New York City stole a piece of my heart. I feel pulled to go back. Throughout my life I have seen so many movies of New York City, but nothing compares to visiting it in real life. I took the kids for a visit back in 2016, but only for a few hours. This year, we went for 3 days, 2 nights. We found the perfect balance of Christmas (I put together an entirely separate blog on the Christmas things we did), New York City staples and toddler friendly activities. The entire weekend felt serendipitous.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom Brownstone townhouse in Brooklyn. The townhouse has been broken up into 3 apartments. Ours was on the second floor, newly decorated and had free street parking. There is not a better apartment in NYC for the price. We paid $420 total for 2 nights. The weekend we went, the cheapest studio hotel room was over $330 per night. The apartment is a 15-20 min walk from the subway, but it was an easy walk.
Anchor Coffee & Corp: This coffee shop was super close to our Airbnb. We grabbed cappuccinos, coffee cake, muffins and a cheddar biscuit here before heading to the subway. If you find yourself near the Kingston-Thorpe Subway stop in Brooklyn — definitely stop in.
Shake Shack: Just go here. We stopped in for lunch after several hours perusing the American Museum of Natural History. The food is DELISH and the prices are very fair. I had a spicy chicken sandwich with fries while the kids chowed down on a hot dog. This place is very popular, so there was a quite a wait considering it was fast food. (Approx 30 min) We couldn’t snag a table with our large group, so we walked down the street a bit and ate on some park benches.
Steve’s Pizza: When you are over near the WTC, please add this stop to your itinerary. The food was SO GOOD. The pizza melts in your mouth. This is a stand up only food places, but there is an amazing park directly out front where you can sit on a bench and enjoy the NYC skyline. I personally enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Pizza while the kids devoured some cheese slices.
Tacuba: (Reservation Recommended: P: 212-245-4500) This was the fanciest place we ate in NYC. We had a larger group of 5 adults, 2 kids so we called ahead for reservations. Tacuba is in Manhattan and about a 15-minute walk from Times Square. The staff was able to store our stroller for us, provide a high chair and even gave us a kid’s quesadilla for only ONE DOLLAR. We were seated in the basement where there are extra tables and some very nice bathrooms. I highly - HIGHLY - recommend ordering the Carne Asada. I am 100% sure everyone had food envy of my plate. The food at this restaurant is hands down the best food I have had in a very very long time.
Dough Donuts: We were told Dough was good, so we made the stop on our drive out of the city. We visited the location in Brooklyn at 448 Lafayette Ave. We were surprised there were no tables to sit at and no espresso drinks, but we quickly got over it when we saw these doughnuts. Each donut is gigantic. Easily twice the size of an average donut. They are so delicious I can’t even put it into words. I got the kids each a glazed donut, some donut holes and I enjoyed a Cafe Au Lait donut which took me two rounds to eat just one. The donut is more of a giant pastry — SO. DAMN. GOOD.
Central Park: If you’re in New York City with or without kids, you MUST go to Central Park. It took me 3 visits before I went. Someone could spend days and days meandering this massive park. It is absolutely stunning. You Photo spot: head to the 77th St-Central Park West entrance and head toward the rocks at the lake. You can get some photos with the skyline and lake in the background.
American Museum of Natural History: The AMNH is gigantic. Be sure to schedule at least half a day for this place. We spent 3 hours and we barely had time for 3 of the 5 special exhibits, not to mention the main museum. The kids went nuts for the dinosaurs. Each and every exhibit is created with the utmost detail and is massive. The animals are full size because they are actually dead animals preserved by taxidermy. I was amazed to see an exhibit of a family of elephants. I was even more amazed to see a REAL tyrannosaurus rex skull. That’s right; it’s not a copy of one. It’s REAL!
To save some time, buy your tickets in advance online. The lines were very long when we went. If you can’t afford the prices online, you can wait in line and pay-what-you-wish at their counter. Pro-Tip: Check their website to see if their are any special offers; my sister and brother-in-law were able to get in for free with their Bank of America card.
Times Square: Times Square is a must for anyone visiting New York City. It is an iconic square with so many TV screens you must see it to believe it. A probably obvious warning: It is extremely crowded. We kept Charletta in the stroller and Latham in his Tula while we walked around. It was a very neat experience and as the kids get older, I can’t wait to take them back to see it again.
Rockafeller Plaza: First off, I love the Today Show. Ever since I became a stay at home mom, I have watched it. I loved seeing the studio and being able to look down at the famous ice skating rink.
9/11 Memorial: The 9/11 Memorial can not be missed. As the most pivotal day in modern United State’s history, I recommend this museum to everyone. The museum itself is put together SO well. The artifacts, memorials and human stories are incredible. I cried my way through. Unless you were in NYC on 9/11, I think this museum is the only way to begin to understand the devastation these attacks caused. One tip for visiting: use the kiosks outside to get tickets. This allows you to skip the long ticket line. Active Military get free entry.
World Trade Center Pools: Each pool is the exact footprint of the World Trade Center towers. They are each about 1 acre in size. The pools are located just outside the memorial and are free to visit.
Oculus: “The “Oculus” serves as the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, incorporating 78,000 square feet of multi level state-of-the-art retail and dining. The state-of-the-art World Trade Center Transportation Hub, completed in 2016, serves 250,000 Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) daily commuters and millions of annual visitors from around the world. At approximately 800,000 square feet, the Hub, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava, is the third largest transportation center in New York City.” -Port Authority of NY & NJ
Brooklyn Bridge: The famous Brooklyn Bridge offers a walking path for visitors to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan or vice versus. The walk is super easy and the views are rivaled by none. It is quite the experience to see the Manhattan sky line from the BB. We easily pushed our stroller along, stopped for photos and people watched. It is completely free to make the walk and definitely worth the time.
Liberty State Park: We decided to stop at Liberty State Park on the way out of NYC. I have to say, I have seen Lady Liberty from afar, but seeing her this close was quite the experience. This park was free to enter. The day we visited it was extremely foggy and Latham was sleeping in the car. My mom stayed behind with him while my step dad and Charletta and I walked down to see Lady Liberty. For the most part, she was completely covered in Fog, but for about 45 seconds the fog cleared enough to see her. There is a pathway to walk down further and see the NYC skyline from across the river, but we did not go down it since the fog was extremely heavy.
Subway: For children who need carseats, this is by far the most efficient way to navigate NYC and Brooklyn. We parked our car the entire weekend and never used it. The Subway is free for up to three children under 44 inches when riding with a paying adult. The adult fare is only $2.75 per way, so it’s extremely economical. We found the subways were not stroller friendly, but if you want to read more about navigating NYC’s subways with a stroller, see our post HERE.
Uber: Use the app and catch a ride! If your kids are old enough to not need carseats, this could be a more time efficient route.
No matter how long you are in New York City, there is truly something for everyone. From Central Park to the Empire State Building to the Staten Island Ferry, I can not recommend NYC enough as a fun family destination.
Have you ever taken your family to NYC? What is your favorite place to visit? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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