Visiting New York is a big dream for many people, though for parents it might seem terrifying and not worth the hassle with a toddler (or more) in tow.
In our case, daddy was spending two work-related weeks in NYC on an Innovation Norway program (with MiniMeis!). After him being away for a week, mommy made an out of the ordinary, spontaneous decision. For once she was going to be as cool as a mom as she had promised herself to be, meaning we were traveling to NYC to track down daddy and some big city fun!
That meant flying 7 hours alone with our toddler and arriving at the chaos that is JFK. Terrifying? A tad… but oh boy was it worth it!
Funny enough, flying alone to NY with our child went so much better than the return flight with daddy. Why? Mommy had planned everything to the smallest detail flying out, but flying back we both looked at each other constantly: “YOU didn´t charge the ipad? Or YOU didn´t pack extra snacks? 😉 Classis mistake…
NYC is so much more than tall skyscrapers, noise, pollution and the world´s trendiest bars, restaurants and fashion boutiques. There are tons of playgrounds and green areas to visit, and together with a little child is a good idea to mix up the sightseeing with visiting open spaces by the water fronts.
They say NYC is the best playground in the world—for all ages. This is actually not a total lie 🙂
The morning after we arrived, dad had to go to one last meeting, and we said our “see you later” in the middle of lower Manhattan. With a sleeping child in the stroller, mommy walked around in the busy and noisy streets panicking for when our son would wake up and what to do in the city on this cold day in October. Luckily, when arriving at the waterfront at Rockefeller park, all the anxiety left mommy´s head and was replaced with calmness and excitement. The upgraded NYC waterfront has been years in the making, and has transformed from an industrial wasteland to a jewel box of fabulous green spaces. Perfect for families or anyone wanting to unwind in the big city.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park has some fantastic views of Hudson river, the New Jersey skyline and the Statue of Liberty. When our son woke up from his nap, we walked along the spaced and quiet river promenade and found a great playground.. The first thing that happened was that a squirrel came and climbed into mommy´s diaper bag and stole her brownie cake. Who needs to go to the zoo in NYC?
Our toddler-gear set up for the trip was a travel buggy (The oh so handy Babyzen yoyo), a fantastic stylish and handy diaper bag that doubles as a backpack, (Kaos from Norway) and our lightweight and foldable MiniMeis shoulder carrier.
After his meeting, daddy finally joined us and we took a walk further along the river and headed down to Ground Zero to view the memorizing, breathtaking and heartbreaking monuments after the twin towers.
For the first three nights we stayed at an Airbnb at the outskirt of China Town near East village. Our original booking near Central Park got cancelled due to a water leakage, so this was a last-minute booking we had to make, which ended up being a very basic apartment totally different than in the pictures displayed on Airbnb. Trying not to let this ruing our good spirits, we found staying in China Town quite pleasant and exciting. Not liking the apartment much, also meant that we stayed out all day until dark, which gave us a lot of time to explore this great city! Nearby Italian town had so much yummy food!
In China town there was a playing ground right outside our apartment where our son could burn some energy in the mornings and we could look at all the older Chinese women and men doing their amazingly cute “work outs” or should we say “dances”. Our son was obsessed with going down the slides in this period, so he would wake up every morning and say “slide, yes! More“!
A visit to central park is a must with a child, and for every grown up who has seen “Home alone!” Our son turned 2 the first Sunday we were there, so we took him for an amazing breakfast with eggs and pancakes at The Smith Restaurant, and then strolled around Central Park for a few hours, looking at everything that was going on there, and off course stopped at various playing grounds to go down the slides.
The park is huge! It was nice for our son to walk and explore a bit by himself, but to get some ground covered we carried him in the MiniMeis shoulder carrier which gave him a great overview and us free hands to take pictures and hold hands. We also brought our travel buggy, so he could have his nap time in that, and use it for storage. Other than sleeping, our child has never been very patient in a stroller. In the MiniMeis he will happily sit for a long time, as long as we are on the move and he has new interesting things to see and point out.
Trying to adapt to the 7 hour time difference from Norway, our son had two naps instead of his usually one hour nap, so he would stay up longer in the evenings and not wake up at 2 AM which would be 8 AM in Norway;). It actually worked out quite good, as we had started to put him to bed later every evening for one week before leaving for NYC.
