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La Jolla Mom

New York City

Traveling to New York City

Definitely put the City That Never Sleeps on your travel to-do list. New York’s frenetic energy, cultural diversity, and abundance of attractions will keep you busy from the moment you arrive to the minute you say goodbye. Where else on earth can you get authentic Laotian, Colombian, and Thai cuisine, day or night?  Or experience all the best parts of one destination just by hopping on a train? While you should definitely experience the touristy side of NYC at least once in your life, keep in mind that the city is made of neighborhoods — each of which has its own unique character. Turn a corner, and you might find yourself on a quiet tree-lined street. Turn another, and you’re in the middle of a bustling fish market. It’s a truly amazing place where you never know what you might see next.

Visiting New York City with Kids

There’s an overwhelming amount of things to do when you’re visiting NYC with kids, so I recommend planning your itinerary in advance whether you want to hit the most famous sites in New York or you’re planning a more relaxed trip that will include things like shopping at the American Girl Cafe and a lot of time wandering around Central Park. You probably know that NYC has top-notch museums, theaters, restaurants, and kid-friendly shopping experiences, but did you know that there are also amazing play spaces and child-centric events all over the city?

The Plaza Hotel’s Eloise at the Plaza experience is great fun for any little girl or boy who’s a fan of the famous children’s book character. The High Line is a great place to learn more about the city’s history, see cool public art, and let kids run off some steam. And there are playgrounds everywhere. In between attractions, there’s no shortage of spots where you can grab a snack, whether you’re craving health food or a huge Instagram-worthy milkshake.

Central Park Is a Must-Visit Destination

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan? Head over to Central Park, and wind your way deep into its center where you can relax and lose yourself in nature. This is one of the most photogenic parks anywhere in the world — and one of the most interesting to explore. Much like the city itself, you’ll find something new around every turn in Central Park, whether it’s the famous carousel, Belvedere Castle or the Imagine mosaic. Though you’ll find multiple playgrounds scattered around the park, one of the things kids seem to like to do best is climb over the rocks that are one of the most interesting parts of the landscape.

Check Out the Empire State Building Observation Deck

Of all the touristy things to do in New York City, this one is a must-do. The Empire State Building Observation Deck is iconic, having appeared in numerous movies and television shows, and is a great spot for photo ops. That said, I would definitely recommend buying your tickets in advance and arriving early because the lines can get very long and the observation deck can get quite crowded. You’ll spend time waiting no matter what, but the view of the city you’ll get from the top is worth waiting for – at least once. Bring a sweater, because it can be windy on the observation deck, and don’t forget quarters for the binoculars if you’re visiting New York City with kids.

Trekking Down to Coney Island

A trip out to Coney Island in Brooklyn is an experience all its own – in some ways, it hardly feels like part of New York City. When it comes to things to do in Coney Island, grabbing a Nathan’s hot dog or some fried clams and hitting the beach is just scratching the surface.

Many people come to Coney Island to ride the famous wooden Cyclone coaster or Deno’s Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel. You don’t have to pay to get into Luna Park, the seaside amusement park in Coney Island, but costs add up when you’re riding the rides. There are Luna Park discounts you can get by buying a New York Explorer Pass, a New York Pass or a New York Sightseeing Pass.

If amusement park rides aren’t your thing, check out the Coney Island Museum, which showcases the history and evolution of the area. It was once a Victorian Era beach resort, and at one time was the site of the largest amusement park area in the whole country, with three competing parks. Then there’s the famous sideshow, which is surprisingly family-friendly and charming, and the New York Aquarium. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in late June, come down for the annual Mermaid Parade – a visual feast of hip and kitschy art and live entertainment.

Treats to Eat in New York City

Even outside of New York, we hear about the treats that are trending in the city. From rainbow bagels to the cronut, trendy sweet treats often get their start here. The best thing to do is wait until trend spotters move on, and hit last year’s hotspots.

For instance, we’ve loved treating ourselves at Magnolia Bakery. Some people think the cupcakes aren’t all that, but my daughter loves them, and I thought the layered banana pudding was amazing. New York City’s two Ladurée tea houses have some of the best French macarons in the entire city. You can even buy them beautifully packaged to take home. Then there’s Momofuku Milk Bar, with its unique desserts created by Pastry Chef Christina Tossi. The corn cookies are so good, and while the cereal milk ice cream sounds strange in theory, it’s actually really delicious.

Using the New York Pass®

The New York Pass is an all-inclusive pass for sightseeing in New York City that lets you visit 100 New York City attractions at a deep discount just by scanning the pass as you enter. Using it is one of the easiest ways to save some money when you visit the city and to skip the lines at select attractions. Passes are available in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 consecutive day options, and the pass lets you visit each attraction one time during your stay. The longer you stay, the more you’ll save. Tip: If there are specific places you plan to visit during your NYC trip, make sure the attractions you’d like to visit are part of the pass option you choose.

Luxury Hotels in New York

There are so many luxury hotels in New York City that it can be hard to choose one. One of our absolute favorites is the Mandarin Oriental, which is conveniently located at the Southwest corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle. It has flawless service that stands alone even when compared to other high-end hotels in the city, it’s very family-friendly (and right next to the 10-acre Heckscher playground in the park), and the rooms have spectacular views of Central Park.

We also love The Towers at Lotte New York Palace. Just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center, this luxury hotel in Manhattan has lovely rooms with great city views and generous Molton Brown amenities. The Les Clefs d’Or concierges are especially attentive, the rooms themselves are surprisingly large for a New York City hotel, and guests enjoy complimentary Mercedes GL350 or Maybach car service and Wall Street shuttle service.

Check out my luxury hotel reviews before you book to get an idea of what kind of amenities you’ll find at some of my favorite NYC hotels. And then consider booking through me. As an Independent Affiliate of Cadence® Travel, I have access to exclusive VIP amenities at many New York City luxury hotels. Here’s a partial list of properties where will be flagged as a VIP in the hotel’s reservation system and you’ll automatically get extras like complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, spa credits, and more at many luxury hotels in and around the city.

Need something to remind you of the taste of NYC? How about the Baked NYC brownie!