Our family trip to The Big Apple was a whirlwind trip. We did so many fun things while we were there, so I’m going to break it down into individual posts to help streamline it all (and help my brain write it out clearly). Some of them will be long, but I wanted to be able to give you a usable guide if you’re planning a trip to the city, especially with littles.
Let me start all of this out by saying if you don’t like walking, noise or crowds, New York City is definitely not the vacation destination for you. I want you to love it as much as I do, but it is definitely not for everyone. This was my sixth trip to NYC and my second time with kiddos. I want to help make it as manageable as possible for you to visit the city, especially if you’re a little crazy like us and choose to take your littles with you.
First step: do some research before you book your trip. I love to read articles and blogs that are dedicated to NYC as well as poll my friends on social media and save any places I want to potentially visit into a list in Google Maps. This way if I end up in a certain area of NYC I have some options to visit.
Next step: figure out what time of the year you want to visit. We have gone several times over Mother’s Day weekend and the temps are usually perfect (we did have a little rain this time, but it wasn’t unbearable). I recommend going in the late spring/early summer if it’s your first trip. Christmas in New York City is beautiful and magical, but it’s really cold and you won’t get to experience the city in the same way.
Third step: figure out which airline you want to fly on and which airport you want to fly into. Your options for airports are Newark (in New Jersey) or LaGuardia or JFK in NY. We usually fly into LaGuardia because it’s the closest, which usually means for a less expensive cab ride to the hotel, but it really is a personal preference. (Heads up…LaGuardia is an older airport and the runways are right along the water, which can be surprising when you land if you’re not aware of that.) Also, be sure to check the weather right before your trip. I’m so glad we did because it rained, so I made sure we had umbrellas and raincoats packed with us.
We flew to NYC via Southwest Airlines. The route is DAL (Dallas Love Field) to LGA (LaGuardia Airport). I usually choose the first flight of the day so we can arrive in time to still enjoy some of our first day there. Our flight for this trip left just after 6am (we are crazy, I know. We got to the airport around 4am). We brought our travel stroller with us (Baby Jogger City Mini Zip) and gate checked it in its storage bag. Charlotte traveled as a lap child and Adalyn had her own seat. We choose not to travel with car seats when we go to NYC since we only take a taxi from the airport to the hotel and they are not required in taxis and we take the subway or walk for the entirety of our trip. (*They are highly recommended by any CSST (Car Seat Safety Technician) for travel on the plane and in any vehicle, so you will need to make that decision for your own family.) Both girls slept for most of the flight which was great. When we arrived at LaGuardia, got Charlotte up in my XOXO Buckle Wrap carrier, we grabbed our luggage and waited in the line for a taxi (just follow the signs…they are well-marked). It moves quickly and they even moved us to the front of the line because we had small kiddos and they got us a larger cab. It took just around 45 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel due to traffic. We paid around $60 for the trip to the hotel. (A private car service will run you around $75 plus tip.)
Check out these adorable shirts from Here, There, Everywear that were custom made for the girls, just for this trip*! You can create custom shirts for any trip using the airport codes of the locations you’ll be visiting (DAL is for Dallas Love Field and LGA is for LaGuardia). The girls looked so cute in them and got tons of compliments, especially on the airplane. Use the code “EVERYWEAR” for 20% off your order. They have shirts for the entire family!
For this trip and our last trip back in 2015 (when Adalyn was 2 years old) we stayed at the Doubletree Suites in Times Square (7th Ave. & 47th St.). The price was very reasonable and every room is a suite. I reserved our room through booking.com (they have an app too) because they had the best price I could find at the time. I do recommend choosing the free cancellation option and checking the price as often as possible after you book it. I ended up saving $300 by doing this because the price dropped on two different occasions, so I just booked a new reservation and cancelled my old one. We chose the Premier King Suite, which is 489 sq. ft. and has a living room with a sleeper sofa, a bedroom with a king bed, a bathroom with a bathtub (perfect for bathing littles), a refrigerator, a microwave and a safe. It is in the heart of all of the action and you have so much space, which is great with two little kids. They even provided a pack & play for Charlotte to sleep in while we were there. We were on the 36th floor and the sound of the city was hardly noticeable. We also had a great view of Times Square.
After we got checked in and settled, we packed up the girls and headed out to explore. (Jeff always carried a backpack and I also brought my bag, so we had everything we needed for the girls. The stroller went with us everywhere as well.) The Times Square location means you are withing walking distance of tons of fun things to see and do and also close to a lot of subway stations, so you can get to anywhere you’d like quickly.
Before I move on to what to see and do, here are some helpful tips:
Must Have Apps:
- Google Maps–-this is great for telling you directions & travel time, even for walking or using the subway
- New York City MTA Map–this is great to use to see the entire subway system map, even if you don’t have service while on the subway. Not all of the subway cars are updated and it’s often hard to hear the train operator tell you what the next stop is. This way you can always be in the know, without having a paper map out, making you look like a tourist.
What to pack:
- Comfortable shoes for anyone who will be walking. I recommend Sketchers with memory foam insoles. I wore them every day, and even though my feet were still achy sore, I didn’t get any blisters. (We walked over 50 miles on our trip, so these were SO helpful!)
- Sound machine (We brought our Hatch Rest, because both girls are used to sleeping with it, which made for a more home-like experience.)
- Travel Stroller–we brought the Baby Jogger City Mini Zip, but other options are: Babyzen Yoyo (most expensive option), Summer Infant 3DPac CS+, GB Pockit, & the Mountain Buggy Nano.
- External battery power for your phone–being in the city sucks the life out of my battery, so I recommend you find either a case that has extra battery power or an external battery unit
- Snack cups and cups if traveling with your littles (you can purchase snacks when you get to the city). My favorite snack cup is the Munchie Mug!
- Travel blanket, like the Monkey Mat. It’s really compact and perfect for keeping in your bag if you visit Central Park or any other spot where you might be sitting on the ground.
- Small toys for your kiddos to play with on the plane or while in the hotel room (Adalyn carries a small backpack and carries all of her own stuff for on the plane)
- Coloring or activity books for on the plane or in the hotel room
- Tablet like a LeapPad or iPad for on the plane or while in your hotel room
- Bandaids, especially blister bandaids!
- Ibuprofen for your achy feet and body after walking
- I also like to pack a small blanket for my kiddos for on the plane and also if it’s chilly outside for use in the stroller
(*I received a shop credit from Here, There Everywear in exchange for my posts)