Looking for tips for traveling to New York with kids? Then this New York family travel diary will show you some fun New York family activities to get the most out of your time in the city that never sleeps. We enjoy our family vacation’s and love sharing ideas with you.
You can find the 15 tips at the bottom of the post.
Tips for Traveling to New York With Kids
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I wish we had watched Home Alone 2 with the kids right before our trip. It would have been really fun for the children to pass different areas and recognize them.
We booked a Delta 1 pm flight. When booking flights please take into consideration what the local time will be in your destination as well as your present location. Going to Miami from California means we lose 3 hours in the time change.
I always bring my Maclaren Quest stroller with me. I have taken it on over 40 different airplane flights and have used it for over 10 years with 3 children. It still looks as good as new.
Note to self: Never leave anything for the morning before a flight. I was not 100% packed the night before. We missed our first flight and had to wait a few hours to catch our next flight. There really is nothing like LA traffic, right?! Especially when you are running terribly late already. Add to that, the long line at Delta, which honestly took us 45 minutes to get to the counter and it was almost inevitable that we would miss our flight. The airline handled it decently and put us on the next flight at no charge.
On the flight, we used my printable airplane adventure activity book. My 3 year old is going through a coloring in phase and she is fascinated by airplanes.
We arrived in New York later in the evening than planned. I always like to arrive at night because I am one of those people that needs a good long sleep after any flight. Even on two hour flights. The flight was easy and I love that T-mobile offers an hour of free wifi on Delta flights.
We came in with a lot of luggage and had a difficult time fitting in the New York taxi’s. To top it off, I felt completely claustrophobic in New York’s version of a jail like backseat.
Our hotel choice
I was so surprised to see so many people outside at 2 AM. It is true, New York is a city that never seems to sleep.We got to our hotel, The Hilton Time Square, and check in was simple. We went straight to bed and woke up all refreshed the next morning. I often place our pajamas and one change of clothes for each of us on the top of one suitcase so that we don’t need to open everything immediately.
Our favorite part of the hotel was it’s location. It really is convenient. I previously stayed at Trump Towers and while it was nice, it was a long walk to Times Square. This hotel’s location was better.
Day 1 : New York : Sunday
We roamed the streets of Time’s Square and were amazed by the lights and TV’s all around us. There was a flea market filled with lots of goodies for us to check out. If you are in New York on a Sunday, you have to go to the flea market!
The watermelon was filled with flavor.
Things to check out and eat at the New York flea market with kids:
- The watermelon was delicious
- Fried Oreo’s are really amazing!
- Quality fidget spinners!
Our kids literally spent 30 minutes choosing a fidget spinner. The variety of designs were amazing. Each a different color, different shape, different weight and so much more.
Our selfie stick always comes in handy.
I can’t emphasize enough that you, as a mother, should also be in your families pictures! If not with a selfie stick, then ask your husband or eldest child to take a few random pictures of you too.
We ate lunch at a pizza place nearby called John’s Of Times Square. It was delicious.
The kids were so excited to get moving, but having known how much walking goes on in New York, I made sure that this time, they all wore sneakers!
We walked into the Windows computer store and allowed the kids to explore. I am normally an Apple fan and only use Mac’s. I was pleasantly surprised by how much Windows has changed since I switched away from them. My children loved drawing on their new art screens. Isn’t that one of the greatest blessings of a family vacation? That you actually have time to let the kids explore each of the stores.
With Central Park being as large as it is and us not having that many day’s in New York, we opted to take a Pedicab tour. While we were walking towards Central Park someone approached us, gave us a price and told us where he would be taking us on the tour. This was one of the smartest choices we made in New York. These Pedicab drivers offered to take family pictures of us and had the most wonderful picture ideas! They knew exactly what the best positions were to take the pictures and we got some amazing family pictures because of it.
One of our stops was the Bethesda Fountain. There was a lot going on in that area. There were some men there holding snakes and asking if anyone would like to hold one. In my head I was thinking, “Yeah right.. NO WAY!” and then suddenly, I turn around and my daughter is being handed the snake. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I was internally panicking. I was so happy when they took it off. I do not like snakes.
The tunnel in that area was where Chuck Bass proposed to Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl. It was so crowded that we couldn’t really take any pictures in there. But truly, what stole the show was the guy spreading bubbles all around. Each and every child there was mesmerized by these large bubbles. I think we could have spent the whole afternoon just sitting there watching the children giggle. Oh, how wonderful is the magic of childhood? We added this to our list of places we needed to come back to. (I always keep a little notebook in my purse to write this down or just type it into my cellphone.)
