New York City makes for a fantastic family trip. With endless amounts of sightseeing, museums, great restaurants, and my favorite, Broadway, you will never be bored.
There truly is no other place like New York. I lived there and visit often to see family. Honestly, just sitting at a café during the summer and watching people is one of my favorite things to do. The people are amazing to watch. Just don’t stare too long, New Yorkers have attitude about that.
Now, New York to a newbie can feel a bit overwhelming. Because there is so much to do, good planning before hand is essential. As with any trip, think about the things you have to do and see. Then have other things on your list if you have time.
When travelling with kids to New York, I think there are some musts:
1) Empire State Building: It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the world, and offers a great view of the city. My advice, pay a little extra to avoid the lines. They can get out of control. And here’s the thing. A philosophy if you will. You could wait hours in a line to get to see something. Your annoyance grows with every minute. You get cranky, hungry, and you start to hate your family. You finally get up there, and even though it’s great, you will inevitably say, “I waited two hours for this?”
2) Or Try Top of the Rock: On our most recent trip to New York City, we went to Top of the Rock. This is the viewing floor from Rockefeller Plaza. It was great and I actually enjoyed the view more at this venue.
3) Walking Through Central Park: Central Park lives up to its hype. It’s beautiful, you can walk for hours enjoying scenery and reminding yourself that this park is in the middle of New York City. There are playgrounds throughout, the Reservoir to race motorized boats. You can picnic, relax, people watch. For families with younger kids, there is a petting zoo and the Central Park Zoo. Both will not take up that much time. A touristy restaurant but a great time, make a reservation at the Boathouse. The food is great, and you have great views of the park. And right next to the restaurant, you can rent rowboats to take around the park.
4) Times Square and Broadway Show: Times Square is something to see. The signs, the crowds, the crap sold on the street. My advice, take a walk through on your way to a Broadway Show. It’s a top tourist spot, it’s got a crazy Toys R Us, M&M World (not sure how much M&M stuff you need, but it’s always packed) and lots of other things to walk by and not stop at. The best part of Times Square is the Broadway show. It is so exciting to see a live performance, and there are some incredible ones to see. Word of mouth and reading the show’s reviews are the best ways to pick a great show. There are always new ones to pick from.
5) I’ll be honest. I used to be wary of the Double Decker bus tour. The guys who try to see you tickets in the touristy spots are rather aggressive in their sales pitch, so I was always turned off from it. But I do think it’s a great way to see the sights of New York for first timers. You also have the freedom to hop on and off when you want to visit the sights in more depth.
6) World Trade Center Memorial: If your kids are old enough to comprehend the tragedy of 9/11, I think this is a good place to experience with them. I have yet to visit, but I have only heard that it is amazing to see, and important to see as well.
7) Chinatown: New York is a melting pot. Within the city tourists are so lucky to be exposed to so many different cultures. Chinatown, located in the lower East Side of Manhattan, is a wonderful place to explore, eat authentic Chinese cuisine, and buy a Gucci purse for twenty dollars.
8) Statue of Liberty: When my family visited this attraction, we went by the book. We bought tickets, lined up for Ferry ride, got on a crowded Ferry boat, where there just isn’t enough deodorant to go around. Then we got to the island, waited in another long line to go into the actual Statute, were told there was some sort of security breach, and that no one could go in. We walked around it, took pictures, and lost about 5lbs of sweat. It’s a wonderful sight to see. Just know, it’s a long day. A crowded day. And during the summer, a hot day.
9) Or try a Speed Boat Ride on the Hudson: A great way to see the Statue, a speed boat ride. Going at extremely fast speeds, the kids would love this. I have never done it, but it’s on my list as well.
10) Natural History Museum: Kids get a little nervous and maybe a bit hostile when you mention a museum visit. This one they will like. It has a ton of exhibits about dinosaurs and mammals, butterfly exhibits, and a planetarium.
Yes, More Stuff, Might Be On Your Musts List:
Madame Tusseauds: This is fun for the kids. All the celebs they know in wax.
But the kids think its cool. And with all the innovations in plastic surgery and dermatology, the real ones are starting to look like wax.
American Girl Store: Lots of little girls are fans are the American Girl doll. New York City has a huge store, multi-level. A café to sit with your doll, a salon for the doll, even an ear piercer for your doll. You can have a personal shopper for your doll. Pretty crazy, and a little girl’s dream.
Max Brenner’s: This place is my dream. Chocolate running through the pipes, chocolate pizza, and any other crazy dessert you can think of. They also serve a normal lunch as well. It smells delicious, and the kids will love you more afterwards.
The Flight Club: Because my boys don’t care that much about sneakers, I was unaware of the sneaker culture that exists. There are crazy sneaker stores around the city, with hundreds of customers dying to pay $200 for a pair. Even if you aren’t into this, it’s a sight and super fun to experience.
Even though it seems like a lot, I have literally just touched the surface of what you can do and see in New York.
Enjoy, learn how to walk fast, don’t make eye contact, and get okay with paying eight dollars for a latte.
Only in New York kids.