Every parent knows that travelling with young children can present unexpected challenges. Visiting New York City is no exception. Rest assured, however, that with a little extra planning families can, and do, have wonderful vacation experiences in the Big Apple.
Plan, plan, plan
Plan your days with the ages of your children in mind. Choose age appropriate activities and try to keep mealtimes and naps consistent. Choose evening activities that will help them relax after a busy day: a dip in the pool, perhaps.
Break your days into blocks of time no more that an hour or so for very young children and two to three hours for pre-teens. Because of the noise, activity and overall pace of the city it is easy for even adults to become over stimulated. Schedule down time between activities. TV or computer time, story time. It can feel like a waste of your much anticipated vacation time, but it’s not. It’s well worth it.
There are many activities that can fit well into smaller chunks of time. Kid friendly museums, like The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, for example. Zoos and parks will allow a respite from the street noise. The kids can exercise their little legs and you can rest yours. A carriage ride in Central Park is always a hit.
Big tourist attractions
If you plan on visiting the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, go early. You can even order tickets online before your trip and avoid the long lines at the ticket window, though you’ll still have to wait in line for the attraction itself. It you don’t want to stop at Liberty Island a ride on the Staten Island Ferry will let you see Lady Liberty from afar. A bonus: it’s free.
Speaking of free, there are plenty of free activities you can take advantage of. Walking tours of Central Park and Grand Central Terminal are fun and educational, but because of the amount of walking are best for older kids and adults. Visit Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and and make a reverential stop at the Sphere in Battery Park. The once beautiful, shiny Sphere once stood outside the World Trade Center. It is still mostly intact, but it’s battered appearance is a memorial of all that was lost that fateful day.
Be careful on the sidewalks
New York City sidewalks are wide and usually congested with fast moving pedestrians. If you have young children who may have a hard time keeping up try to avoid the more heavily populated sidewalks in the shopping and business districts during rush hour and lunch hour. If you can’t, a piggy back ride may be in order.
As with any other vacation, remember that flexibility is vital. Traffic delays happen, weather happens, kids (and parents, too) sometimes just need a break from activity just to rest. When planning your trip, choose a hotel that is family friendly. There may just be a time when all you really want to do is stay in.
Simply by putting a little extra thought into your vacation plans you will be able to minimise some of the stresses of being away from home with your kids. The extra effort can really pay off, and help you get the most out of your vacation.