*Before crossing the bridge, we made sure to also walk down into DUMBO to get the iconic street view photo of the Manhattan Bridge.
This attraction was not actually on our original list of todos, but luckily our cousin heard about it so we joined her and her family in on the fun. It’s name describes exactly what it is. It is a sea-themed carousel made of glass located at *Battery Park in the southern tip of Manhattan. It does cost $10/person, but it is a unique experience I’d recommend for travelers young and old.
*From Battery Park you can even get a good view of the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t actually plan to ride the ferry over to get closer to it so visiting Battery Park was perfect.
This had to be my favorite thing in NYC. We probably only saw about half of the park and were exhausted just from the half we saw. You can easily spend a full day or two exploring Central Park to take in every bit of it. The sites we saw were: Bethesda Terrace, Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge, Loeb Boathouse, the Mall, Balto’s Statue, and the Central Park Carousel.
A first timer’s trip to NYC would be incomplete without even stepping a foot in Times Square. It was exactly how I imagined it: super busy and super bright. Many of the sites and guides I read recommended visiting Times Square at night and that is exactly what we did. While those without kids might go to Times Square to go shopping or watch a Broadway show, we went to just see all the lights and visit M&M World and the Disney Store.
The Disney Store
Are you even surprised I gave the Disney Store it’s own spot? As a Disney obsessed human being, the Disney Store in Times Square was a must-do on my list. Every place we visit, I always check if there’s a Disney Store because each store located in a major area will have merchandise specific to their location. I really didn’t do a lot of shopping in NYC other than buying a few shirts from the Times Square Disney Store.
FAO Schwarz Store at Rockefeller Center
Our first day in NYC turned out to be a rainy day so we actually spent a lot of time visiting some family friendly stores. My favorite store we visited truly unique to NYC was the FAO Schwarz Store. On a rainy day, you can easily spend a few hours wandering up and down their aisles. My kids and I especially loved their FAO Mart which featured Melissa & Doug grocery stores. It was like a little pretend grocery store for kids.
- Washington Square Park – somewhere we’d seen in movies and wanted to see in person
- Grand Central Station – loved the architecture here!
- The Subway – my kids just had fun riding it everyday and very easy to use.
There were a few more sites I wish we had a chance to see so visiting NYC again is definitely going to happen. On top of everything above that we loved, we also really loved the food we tried there so stay turned for one last post on NYC where I’ll tell you all about our favorite foods we tried during our trip.
If you have any other questions about traveling to NYC with kids that I didn’t cover in my two posts, be sure to leave a comment below.
And watch our full vlog for more of our NYC trip!