The ULTIMATE Guide to New York with Kids

New_York_with_Kids_an_Ultimate_Guide

The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway Shows, Central Park and a whole bunch of amazing museums are just a few of the reasons New York City should be on every family’s bucket list! Read on to plan your trip today…

The ULTIMATE Guide to New York with Kids

Happy_Kid_Amtrak

How to Get There:

Traveling to New York City is simple as they are a major tourist destination (over 26 million expected to visit this year) so flights are frequent. In fact, there are more than a hundred air carriers servicing the New York area from all over the country and the world, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, and United.

The two main airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA). They are both located in Queens and are equally great options. JFK tends to have more flights as they serve more airline carriers but I would fly into whichever has a better deal if it were me.

You can also take a train to New York (we rode Amtrak actually from Washington DC and it was great! You can read Ella’s story on the Amtrak blog here). Here are a few of the train services that travel to New York: Amtrak, NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad.

If you are driving into New York you can google directions. Just be aware that parking is very difficult within the city. It is best to use a site like BestParking.com to compare rates and locate places to park.

Transportation:

Once you arrive you will find that getting around NYC is pretty easy.

New York has a great subway, metro and bus system that can get you almost anywhere you want to go. You can find more information about their services, costs etc… here. We found this to be convenient and cost effective means of getting where we needed to go.

Uber, LYFT and Taxis are all available and easy to track down when you need to get from point A to point B and don’t want to deal with the metro.

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Depending on where you are staying many hotels are within walking distance to the major sites as well. I love strolling with the kids. It burns their energy and we discover all sorts of fun things along the way. However, I have found that walks are best early in the day before the kids are tired. It is no fun to be dragging your kid along whining the whole time 😉

Where to Stay:

New York has a plethora of lodging options. Everything from luxury hotels to AirBnB’s and budget chains. You will have no problem finding a room that is for sure! However, many options are rather small. Not too mention the larger chains tend to treat you like you are just a number rather than a guest. If you are like me and prefer a smaller, more intimate place to call home while you are away than you absolutely MUST check out Hotel Beacon in the Upper West Side.

hotel_beacon_nyc

The Hotel Beacon NYC is one of those hotels that I will never stray from. It fits on my list of great hotels alongside Grand Wailea in Maui, Terranea in California and The Hotel Nicholas in Prague. Just one of those gems of a hotel that is doing everything right!

Hotel Beacon is located next to the famous Beacon Theater, just a short walk to both the American Natural History Museum, Central Park & more!

Their suites are spacious and gorgeously decorated. Plus, they come with a fully equipped kitchen! Pair that with the fact that Fairways Market and Trader Joe’s are nearby and you will see why this place is hard to beat!

Read my full review of our stay and take a peek into our room here. Or check current rates at NYC hotels on Tripadvisor below.


Things To Do:

Before heading to New York I highly recommend you check out the NYC Go website and more specifically their kids section. Here you will find tons of advice on where to stay, sample itineraries and discounts on activities & tours.

Here are the Top 10 Things the Munchkins Enjoyed in NYC

1. The Ride NYC-

We have been on our fair share of bus tours throughout the years. HOWEVER… This is NOT your typical bus tour! In fact, it’s rather the opposite. I will adamantly proclaim that this is THE BEST BUS TOUR EVER!!!

Watch my Instagram video by clicking the photo below: The_Ride_NYC

Picture a tricked out bus complete with hydraulics, stadium seating and a ton of gorgeous flat screen tvs. With a host that is funny enough to rival the likes of the best late night television talk show hosts and then pour in some crazy surprise guests. I’m talking dancing, singing, laughter, and tears of joy. This is one tour you absolutely CANNOT miss! It was not only the best tour we took in New York… and the BEST BUS TOUR we have EVER taken!!!

Find more information about The Ride on their website

*Also watch for their deals on Travelzoo Too!

2. Central Park-

central_park

No visit to NYC is complete without a trip to America’s first public park. Central Park is one of the most famous and beloved urban parks in the world.  Central Park is massive. Inside you can find a zoo, a conservatory garden, a castle, boathouse and of course playgrounds and plenty of room for the kids to run wild. It’s also the perfect place to escape the chaos of people, honking taxi’s and cars that cover the city day and night.

