Hey hey hey – I’m back after what feels like forever!
We recently took a trip to NYC after years of debating whether to go and decided to finally do something about it! While we were debating about making NYC this year’s annual Tran family trip, we found that most of my cousins were going to do a joint birthday trip. Purely coincidental – so thought maybe we’ll just go around the same time.
While this was a big change from our usual relaxing getaways, it was something we discussed beforehand as a family to be sure this is where we ALL wanted to go.
Since this trip was basically a whirlwind the whole time we were there, I’m going to share tips with a few places for families to visit in the BIG APPLE.
Before you read, just know I am NOT well-versed in NYC – I can only share my experiences with my family – so I decided to recruit the help of a couple of my cousins…
Say hello to my fam, Albert & Jessica (@jus_bert and @streetp respectively)!
Some HELPFUL Tips:
1. Where are the best places to hang out in NYC?
@jus_bert says, in Manhattan, anything from 45th and below - Chelsea, LES (lower east side), and Soho are some great spots; @streetp has been to NYC 3 times and has stayed in Greenpoint, Lower East Side, and Chelsea. According to her, they’ve all been great and it probably depends on what you’re looking for.
Other essentials are:
3. Are there essential tips for surviving a trip to NYC?
4. What is the best way to get around?
For most, the Subway is great and you can get a 7-day unlimited pass for $33. I mean, it’s always interesting! In our case below, we enjoyed an impromptu subway performance…
Anyone with children, getting an UBER might help especially when heading to the airport. We were able to score a day special with an UBER driver (I don’t think it’s anything that UBER offers but was a personal special from the driver himself…shhh). On our last day, we were getting along great with our UBER driver, and he offered to take us around and ultimately take us to the airport for a flat rate. We had lots of time to kill! While some may say this might not be the best way, it was a huge benefit especially that we had our kids with us. We didn’t have to worry too much about dragging our luggage around nor leaving them anywhere (whether it’d be our hotel or wherever our cousins were staying)! We’re willing to spend a little more to avoid any cranky whining.
5. How much money do you need to save (includes airfare, spending money, hotel) etc.?
This purely depends on how much you shop and where you eat…for an individual, this can range anywhere from 1K – 2K for (5) days – this includes airfare, lodging, and spending money. Since we had our three kids, we spent a little over $3k. So, if you’re planning to make a trip to NYC, you have all year to save. Saving from a set amount each paycheck will add up quickly, and before you know it, you’ll have what you need. Of course, you’ll need to plan a little more if you’re paying for additional people.
6. What accommodations are the most economic?
Aside from staying with family or friends you may have living in NYC, Air BnB’s would probably be the most economical especially if you’re staying with other adults who will be sharing the expense.
My family and I made the mistake of staying in a very crowded and touristy area (Times Square) because we thought it’d be more convenient to be in the middle of everything. NOT SO CONVENIENT…for one, it takes forever to get outside of the area by car. By foot, you’ll find that a “block” can span a mile or so. My daughter was a bit turned off by the area’s “aroma” and we ended up smelling like it at the end of every evening. Anyway (I digress). all the prices in that area are jacked up, as well, since there are so many tourists so be sure to have $$$.
We (now) know that staying outside the city would’ve been our best bet especially if you want fresh air (or as fresh as it can be) that you may not normally get in a more metropolitan area. Most of our family stayed together at an AirBNB and were happy with it. Those of us that have stayed in Times Square had mixed reviews, I'd say.
We stayed at the RIU in Times Square. It’s a fashion-y hotel but we were hardly there to enjoy the amenities. Looking back, I’d say it's not ideal for (many) families, especially that the rooms are on the smaller end. I think it might’ve been okay with just me and the hubs.
Having the kids with us was a little challenging – one wanted to up and leave whenever he pleased, one was always hungry from all the walking and wanted to eat every hour (food in Times Square ain't cheap), and the other was surrounded by too much stimuli.
