Traveling with Kids to NYC
I will be the first one to admit that when it comes to planning my own travel I am one of the most indecisive planners around. I understand what my family likes to do but I also want them to experience new things and step out of their comfort zones a bit. Traveling with a daring 5 year old, picky 8 year old and a husband that is neurotic about safety never makes for trip that goes as planned. Recently we took a whirlwind trip to New York City – main objective – to fulfill a Christmas gift with a visit to the American Girl Doll store. I had a laundry list of other things to do – eat pizza in Brooklyn, see a show and visit the American Museum of Natural History and the Intrepid. As always, I learned a few things from this trip that I wanted to share in hopes that your family trip will run as smooth as herding cats can be.
1. Transportation – We decided against taking Amtrak into the city and instead opted to drive and park at Hamilton Station in New Jersey and take the New Jersey Transit to Penn Station. This had a few benefits – it was about 75% less than taking Amtrak from Pennsylvania and it afforded us a ton of flexibility as the trains run quite frequently and the tickets are open. The kids loved the train for the short ride and as soon as they started getting bored we arrived at the station.
2. Accommodations – My idea of a vacation does not include cramped spaces and sharing a room with my kids. I don’t do it at home and I would prefer not to spend half of a mortgage payment for 2 nights in close quarters. One of our preferred hotel partners, The Benjamin Hotel, was the perfect compromise. We had a 1 Bedroom King Suite with a full balcony and kitchenette. The kitchenette was key for us. My kids never finish their dinner but are always hungry 30 minutes later. The kitchenette allowed us to store and heat up leftovers. The fridge was full NYC size and there were basic utensils to make eating much easier. The location of The Benjamin was right off Park Ave and a short walk to Rockefeller and Time Square.
3. Dining – This was the one area that I failed miserably. I am a vegan and the rest of my family is carnivores through and through. Our biggest struggle was finding options that were close by, kid friendly, and had something besides steamed broccoli for me to eat. The concierge was great at making some recommendations which came in handy on the first night but it was crash and burn the rest of the time. We finally hit up Dylan’s Candy Store and the kids were thrilled with that dinner selection for our last night.
4. We needed something to do that would be warm and entertaining for all of us so I bought tickets to The Ride. We were thoroughly entertained for 75 minutes while we drove around the streets of NYC, saw street performers and learned about some of the iconic buildings and landmarks. The kids laughed while we stayed warm with our coffees and hot chocolates spilling in our pockets and bag. The Ride does not allow beverages but our Starbucks were not going in the trash!
We thought about going to see a show but opted to stay in our last night and rent a movie. It was wonderful to relax with my family, snuggle in a bed strewn with new doll clothes, Legos and candy crumbs and just be grateful that we can provide amazing experiences for our kids.