We recently went to New York City with kids for a long weekend. My husband and I love NYC and go frequently for work. But for the boys this was their first visit. We also met my brother-in-law’s family there. So between us we had 5 young children in the big apple. And we all had the best time ever!
For real, it’s all the kids still talk about a month later. Remember that taxi Mom? That skyscraper?! When can we go back?!
To me that’s the true mark of success. Having them embrace and remember an experience. I want my children to take on new experiences and try to expose them to places that are different from where we live. I firmly believe this can only help ensure that they grow into compassionate and open-minded humans. At least here’s hoping!
Traveling to a big busy city like New York City can be intimidating with kids. Which is why I believe in making sure to have a flexible game plan. I started with a list of everything I wanted to do and quickly realized it was way too long. Some things would just have to wait for a second visit. We also knew that each night would include a long sit down dinner with family that lived nearby and took that into consideration. My kids can only do one of those a day before they start to lose it. That said, I wanted to share our itinerary since it worked out so well for us! Here is what we did for our New York City with kids for a long weekend. And yes, you can see we went full on tourist with it. After all, sometimes the classic touristy things are that way for a reason!
New York City with Kids Long Weekend Itinerary
Arrive at 11:30am
Check in and grab quick pizza slice lunch nearby
Top of the Rock
The kids really wanted a skyscraper experience. We decided on Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building. Kids 5 and under were free and it also allowed us to explore the Rockefeller area. The kids loved seeing the Today Show (Mommy watches that show!) and the Lego Store. Most importantly they really enjoyed Top of the Rock and the view was incredible. I highly recommend for first timers!
Carmine’s for Dinner
This famous Italian restaurant was within walking distance to us. Everything was served family style and delicious. From the cocktails to spaghetti for kids to dessert we were all happy campers!
Marriott Marquis in Times Square, After Dinner Drinks at The View
If everyone still has energy, this is a lobby style piano bar/restaurant area on the 48th floor. It is really kid friendly and has the best view of all those Times Square billboard lights.
Breakfast: While there were plenty of great options we opted to grab bagels and coffee and do an easy breakfast for our group.
Statue of Liberty
We decided to make a visit to the Statue of Liberty our main activity for the day. Our school age kids were excited and us adults had also never been. I highly recommend getting tickets in advance. It does sell out and no one wants to be in that situation with kids in tow. Taking the subway was high on everyone’s list so we took the subway there and it was fairly easy and straightforward. (Kids are free on the subway!)
It does take going through some significant security lines so we arrived early. Next we took the ferry over and it was a nice ride. The Statue of Liberty was really neat and I loved talking with our kids about it all. After exploring the Statue of Liberty we all went on to Ellis Island. The ferry will take you to both or you can choose to head back.
Ellis Island was truly amazing. There were several displays and it really hits home just how many people came through this place to make a new life for their families. We all grabbed hot dogs at the café and were ready for the ferry and subway journey back to our hotel. Overall this took most of our day but was worth it.
With a little time before dinner this was the perfect time to explore those big fun stores my kids couldn’t get enough of. Especially high on the list is the M&M store where you can make your own mix of several flavors, the Hershey store and the NFL experience. Fun stuff! They also LOVED the street performers although we had a serious talk beforehand about not hugging the furry characters.
Dos Caminos is a local Mexican restaurant chain. Kristin and I both love going when we are in town. We all went and met more family for a fun, margarita filled evening!
Ellen’s Stardust Diner for Brunch
Ok this was one of my favorite NYC places with kids. Sure they aren’t ready to sit through an expensive Broadway show, but here they could get a taste of it in a fun setting. The line slinks around the block so we sent one family member to wait in line and then we all hustled over there about 45 minutes later. This allowed the kids to not have to wait in a chilly sidewalk line.
The food was good classic diner food and the singing wait staff are mesmerizing and so fun! All our kids were just in love with it and I got to drink my coffee in peace humming my favorite songs!
American Museum of Natural History
This is where we split up. The Natural History museum is a must for many, including our extended family. But we have so many great museums in DC we decided to hold off. They all went and LOVED it! If you don’t have easy access to great museums it’s worth it for sure!
Since my boys are 6 and 3, we decided to explore a few playgrounds in Central Park. They had a blast roaming around the unique playgrounds and even better were the big rock formations that they could climb on. This was perfect for getting the wiggles out before heading home on our train. This map of Central Park Playgrounds was a huge help.
Train Home 4pm
New York City with Kids Details & Tips
While most people might have to fly, since we live just outside of Washington, DC we took the train. I calculated the cost of valet parking, tolls, and gas and decided that the train wasn’t that much more than driving. This allowed us all to arrive relaxed and the boys loved it!
Using our points just made sense. We opted to stay at the Renaissance in Times Square. While this location is typically too busy for my preference, for kids the bright lights and wonder of Times Square was mesmerizing! The rooms were lovely and the lobby bar area overlooked the M&M store. They even had an area for kids to color and play games. It was very family friendly while still feeling upscale.
The Stroller Situation
Max at 3 was the youngest family member. And while he is very independent and typically walks everywhere on his own, we decided to go ahead and bring the umbrella stroller. My Mom instinct wanted him buckled in so that it was one less kid to worry about running into the street. They aren’t used to city crosswalks or even the heavy foot traffic.
Well thank goodness we did! All the excitement and walking did prove to be too much for him. Both afternoons he fell asleep in the stroller and it allowed us to maneuver those walks at a much faster pace. Mr. Independent quickly realized on his own that catching a stroller ride is better than walking 10 blocks on his own.
This was definitely a memory maker weekend and we can’t wait to go back!