We finally went on holiday hurray!!! Paul has wanted to go to New York as long as I’ve known him, but he really didn’t want to take Miss L while she was little so we’ve waited until now. In hindsight, New York is a great city for kids so we could have done it earlier.
Here are my top tips for travelling to New York with kids…
We flew on Virgin from Heathrow, as a 12 year old L was treated as an adult so we couldn’t reclaim her air tax which you can sub-12 and from 12-15 next year! Seat Guru is THE most useful site, I discovered that the 747 Virgin planes have an economy section upstairs near Upper Class. There aren’t that many seats, but you get good service, it’s quiet, you get more space and you’re own loo! Amazing!! The best place to sit in economy by far, I had the misfortune of being downstairs on the way back as the plane was busier and it was horrendous. From now on, upstairs only!
There are more of these popping up in the wake of Air BnB and HouseTrip, we discovered that Best Western have a ‘Hospitality’ Hotel there. You basically get a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchenette which is ideal if you have kids. It was way bigger than a hotel and great if you wanted to have a nap and the rest of the family want to watch TV.
The hotel also provided a breakfast room with an all you can eat breakfast and you could either eat it there or take it to your room. The other upside was you could get food delivered and eat it at your own dining table in the lounge, saved a fortune in restaurant costs.
It wasn’t the most amazing view out of the windows, but there was a cute restaurant garden to the side of us, which was a lovely little haven.
One word of warning if you stay in an old building in Manhattan in the summer it is HOT and I don’t mean a little bit. I mean full on Floridaesque tropical 95 degree heat. We had these ancient air conditioning units which my European Eco sensibility struggled with (the electricity consumption must be horrendous in Manhattan) but after an hour of having them off it was unbearable so we learnt to live with them. The city was so hot and obviously had been for weeks so the whole place had heated up. If you have any breathing issues I’d avoid it until cooler weather the pollution was horrendous with the heat. Our next trip might be planned for Spring as I think it’s cooler and therefore more enjoyable.
There are several different City Pass schemes in NYC. We went with this one as it covered pretty much all we wanted to in the time we were there.
For the three of us to do
RockerFella Centre, Empire State, 9/11 Museum, Landmark Cruise, museum of Natural History and the Met Museum of Art it would have been $450.50.
With the pre-booked tickets it was $377 so saved us a fair chunk. You don’t have the buy them here and most of the places above will sell them to you, we got ours at the Rockerfella Centre
Rockerfella over Empire State
I’d been to the Empire State building back in 2001, but I remembered it being very crowded and frankly a bit rubbish. I’d heard on various forums that Rockerfella Centre was much better, and less crowded so we decided to head there on our first day. We bought our city pass there and headed up.
OH MY WORD! The view when you get to the top is spectacular! There are three viewing decks which are wide and spacious and plenty of room to take lots of photos and just marvel at the city, especially Central Park. I’m so pleased we went there first. It was baking hot, but there were some air condition parts to hide in from the sun for a while and we spent ages up there. Probably my favourite place in the city.
The Natural History Museum
Like most of you we are big fans of ‘Night at the Museum’, so Miss L especially wanted to go there. It’s next to Central Park, so we walked through had an amazing brunch at ‘Good Enough to Eat‘ which is a couple of blocks away (get the pancakes with strawberry butter. Seriously strawberry butter should be a thing everywhere!). It was on the City Pass (museums in NYC aren’t free like in London), and as we had that we got an extra free admission to one of the specialist exhibitions.
We were especially pleased to find Teddy Roosevelt sitting on a bench, so we had our picture snapped with him. Top tip get a map, it’s vast and there is lots there. Particularly good are the Dinosaurs, the Space section and the Hall of Human Origin. We really enjoyed them all.
I love Central Park and it’s such a feat of manmade engineering. If you want to geek out at how it was constructed have a read about it here. If it’s hot, take water with you, places to buy water are few and far between. We didn’t do the tourist thing of going in the horse and carts, the horses looked miserable and I did at once point see one of the drivers actually nodding off to sleep whilst driving the cart! Pretty much the horse was doing everything!
Get a map or an app to guide you around, it’s well worth it as it’s pretty easy to get lost in there, it’s vast. We did two days of wandering around in there overall, and we covered maybe less than half?
World Trade Centre and the Museum.
The new building is up and the memorial park is beautiful. We decided to take Miss L as a history lesson for her. She was born 2 years after the buildings came down and to her it’s history, an event she see’s on TV every September on the news. Now my daughter is the chattiest child on the planet, questions come out of her every three seconds or so. We walked in to the park, she saw the giant memorials with all the names on and she was silent for the next two hours, not one peep out of her. They are just so vast and shocking, I did feel that it was like walking in a graveyard, it’s that kind of feeling if you know what I mean?. She said later that it made her understand better what’s happening now in the world and how it started, which I thought was quite perceptive of her.
There is a really good app which we used called 9/11 memorial app and you can look at the memorial, see a name and click on it on the app to find out about that person and their life.
The museum is very tastefully done, and there are lots of huge parts of the original buildings, trashed firetrucks that were crushed, it gives you a very good idea of scale. There’s a room with a photo of everyone who died and I was fine, in there looking at the photos and then there are little cases with their personal possession and there were of course unbreakable Nokia phones, glasses etc. But then there is one little case on it’s own which has a teddy bear and some children’s headphones that belonged to two of the toddlers on the plane, and I utterly lost it and throughly embarrassed myself in a very un British way of sobbing very loudly. Basically take tissues with you, it’s very moving.
There are a few cruises you can take but obviously we had a City Pass so opted to do the Landmark Cruise. Didn’t know really what to expect, but it was fabulous! There was a tour guide talking and there were great views of the city, we got the see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where some of my mine and Paul’s relatives passed though. Not to mention great view of the city. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable 2 hours.
All in all New York is actually a really great place to take older kids, there is plenty to do and see. It wasn’t the cocktail/spa day holiday I had in my mid twenties there, but you know it was maybe better. I got to show my family one of my favourite cities.