Playground_in_Central_Park

As wonderful as this park is I think it would be best visited by families during the day. It is completely enormous and was meant for people to literally get lost in it. So… it may not be the best place to be after dark.

Find more info on Central Park here.

3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum-

I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to the 9/11 memorials or the museum. The attacks occurred before they were born and even though I know we mention it (and they cover it a bit at school) I knew they would have lots of questions.

Standing at the base of where the building fell on that tragic day was deeply saddening. To think of all the innocent lives lost, the first responders that never made it out… memories just came flooding back through my mind. I am not going to lie. It was HARD.

The kids could feel the mood and they grew somber. As expected the questions came pouring out. Thankfully the 9/11 museum was right there. What better way to give the kids the answers they needed than by visiting the exhibits?

The kids were able to view the television footage, stand before one of the fire trucks that were mangled and melted on that horrible day. It really helped them understand why all the adults around them were upset. They learned a lot that day and handled it incredibly well.

Olivia our 2-year-old was obviously too young but our four older munchkins range from 8-13 years old and I would totally recommend the museum for that age group.

You can get more information by visiting the museum website here, or if you are so inclined you can also make a donation here.

Tip- The 9/11 Museum is part of the CityPass. Get more information on their discount services here.

4. Empire State Building-

The Empire State Building is world famous In fact, Cornell researchers analyzed millions of Flickr photos and concluded that the Empire State Building is the most photographed building in the world back in 2011!

The Empire State Building is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan. Their 86th and 102nd-floor observatories are open to visitors (for a fee) enabling anyone to score incredible 360° views of New York City and beyond. 

Little_Girl_Empire_State_Building

I enjoyed snapping some amazing skyline views of the city and the kids enjoyed taking an elevator up to the 86th floor and looking out. They were able to spot the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and More!

nyc_skyline_hotel_beacon_view

We visited late in the afternoon and we didn’t have to queue for long. We were able to get our tickets, get up the elevator and take pictures all within about an hour.

My only complaint is $26 bucks per kid adds up quick especially when you have a big family. It might be hard to justify as the kids liked the building but not nearly as much as I did.

Tip- The Empire State Building is also part of the CityPass (see above).

5. Rockefeller Center –

This iconic area of Manhattan is home to many NBC hit shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Today Show & Jimmy Fallon. Not to mention the awesome Radio City Music Hall, the rink at Rockefeller, the Channel Gardens, Top of the Rock Observation Deck and tons of dining and shopping too!

We enjoyed taking in the sights and strolling around the shops. We walked through the Lego store and were mesmerized by the lego version of New York City- it’s spectacular! The kids also loved taking turns having their photo taken in the famous red chair from the hit show The Voice at the NBC Studio Store.

The area around Rockefeller is bustling and lively. There are plenty of great shops + places to sit down and eat, grab a coffee or enjoy a sweet treat! It makes a great stop in the evening as the lights make this area feel somewhat magical!!!

6. Big Bus Hop On/ Hop Off Tours-

I have mentioned before how much we enjoy Hop On/ Hop Off Bus Tours. As per our usual routine the first full day we had in New York we hopped on a Big Bus. The tour took us all around the main sights. We were able to get a peek at 5th Avenue, the Flat Iron District, The Empire State Building & More. We rode the bus until we got to the 9/11 Memorial where we hopped off and enjoyed the memorial and the museum (as I mentioned above).

Happy_Family_on_Big_Bus_Tour_New_York

What I love about the Hop On/ Hop Off Bus Tours is 1) it’s relaxing, 2) it helps us better understand the area and where things are located and 3) it gives us a chance to learn some fun facts about the area, its history + interesting stories about each of the main tourist sites from the live guide on board.

For more information about Big Bus Tours check out their website here.

7. Statue of Liberty-

a “MUST DO” for first timers in New York no doubt is getting to see the Statue of Liberty. Now there are many expensive tours offering to take you to see our Lady Liberty. But, you can save a ton of money by skipping the expensive tours and instead of hopping on the FREE Staten Island Ferry.
Statue_Of_Liberty

This was excellent advice as the ferry runs 24 hours a day and drives right past Lady Liberty on its route to Staten Island. You simply take the subway to Bowling Green or South Ferry then hop on the ferry for a free ride across New York Harbor.

