I have done New York City a dozen times pre-children; however, this was our first trip with both toddlers. We stayed in the city for a week, for a wedding and family time with my sister, as well as exploring kid-friendly activities with our family and friends. Similar to most city-trips with young kids, it takes strategy to plan safe transportation and child-friendly activities – but overall, there is so much to do with the family and worth the effort.
Where to stay?
We stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Midtown. It was clean, spacious, and centrally located. It was not super fancy, but the convenience of the location and amenities (i.e., small kitchen and complimentary breakfast) and relatively good cost made it a great choice for our family for our week-long stay. Each morning, I did a morning jog, solo, through a relatively empty Times Square, and I enjoyed it very much. Afterwards, we would take our kids breakfast to the outside area, where there was a small swing, and we would start the day with some playing and reading books.
It was approximately a 15-minute walk from Bryant Park, a 15-minute walk to Times Square, and a 35 minute walk to Central Park. These were the primary three areas I took the kids daily, all by pushing their Cybex Gazelle double stroller and getting my daily steps in. On the way to each of these spots were bagel, pizza, and Acai/juice spots that I could take the kids too so they could snack while I pushed their stroller. I’m so glad I had their large bibs with me, so they could eat these items without getting their clothes too dirty.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, the homeless person situation in NYC is not ideal; and in most areas, there was exposure to them. It is important to be mentally prepared as you take your kids around the city.
What to do?
We did a broad range of activities throughout the week (incorporating my friends wedding and time with my sister and her family). Here is a list of the things the kids loved!
- American Museum of Natural History: This museum is VERY large. For our young kids, it made sense to pick just the main exhibits we wanted to see (space, sharks, dinosaurs, and mammals), and spend most of our time there.
- Picnic and Carrousel at Bryant Park: Because of the convenience of several restaurants and activities near Bryant Park, and ease in finding a picnic table, I loved this activity (so much that we did it three times during our one week)! I loved grabbing a Chop’t Salad and Kati Roll for our family and letting the kids have a few turns on the carrousel. Additionally, it is a great meet up spot for a group.
- Central Park: Central Park is HUGE (843 acres to be exact), with lots of beautiful spots to see. We did a family photoshoot (using Snappr) by the Gapstow Bridge. We also took the kids to the children’s playground, which they really enjoyed.
- Central Park Zoo: The Central Park Zoo is located in Central Park. It is not the biggest zoo, but gets the job done for young kids. The best part is that it has a small petting zoo, which is where my kids spent most of their time. They had huge smiles knowing they could pet the animals!
- Lego Store: The Lego Store is two levels. There are several huge and intricate pieces made of legos – which is amazing to see. There are also areas where the kids can play with the legos themselves. They obviously sell lego toys for various ages, and our kids were excited to get small toys each.
- Disney Store: The Disney Store was another exciting spot for the kids. They got to see a giant Mickey Mouse at the beginning and explore all the Disney related toys. Who wouldn’t love this?
- Time Square: It is so fun to watch young kids take in this iconic spot – the large skyscrapers, the characters walking around, and the energy.
- NYC Public Library: The NYC Public Library is a beautiful venue; however the kids section is in the building across the street. They have tons of kids books, some soft play toys, and tables for the kids to sit on while reading.
Similar to most of our trips, we planned for one ‘big activity’ each day, mixed with some down time to exert energy and eating food that we knew they would enjoy. Either we pushed the kids in the stroller or we let the kids walk. If we were in a large, enclosed place, I sometimes put my younger toddler’ backpack leash (here is a similar backpack leash) on her so that she could roam around, but I could keep a handle on her. She tends to go rogue and run away, so this is a good solution for our family.
Where to eat?
- The Smith (American Food): I have been to a few locations, and for the most part, the venues/tables are spacious enough for strollers (which is a rarity in NYC), and the food is child-friendly (and tasty for adults too)!
- Pastis (American): My favorite pancakes! This restaurant is a bit tight for strollers, but they do have high chairs for kids.
- CHILI (Chinese): This spot was a bit tight for strollers, but we managed to fit our large double stroller inside. We loved the Kung Pao Chicken and Hot and Sour soup.
- Kati Roll (Indian street food wraps): My favorite is the Aloo Roll. Our kids liked the plain parathas and mango lassi.
- Halal Guys (Indian Chicken & Rice): The White Sauce is a must.
- Dim Sum Go Go (Dim Sum): We enjoyed the Dim Sum here, and the kids enjoyed the veggie noodles and rice.
- Artichoke Pizza (Pizza): Our kids loved the margherita pizza.
- Hudson Bagels (Bagel): Everything bagel and jalepeno cream cheese is a winner.
- Playa Bowls (Acai/Juice): This chain Acai restaurant is one of our family favorites.
- Magnolia Cupcakes (Dessert):
- LeVain Cookies (Cookies): The entry way into this cookie place has stairs and is not stroller friendly; but the cookies are worth strategizing around.
- Rice to Riches (Rice Pudding)
Photoshoot in NYC
To document our NYC trip with my family, and the first time my parents had all three grandchildren with them together, I arranged a photo shoot. As always, I prefer them to be flexible, cost-effective, and a quick turn around.
I used a website called Snappr. I input the details of the time/date/location I wanted and it matched me with 5 options. I selected a photographer with five stars. On the day of the shoot, he suggested a pretty location, in the general location I had suggested. He was proactive and got straight to work. I received the edited photos 48 hours later!! The total cost was $150.
Overall, I’m pleased to have these memories. This being said, if you use this website, make sure to read reviews carefully to ensure the photographer is a good fit for your needs.
All in all, this was a very fun trip for our family! There are lots of things we plan to repeat, as well as new things we will try next time as well!