FUN PLACES to VISIT (in no particular order)
Central Park – there are endless activities here. You can do carriage rides, ride your bike, set up a picnic, attend a concert...the things to do are endless. This park is HUGE so be prepared to walk and stay hydrated. While we wished to have spent a little more time here, our daughter was extremely tired so we took an UBER back to our hotel (with her and one of our sons in tow) and she pretty much conked out as soon as she got strapped into the back seat.
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and spend some time in DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). - Sadly, my own little family and I didn’t get to go but I’ll insert a cool (but pixelated) photo of my siblings and cousins at the place. This is someplace to definitely visit if ever we make it back in town. You can walk the bridge, shop, or stop by at the local restaurants.
Grand Central Station – There’s a spot called the “Whispering Wall”, where two people stand on opposite corners of the room and if you talk into the corner, you can hear the other person talking. Pretty wild.
Play with sound on...you can hear my daughter ever so slightly...
Museums – Some museums have a “Pay what you wish” admission on certain days. On our last day, we took our kids to the American Museum of Natural History (by Central Park) and they only required us to pay a donation amount of our choosing. This was probably our family's fave things to do together - it did NOT disappoint. We all loved it so much! Set aside a whole day to spend time here because there are so many exhibits in this building and it's all so educational and well done.
If you've seen it, you might even recognize it for the setting of Ben Stiller’s movie, “Night at the Museum.”
The Highline and Vessel – This was quite a bit of a walk for us (from Time Square) but, hey, we burned off the food we gorged on earlier in the day. Not to mention, we felt so svelte by the end of the night from all that walking!
The Vessel itself reminds me of a honeycomb and is just a cool structure to take photos of and walk to the very top. I believe there’s an entry fee (not sure how much since we opted out…the wait was about an hour, so, no thanks!)
Broadway (any show) – I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone having a bad experience at a Broadway show (they have some of the best performers out there)! If you’re debating whether to attend one, I highly recommend it. Let’s be real, how many times are you going to be able to come to NYC to experience something they’re very well known for?!
Pricing will vary depending on the show you book. We booked Wicked (a show that is centered on the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz) and tickets are over $100 each…plus tax…plus S&H. - IT. ADDS. UP.
Lady Liberty/Ellis Island Tours – Ah yes, the famous Statue of Liberty – she is as majestic in person as you see in movies. To get to her, you would take about a 15-minute ferry from Battery Park (set times are posted on their site, check out… https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/ferry-tickets). Be sure to take one of their electronic tour guides upon arrival and grab a filling lunch at their café conveniently attached to the shop where you can pick up a souvenir or two.
There are different packages in touring the island. We just toured the grounds but you can actually go inside the statue itself.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can buy a package that includes a ferry to Ellis Island. You can definitely feel the history walking through the halls…after all, this is where many of your ancestors had arrived to start anew. They’ve got an in-house infirmary, courthouse, morgue, etc. Pretty cool place and great to discuss with your kids about what these people went through to live in America.
Ground Zero/Oculus – Needless to say this is a MUST. It’s a part of U.S. history – a site once occupied by the twin towers and now a well-known memorial to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. The Oculus is seen in the background and is definitely one of the most unique structures you’ll ever come across.
The kids were enamored by the whole site and found everything about the place interesting - they asked questions about the people affected by it as well as where we were when it all happened.
Top of the Rock @ Rockefeller Center – Can’t beat 360 degree views of all of Manhattan! This is the prime spot at a look of the Big Apple during sunset. However, it can get pretty crowded so be prepared for that.
Other things to do (via my cousin, @jus_bert):
Needless to say there is so much you can do in NYC - this city truly NEVER sleeps. It seemed like we were doing different things every hour. The place is filled with so many people of various nationalities. that it feels like you’re (in a sense) on a whole different planet. It’s certainly a place like no other!
I think every person should visit at least once in their life but do your research as far as what you’d like to do and dress appropriately for the trip. Your little feet will thank you for it. :)
~ XOXO, Mari
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