Recently I took my daughters on a trip to New York City, and for the first time they got to stay over in a fancy NYC hotel, enjoy the sights and sounds up close, and have the chance to take a trip I don’t think any of us will forget.
The impetus for the trip was just because. It’s wasn’t a special occasion or anyone’s birthday, we just looked at our schedules and saw a pocket of time that would be perfect for a getaway, and happened to have an event to attend. (see my recap of the FashionTweenStas Event here)
I adored having little kids, and babies are beyond precious, but having the girls old enough (at 8 and 10) visit one of my favorite places and create memories was priceless!
We started out on Saturday with a brief drive to Trenton to catch a local train. Amtrak runs only a few minutes away from our house but the timing didn’t quite work for us. The girls got first-hand experience with trains, and learned that they aren’t as exciting as they thought they would be.
We arrived in NYC and they were immediately in awe of the buildings and the hustle and bustle.
“Mom, what does Elmo want?”
We walked our feet off and despite cold temperatures it was actually pretty pleasant. We did and saw so much. We ate some yummy treats, had some great food, checked out Times Square, shopped, ate some more, saw a show, took a horse and carriage ride, and had a blast!
Here’s my advice (with a little help from my girls) for a stress-free trip.
10 Tips for a Fun and Stress-Free Trip to NYC:
1. Forget bedtime. Seriously. It is the city that never sleeps, so don’t worry if your kids stay up an hour or two late.
2. Dress in layers. The girls didn’t quite get it until we were there. The wind and sun behave differently in the city, and at some point you’re going to be freezing or burning up (depending on when you travel to the city), so bring lots of layers.
Grateful for the blankets the driver provided.
3. Backpacks are a must. Your kids should carry their own backpacks with the essentials-pajamas, a change of clothes, a book to read, toothbrush. That way you can navigate the city on foot if you want to. Dads should carry a backpack or messenger bag as well, and Mom can get away with a giant tote bag. Just make sure to fold up an extra bag in your purse to carry your purchases!
4. See a show! Not only is it a must-do in New York City, but there are just so many great shows for kids of all ages. We were fortunate enough to be given press tickets to see a Mamma Mia matinee which was a fun show especially the end where we all got up to dance along to Abba songs.
It was the girls first Broadway show and they were amazed at the talent of the actors and actresses, the sets, and they loved that they got to eat snacks in the theatre. (it’s the little things that excite them)
5. Take it Easy: We often have plans to do 9 million things when we travel, but I decided keeping everyone happy was more important. I had a list of ‘could dos’ and in the end we did about half of what we wanted to do. That just means a return trip is in order!
Climbing all the rocks in Central Park may not be on your list, but you can bet it’s on theirs!
6. Choose your hotel carefully. Traveling with kids and dealing with a gross or noisy hotel is the worst. It’s often worth it to spend slightly more for a better night of sleep since you’ll need it! I have stayed at several NYC hotels in the last few years and would recommend the following:
- Omni Berkshire Square (1/2 block of 5th Avenue)
- Times Square Hilton (great to be in the thick of it all)
- Loew’s Regency (near Central Park and close to Dylan’s Candy Bar)
- Club Quarters (right off Rockefeller Center)
- Mondrian Soho (I haven’t stayed her, but did see the rooms which are lovely! SoHo is a great area for shopping and dining.)
7. Pack snacks. It goes without saying that NYC is expensive. Pack some lightweight snacks like fruit leather, nuts, or pretzels to snack on when everyone needs a quick in-between meal pick me up. And don’t be worried about eating cookies at 4pm and dinner at 10pm. NYC is a culinary adventure!
7b. Be prepared to eat a LOT. Big breakfasts were the name of the game with my girls. They filled up the buffet at our hotel before a long day of walking and sightseeing.
8. Make a list. Get your kids involved by having them share what they want to do on your trip. Scouting locations ahead of time (especially if you have a smartphone) can be time and sanity saver.
9. Expect the unexpected. It is NYC after all. You will likely come across something unexpected. It’s also a good reminder to know you’ll likely have a meltdown on your hands when you least expect it.
Maybe your kids will want to look like a wolf in every picture–just go with it.
10. Do something touristy. Even if you’ve been to NYC a million and one times it’s still fun to act like a tourist. Just make sure to go at an ‘off’ time.
Have you visited NYC with your family? Any advice on where to stay or what to do while you’re in NYC?