Staten_Island_Ferry

The ferry is massive and so there is no long lines or tight spaces. We pushed the stroller right on the boat and Olivia was able to walk around the inside area the whole time. There are views from the inside spaces via large windows or you can opt to walk on the decks for a close-up.

Learn more about the Staten Island Ferry here.

8. Madame Tussaud’s-

Can you believe we have never been to the famous wax museum? It’s kind of funny because we run into Madame Tussaud’s on many of our travels but it has never made its way into our itinerary until we visited New York.

The kids had a blast taking pictures next to their favorite Hollywood stars (well… their replicas that is) they went back in time and onto movie sets like Wizard of Oz and ET, compared their heights to the likes of Lebron James and more.

ET_Madame_Tussaud

The kid’s favorite thing about Madame Tussaud’s though was the Marvel area. The figures in that section were by far the kid’s favorites. They especially loved the enormous Hulk! After taking photos with their favorites we entered the 4D theater where we enjoyed an awesome Marvel show- with a few added thrills I might add 😉

Hulk_Madame_Tussauds

We spent way more time in the wax museum than I would have ever expected to and for that reason I would definitely urge you to put this one on your list!

For more information about Madame Tussaud’s check out their website here.

9. American Natural History Museum-

Want to meet Rexy and Dum Dum?? I bet your kids do! Which is why the Natural History Museum is a super fun place to take the kids. Not to mention the obvious fact that this museum is also educational.

Family_at_American_Natural_History_Museum

Plan several hours and pack snacks because this is one gigantic museum. Besides chasing down every display from the movie “Night at the Museum” the munchkins also enjoyed the space show- Dark Universe and the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit.

After you finish up at the museum I recommend grabbing some street food and heading over to relax in Central Park across the street. There is a playground at the entrance of the park on the far left side of the museum. It is gated and has plenty of things for the kids to climb on as well as plenty of benches for parents to rest their tired bodies on. Perfect combo!

Learn more about the Natural History Museum here.

Tip- The American Natural History Museum is part of the CityPass. Get more information on their discount services here.

10. Times Square-

What used to be a place where no one would dream of taking a child, Times Square is now quite the mecca for kids and their wild imaginations.

Times_Square

Here they will love checking out the giant M&M store where they can taste tons of varieties of M&M’s, find out what M&M personality they are with the “Color Mood Analyzer”- ha! And, take a photo with the candy coated Statue of Liberty.

Times_Square_M&M_Store

Other fun stops include the Hershey’s Chocolate World store and the insanely huge Disney Store on 45th street. The whole family will enjoy strolling around, enjoying the lights and grabbing a bite to eat too!

Find more about visiting Times Square with Kids from NYC Go here.

BONUSES

11. Broadway-

Ella and I were lucky enough to see Matilda when we were in New York and it was absolutely amazing!!! The cast had tons of talented child actors that completely blew me away. Ella loved getting dolled up and sitting in the old theater. This was a highlight for sure and we would love to come back for more.

Tip- TKTS has discounted theater tickets and they are the only discounted tickets I would recommend purchasing. Their booths offer same day evening appearances or next day matinee show times.

12. Watch a Game at Madison Square Garden-

The boys went with their dad to a Knicks game at the Madison Square Gardens (also home of the New York Rangers). They came back saying everyone should have the chance to see a game in that arena. Known as the “World’s Most Famous Arena” located in the heart of New York City this place makes you feel alive!!!

Check game schedules and concert showing information here.

Where to Eat:

Shake Shack- I rarely eat beef so hamburgers are clearly not my thing. However, Shake Shack blew me away. Their burger was cooked to perfection, their fries were delicious and their black and white shake was irresistible.

shake_shacksource

I recommend you go to their original location in Madison Square Park where you can order from the window and enjoy eating your delicious meal in the open air of the park.

Soup Man- we may or may not have force fed episodes of Seinfeld (#FunniestShowEVER) to our kids before our trip to New York. So, you can bet they were excited when we showed up at the inspiration for the Soup Nazi episodes, “The Original Soupman”. The trip was mostly based on being funny… however, the soups ended up being absolutely AMAZING!!!

