One Day in New York City for Families

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Awesome Tips   Bucket List Worthy  

New York City Skyline from Central Park | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino
New York City Skyline from Central Park | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino

By Elena Sonnino

Travelers from around the globe descend upon New York City ready to be swept up in the bustling energy from Times Square to the Statue of Liberty to shopping on 5th Avenue. Except that there is one reality about traveling to New York City – it is difficult – if not impossible to see and do everything. In fact, trying to cram all the quintessential New York City experiences into one trip can be downright stressful especially if traveling with children and family. What if instead of trying to do it all, families could explore highly engaging and off the beaten path experiences without rushing and still feeling like they “saw” all there was to see?

Smart family travel means creating a balanced itinerary that may or may not include the “top” sites in a city, especially when you only have a day or two. My tween daughter may be my favourite travel companion, but even the most curious and adventurous travelers will tire of museums, long lines, tours and attractions. While you may not see everything, watching children light up as they view New York City with a less rushed itinerary, will be worth every missed major attraction.

One Day Family Friendly New York City Itinerary

Walk the High Line

New York City is a walking city. Beyond the tourist attractions, it is a city full of people and architecture, art and culture that can only be seen when you take the time to explore the unique neighbourhoods. Which is why a perfect family friendly NYC itinerary starts walking the 1.45 miles of the high line from the meat-packing district to Chelsea for an elevated perspective on the city.

Families can start their New York City day experiencing the best of the West side while giving kids a place to run, skip or jump. More than just a rail track turned elevated park, the High Line’s urban playground showcases monthly blooms of all varieties and art from billboard to statues to live performances.

Get modern at MoMA

MOMA Sculpture Garden | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino
MOMA Sculpture Garden | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino

Of all the museums in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) provides the perfect balance of artistic and cultural exploration without zapping all the energy out of children and families.

Located in Midtown, MoMA is easily accessible by subway (another unique NYC experience that children will enjoy). The reason that MOMA is the perfect family friendly museum is that it combines art that engages all the senses- in multiple dimensions without having to commit an entire day to a museum. From paintings to sculptures to interactive exhibits, families can navigate as many or as few of the exhibits across six floors of the museum.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to visit MoMA with kids are the art cards and activity guides available (for free) to children from ages 4-14. Aspiring and reluctant artists alike, will be drawn to the engaging prompts and scavenger hunt like activities designed to help them connect with the many works of art throughout the museum.

Refuel at a NYC food truck

While there is a restaurant for every taste in New York City, stopping for a snack or meal at food cart along the street will keep hungry travelers young and old happy and satisfied. Grumbling appetites are easily appeased with a hot dog or pretzel on almost every street corner, while larger appetites will appreciate the large portions and rich taste of the Halal Guys trucks in Midtown.

Go for a carriage ride in Central Park

New York City View from Central Park | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino
New York City View from Central Park | Photo credit: Elena Sonnino

Central Park is one of my favourite spots in New York City. A haven for activity from biking to running to organized sports and a place where New Yorkers come to escape the honking horns of taxis, Central Park offers families endless opportunities and a chance to put their feet up after a long day.

A short carriage ride around Central Park, wrapped up in a cozy blanket, gives tired feet a chance to rest while still exploring one of the most famous parks in the world. (The cost of a 45-minute carriage ride is approximately $110). While the cost may seem pricey, a carriage ride is a great way to experience Central Park when young legs and tired feet turn a long walk into torture.

While in Central Park, there is always more to do like visiting the Central Park Zoo, racing a boat across the Conservatory water, ice skating in the winter or riding the famous Friedsam Memorial Carousel.

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