UPPER EAST SIDE AND TIMES SQUARE
After visiting the park for a few hours, we went walking on the lookout for something to eat and ended up walking the whole of Fifth avenue and ended up in the spectacle that is Time Square. The bright neon lights and colors where fun for our son to see, and it was fun for other people to see him – high above the others with the best seat in town. Getting high fives and fist bums, he was the king of New York on his birthday!
We arrived back at the apartment totally exhausted all three of us, and had some take away from Wah Fung Fast Food in China Town, the cheapest and maybe best meal we had in town!
HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
We had one day of crazy rain the whole day, and daddy thought it would be a good idea to take a “Hop on Hop off” bus for the day. That was a disastrous idea! The windows were totally fogged up by the rain and when we were sitting up at the deck, (for the best views), the water actually poured down on us between the cracks. Not even having an umbrella, we ran out of the bus with an unsatisfied and wet child, and literally fell into Macy´s shopping Centre. Strangely mommy´s wishes came true by accident! Shopping with a toddler is a more stressful than joyful event though, as our son was tearing everything down and running off to the escalators and elevators. As a parent of a young child you get good at speed-shopping, and entertaining your child as you go. We spent 30 minutes kicking a ball back and forth whilst daddy was looking for shoes 😉 About a hundred strangers kicked the ball back to our son in this time, luckily all being good sports!
For the last three nights we moved to Williamsburg to a great apartment with two floors and three bedrooms. We found a great last-minute deal on Airbnb and in the weekdays the prices are so much better! This apartment was so great that we didn´t want to leave it, but Williamsburg is definably a place worth exploring!
When a friend back home asked us about what we did in NYC we started telling her about this amazing playground at the riverfront in Williamsburg – Domino Park, which we went on and on about. Her not having kids herself looked at us a bit weird 😉 It´s funny how your priorities change when you have kids…a happy kid = a happy holiday!
This former sugar-refinery site has recently been tranformed into a sprawling playground for children AND adults. It has amazing views of the river and the skyline of upper Manhatten, whilst the playground itself is seriously cool.
There is also a chilled outdoor taco restaurant right next door, where they have really yummy taco and the outdoor space is like a romantic summer night dream. It also meant we could easily work a bit on our laptop whilst the other was playing at the playground with our son. As founders of a company, its tricky to ever take a day off, but at the same time you are often not locked to one certain location. Therefore, we aspire to travel when we can, and work in the evenings when our son is sleeping, and a bit during daytime on shift.
A lot of families live in Williamsburg and there are lots of cozy cafés and interesting local shops around. We really liked this area and can recommend anyone with kids to stay here whilst visiting NYC. It is also only one subway stop away from Manhattan.
Bringing crayons when eating out was our survival technique to be able to dine out during our stay. 🙂
We took a taxi to Brooklyn bridge and walked along the East River promenade with the lower Manhattan skyline as our backdrop. Except for the great views there are several playgrounds around to enjoy for you little one and a walk over the Bridge towards Manhattan is what is mostly recommended. After a long day, all we managed was to take a photo of it… You don’t get to do everything with a child, and that has to be ok. Grown ups get tired as well 🙂
We ate dinner out three evenings and found it to be very child friendly. For awesome egglishes breakfast with yummy pancakes visit Russand daughters cafe near China Town or The Smith Restaurant near Central Park. We also had a fantastic Italian dinner in Soho: Aurora Soho
EAST VILLAGE is a place we would love to visit more, we only walked home past it one evening and saw a lot of nice playgrounds and so many cool bars and restaurants.
GETTING AROUND WITH A TODDLER
You need a good travel buggy for naps and relaxation. We bought a BabyZen YoYO when there, and it worked perfectly as it folds up super small with a carry-strap, and was therefore easy to bring on the subways, in taxies and on the plane. It is also such a smooth ride in the city.
Another thing you probably need is a baby carrier or sling. We brought our MiniMeis and our child was happily sitting in it, looking and turning around to point at all the interesting and different things that he saw. As mentioned earlier he is not a big fan (and never was) of sitting in a stroller when not sleeping, so we are totally dependent on our MiniMeis to get around, in a stress-free manner. The MiniMeis also folds up super small and has a strap so you can carry it around your shoulder or hang it over the stroller when not in use.
Bye bye, New York! Hope to see you again <3
For other travel guides see Family vacation to Bali with three small kids!
You can get your own MiniMeis shoulder carrier here