New York with Kids. What to see and do with kids in NYC
We are the kind of people who love taking their kids with them. Our travels with kids became more colorful than those we had made as a couple. So, when I’m telling you New York is one of the most easy city to visit and enjoy with kids, I’m saying it out of travel experience, not coz I simply love the City (though I truly do 😉 ).
Although New York is HUGE and crowded, it is a dream for parents. Here you have great public transport connections, excellent playgrounds everywhere, baby facilities, family restrooms, priority while accessing with babies and toddlers, nice and family friendly people, drinking fountains and toilets at majority of playgrounds, plus you have this green paradise called Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. If you have enough of being looked at, being ignored or facing verbal hostility just because you are with kids (yes, Munich, you’re one of these places, can’t deny it), pack your bags and go to New York. You’ll love it, so will your kids.
We took our 1 year old and 4,5 years old daughters for almost one month to New York. We did really a lot, so of course it’s not possible to write everything in one article. But let me just give you a few tips on what to see and do with babies, toddlers and kids in NYC.
What to see and do with kids in NYC
New York has the best playgrounds we’ve seen around the world. They are in good locations, taken care of, safe, clean, with access to toilets and drinking fountains. They are perfect places to rest with your kids. They are the places you should spend a few hours a day, if you want your sightseeing to work. Kids need to run, need freedom, need other kids and fun. That’s where you get it. Don’t treat playgrounds as a waste of time, if you don’t put them in your daily schedule, you’re facing tantrums around the city. Treat stays on playgrounds as something that allows you to see the City.
2. Central Park
We love Central Park. It has a zoo, lakes, an amusement park in summer, an ice rink in winter, green spaces and lots of playgrounds. It’s your heaven so treat it like this. Don’t make the mistake and try to see all the attractions, this place is for you and your family to REST. Sit on the grass, get some ice-cream, ice-coffee, let your kids pick the playground they want to play on and FEEL IT. Remember the saying happiness is a journey not a destination? Well, bring it to life in Central Park.
3. Coney Island
Don’t you even think about skipping Coney Island in your sightseeing with kids. Plan one day for it and get a daily ticket (getting tickets online is a little bit cheaper, but you must purchase them at last one day in advance).
4. American Museum of Natural History
This museum is so amazing that going there once is not enough. Plan the whole day at least. It’s a great fun for kids and for adults.
5. Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center
Don’t be scared to visit the most famous tourist attractions in New York. We visited them with a baby and a toddler, and it was still not as overwhelming as we expected. It was actually lots of fun. For example, we spent many evenings at Times Square just admiring the flow of the people and all those lights and then dancing at the Subway station, where we met really great street musicians.
If you think visiting art museums is not the best thing to do with kids, you’re mistaken. The majority of New York museums have amazing kids zones (Dario spent a few hours playing and crafting with Zosia in MoMA’s Art Lab and realized just before closing that they didn’t even manage to see any of the exhibitions 😀 ) or special family days and events. Use this opportunity to admire in peace the art and show to the kids only the things that will allow them to enjoy being there. It’s totally ok that your kids don’t want to look at the paintings for 3 hours, that’s normal, so don’t be disappointed. Be realistic from the beginning. Make museums fun for them, even if it means they will more play than see exhibitions. We made it like this: if Tamara was not sleeping, one of us was playing with kids, the other could go to see the exhibition, later we switched. If Tamara slept, I went with her in the baby carrier to see the exhibition and then we switched. To kids I showed just what I found the most interesting in the museum. This way we managed to visit and enjoy many museums in New York. If you are in New York for longer, use the rainy days to visit museums.Feel free to share:
Ly Nguyen(12th April 2020 - 7:49 pm)
Hi there – staying at home like the rest of the world I came across your site dreaming of future travels. Would you recommend using the minimeis carrier for a city like NY for an older toddler? We have a 3.5/4 year old and a 2 year old. We have been lucky to take them on some of our travels and sometime just taking one of them and leaving the other with relatives. Both of our kids are too heavy for the baby carrier now so we have been traveling w strollers which prove to be quite troublesome on public transport. Also – what camera gear do you travel with? My DSLR is collecting dust when we travel w the kids – no more hands to take care of one more thing! Thanks for telling it like it is. What a lovely site!
lovetravellingfamily(13th April 2020 - 7:20 pm)
Hi Ly. Thanks for your comment and warm words. We hope all of us will be able to make our travel plans come true 🙂 When it comes to NYC with kids and public transport: We bought a monthly ticket and used mainly subway to get from A to B. We must say that although the connections are great, not all subway stations have elevators or easy non-stair access. And if they do have, we had to look for it. What worked for us quite good was a simple umbrella stroller, to which I sewed a long stripe of material for easier carrying when folded. These strollers are put together in no time and I can easily carry it while taking stairs with the kid. This stroller we used for our 5 year old daughter, more for speeding up longer sightseeing walks or when she got tired and wanted to take a nap (although at home she never does, but in NYC we were out from morning till late evening, so we needed it). However, I strongly warn everyone from using strollers that are too unstable, like some extremely light weight and super small models. We have one like that at home (one of the smallest available when folded) but it is actually so unstable and difficult to drive that taking a bit heavier / bigger but more stable stroller (we used an umbrella stroller from chicco) is far better. The trick with fixing an additional stripe to carry the folded stroller on the arm when necessary made our lives much easier. Using Minimeis could actually work quite good for the smaller one. We used Minimeis for our older daughter during other travels but we didn’t have it with us in NY, as the small one (1y) was still more comfortable in her carrier and the older one (5y) was too big for it. Apart from the stairs to some Subway stations, NYC was absolutely no problem to walk through with a stroller.
When it comes to cameras we had a DSLR (Nikon D3100 with Tamron AF 18-200mm) for pictures, a camcorder (Panasonic HC-V180) for videos and our phones with a selfie-stick for selfies. This worked quite good. For none of these devices we had any proper bag to protect it from dust / rain etc. We simply put it in a regular material bag (camera) or plastic bag (camcorder). This might not be the very best way to carry such equipment, but all camera bags we knew were just too clumsy. On the DSLR I always had a polar filter and a lens hood attached for some protection of the lense. Usually one of us was carrying the camera while the other one carried the camcorder and selfie stick.
We hope this helps and answers some of your questions and please feel free to write if you have any other comment / questions ?