New York Family-friendly Travel Guide
By: Tiasha Chatterjee
Although New York is not the typical destination for family vacations, a journey to the United States is not complete without a stop in the Big Apple. The vast, bustling city, with its incredible variety, big buildings, and numerous sites to view, will impress any family member of any age. This vibrant city will not leave anyone unmoved. Some people despise it, while others are captivated by it and return time and time again.
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Three to five days in New York is the ideal length of stay for a family. Of course, you will not be able to see everything the city has to offer in this time frame, but you will be able to view the major attractions, particularly those geared toward children.
The one city in which I do not recommend renting a car for families is New York. The roads are crowded and congested at all hours of the day, and driving is difficult and frightening even if you are familiar with the city; this is especially true for tourists who are unfamiliar with the area. Furthermore, finding parking in the city is extremely tough. Because the majority of the city's attractions are centered in a relatively small region of Manhattan, getting around on foot, by public transportation, and by taxis is much more convenient.
Taxis are the most comfortable (and not always the most expensive) mode of transportation for families, especially those with young children, especially for short distances. Cab costs in the city are reasonable, and instead of travelling underground for the metro and dealing with maps and changing trains, you get to see the city while riding.
You should ride the subway at least once for the experience, but avoid doing so during rush hour, which runs from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There are a lot of cabs (12,000!) moving throughout the city, but it is difficult to get one at rush hour. A light on the front of the taxi indicates that it is not being used. On top of the cab fare, it is usual to leave a 15-20% gratuity. Only licensed taxis are yellow cabs; do not accept anything else!
Tour by Boat
A boat tour of Manhattan is a wonderful way to explore the sights. Circle Line Cruises offer two-and-a-half to three-hour trips of Manhattan, giving passengers a magnificent perspective of the city's skyline as well as New York's large, crowded harbor. From March through December, tours are available.
The Staten Island Ferry, which runs between Manhattan and Staten Island, is the most cost-effective ferry travel. During the ferry voyage, you will see breathtaking sights like the Statue of Liberty, ships in the harbor, and Manhattan skyscrapers. What about the cost? It is hard to believe, but it is completely free!
Walking is a popular and economical way to see the city. This is the best method to get a feel of how big the city is. Walk between the skyscrapers, visit museums and stores, and explore the city at your leisure. When you have had your fill of walking, take a taxi back to your hotel. Keep an eye on your kids and keep them close. It is easy to lose a child among the throngs of people who walk around the city.
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Hotel Recommendations in New York:
New York's Hyatt Place
A three-star hotel The hotel is only a 5-minute walk from the Empire State Building and features complimentary Wi-Fi, a corner sofa, refrigerator, work desk, and coffee maker in every room.
Three blocks from Central Park, this four-star hotel is located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Wi-Fi is available for free.
The New Yorker
Two minutes' walk from Madison Square Garden and across the street from Penn Station, this historic Midtown Manhattan four-star hotel is positioned in the heart of the city. Times Square and the Theater District are both within a 10-minute walk. Wi-Fi is available for free.
The Bedford Hotel
It is located in Bedford, Massachusetts. A 3-minute walk from Grand Central Station, this 3-star hotel provides easy access to Manhattan shopping and restaurants. A flat-screen cable TV, as well as a desk and a safe, are provided. A microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker are provided in each room. Wi-Fi is available for free.
TRYP by Wyndham Times Square South is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Times Square. Hotel with three stars. Penn Station is a 5-minute walk away. Wi-Fi is available for free.
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Where to visit?
New York's most famous emblems, all of which give spectacular views of the city from distinct vantage points, are:
The Empire State Building (a landmark in New York City)
This is one of the world's tallest structures, designed in the art deco style. Since its completion in 1931, it has served as a symbol of the city and a must-see tourist attraction. Its top 30 storeys are illuminated every evening throughout the year. For special occasions, the lights change: red and green for Christmas, red, white, blue for national holidays, and so on. On the 86th floor, there is an open observation platform, while on the 102nd floor, there is a closed viewing platform. The view is incredible!
You can see up to 80 kilometres out on clear days. The New York SkyRide, a massive simulator that mimics soaring over the New York sky and seeing the city's most iconic sights, is located on the building's second story. Fly into Wall Street, ride a roller coaster at Coney Island, and even pay a visit to FAO Schwarz, the world's most renowned toy shop. It comes highly recommended! On 5th Avenue, near the intersection of 34th Street, is the Empire State Building.
This is a favorite vantage point of mine. You can watch the Empire State Building rising in front of you from the 70th story, which has a magnificent perspective of Central Park.
This is a 19-building complex with a variety of companies, offices, restaurants, and entertainment venues. A little square with flags from all over the globe sits in the middle of the city, in the midst of all the skyscrapers.
