NYC in a Day (With Kids!)

NYC in a Day (With Kids!)

This past December, Kyle and I moved to Upstate New York from the midwest. The fun part of living somewhere new, especially a cool state like New York, is that your family comes to you for their vacation. We previously lived in Texas for 2 years, and my brother and his family never visited us a single time. A month into living in New York, and he shows up with his wife and 3 kids in tow. Since I wasn’t working yet, I was able to spend the week playing in New York (and Vermont!) with them. In upcoming posts I’ll give you the details about our days spent in Albany (spoiler alert: there is so much to do!), but for today I’m going to focus on our day trip to New York City. With 3 kids ranging from 1 to 8 years old.

One caveat on our trip: we had a very short day at NYC. We actually weren’t planning to go that day, but made a last minute change of plans that had us arriving to NYC at 11:30. We stayed until about 7:00. Our goal was to get a taste of as many iconic NYC places as possible. While I’ll go back for more in depth trips in the future, my brother and his family most likely won’t be returning anytime soon. So our focus was breadth, not depth.

Getting There

We chose to drive into Manhattan, even though a train went from Albany straight there. For 6 people, the price of round trip train tickets came to way more than the gas and parking costs for the trip down. We parked near the Staten Island Ferry in a garage and paid about $50 for the day. Once we left the car, we relied on the subway to get around for the day and didn’t return to the car until we were ready to leave the city. The Subway is pretty easy to navigate, especially with Google Maps. Just choose the public transportation option (as opposed to driving or walking), and it will show you the exact trains/buses/walking required to get to where you want to go.

Staten Island Ferry

We started off on the downtown part of Manhattan, so we immediately hopped on the Staten Island Ferry to take in views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. While I’d love to see the Statue of Liberty up close someday, we were limited on time so this allowed us to see it quickly and cheaply (ie free!). You get on the ferry at the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal.

Pro Tip: Sit on the right side of the ferry for the best views of the Statue of Liberty. 

Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

Mahattan skyline in New York City from the Ferry

Mahattan skyline in New York City from the Ferry

World Trade Center Memorial

From here, we walked about a mile to the World Trade Center Memorial, though the subway would also take you directly there (with no transfers needed). We spent a good bit of time reflecting at the pools. We didn’t go into the museum, because we were trying to do a quick, broad overview of New York in a day.

Pro Tip: Talk to older kids ahead of time about 9/11. We were at a museum the day before that discussed 9/11, so I think it made the memorial more meaningful for the older kids.

A flower on the World Trade Center Memorial

Food: Stage Door Pizza

We were doing one mid-afternoon meal for the day, supplemented by snacks as needed. Just a few blocks from the WTC Memorial is Stage Door Pizza; the first floor is a deli and the pizza restaurant is upstairs. In one word: YUM! Cheesy, gooey New York style pizza. And after a good bit of walking, it felt heavenly to sit and relax for a bit. They also had tasty looking desserts, though we didn’t partake.

Pro Tip: Ordering by the slice is the way to go. One slice was sufficient, two slices had me stuffed. If you do order an entire pizza, 1 large was perfect for our group (3 adults plus kids). 

Rockefeller Center

After recovering from lunch, we hopped on the subway to Rockefeller Center. The subway station is less than a block from Stage Door Pizza and drops you off right by 30 Rock. We walked around the plaza and building a bit before heading to the Top of the Rock. We debated between going to the Top of the Rock verses the Empire State Building, but I’m happy with our decision. The Rock allows you to see the Empire State Building as you take in the New York City views. The observation deck is outdoors with sheets of glass protecting you from falling off. The Top of the Rock was probably my favorite part of our day in NYC.

Pro Tip: Go at dusk. The sunset from the Top of the Rock is gorgeous!

The Manhattan skyline in New York City from the Top of the Rockefeller Center

The observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center in New York City

M&M Store

While the kids were a major part of the decision to go into the M&M store, we were also pretty pumped to spend way too much money on a grab bag of M&Ms. They have dispensers of every type of M&M you could dream of, and you fill your bag with any kind you want. We left with some pretty tasty combinations.

Pro Tip: Do not let your kids fill their bags by themselves. The dispenser is quick and can pour too much in if you’re not careful.

The candy dispensers at the M&M store in New York City

Time Square

Time Square is definitely not my cup of tea, but we wanted to stop by since we were so close. We sat, munched on M&Ms, and took in the overwhelming amount of lights and people.

Pro Tip: Just like Top of the Rock, go at night. The lights are even more impressive in the dark. 

Time Square at night in New York City

From here, we took the subway back to our car (an easy ride, with no transfers). We paid for parking and were on our way back to upstate New York, tired and happy.

Now it’s your turn: What places do you feel like we left out of our quick trip? What’s your favorite thing to do in New York City?

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