New York… with kids
If you think New York is a city for adults only - think again. It's a fabulous place to take kids, with plenty to see and do. Here's what not to miss.
There are few places in the US as entertaining as the ‘Big Apple’. Although it can, at first, seem overwhelming, by the end of their visit, most visitors are hooked – especially kids.
Gemma Antrobus, owner of independent travel agency, Haslemere Travel, has taken her young daughter more than once, and they both love it. Here are her top tips for a fun stress-free, family trip.
WHERE TO STAY
The upscale Upper East Side has a more residential feel. Streets are less busy, you encounter fewer tourists, the atmosphere is quieter and there’s a high chance of seeing some wealthy/famous locals (Madonna has been seen putting out her bins here). Bear in mind, however, that it’s a longer walk to get to some of the sights, so take an easily obtained, iconic yellow cab.
Staying in more central, historic Manhattan, is great for shopping and seeing some of the top sights – but it’s also more expensive.
VISIT CENTRAL PARK
- The heart of Manhattan, and a great place to start, there is always something going on – you can walk, play ball, hire a bike or ride in a carriage.
- Skate in the park. Wollman is the most well known ice-rink and is furthest south in the park, close to the Tisch children’s petting Zoo (which is ideal for toddlers). The Lasker rink in the north, is a pool in summer and a rink in winter.
- Visit the bronze Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland statue, children love to crawl over the giant toadstools.
- The historic 1908 Carousel is another favourite, open April to October
SEE A SHOW
- The Marionette Theatre at the Swedish Cottage in Central Park hosts puppet shows during the summer and school holidays – think Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
- See a show on Broadway, but beware, tickets are not cheap and many of the shows come to London’s West End; however, you can queue up each day in Time Square at the TKTS office for on-the-day discounted tickets. The ‘Off Broadway’ shows are a fraction of the price; they may be less well known, but still excellent quality.
- Watch a TV show filmed live and sit in the audience. Shows do not allow children under the ages of 10, and Live with Kelly & Ryan is the only show to allow under 16/18s. It’s an early start and there is quite a bit of queuing, but it’s tons of fun and a great experience. Entrance is free, but you need to apply on-line in advance
- See ballet or opera at The Lincoln Center
TAKE A DAY TRIP
- Walk the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side and end up in Chelsea village. Make sure to stop at Chelsea market for lunch, coffee or a craft beer,it’s full of quirky shops and food outlets.
- Visit MOMA or the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, with five floors of hands-on exhibits, workshops and performances.
- The celebrated Met Museum has much to offer kids and families with interactive programmes.
- For birds’ eye views of the skyscrapers, go to the top of the Empire State Building, the One World Observatory or Top of the Rock, the observation deck on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center, which also hosts a magnificent Christmas tree and ice rink in winter.
- The Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) offers animated videos, singing and painting for under 5s upwards.
- If your little girl has an American Girl doll, then bring her to American Girl Place for a doll spa treatment, hairstyle or SOS fix, with styling for little girls too. You can also purchase the latest and greatest American girl dolls, some custom made. Expect to spend hours here and a small fortune!
- Founded in 1862, FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy shop in the US. You can easily spend hours in here as well.
- Hop on and off a tourist bus. A great way to get an overview of Manhattan.
- Catch a Yankees or Mets baseball game (April – September); see a US football game (September to January), basketball or ice hockey (both October – April)
- Ride the subway, just once…
- Try Dave & Buster’s, a huge video game arcade with bowling and burgers
- Book the Children’s Eloise Afternoon Tea at The Plaza. Little girls will love following the story of Eloise who lived at the hotel. They even have an Eloise suite!
- Dylan’s Candy Bar is sweetie heaven.