Visiting New York City with kids is so much fun! You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime. I’ve planned countless trips for myself, my friends and for clients who have brought their children to the City. Based off of these experiences, as a travel planner and as a parent, here are my top five tips to having a successful visit.
1. Have a plan
There is nothing worse than coming to NYC without a game plan especially when you’ve got kids with you. The options are limitless, almost to the point of sensory overload, which can make the City feel overwhelming. I strongly encourage you to plan each day of your trip, with flexibly, but decide in advance what you will see/do/eat each day. Doing this work on the front end will help you to feel more confident and you will spend much less time figuring those things out while you are here. Your trip will be more focused and you will actually see and do so much more if you engage in some pre-trip planning.
2. Be realistic about your kids’ capacity
Plan your days with respect to your kids’ mental and physical capacity. If they get tired after a long time on their feet, lose focus after a certain amount of time or if they get overwhelmed by too much stimulation, you’ll want to be mindful to plan your daily activities accordingly. My 8-year old son, for example, loses interest in most museums after about 90 minutes. However, he has endless energy to walk the city streets with just an occasional break for water or a snack. Be sure to incorporate regular rest breaks and fairly normal bedtimes to set your days up for success.
3. Prioritize their interests
Just because you’re taking your kids to New York City doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the experience as an adult. The beauty of NYC is that there are so many incredible things to do for young and old alike. However, this would be the time to prioritize things that tend to be more engaging for your kids. After all, you want them to look back on the trip and say, “that was fun!” Not, “that was BORING”. Given this, I’d recommend incorporating a lot of sensory experiences. Things like shows and interactive exhibits (The Color Factory, The Museum of Ice Cream, Summit One Vanderbilt, The Van Gogh Experience) along with parks, playgrounds and other physical activities that will keep them interested and having fun!
4. Pack thoughtfully
This probably goes without saying, but it is so fundamental to a good trip that it’s worth mentioning. Appropriate clothes and shoes for the weather are incredibly important. Be sure that shoes are comfortable and well worn. The New York City streets are not the place to break in a new pair of shoes. Also, consider packing whatever your kids need for a good night sleep. Do they have a special nightlight, blanket, stuffed animal or sound machine they use at night? Bring it! Also, as you’re exploring the city, bring along a few small snacks and a refillable water bottle. A pack of trail mix and a drink of water can be very helpful in mitigating a low blood sugar meltdown.
5. Educate your kids (and yourself!) before you go
Will you be visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island? The 9/11 Memorial? How about Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library or Central Park? There are children’s books, YouTube Videos, blogs and documentaries about all of these places and many more. Educating your kids, and yourself, before you go not only builds anticipation for the trip, but it turns The City into a living history experience that will give you all a deeper appreciation for and sense of connection to NYC and its historical roots.
If you're going to New York City for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, it is helpful to work with an NYC travel expert. I will help you navigate the logistics of timing, budget, and travel party dynamics while incorporating your unique needs and interests. Reach out! Let's plan your trip together.