This is also a popular ice-skating spot in the winter. In the run-up to Christmas, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the area and attractively lit. Orchestras perform there throughout the summer, and the venue is also utilized for dancing.
Radio City Music Hall, a massive auditorium for concerts and other musical entertainment, is the most well-known portion of the center. There are hour-long guided tours available at the Rockefeller Center.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is located south of Manhattan on a tiny island. It was a gift from the people of France to the people of America as a symbol of their everlasting friendship. The monument stands 50 meters tall and holds a torch and a book in one hand. It has stood since 1886, greeting millions of immigrants who have come to the land of opportunity. The island is accessible by a boat that departs from Battery Park.
A 45-minute boat service from Jersey City, New Jersey, is also available. The statue's summit is reached through a narrow 354-stair stairway. Due to the huge queues, the ascent might take up to three hours during the popular summer months. You may avoid the hike and the long lineups by just seeing the monument from below. From the island and throughout the boat voyage, the view of Manhattan is stunning.
This location also has a fantastic view of the New York skyline, especially after sunset. The bridge itself is impressive, with specific pedestrian and bicycle lanes.
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The museums in NYC
Museum lovers can spend many days visiting the numerous impressive museums of New York. The following museums are the biggest and most well-known ones in the city and, most importantly, are suitable for the whole family. Most are in the heart of Manhattan, at the center of the touristy area. You can spend many hours on each of these.
American Museum of Natural History
This is one of the world's most well-known museums. The museum's displays depict the evolution of the world, including its creatures, humans, plants, and minerals. People of Asia, Africa, Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, Native Americans, dinosaurs, Asian and African animals, bugs, reptiles, birds, minerals, precious stones, and meteorites are among the permanent exhibits. An IMAX theater, a planetarium, and a separate section for children's activities and games are all available at the museum. If you only have time to visit one museum in the city, make it this one.
American Museum of the Moving Image:
This museum is dedicated to film art, technology, and history. Most of the displays allow visitors to go behind the scenes, edit a film, and try on clothing from renowned films, allowing them to intimately and actively experience the movie-making process. It comes highly recommended. This museum may easily keep you occupied for an entire day. There is also a theater where various movies (some animated) and TV series with well-known directors and actors are screened. Every Saturday, the show's theme changes.
National Parks and zoos:
Despite the fact that New York is a bustling metropolis with massive structures, it is a very green city! To be precise, 17 percent of it. There are several parks, zoos, and gardens to visit.
This is New York's largest and most well-known park. It is located in the middle of Manhattan. Fountains, lakes, grassy meadows, pathways, and sculptures are among the park's 843 acres. On weekends, I encourage going to the park since it is more crowded, exciting, and full of people and activities.
The park's main attractions include Belvedere Castle, which overlooks a beautiful view and houses a children's discovery center; the historic carousel; the zoo; the Delacorte Theatre, which hosts a Shakespeare festival every year; a puppet show (mostly on weekends); a skating rink that is open all year – for ice skating in the winter and roller-blading and minigolf in the summer; and a wildlife conservation center, which displays animals in their natural habitat.
New York Aquarium:
Thousands of fish, sharks, whales, dolphins and other marine animals can be seen at the aquarium, which is located on Coney Island's beach. Sealion exhibitions and 'electric eels' are also held here. There are also dolphin performances during the summer. You can observe penguin and shark feedings every day.
This is New York's primary zoo and one of the world's largest zoos. It is home to nearly 600 animal species. You should plan on spending a whole day there to see everything. The animals are free to roam in their natural environments. Elephants, seals, the land of darkness, the butterfly garden, and the monkey house are all worth seeing. Camel trips are available — they are highly recommended!
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Other attractions in the city
South Street Seaport:
This is New York's historic seaport, which was largely active in the nineteenth century. All of the buildings in the area have been repaired, and there are always ancient boats docked and available to the public. There are stores, galleries, cafés, and street entertainment at the seaport. It is a nice spot for a stroll. There is also a museum, the South Street Seaport Museum, with exhibits and ship models. Several times a day, tour boats depart from the harbor.
United Nations Headquarters:
Statues and other works of art abound in the city's buildings and gardens. The primary component is a stunning glass structure. A limited number of free UN assembly access tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Every half hour between 4:45 and 9:15 p.m., there are guided tours of the location. The tour lasts 45 minutes. The tour is not suitable for children under the age of five.
New York Stock Exchange:
This is the world's largest and most significant stock exchange. From the second-floor balcony, you can observe the exciting stock exchange bustle. There is also an exhibit in the building that depicts the history of the American economy. Visitors are welcome to visit the New York Stock Exchange from 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Due to the restricted amount of guests, I recommend arriving early. Only suitable for older children. The event is free to attend, but cameras are not permitted.
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