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City Guide: New York City

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The City so Nice, They Named it Twice.


New York is a behemoth. Even with all of the world traveling that I had done, I was very nervous to travel there with our 6-month-old.


I had never been so I wasn't sure what to expect and based on every movie and tv show that I had ever watched, there was a reason to be nervous. It was dirty and dangerous. It was a place where you would get shoved off the sidewalk into ongoing traffic if you weren’t careful. So good luck getting around with a stroller and baby…


But I should have known better.


It was actually incredible. But I was glad that I planned what I needed to ahead of time and just went with a hail mary for the rest. Among all things, flexibility is the most essential when it comes to traveling with a baby.


Photo by Mathilde Paret on Unsplash

Lay of the Land and How to Prepare


New York is a huge city and Stella is still quite young so there are a few things that I needed to think about before traveling that were essential to making this trip a success, in addition to your normal Transportation/Accommodation considerations.


Baby Wearing vs Stroller


I, personally, was hoping to use our stroller as much as possible. I am used to walking a lot and can hang with the best of them but taking 20,000 steps a day AND having a baby to carry seemed like it was going to be too much. Even if my husband and I split the weight throughout the day.


We were also hoping to rely on the stroller for naps so we did not have to go back to the hotel multiple times a day. Stella sleeps well in the car and we figured she would be able to do the same if we made a nice sleep environment for her in the stroller while out and about.


During the planning process, however, we were considering what would happen If we didn’t want to walk as much and would rely heavily on the subway. Would it be easier to babywear in a carrier? Ultimately it depends on what you think would work best for you and we brought both options just in case.


Sleep Schedule


I wrote an entire blog dedicated to my thought process, here.


The Weather


Something to definitely consider. What winter or summer items will you need to make sure that you bring depending on when you are traveling?


For us, we were going to be traveling right before Christmas so there was the potential of it being very cold and with a plan of largely traveling on foot around the city, we wanted Baby to be as comfortable as possible in case we were outside for longer periods of time.


Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash

Accommodation


When planning where you want to stay, I think it is best to consider areas that are close to tourist destinations that you plan to visit. Most of the most popular places to visit are going to be in Manhattan with the hotspots being Midtown and Lower Manhattan.


If you are going to New York around Christmas, it would be wise to stay in Midtown. Most of the popular attractions there (Times Square, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, and more) will be within walking distance. You are also close to Central Park. This is where we stayed the last time and we really enjoyed it.


Other times of the year, there is more to see the further south you go. If we went back, we would likely try to find somewhere to stay in Soho, Chelsea, Flatiron District or the Union Square Neighborhoods. From here you can easily walk down towards the Financial District, the iconic bridges, and more. You can also head east towards the fantastic eateries of the Lower East Side.


If you plan to see anything in the other boroughs, it is worth staying near a wheelchair accessible subway station.



Transportation


Getting around in New York actually required a lot of consideration. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money in this area so we figured walking and public transportation was going to be the most suitable option for getting around the city during our trip. The one thing we were willing to spend some more money on however were airport transfers. For peace of mind and ease of travel, this is the only point that I would suggest using a hotel arranged transfer, ride-sharing app, or taxi.


Getting To and From the Airport


Depending on the airport that you fly in and out of, there are many options in getting to your stay wherever it may be. For simplicity’s sake, I highly recommend using a ride share service/app.


When using Uber or Lyft, it will take a while for a car to arrive. So I would book a car once you get off your plane and before you head to the baggage area. By the time you claim your bag and go to the designated pickup space, you might still be waiting but it won't be as long. If you fly in or out of LaGuardia, the cars are allowed to stop and wait for you in the designated pickup locations.


Each airport will have a designated pick-up space outside of the terminal for “Car Service and App-Based Rides” so be sure to follow those signs in order to know where to go. (Links for more information on pickup locations at each airport: LaGuardia, JFK, Newark).


Traveling within the City


I had heard and read about the nightmares of the subway system in NYC (even though I am a seasoned pro at navigating public transportation, even in other languages). It was apparently difficult to navigate, not stroller friendly, and the trains are always late and dirty. Because of this, I wanted to make sure that I packed our baby carrier. This wasn’t an ideal scenario but if we needed to travel around and found it difficult with a stroller, this was the next best option.


