Our family recently returned from a whirlwind tour of the Northeastern United States. I can only imagine how gorgeous Central Park will be as the leaves begin to turn this autumn!
Maybe New York has never crossed your mind as a destination with kids, but let me assure you that you can make it a great trip for the whole family with a bit of planning and making the right reservations. However, I would recommend this trip for families with kids who are 1) beyond needing a daily nap and 2) able to walk a distance without complaint. (What did she say? Walking without complaining?? I might as well wait until my kids are in college! Touché. )
First, where to stay? We lucked out and had friends that were gracious hosts. If you have this option, by all means take it! You can always return the favor some day. Since most don’t have that option, I love Trip Advisor for finding hotels that are kid-friendly. Consider staying on the NJ side and taking the ferry to save a little cash (be sure to do the math and make sure it’s a true savings!).
What to do? For a 2-3 day trip with kids you need to keep it simple. Build in plenty of “down” time that’s unscheduled to enjoy discovering something you weren’t expecting! Day One, I highly recommend doing a “hop on, hop off” bus tour to see all the sights. You’ll save steps and hassle while seeing all of the major landmarks. Sure, you’ll look like a tourist but you are a tourist after all. Consider Big Bus Tours or Skyline Tours and be sure to buy online ahead of time for great discounts!
Once you’ve used the bus tour to familiarize yourself with the city, I’d recommend Day Two be a chance to see more of what your family was excited about. Central Park Zoo, The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art –free!), Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall! We love, love, loved Shake Shack on the Upper West Side for an easy family meal. It’s walking distance to Central Park where you can dine (or just walk off the calories from the amazing burger and shake you just indulged in).
Day Three, you absolutely must see the Statue of Liberty. It was a highlight for every member of our family. The ferry ride, seeing Ellis Island (with a great hands-on learning station for kids), and climbing the pedestal on Liberty Island were all enjoyable. Plan to go early then after your tour have lunch and do some shopping before you ferry back later in the day. *Do keep in mind that if you try to plan a trip for THIS fall, it’s unrealistic to get tickets to go to the crown (those can sell out six months in advance). The pedestal tickets may still be available, otherwise you just tour the museum and Eliis and Libery Islands – still very enjoyable.
Have a chance to get out of the city? You must go to Rockland Bakery! Both kids and adults will have a blast choosing their own baked goods hot out of the oven… and the price is a steal! We managed to fill a grocery bag for under $15 – full of soft pretzels, muffins, bagels, and dinner rolls. Be ready to carb-load!
Transportation? On this trip you’ll all get a life lesson in public transportation. Use it. Embrace it. (And be ready to pay for it – yikes!)
Food? So many options! But depending on your budget and style, you can find food trucks everywhere (which we found thrilling) or splurge on classic NYC fare with kid-friendly flare (Check out this NY Mag compilation). Either way, have cash on hand!
I guarantee this trip will leave your family feeling both educated and excited – what a great combination!
Jenna lives in Littleton with her human GPS (hubby) and two junior tourists. Her claim to fame will now and forever be driving through NYC and into Times Square… and she prays she never has to do it again.