New York City is an amazing place to visit. Even more so with kids. I just got home from a long weekend in NYC. My husband and I surprised the kids & we flew there over Thanksgiving. It was MAGICAL! I have always liked New York, but I have never enjoyed it as much as I did through the eyes of a 6 & 12 year old.
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Even though I am a flight attendant and we all fly standby for free, we bought tickets since this is the busiest travel time of the year. We flew into Newark (EWR) and out of LaGuardia (LGA). I found that LGA was a lot easier to get in and out of, however this may have been because it was Sunday morning when we departed the city. It’s just nice to have options when going into NY (EWR, LGA or JFK) and you can shop around for flight prices. Our Uber from EWR to Hell’s Kitchen was $53 and Uber from Hell’s Kitchen to LGA was $38. Cabs have a flat rate, but they also charge for tolls (which could be a $15 tunnel toll) on top of that, so be careful with that.
We stayed at an AirBNB in Hell’s Kitchen because we wanted 2 rooms and a kitchen. Location was perfect! 9th ave between 53th & 54th. We walked almost everywhere. We only took the Subway when we went down to the Financial District. We have also stayed at the Hilton Midtown and loved it. You can’t beat the location. A friend was staying there & since it’s on the parade route they had their own private viewing area. We didn’t think of this and just wanted to have more room since we had a longer visit with kids.
My husband grew up in Long Island, NY so he was all about dropping our bags and going to get a “slice” of pizza. I am pretty sure my son and husband had at least one slice daily.
Our first stop was Fluffy’s Cafe & Pizzeria. We stumbled upon this when walking from our AirBnB to Central Park. We actually ended up going there daily for different things. Their food was great and their owners went above and beyond (even if the above and beyond was giving the kids complimentary black & white cookies or donuts) we appreciated the generosity. We had coffee, hot chocolate, breakfast, lunch sandwiches, pizza, desserts and even a quinoa protein bowl there during our visit. All were tasty & very reasonably priced! Corner of 9th & 58th.
Then we went to Central Park. We actually went there a few times during our visit. With or without kids, you will love Central Park. I always say how amazing it is that you can escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and relax in this huge, beautiful park. The kids loved seeing the Home Alone bridge, Ice Skating, playing on the playground and just running around.
My husband took my stepdaughter to NY for her 10th Birthday, they loved renting a rickshaw and getting a guided tour through the park that way. They learned so much that they wouldn’t have just going alone.
The next day (Thanksgiving) we braved the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! We lucked out with a once in life time experience!!! A NYPD officer said his kids are grown and he picks one family every year to go to the NYPD viewing area. He picked us! It couldn’t have been more perfect and we are so thankful! My brother in law, his wife and their almost 2 year old daughter were with us. They were so appreciative that we were in front of an apartment building where the door man allowed them to sit inside for a bit so their little one could warm up. It was record lows! The coldest Thanksgiving in almost a century!
Staying where we did made it an easy walk over to the start of the parade route. We just walked over to Columbus Circle. We saw John Legend, Diana Ross and some amazing marching bands. This was a huge check off of our family travel bucket list!!
- PARADE ADVICE – If you don’t stay at a hotel on the parade route that has a viewing section I would suggest getting there early. If you have a larger party, maybe alternate who stays put. I would suggest definitely finding a spot near a Starbucks, major store or McDonald’s that has a bathroom. Even if you have to buy a little something each time, you want to have a bathroom accessible if you’re with kids. If you arrive early I would bring a backpack with any kind of entertainment for your little ones…yes I am talking about iPads. I would even suggest downloading a movies and bringing headphones. This will keep your child entertained for a while. Dress in layers! It was cold this year so we didn’t take any of our layers off, but you’d definitely want that option. If it’s an option folding chairs would be a huge plus. I even saw people that had bought large paint buckets at Home Depot & put blankets on those to sit and later their children stood on them for a better view. Pack a bunch of snacks!!
The next day we decided to take the Subway down to the Financial District. The kids LOVED the Subway!
My husband & I have gone to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in the past and felt it would be too much, even for our 12 year old.
Seeing the Survivor Tree gave me chills. The story of it is below on the plaque they have up next to it. The day we were there it was the only tree with green leaves. This is one tough tree!!
Since we didn’t want to go to the museum with the kids we went to the One World Observatory and were very happy we did. I have since recommended to friends when they were visiting the city and they were thankful.
When entering the One World Observatory you take a memorable elevator up to the 102nd floor. The views were amazing! They give you an iPad upon entry that gives you a virtual reality guide to the city. Simply point your iPad at any point of interest, click on it and you get a informational video with all sorts of facts about that place. This entertained the kids for quite a while.
Here is an excerpt from their website describing the tickets we purchased. Regular tickets were sold out, but I highly recommend these. They also offer an inclusive package if you plan to eat and drink. If we didn’t have the kids with us we would have gone this route.
Skip all the lines and proceed directly to the front of the elevator queue
Follow Ollie the Owl through special seasonal additions including Glacier Cave, Snowy Skypod Journey and a giant Snow Globe
Be transported by Skypod to the 102nd floor in 47 seconds, seeing the evolution of the Manhattan skyline on the way
Dare to step out onto the see-through Sky Portal for heart-racing views
See Forever™ from the observatory at One World Trade Center
Here are a list of other places we went to and enjoyed. I just need to get better about taking photos more often.
Victor’s Cafe – This is where we had our Thanksgiving Dinner. Their Ropa Vieja is delicious! The kids shared an Arroz con Pollo dish and had enough left to have for dinner the next night.
Bryant Park – We stopped by here to see their Holiday Market. So many vendors with beautiful handmade items. There is also an ice skating rink, food vendors and the Southwest Airlines Front Porch. The Lodge offers an indoor seating area, bar and a wide variety of places to eat including The Bryant Park Grill & Cafe. In the Summer they have many different events. Click HERE to see a list.
FAO Schwartz has been reopened in a new location. Right near 30 Rock. Sadly, the tree wasn’t yet lit, but it was up and beautiful. The kids each chose a little stuffed animal. I did mention I wouldn’t be buying something I could get on Amazon.
30 Rock – 30 Rockefeller Center. The tree hadn’t been lit yet, but we did get to see the tree, ice skating and all the amazing store windows. You can go to the observation deck. Find tour information here
M&M’s WORLD – This is in the middle of Time Square. The kids got personalized M&M’s. They pic what they want on them and then the worker pours their chosen color(s) into this machine.
The weather was too cold for us to venture to the Statue of Liberty, but we will definitely do that on our next NYC adventure. Here are some pictures from a trip there a few years ago.
Here are a few things we had planned to do and time just got away from us. We will definitely try to go to them then next time we visit.
Museum of Natural History – they were working on some of the main dinosaurs so we figured we would wait until next time .
Gulliver’s Gates – This is a new attraction in Times Square that is supposed to be very engaging for kids. It is a miniature world. I have heard wonderful things about this venue when doing research.
The High Line – I LOVE walking the high line. In warmer months they have food vendors and it is just another beautiful way to see the city. I highly recommend doing this when you go. Whether you walk it alone or take one of the walking tours. My friend that was in NYC recently said they took the Subway down to Chelsea Market and then walked the High Line back.
The Lion King – When we go back with the kids I will be buying advance tickets for this.