Here’s a quick guide on when to visit, where to stay, what to bring and things to do in this awesome city.
When to visit?
Summer in New York is hot and sticky and winter can be bitterly cold. It is more likely to rain in late spring so the perfect time of year to visit is late summer/early autumn. Temperatures at this time of year range from 21-27°C until mid-September. September’s warmest days are ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the city on foot. Airline and accommodation prices start to drop at this time of year too making it more affordable to travel.
Where to stay?
If you are only visiting for 2-3 nights then I would recommend staying close to the action. The majority of Manhattan hotel rooms are expensive and small but I would recommend the TRYP by Wyndham Times Square South with good family sized bedrooms including bunkbeds and 3D televisions. There’s also the Omni Berkshire Place at 21 East 52nd Street at Madison Avenue with a complimentary Omni Kids Crew programme where kids receive backpacks filled with stickers, crayons, binoculars and a board game on arrival. A nice touch of milk and cookies being delivered to your room on the first night excites the kids. Be warned these are expensive but if you’re only in town for the few nights it is worth it.
If you have more than a few days to explore the city my advice would be to look for space further out. We stayed in an AirBnB in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was a lovely townhouse that had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a decent sized kitchen, separate dining space and a large living room. It also had a little outside garden, something you won’t find in Manhattan but is much appreciated with young kids. The nearest subway was a five minute walk from the house and then a 15 minute ride to lower Manhattan.
What to bring?
Other than comfortable walking shoes make sure to bring a good quality stroller. We brought our Maclaren stroller at the time as it weighed less than 14lb, necessary for trekking up and down those subway stations without elevators. My advice would be to bring one that is comfortable to push for long walks around the city and one that has a decent shopping basket for supplies and purchases along the way. If you are bringing a baby younger than six months I would recommend a good quality baby carrier like the Ergo.
What to do?
There is so much to see and do in New York that both parents and kids can enjoy together but below are five of my favourite spots:
1 Central Park
Central Park, with its 843 acres of paths, lakes, ponds, and open meadows is a must visit. Take a picnic to the park and let the kids play in one of the 21 playgrounds around the park. There’s different playgrounds for various age groups but I would highly recommend the Heckscher Playground with an enormous sandpit and climbing net. There are tunnels, moats, bridges and spray fountains for the older kids. Elsewhere in the park you can visit the Central Park Zoo, the carousel or explore the nature trails.
2 Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Located at Pier 86 at 46th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum that is fun for adults and kids. There is lots to see and do on board including visiting the bridge, the hanger deck, the quarters and mess decks.
3 The Natural History Museum
Fun for all the family at Central Park West & 79th St, the museum is enormous and there is a vast amount to see. The entrance price is only suggested, you donate whatever you want for admission and you could spend hours here. Highlights include the blue whale, the T-Rex and the African elephants. You can take the self-guided Night at the Museum tour which takes you around the exhibits behind the characters featured in the Night at the Museum movies.
4 Dylan’s Candy Bar
This one is pure indulgence! Located at 1011 Third Ave (at 60th St) the candy bar & cafe is a must visit for kids and adults. This place has three floors of candy deliciousness and the most decadent, creative and fun sundaes and desserts ever. There’s also sandwiches, salads and healthier food on offer but the real treat is the desserts. Be sure to inquire about the cute cupcake booths when making a reservation.
5 Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Located on West 83rd Steet, this is a fun place to spend a couple of hours on a dull/rainy afternoon. Suited more for the under 5’s there’s still plenty of interactive activities for the older kids. Similar to Imaginosity in Dublin, the museum boasts five floors of activities with hands-on learning environments designed to give kids an introduction to the arts, sciences and humanities.
Other top recommendations include the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center, a circle line cruise taking in the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, the High Line linear park, Toys R Us in Times Square and taking in one of the many Disney shows on Broadway.
So take the plunge and book that trip you’ve always wanted to. Aer Lingus are currently offering flights from Dublin to JFK airport for €466 per person this September.