I love getting new submissions for the My City (with kids!) interview series. Getting to “know” other blogging moms from around the world is such fun AND the insights they share about their own home towns are fascinating and helpful for those planning a trip!
Today it’s the turn of Daphna who lived in New York City for five years before recently heading out on a massive road trip across the United States to relocate during the lockdown. Her children are 9, 7, 4 and an infant and her two youngest kids were both born in New York City, in their Brooklyn apartment!
Read on below for her suggestions of family-friendly things to do in NYC!
Our favorite spot to visit in New York City
It’s so hard choosing a favorite spot because there are so many things to do in New York City with kids!
Our favorite spot that we keep returning to again and again is Central Park.
Every time we are in Manhattan and go to a museum or shops, or we have friends that are visiting from out of town, we always spend some time at the park to run the kids around. There really is no better place to get out their energy after they’ve had to be well behaved in a museum or put up with an extended restaurant meal.
My kids’ favorite outing
When I asked my kids about their favorite place in New York they always mention Coney Island.
Coney Island is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that has a large Luna park, with amusement rides right on the beach.
Even though the rides are only open during the summer, they still love going to the beach year round. It is good for their souls to see the open ocean in front of them, rather than being surrounded by buildings as they normally are.
The most iconic place to visit (that the kids will also love) is…
There are so many iconic places in New York! For a first time visitor, it is a must to walk through Times Square (even though it is very crowded and us locals generally avoid it).
The other tourist hotspot would be the World Trade Center. It is much calmer down there, so that is the area we like to take visitors, especially with kids.
From the World Trade Center it’s easy to walk down to Battery Park and to see the Statue of Liberty, so there’s a lot going on within a short walkable distance.
Our favorite family-friendly good weather outing
New York City weather is very finicky. There about two beautiful weeks in the spring and two very beautiful weeks in the fall when it is lovely to do just about any activity.
When the weather is nice, we love being outside and there are many parks all over the five boroughs.
We really just love walking around the city and exploring new neighborhoods. We check out ethnic restaurants, and just make a day of exploring a different part of the city!
Our favorite family-friendly bad weather (indoor) outing
It’s hard to choose just one museum, but I have to say that the American Museum of Natural History is probably our favorite.
A close second is the New York Hall of Science in Queens. That one, however, is quite a long train ride if you are staying in Manhattan. But if you come to the U.S. Open then it will be right nearby.
The best free outing
It may surprise you to know that there are many great free activities in visiting New York City! Almost every museum has free or pay what you wish hours!
If you are on a budget you can definitely pack in a lot of attractions, but note that usually free hours are in the evenings near the end of the week. If you are traveling with young children you may want to just pay the entrance to visit during the morning hours when attractions are generally less busy.
One option that can be great is hopping on the Staten Island Ferry. This ferry is always free and it is huge with benches and tables that you can sit at. You can have a leisurely ride on the water with children and see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. This is an especially good option if you forgot to reserve tickets for the official Statue of Liberty ferry or your budget is very tight.
Our “insider” tip for visiting our home town
If you don’t mind the cold, then January and early February are the quietest time of the year to visit New York City. Those are the times of the year that you can walk through Times Square easily with a stroller and it will not be crowded at all!
The best family-friendly restaurant
How do you choose just one restaurant in New York City – the options are endless! It’s definitely true what they say: the pizza in New York is like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. They say it is the water. Who knows? But it really is amazing that even the cheapest pizza that you can get for one or two dollars a slice will be better than the fanciest pizzas in other cities! All that being said, a couple of famous options are Grimaldi‘s and Lucali is a local favorite in Brooklyn.
Be sure to try this kid-friendly local food…
If you are a foodie you can most definitely travel the world in food in New York. I don’t think there is any cuisine you can not find! For true authentic food, head to the outer boroughs. One cheap and loved option in Manhattan is Vanessa’s for dumplings in Chinatown!
The easiest way to get around with kids
The best way to get around in New York City and especially in Manhattan is by subway. However many stations are not handicap accessible, meaning there are stairs, which can make it difficult for families with stroller.
If you are going places that are not too far away from each other, your best bet will be walking. There are of course yellow taxis but much of the driving is at a snails pace.
The best family-friendly neighborhood to stay in
For a family visit in New York City, I would consider staying in the Upper West Side. It is a neighborhood that is very family friendly with lots of great restaurants and close to Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History.
Depending how far you are from the park, you can also potentially walk across to get to the Upper East Side where there are many museums, and getting down to Midtown will be a short ride on the subway.
The Top 5 Things to do in New York with kids!
Everyone has a different perspective on what they are most interested in experiencing in New York. Many just come for the amazing food and shopping options.
I always encourage the families to seek out the parks and playgrounds because the urban environment can be very difficult for young children to maneuver.
All that being said, here are my top picks:
- Central Park – walk to the Lake or Bethesda Fountain
- At least one museum: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is my must-see!
- Walk around downtown: World Trade Center and Wall Street
- Go to the Statue of Liberty
- Times Square
Daphna Bar is a backpacker turned mother of four and writer at A Tiny Trip. She writes down to earth guides for travel around the world, mostly with kids. She is an expert on Mexico, where her first two children were born, and New York City where her second two children were born. She brings well researched content and practical guides to help you get outside with kids and embrace a healthy, eco-conscious lifestyle of love and positive parenting. You will find her most often behind the camera and/or with a baby on her hip!