This tour of New York City brought to you by Carol Cain from NYCityMama: Travel, Food & Other Adventures.
New York City hosts more than 47 million tourists every year. With that many visitors to entertain, it's no wonder that the number of attractions and sights to check out can become a bit overwhelming, especially when trying to decide how to spend your time here with kids. The beauty of summer in NYC is that the list of activities—a lot of them free—is endless and sure to please the entire family.
If you're a first-time visitor to New York, you'll likely want to see some of the most obvious and most famous attractions, such as Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Exploring upbeat neighborhoods, such as colorful Chinatown, Little Italy and South Street Seaport, is also popular with visitors (keep an eye out for summer street fairs). But here are a few of my own family's favorite things to do in New York; some may be a little less known, but they're guaranteed to give you a good taste of the exciting Big Apple.
Governor's Island: A free ferry ride off of the island of Manhattan will take you to a place that makes you feel as if you have gone back in time. Upon arrival families can rent bikes for one, two or even six from Bike and Roll and ride around the island in search of the perfect picnic spot to play and spend your day while enjoying the views of Manhattan Island from a distance. Free entertainment and activities are offered on weekends throughout the summer months.
The New Victory Theater: This beautiful, historic theater caters to theater-loving children and adults. A visit to the New Victory is the perfect way to enjoy quality, award-winning performing arts developed and created to entertain the entire family.
Central Park: It's no surprise that this world-famous urban park is on the top of most lists when it comes to things to do in New York. I mention it here because in addition to being the home of the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, and Marionette Theater in the Swedish Cottage, Central Park is also popular for its Summerstage Concert Series and Delacorte Theater, which often offer family-friendly events, all free of charge. Be sure to bring a blanket for fun in the sun and a picnic on the beloved Great Lawn.
El Museo del Barrio: Located on Fifth Avenue's museum mile in Spanish Harlem, this kid-friendly museum offers educational entertainment and art exhibits that celebrate the Latino culture and history of this great city. Right across the street during the summer months, families are invited to enjoy the Harlem Meer Festival, which takes place in Central Park and offers free concerts by local artists.
The Residence Times Square: This hotel brand makes great efforts to give families the services and amenities they need the most while traveling. At this NYC location, families have access to everything from full laundry room facilities to complimentary buffets serving a wide selection of healthy food options. You can also request to have grocery delivery service stock up your in-room kitchenette at any time during your stay. The hotel is centrally located, with Bryant Park right across the street, as well as Times Square and Rockefeller Center only a few blocks away.
Affinia Hotels: With several locations throughout the city, each Affinia Hotel has its own characteristics. The Affinia Shelburne is one of my favorites for its cozy, intimate comfort. The hotel restaurant, Rare Bar and Grill, is one of the best burger joints in the city, and during the summer the rooftop grill serves guests great eats with spectacular city views. The Affinia Gardens provides guests with coveted garden space, so rarely enjoyed in NYC. The Affinia 50 has some of the largest family suites of all, including wraparound private balcony access. All Affinia Hotels offer guests the My Affinia service, which allows you to customize your stay with services such as pillow choice, in-room yoga kit and bike-tour packages.
Benjamin Hotel: This luxury hotel has gone through some major renovation, including a face-lift on its in-house restaurant The National by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. But don't let all the glamour keep you away from bringing the little ones. The Benjamin's Winks' Kidzzz Club is complimentary, catering to kids ages 2 to 12. The program includes an organic wool-filled Toddler Pillow, a lending library of family favorite bedtime stories, an official Winks' Kidzzz Club Sleep Certificate awarded upon checkout and one Winks the Owl doll per reservation.
Brooklyn Diner: Escaping the high price tag of dining in Times Square is close to impossible, yet this diner manages to feed families affordably and please picky palates, too. Though this diner is nowhere close to the NY borough it's named for, the pizza and burgers it serves are worthy of the name. My kids love the thin crust oven-baked pizzas, plus they are large enough to split among three hungry children, making up for the absent kids' menu.
Cowgirl: This family-friendly eatery is so welcoming and fun that Nickelodeon Parents Connect named it a "Best Family-Friendly Restaurant." The casual spot is a parent-pleasing sight in a downtown neighborhood filled with wine and oyster bars, as well as fancy eateries.
Lombardi's Pizza: A true Italian joint, where you are made to feel like family, Lombardi's actually claims to be America's first pizzeria. It was licensed by the City of New York in 1905 and therefore calls its founder Gennaro Lombardi the father of American pizza. Truly delicious pies and a must-try for everyone who visits Manhattan!
Boat Basin Café: Though this waterfront locale tends to attract the beer-drinking, bar-loving crowd on weekend nights, on weekday evenings families also find a place to belong and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunset spots the city has to offer over burgers and lemonades. Perfectly located in the beautiful Riverside Park, along the promenade, it's a wonderful spot to grab a casual lunch or dinner, either before or after some fun in one of my favorite parks in the city.
Milk & Cookies Bakery: If catering to that sweet tooth is what you have in mind, then this tasty spot is sure to leave you satisfied. Nothing beats the taste of a warm cookie straight out of the oven, served with a nice tall glass of milk. It might just be what you need fuel up before you head back out to conquer NYC.
Expedia customers with kids most often book these hotels when traveling to New York. Hilton New York DoubleTree Suites by Hilton New York City - Times Square InterContinental - New York Times Square
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