Having been to NYC 5 times already pre-kids (yep, I'm a huge fan) I was apprehensive about how I would enjoy it with kids given the other times involved partying, dining and shopping, which let's be honest don't mix well with kids! It's a city which has huge sentimental value to me as Ryan proposed there in 2008....bless.
So off we set on the 5 hour flight packed in like sardines for our NYC vacay with Jack and Max. We survived the flight (ipads, snacks etc) and high tailed it to our West Village apartment which was in the best location. A quick spruce up and slice of Pizza (the first of many to be consumed) from across the road and we were ready to head out for the night.
The following 5 days were filled with lots of cafes and restaurant experiences which I will detail below and A LOT of walking. We opted to walk most places as we are big walkers and it was boiling hot so the Subway did not appeal (also, I was happy to walk off the Mac n Cheese and Pizza situation). So if you're a walker like us (some days we clocked up to 22,000 steps) pack some comfy shoes. The other thing to mention is that we took our Bugaboo with skateboard attachment - we couldn't believe how lucky we were that the boys were happy to go ALL day in it (with a few park and snack pit-stops which I will detail below). I think if your kids are a bit older, Ubers or the Subway are great in NYC.
TIP: to avoid arguments with husbands/wives/partners have a plan each day. NYC is so overwhelming so it's good to get up in the morning and plan out which sights you want to see, what parks you can stop at with the kids, what restaurants you want to eat at etc. We did this each day and we would also take the boys back to the apartment to play with their Lego and have some down time. Worked a treat!
Ryan and I had a few kid-free nights. The boys can generally stay up until 8.30/9 but in NYC that's when the party is beginning! So we sourced some great babysitters (happy to share details) and we were able to enjoy a meal without screaming and food being thrown everywhere.
Personally I found NYC to be about 70% accommodating to kids. By this, I mean that most people were pretty happy to move out of the way for the pram or find us a table with a high chair and the rest were way on the other end of the spectrum and pissed off we existed. You win some, you lose some!
So here are the deets on where we stayed, ate and played (I wish I could say shopped but that just didn't happen).
Where to stay
Personally I have always loved the West Village but the great thing about NYC is that the transport and taxi/Uber system is so easy. What is amazing about the West Village is that you can walk to so many amazing cafes and restaurants and also it is nowhere near as touristy as Mid-town and Times Square. BUT if it's your first time to NYC I would opt to stay half in mid-town as it's close to all the tourist attractions, department stores and Central Park. Then if you can be bothered I would stay in the West Village to experience all the cute little streets around there (Christopher, Perry etc) We stayed in a two bedroom Airbnb and it was perfect for the 5 days but just a bit on the noisy side.
Where we dined
Brunch and coffee:
Jack's Wife Freda - such a cute little spot on Carmine Street in the West Village - defo kid friendly (high chair avail). Food was pretty good - a bit cold but people were shocked when I told them that. I would go again.
Jack's - this is a cute little coffee joint. They have a few locations. The coffee was delish.
Bluestone Lane Cafe - These guys are taking over NYC. Started by Ozzies, the coffee is great and the menu looked delish too. Defo kid friendly.
Banter - Another little cafe started by Ozzies in the West Village. This place had a great happy hour from 3-6pm so we had a cheeky Aperol there and went back for awesome Nutella french toast the next morning. The staff are all super friendly and super accommodating with kids. Like most places in NYC, we needed to park the stroller out the front.
The Bus Stop Cafe - not a fancy joint but totally good for some quick pancakes and eggs for the kids. It's opposite the Bleecker street park so a good combo.
Red Farm (West Village)- this place was YUMMO. Great vibe and the food was Asian Fusion. We went and put our names down at 7.30 and were seated by 8.45 which we were happy with for a Saturday night. The lamb dumplings were life changing.
Emmett's - we went here on our last night. They specialise in Chicago deep dish pizza. It did not disappoint. West Village again.
La Esquina - this place is an institution. We drank Margarita's at the bar - if they tell you it's full, just ask to sit at the bar. Such a fun vibe. Not one for the kids in my opinion. We have eaten there before and the food was amazing.
Raoul's - This little West Village french bistro was super fun and the food was amazing. We drank at the bar (surprise) until a table became available at 10.30pm (thanks babysitter). A great date night option. Not one for the kids.
Otto - I was sad we didn't make it here but have been told that it's super kid-friendly and they do yum pizzas and pastas without paying top dollar.
Our kids are still fairly young (1.5 and 3) so we didn't do as much kid stuff as we thought we would. We certainly played at parks and playgrounds but we didn't take them to any toy shops, carousel's etc. Some parks I recommend:
Pier 51 Park - wow, this is right on the Hudson looking out to Jersey. It has a water fountain for the kids to run around in (obvs only good for summer). But it's gated and safe. We did a solid two hours here. We then walked through to the Meatpacking district and through the Chelsea Markets for a cheeky thick shake. A great little morning for the kids.
Union Square Park - awesome park which has two different sections for younger and older kids. It was quite busy when we were there so you need to keep a stern eye on them (more than usual).
Washington Square Park - definitely worth a look! A gated playground so the kids can run a little wild and wear themselves out.
Minetta Green - this is another cute little spot - they had places to eat and sit down and it's right in the heart of lower Manhattan. Not too hectic either.
Hoboken - if you're done with the hustle and bustle of Manhattan we really enjoyed taking the Path train to Jersey (Hoboken) for the day. It has some great cafes and the houses are gorgeous. But the view of Manhattan is incredible and the park is awesome (brand new). We did struggle a bit getting onto the Path train as we had to lift the Bugaboo over the turnstile.
Central Park - where do I begin? Go for half a day! Stop at one of the amazing deli's and load up on picnic food and wander through this incredible park. We entered at the Rockefeller end of the park and found a great playground about a 5 minute walk in. The Zoo is also there and worth a look as well as a Carousel. If you're without the kids or they can swim, hire a row boat - we did that a few years ago and it was magical.
That's all folks. NYC can defo be done with kids but you just need to be a little prepared both mentally and physically.....I'm already planning our next trip.