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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Visiting NYC with kids

(because I'm lacking anything else to write about and I figured this might actually be a helpful post from me, for once.)

Many people out there seem terrified to visit New York with their children. I see friends making plans to visit the city, and additional plans for dropping their kids off at various relatives. I understand the fear about taking kids to the Big Apple; I used to be the same way. The summer of 2009 changed that, however. We visited NYC, and we did it with ALL four of our kids. (Who at the time ranged in age from 2 to 9) There were times it was stressful, sure, but overall it was an amazing experience, and I'm glad the kids got to be there.

First off, no matter how small your kids are, do NOT take a stroller. It will end up just being a pain in the butt. Hannah was still small enough that we couldn't expect her to walk the whole way, so we brought a carrier for her, and either the hubby or I would wear her on our back when she got tired. It was so much more convenient, and we felt even more justified every time we saw people struggling with a stroller on the subway or what have you.

Ah yes, the subway. It used to be a scary, scary place, and I think that fact tends to still be in the psyche of people who do not live in New York. It's still not somewhere I'd want to just hang out for the afternoon, but I have to tell you, we never felt nervous or in any danger of any kind. Sure, we saw our share of homeless guys wandering around muttering to themselves, but um, it's New York. The subway is also dirt cheap, especially if you get a day pass. The icing on the cake, when we bought our tickets, the person working the booth didn't charge us for the kids at all, and told us to just have them duck under the turnstyles. (Which we did, and no one ever gave us any grief for it.)

Planning is, obviously, essential. Even with riding the subway, visiting NYC involves a ton of walking. Tons of walking usually leads to cranky children, and thus, cranky parents, so mapping things out just right will save everyone a lot of grief. Learn from our mistake, where we decided to do the museum of Natural History, Central Park, and then walk to Times Square, all in one day. The kids actually took the whole thing a lot better than I did, but in hindsight, walking 25 city blocks after an already long day was not such a great idea.

One big thing to realize is that when you go with your kids, you are not going to get to see everything that you want. You can still see quite a bit though, and those things are made even more fun watching your kids see them. Plan for one activity in the morning and one for the afternoon. (e.g.-this morning we'll shop in Times Square, this afternoon we'll go to the Statue of Liberty) Here's where I am going to do a specific recommendation: if you are going to go to the Statue, go over to Liberty State Park. It's on the New Jersey side of the river, but it's a great place. We had a picnic lunch there before going to Ellis Island and the Statue. The views of Manhattan from that park are awesome, (it's where I took this) and you can also see the historic CRRNJ Terminal before hopping on the ferry.

Things we did not get to do: Broadway show, stay for more than 5 minutes at the WTC site, UN, Grand Central Station, or any museum other than the Natural History one.

Things we *did* get to do: Empire State building, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Museum of Natural History, horse carriage ride through Central Park (the driver even let Lindsay drive for a while!), and shopping and dinner in Times Square. And that was with four kids, and in less than three days.

I can't explain how great it was to see my kids see that NY is a real place, and not just something they see portrayed in movies a lot. I think the point of this post was just to say: You CAN do it, and it's not as scary as you think is!


Anonymous said...

Can you post info on where you stayed. I vaguely remember it being in new jersey and you taking the subway into the city...but that could be completely wrong.


Meghann said...

We stayed in the La Quinta in Clifton, NJ, which I have mixed feelings about. It was cheaper, and overall ok, but I remember some things bothering me, like the used condom and beer cans outside our window.

Near that hotel is a Target, and there is a bus stop next to the Target that is the one that goes into NYC and drops you off at the 42nd street station, which is a great location to be dropped off at, it's close to Times Square.

The main thing was making sure to know when to come back to the station to get on the bus to go back, and getting on the right bus. Liz could tell you a lot more about that, she was a huge help.