 


With each soup you also receive a piece of baguette, an orange and a Lindt truffle. Sounds odd but it pairs perfectly with the soup creating the perfect little lunch or dinner.

Fun Fact- We heard that the cast of Seinfeld once visited “The Original Soupman” after the Soup Nazi episodes had become so popular. But, the man who the Soup Nazi was inspired by came out and yelled at Jerry Seinfeld for ruining his business (even though he gained incredible fame from it?) and kicked Seinfeld out of his store. Not sure if that is really true… but I sure hope it is. Hilarious!

IndiaKitch- this Indian version of Chipotle quickly became a favorite of ours while we were in New York. We couldn’t get enough of their Chicken Tikka and homemade naan bread. The quality of this food is on par with any nice Indian restaurant I have been to + the prices can’t be beaten!

Doughnut Plant- I spent about 6 months and took several classes to learn how to make amazing doughnuts so I am pretty particular when it comes to eating them. I was most pleasantly surprised when we stopped in at the Doughnut Plant and devoured some of their amazing doughnuts.

Family_happy_at_Doughnut_Plant

They do an amazing job offering up freshly baked artisan doughnuts that taste as good as they look. They are open all day so they make a perfect breakfast or dessert!

Pizza-

There are a heap of different places where you can taste amazing pizza in New York.

New_York_Pizza

Our favorites include Di Fara Pizza (named America’s BEST Pizza Joint by TimeOut.com) where the dough is made fresh several times per day. Joe’s, a Greenwich Village institution, the pizza restaurant inside Eataly for a traditional pie and the obvious choice- Grimaldi’s (pictured above).

Pin for later-

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Have you Visited New York? What were your favorite places to go or things to do?? Let me know in the comments below.

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Disclosure- This is a personal blog all thoughts and opinions expressed are for informational purposes only. At times Global Munchkins receives discounted or complimentary services and/ or products, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are, as always, 100% my own.

35 Comments

  • candy says:

    Maybe New York isn’t such a scary place after all, really would love to visit some of these places.

  • Andi says:

    Great list. I really liked Top of the Rock at Rockfeller Center. It felt less crowded than the Empire and same great views. I don’t have kids but I think Ellis Island is a great place to visit to learn about American roots and how the country was built by immigrants. Lastly, High Line Park is awesome. Okay, I’m rambling, but I love NYC as well! New York is so amazing, just about everything you do is fun!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I’ve heard great things about the Rock… we just couldn’t fit it in our schedule this time around. I guess that means we need to go again 😉 We also missed the High Line Park bc a storm came in and it was way to cold for our California bred kids to handle. So, we had to find indoor things. Again… more reasons to go back again 😉

  • This is a perfect guide for my upcoming trip to NYC with my niece. Definitely going to give the Beacon Hotel a look.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I really, truly loved the Beacon and would highly recommend it. NYC is always so fun but I am sure it will be extra special with your niece in tow 🙂

  • Tori Gabriel says:

    I visited New York years ago and I loved it. It’s not somewhere I even thought of with the kids but reading this made me realise exactly how much is there for them. The 9/11 site must have been awful.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Yes, 9/11 was rough but overall NYC was a great place for families. And, I think the kids learned several valuable lessons from the memorial so win/win!

  • Joanna says:

    I would love to visit New York one day. The bus tours looks amazing, I haven’t seen anything like that before. Looks like a proper show. Also, I would love to go to Central Park and just find all those spots that you see in movies.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      OMG… the shows were a riot. Whenever you get the chance to go you MUST take a tour on The Ride 🙂

  • Christina says:

    New York City has so much to offer kids! Everytime we visit there is always something new to explore. We always make time for Central Park though. It is so huge as you mention that every time we go it is like we are experiencing it for the first time.

  • i don’t have kids, but gotta say nyc is one of those places there’s something for everyone. it is one of my fave cities and i go at least once a year. i love the diversity of cuisines, shopping and boutiques. wish the canadian dollar was stronger!

    i think its adorbz that he picked soup over a girl.. (for now haha)

  • Sarah Bailey says:

    New York is somewhere I would absolutely love to visit one day – there just seems like so much to do and see. x

  • Klauss says:

    Many thanks! A very rich program has turned out 🙂 Thanks again for all the details! Keep it up:)

  • Katie says:

    Wow, looks like you had an amazing trip! We don’t live far from NYC, but don’t make it there very often. You’ve given me some ideas of new places to visit when we go!

