Harlem, New York City with kids. Travel tips for families.
There are a few spots in the world where I feel like at home, I feel like I’m not visiting but coming back. One of them is definitely Harlem, one of my favorite places in New York City. I lived for a few months in New York during my studies and the memories of this time never faded. My dream was to take my family there and show them my New York. So, when we decided to take off for our two months trip to America, we knew NYC would be a part of. The question was how long we were going to stay there. I mean, it’s not the cheapest place in the world. But my mind was made up, I knew from the beginning that we were going to New York to live there not to visit. And that is how we booked almost 4 weeks in NYC with our kids age 1 and 5. An adventure no one of us have regretted even for a second.
During this time only one day we stayed at home due to heavy rain and us being tired. The rest of the time we left home in the morning and came back only late in the evening. And the best part is, we haven’t seen it all, but what we did see, stayed deep in our hearts. Our story of New York I start with Harlem, where the air vibrates with hip-hop, streets are filled with colors, with street sellers of everything starting from T-shirts with Erykah Badu to Senegal bracelets, projects, hustlers strolling through the neighborhood, and the smell of African scents. I love Harlem, I love Harlem community. It was love at first sight. So of course, that was the place I took my husband and my two small girls to. Was I concerned about gangs, crime and safety? Not really. I’ve walked through Harlem many times, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the projects not as an outsider but as someone worth trusting. I wrote my MA thesis about its history, culture, and problems. I’ve respected Harlem for too long to be scared of it. So, this is my tip: as long you respect it and truly love it, there is nothing you should be concerned about. However, if you are a person who has a problem with different skin color and cultures, I have two tips for you: 1. Don’t go to NYC and Harlem, you don’t deserve the beauty of those places. 2. Stop reading our blog, there is nothing you’ll find useful here.
What to see in Harlem with kids and toddlers?
Playground 123 Morningside Park, Harlem NYC
Playground 123 is located in Morningside Park in Harlem. It is just few minutes’ walk from Subway station 125 Street Station. Playground is new, big and well equipped. To be honest, that’s one of the best playgrounds in New York for kids different ages (believe us, we’ve been to many). It has a great playing area for babies. During our stay, Tammy was still crawling and it was perfect for her. The other parts are for toddlers and bigger kids. Very spacy, clean, and safe. Zofia liked it so much, we had to came back to Harlem one more time 🙂 There are toilets there and tables where you can eat with kids. There are quite good and cheap take-outs in that area, so if the weather is good grab some food and enjoy your family lunch here. There is security here, so no drug addicts or weird people come inside (the situation quite common at the playground in Chinatown that was simply horrible). Compared to the playgrounds in other parts of Manhattan, it’s not crowded (the most crowded and disappointing one was a super famous one in Chelsea). Playground 123 is a great starting point to discover Harlem with kids. They can run around and get sth. to eat. After this there is a high chance that they will be more willing to get into carrier or stroller and enjoy a calmer walk through the neighborhood.
W 125th Street, Harlem NYC
Ok, it’s difficult to deny it, but this is like the heart of Harlem. W 125th Street is colorful, full of people, and music. There is so much going on here. If you are looking for some cool souvenirs, you find there here. Many street sellers offer goods from different African countries. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals.
Along the way you will pass legendary Apollo Theater and many graffities. If you are looking for some discount shops, visit Harlem’s Marshalls.Feel free to share: