We recently took a trip to NYC after years of debating whether to go and decided to finally do something about it! While we were debating about making NYC this year’s annual Tran family trip, we found that most of my cousins were going to do a joint birthday trip. Purely coincidental – so thought maybe we’ll just go around the same time.
While this was a big change from our usual relaxing getaways, it was something we discussed beforehand as a family to be sure this is where we ALL wanted to go.
Since this trip was basically a whirlwind the whole time we were there, I’m going to share tips with a few places for families to visit in the BIG APPLE.
Before you read, just know I am NOT well-versed in NYC – I can only share my experiences with my family – so I decided to recruit the help of a couple of my cousins…
Say hello to my fam, Albert & Jessica (@jus_bert and @streetp respectively)!
Some HELPFUL Tips:
@jus_bert says, in Manhattan, anything from 45th and below - Chelsea, LES (lower east side), and Soho are some great spots; @streetp has been to NYC 3 times and has stayed in Greenpoint, Lower East Side, and Chelsea. According to her, they’ve all been great and it probably depends on what you’re looking for.
- Greenpoint is located in Brooklyn, and while it’s not super convenient getting into Manhattan (2 train commute), it’s a quieter neighborhood with homey vibes. There are tons of small shops – a mix of new and old, and is not far from Williamsburg. It’s a great place for families or if you’re looking for somewhere to get away from the hustle and bustle.
- Chelsea is a trendy and upscale neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan. Some favorite places in Chelsea are the Chelsea Market and The Highline. It’s convenient and filled with trendy restaurants but can be touristy.
- If you’re looking for a bustling nightlife, the Lower East Side is home to tons of fun and eclectic bars, not to mention the delicious restaurant/food scene. Some great eateries are Katz Delicatessen, Momofuku, Russ & Daughters, Baohouse, and Milk Bar to satisfy one’s tooth cravings. If you’re into speakeasies, LES is filled with them and half the fun is finding them!
2. Must-haves to pack for a stay in NYC?
I think this was a unanimous MUST from all of us…COMFORTABLE SHOES. When I say that there will be lots of walking, DO NOT take this statement lightly.
I had sandals on that I thought were comfy but didn't have enough cushion. A local stepped on one of them (in mid-walk) and the whole thing literally fell apart. I had to borrow my brother's sneakers that were way too big - I ended up looking like a clown!
- Portable battery pack for charging
- A light jacket (in the summer/fall)
- Lightweight backpack
- For anyone that doesn’t bring a backpack, get an over-the shoulder bag/purse and lightly fill it with just your essentials for the day.
- A water bottle
- Wet wipes or hand sanitizer
- Get familiar with the subway system (citymapper app) Download Citimapper – this is such a handy app that will get you from point A to B swiftly.
- Prepare to walk for miles! So, as I said before, bring shoes with cushion.
- Don’t stop walking in the in middle of a busy sidewalk!
- Walk with a purpose. When you hear people say New York is fast-paced, it’s true. Know where you want to go, have the address at the ready, and get moving.
- Be aware of your surroundings so don’t walk around with your eyes glued to your phone. You have to be cautious of who or what is around you.
For most, the Subway is great and you can get a 7-day unlimited pass for $33. I mean, it’s always interesting! In our case below, we enjoyed an impromptu subway performance…
This purely depends on how much you shop and where you eat…for an individual, this can range anywhere from 1K – 2K for (5) days – this includes airfare, lodging, and spending money. Since we had our three kids, we spent a little over $3k. So, if you’re planning to make a trip to NYC, you have all year to save. Saving from a set amount each paycheck will add up quickly, and before you know it, you’ll have what you need. Of course, you’ll need to plan a little more if you’re paying for additional people.
Aside from staying with family or friends you may have living in NYC, Air BnB’s would probably be the most economical especially if you’re staying with other adults who will be sharing the expense.
My family and I made the mistake of staying in a very crowded and touristy area (Times Square) because we thought it’d be more convenient to be in the middle of everything. NOT SO CONVENIENT…for one, it takes forever to get outside of the area by car. By foot, you’ll find that a “block” can span a mile or so. My daughter was a bit turned off by the area’s “aroma” and we ended up smelling like it at the end of every evening. Anyway (I digress). all the prices in that area are jacked up, as well, since there are so many tourists so be sure to have $$$.
We (now) know that staying outside the city would’ve been our best bet especially if you want fresh air (or as fresh as it can be) that you may not normally get in a more metropolitan area. Most of our family stayed together at an AirBNB and were happy with it. Those of us that have stayed in Times Square had mixed reviews, I'd say.
Having the kids with us was a little challenging – one wanted to up and leave whenever he pleased, one was always hungry from all the walking and wanted to eat every hour (food in Times Square ain't cheap), and the other was surrounded by too much stimuli.
FUN PLACES to VISIT (in no particular order)
If you've seen it, you might even recognize it for the setting of Ben Stiller’s movie, “Night at the Museum.”
The Vessel itself reminds me of a honeycomb and is just a cool structure to take photos of and walk to the very top. I believe there’s an entry fee (not sure how much since we opted out…the wait was about an hour, so, no thanks!)
The Highline is a bridge built between buildings that people can take a stroll, sit, and admire greenery along the walkway.
Unfortunately, when we went, it was super crowded and I felt like I couldn't breathe (how's that for personal space?). The scenery around it, however, was pretty cool and made up for the lack of breathing room. The modern architecture alongside the bridge showcased some buildings with futuristic details.
- explore neighborhoods
- attend block parties (assuming you’re welcome)
- attend any of the free concerts (there are many in the summer)
I think every person should visit at least once in their life but do your research as far as what you’d like to do and dress appropriately for the trip. Your little feet will thank you for it. :)
~ XOXO, Mari