In our experience, we actually didn’t find this to be the case.*


Now, we walked a lot. But my husband and I really enjoy walking. Our hotel was right in the heart of Midtown, within a 15 minute walk of Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park so we didn’t need to take public transportation to get to any of these locations.


When we did want to go places further away, like SoHo, Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, and such, I found a really useful tool in Google Maps that enabled us to prioritize travel with Stella in the stroller. Google Maps has a “Wheelchair Accessible” feature. If you choose this option, your route will be changed to one that accommodates a wheelchair or in your case a stroller! If it has you taking the subway, then this means the station is more likely to have an elevator that will take you down to the train platform.**


If you want to find out more information on exactly how I did this; from finding the elevator to purchasing the ticket, to getting on the train; I have written a guide that you can find here.

 

*I am not saying that the subway system doesn't have these issues. But as a tourist, you are likely traveling during off-peak hours and in the “nicer” stations that have slightly more funding because they are near the more tourist parts of the city.


**Google Maps does have a disclaimer to “Use Caution - Wheelchair accessible directions may not always reflect real-world conditions.” Elevators can break or be out of order. So it is important to remain flexible and have a plan in these cases although we did not have this problem when we traveled.


Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash

Baby-Friendly Things to Do and See


There is enough to see in New York that it could take you months to get through it all. This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are some highly recommended go to's that you can add to your own list!


Central Park

Explore the massive oasis in the heart of the city with your little one. Have a picnic, go to the zoo, or join one of the park’s many events happening all throughout the year.


Any of NYC’s other parks

  1. Carousels - New York City is infamous for their many park carousels

  2. Bryant Park

  3. Brooklyn Bridge Park/Dumbo and many more

Rockefeller Center

See the five boroughs and beyond from the Top of the Rock (the best view of the city in my opinion), search for famous celebrities while exploring the plaza, or shop in the many child-friendly stores (including American Girl Doll, Lego, or Nintendo), and more. You can also jump in line to see visit the famous FAO Schwarz.


Times Square via the R Lounge in the Renaissance Hotel

Times Square is an exciting mix of bright lights, chaotic crowds, and colorful billboards and is mesmerizing for a little adventurer. Our favorite vantage point is high above the crowds in one of the cocktail bars with a bird’s eye view of Times Square.


New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is world-renowned and the flagship location is historical and iconic. Enjoy a stroll through Bryant Park and afterward stop by to explore or participate in storytime with Baby to slow things down from the hustle and bustle outside.


Children's Museums

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan: Here you can find exhibits that make learning about culture, history, and science a blast for kids ages six and under. Explore the benefits of good nutrition from "EatSleepPlay," a Dora the Explorer play area, and immersive exhibits that rotate in and out of the five-story space. CMOM also hosts classes and workshops—from Gross Biology for kids who love burps and germs, to the Music in Me!, a toddlers' program by Laurie Berkner—all designed with the latest child-development research in mind.

  2. DiMenna Children's History Museum at the New York Historical Society: The hands-on displays at this kid-focused arm of the New-York Historical Society transport children back through 350 years of U.S. history, with a special focus on NYC. Children are encouraged to climb around and interact with exhibits that highlight the lives of kids who grew up to become famous doctors, athletes, and political figures. Little New Yorkers can get in on sing-alongs and crafts. Other family programs include cooking classes, scavenger hunts, games, and story hours.


Stroller Tours at the Guggenheim Museum

Wandering through galleries isn't always easy with a little one but the Guggenheim makes museum visits easier with their brilliant stroller tour. On the second Tuesday of every month, a museum educator will lead Stroller Tours and take a group through current exhibits as little ones keep busy by playing with fun objects and trying out crafts. Online registration is required.


The Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is a great way to view the Manhattan skyline from afar. It’s relaxing and your little one will be swayed to sleep by the ferry ride. The best part? The ferry ride itself is FREE. Also, there are food concessions for sale, including adult beverages. So, all aboard the Staten Island Ferry!



New York is not unlike many of the other large cities I have visited throughout my lifetime. And I don't believe that only someone with world travel experience can have a super successful trip with your family to one of the greatest cities in the USA.


We hope you can use this guide to have a wonderful trip!

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