  • Cydney says:

    My gosh, i’d LOVE to back to NY. i went when i was about 16 but never considered it with children. Great list!

  • Annie says:

    This is a great post with lots of great advice. I will definitely refer back to this in the future 🙂

  • This is an incredibly helpful and thorough guide to visiting NYC! I would love to visit with my kids, we will but when they are older and able to appreciate the attractions you have featured here. I was visiting NYC over 9/11, it was an absolutely horrendous experience. I returned a few years ago to visit the 9/11 memorial which I found very emotional. I would definitely agree re; your tip for taking the Staten Island ferry and I also loved walking across Brooklyn Bridge, it was one of the highlights of my second visit. Thanks for linking up to #CityTripping

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Oh my gosh… I can’t believe you were there. What a tragic event to live through. Glad you are safe and sound and yes you most definitly will have to return with your kids. New York is an amazing city!

  • Wow! What an excellent, comprehensive list! I’m impressed at how much you did and how much fun you clearly had in New York as a family. I have yet to visit New York with my daughter but, thanks to you, I know exactly what we need to do when we eventually DO go! The 9/11 memorial and museum wasn’t finished the last time I was in the city. It’s an incredibly important part of New York and world history and I’m glad the museum has been done well and in a way younger children can understand more about it too. I can imagine it was a very emotional experience. Thank you so much for linking to #citytripping

  • What an awesome guide! I would love to bring my boys to NYC.. Just not so sure how I would survive the long plane ride from Singapore with them. #CityTripping

  • My family and I will be visiting New York next year and we are beyond excited about it. One thing that we are worried about though is taking my nieces and nephews to such a big city and keeping an eye on them. This article has some great points on this that I think can help us know where to stay and how to enjoy New York with them.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I was worried about that too Jorge. However, once there it actually didn’t feel too bad. They have very large sidewalks and there are a ton of pedestrians so cars are cautious. I just made sure to talk to the kids before we left about holding hands and prepped them about Times Square Characters and homeless people. Kids are pretty good if they are educated prior to going I feel. Have a wonderful trip!!!

  • I have not ever been to NYC….can you believe it?!

    I tend to stay west coast {traveling from Vancouver, Canada to CA is my most traveled to destination} but it’s on my must see places this year! Bookmarked and shared your wonderful post. Alice

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I live in Cali and I really want to get up to Vancouver. You’ll have to let me know some must see’s up there. I’m so glad you liked my New York post. It was an amazing city to visit. Something for everyone. You will love it!

  • Lloh02 says:

    I’m in New York with my three children as we speak and your guide has been extremely helpful. At ages 4,8 and 10 New York is amazing for the kids and we’re having the trip of a lifetime!

  • Christina says:

    Do you think the city pass was worth it? Do you still have to queue in line at the sights? also we have a 2 year old who gets free admission at many of these sights. would you suggest we get one for her?

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Christina we did get a lot of use out of the City Pass but I did not purchase it for my then 2 year old as she received free entry and I never paid for her. Actually, we didn’t purchase one for the 3 younger ones and only had to pay a discounted admission at a few locations. The other HUGE benefit is there was always a shorter queue (often no wait) for people with CityPass- that alone makes it worthwhile. And, even when we did have to purchase extra tickets they allowed us to still enter through the CityPass queue. Definitly worth the money in my point of view. Have a fabulous trip!!

  • Meghan says:

    Did you do The Ride or The Tour powered by the ride? I didn’t realize they were different until I went to their website.

  • Jen says:

    This post has been SO HELPFUL! Thank you so much for putting this together! my family of 7 is planning our first trip to the big city in June, and this post is coming with us lol! Everything you mentioned sounds amazing, and its so helpful to know you were able to get through this trip with as many kiddos and I have, and come out smiling!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Yay!! I am SO happy to hear this. You are going to have a BLAST in NYC. We absolutely LOVED it there. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

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