And better yet, how wonderful is it to see a father so mesmerized by his daughter’s happiness? He has no idea that I notice these things… but I do. I notice when his face lights up when the kids do something sweet.
On our last trip to New York, we only did a small portion of Central Park because we were on foot rather than on a Pedicab. Mainly just the swing area. I was completely shocked when I went on this tour and saw how large it really is. I highly recommend you do the Pedicab tour!
When we were done on the tour we were dropped off at The Plaza Hotel. That was the hotel featured in Home Alone 2. We had a quick bite to eat. There were lobster rolls, shrimp rolls, sushi, pasta, pizza and more. The only challenge was finding a place to sit because it was so busy.
The Empire State Building
Are you wondering if it is worth it to buy the VIP Pass? YES! It is completely worth it to buy the Empire State Building VIP Pass. We skipped the whole long line and went straight to the elevators. You can purchase tickets here.
The elevator up did not trigger my claustrophobia, which is a plus! I’d say we spent almost 1 1/2 to 2 hours here just taking in the view.
Whether you look with your naked eye or through the telescope, the view is spectacular.
We ate dinner at Bombay Grill House and enjoyed the food.
Day 3 – Shopping Day
Today, it was raining all day. We opted to go shopping today so we took a taxi to our chosen shopping stores. (This is me taking pictures to take my mind off the potential claustrophobia from the square jail taxi with no air!)
We spent hours shopping, isn’t that the best kind of fun for us mom’s? This is how we protect our shopping bags… We needed my eight year old to sit down in the stroller to keep our stroller from flipping over from the weight.
For lunch we went to eat at Eataly. We had Italian food and ice cream. I often use yelp to search for places that are near our current location.
The Phantom Of The Opera
Theater shows in New York are a must!
It doesn’t matter how many times I have watched Phantom Of The Opera, it never fails to impress me. This time, I got to take my 10 year old son to watch it!
When the show was over we went to Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. I was surprised that they were open that late (around 10 pm).
There were a lot of fun illusion like tricks. There was a room that had walls that spun around and around. You literally couldn’t walk in there without feeling like you were spinning (even though you weren’t moving at all.) It was fun, weird, astonishing.
One of our favorite things to do was the laser beam game. You go into a room where the lego beams go on and you have to climb around the room and avoid each of the beams. There are also a lot of photo opportunities.
We explored the whole place in an hour.
We also ordered personalized hats (seen below on a different day) from the Yankee store across our hotel and made personalized key chains too.
Day 4: Exploring New York, Boat Tour and Central Park
My son wanted to create a personalized Adidas shirt so we walked on over to the store.
Then he had to choose his favorite number and what he wanted the shirt to say.
The process took about 30 minutes.
Then we went back to Central Park to the Bethesda Fountain. Our kids really wanted to spend more time in this area.
Then we went to the model boat sailing area. Unfortunately, there was a long waitlist for the boats and we didn’t have time to wait for it.. but we did enjoy walking around the area. You cannot make reservations for this ahead of time. You will need to go earlier in the day, book your spot and then come back to this area of Central Park when your time comes up.
Statue Of Liberty Water Tour
We went on a Circle Line Water Tour and purchased the premier pass. The view was spectacular. The ride was very smooth and the weather was perfect.
This little diva was all ready for the sun… but thankfully, the sun got covered by some clouds.
This was the view from the cruise. It really is beautiful.
That evening we went and watched the Aladdin Broadway Show. It was wonderful. I definitely think the Genie and Iago stole the show!
For dinner we ate at Utsav near Times Square. Food was great. We were happy with the food in New York.
15 Tips for Traveling To New York With Kids :
- Wear comfortable walking shoes – like sneakers.
- Watch Home Alone 2 before the trip.
- Put a small notebook in your purse for notes and reminders or use your cellphone for this.
- Bring a selfie stick
- Bring a handbag that you can carry on your shoulder that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t need to be babied.
- Arrive the night before so you get a full nights sleep.
- Get the Empire State Building VIP Pass
- Bring a lightweight stroller.
- Book your Broadway shows in advance. Double check the minimum age allowed before booking.
- Take a water tour of the Statue Of Liberty.
- Use Yelp to find eating places. Check the reviews.
- Book a hotel close to the main area you will be walking in. For us, this was Times Square.
- Follow your children’s lead. Notice the places they enjoy going to and spend more time there.
- Research food places before you go on your trip. This gives you a plan of action.
- Explore Central Park in a Pedicab.