Our Toddler Friendly Cities Series continues with the best city in the world: New York City with toddlers! Amanda is an american family travel blogger who has enjoyed The City with her family and has a lot to recommend for you to organize your dreamiest trip ever there with you own family.
I’m Amanda Emmerling and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my husband, Frank, and my 2-year old son, Will. My blog, Toddling Traveler, aims to inspire other families to travel with little ones, providing family friendly destinations and family travel tips. We also cover fun things to do with kids in Pittsburgh when we’re not traveling.
Having grown up in eastern Pennsylvania, I’ve spent a lot of time in New York City, and I’ve been visiting since I was a toddler myself. My family’s first visit to New York City with a toddler was in November of last year when my son was 18 months old. I loved getting the chance to share one of my favorite cities in the world with my son.
The Perfect Day in New York City with Toddlers
A perfect day in New York with kids includes walking around the city and sightseeing. Since little legs get tired easily and the subways aren’t exactly stroller friendly, I recommend choosing one part of the city to explore. Our favorite part of New York City with toddlers is Midtown (including Times Square) and Central Park.
While it’s easier to walk around NYC when the temperatures are milder in the late Spring and early Fall, it’s also magical around Christmas. (And in my opinion, it’s worth fighting the crowds and cold weather at least once in your lifetime!) The city can also be a little overwhelming for young children the first time, so I don’t recommend overscheduling activities. Instead, just roam around and take it all in!
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These two have the most fun wherever we go 😊 ___ We loved taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city to run around and play at the Heckscher Children’s Playground in Central Park. This was Will’s first time in a really big city like New York as a toddler, and he wasn’t quite grasping that he couldn’t just run around wherever he wanted. The flat patches of grass and soft ground by the playground were the perfect spot to let him do just that. ____ #nyc #centralpark #newyork #heckscherplayground #adventureswithchildren #familytravel #familytravelblog #fearlessfamtrav #takethemeverywhere #travelmadfam #childrenwhoadventure #toddlingtraveler #toddlertravel #pittsburghblogger
Toddler-Friendly Activities in NYC
When traveling with a toddler, we love doing a mix of sightseeing and open play. New York City has tons of green spaces for kids to run around, making it surprisingly perfect to visit with little ones. Some of our favorite things to see and do with toddlers in New York City include:
- Visit the Central Park Zoo, and be sure to spend time in the Tisch Children’s Zoo.
- Walk around Central Park and find the Heckscher Playground, located between 61st and 63rd streets.
- Visit Bryant Park and participate in one of many free activities for kids. If you’re in NYC during the Fall or Winter, be sure to check out the ice skating rink and Christmas village.
- Stop by the New York Public Library for an amazing children’s library and the original Winnie the Pooh.
- Walk around Rockefeller Center and go to the Lego store and F.A.O. Swartz toy store.
- Visit the FDNY Fire Safety Zone to climb inside a real fire truck.
Friends of ours that live in NYC also highly recommend the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for toddlers, although we have yet to visit it ourselves.
Restaurants and Cafes in New York City With Toddlers
New York City is packed with kid-friendly cafes and restaurants. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not every restaurant is equipped with changing tables. Be sure to have a changing pad on hand just in case!
Below are some of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants in NYC, all of which have multiple locations throughout the city.
- Urbanspace Food Halls for an amazing selection of foods for every interest and appetite.
- Bareburger for specialty burgers made with sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.
- Dos Caminos for awesome Mexican food (and great drinks for the parents!)
- Cookie Do for indulgent scoops of cookie dough and Baked by Melissa for adorable mini cupcakes.
Family Friendly Hotels in NYC
There are so many choices for hotels in New York City that it can be overwhelming to choose. It’s also important to know that AirBnB is illegal in NYC at the moment. So unless you’re staying outside of the city, hotels are typically preferred.
Below are a few recommendations for family-friendly hotels around Midtown NYC that I’ve stayed at over the years.
- Hilton Midtown, located in a perfect location right by Central Park
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton New York City in Times Square
- Hilton Garden Inn Times Square
If you want a higher end hotel option, I can also recommend the Waldorf Astoria, Intercontinental NY Barclay and the Shangri-La in NYC.
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One more from our NYC trip. We randomly came across these bronze Paparazzi Dogman and Rabbitwoman statues off sixth ave and Will stood here for a while waving at them and running around (I’m still not sure if he understands they weren’t real!) ____ The idea behind statues is to keep a watchful eye on inequality, holding people accountable for treating others with kindness and respect and promoting love and peace across the globe. Couldn’t be more perfect for my little guy who smiles and waves at everyone (and everything) he sees. And definitely a reminder we all need right now ❤️ @gillieandmarcart ____ #nyc #newyork #sixthavenue #spottedonsixth #gillieandmarc #papparazzi #love #peace #kindness #respect #adventureswithchildren #familytravel #childrenwhoadventure #fearlessfamtrav #familytravelblog #takethemeverywhere #travelmadfam #toddlingtraveler #toddlertravel #pittsburghblogger
Short Day Trips from NYC
NYC is easily accessible to Philadelphia, making the “city of brotherly love” a great day trip from New York. Philadelphia is only about 2 hours from NYC by car or train, and there are tons of kid-friendly museums and activities throughout.
Our personal favorite for a day trip from NYC is Jim Thorpe, a picturesque town near the poconos that’s also a 2 hour drive from the city. It’s filled with cute shops and restaurants and is surrounded by the outdoors with hiking and waterfalls galore. The train ride in Jim Thorpe is also a favorite of kids.
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