So we’ve just had a fun crazy wonderful 7 Day Family Holiday in New York travelling as 3 adults and 4 kids and we had the best time! I can highly recommend a family holiday in New York to anyone thinking of going with kids around 7/8/9/10 – they definitely aren’t too young.
So what did we do on our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York?
We really made the most of every day visiting amongst other things includes the Empire State Building using CityPASS, visited the flower show at Macy’s, had lunch at Ellens Stardust Diner, visited Times Square and took in the sights, before a quick trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, coffee and cake in Bryant Park, trip into The New York Public Library and finally home from Grand Central Station. The next day was Bubby’s for breakfast, The High Line, The Vessel, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum followed by Hamilton on Broadway. Ellis Island Statue Cruises Statue of Liberty National Monument 9/11 Memorial – Pools And Freedom Tower Top of the Rock NYC American Girl American Museum of Natural History The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden Roosevelt Island Tramway Dylan’s Candy Bar Serendipity 3 MoMA The Museum of Modern Art MoMath: the National Museum of Mathematics Brooklyn Bridge Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Central Park.
I’ve marked the trip as AD as we were hosted by HomeAway in an amazing apartment and some of the attractions provided some tickets to some of the places we visited, but we paid for a lot of the trip ourselves including fabulous flights with Virgin Atlantic and all meals.
Before we went I spent a lot of time working out our 7 Day New York Itinerary. Mainly making sure that we were trying to visit things in the same area of New York on the same day. It sounds obvious but New York is huge and you can waste a lot of time and energy trying to get from one side to the other so even if you aren’t going for 7 days to New York then maybe take a look at the things we combined on the same day and see if you can organise your itinerary to put the same things together on the same day. Or this is a post about a long weekend in New York with teenagers.
I also put a call out for ideas from other family travel bloggers for Things to do in New York and put together a great post with lots more ideas in too! We also have a post on Things to do with Jet Lag in New York and 1o Tips on how to make a trip to New York easier with Kids
Getting from New York to Central Manhattan
We arrived in New York at around 4pm after a day flight from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic which was excellent. We had arranged a surprise limousine pick up for the kids from the airport. With 7 of us to get from JFK to Central Manhattan this isn’t as over the top as it sounds as we would have needed two taxis and it was certainly fun.
I did quite a bit of research on trip advisor to decide on who to book and in the end I booked NYC Rich Limo. It was just as advertised. Excellent communication, great driver, clean limo with drinks. Kind considerate driver. I’d highly recommended it as a real treat on your arrival in NYC. Kids loved it and it gave us a real boost after a long tiring flight.
- Cabs – Taxis have a fixed fare into the city, so don’t worry about being ripped off. There is no legal requirement to use a car seat in a NYC taxi, but if you brought yours with you then feel free to install it.
- Subway – Just like The Tube, not every station is stroller friendly so be prepared to take the stairs. Alternatively check out the subway map before you start your journey and plan accordingly.
Where to stay in New York City on a Family Holiday
There are so many options around where to stay in New York on a Family Holiday. You can drive yourself a little crazy going round in circles trying to work out in which area you want to stay and what you can afford.
We worked with Home Away and booked one of their apartments for this trip and what I loved about their booking system is that you can identify where the apartments/houses are, create a board to save all your options on and filter your choices by price.
Having stayed in New York what I would make sure you take note of when booking your apartment is the location of the subways and the speed of those that can be used. When I was reading the reviews for the apartment we stayed in a couple of people pointed out that it was very close to the Q-96th street subway. What we didn’t realise about the Q was that it was a really quick subway train, meaning you could be down into midtown and at the Empire State Building for example within 20 minutes. A couple of the subways we got on whilst in New York took a really long time to not get very far. So definitely worth working out what journeys you might be doing. As the subway was so quick to us we didn’t use a cab once whilst in New York and just used our weekly metro cards, which were a brilliant investment at the beginning of the trip.
Our apartment in New York was clean, bright, airy, brilliantly located and gave us a fantastic space to have breakfast, some downtime and room to breathe, which lots of New York hotel rooms don’t do, even the more expensive ones. Having our own apartment also helped us save some money (which is well needed in New York) and gave us the chance to eat some meals in too. I’d highly recommend this apartment for 7 people.
Day 1 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
Day 1 of our 7 day family holiday in New York included the Empire State Building which we booked using CityPASS, we then went onto the flower show at Macy’s, had lunch at Ellens Stardust Diner, visited Times Square and took in the sights.
Queues at the Empire State Building are legendary. People often report 2 hours in the building with just 10 minutes on the observation deck. For something that for a standard pass costs $36.00 for an Adult, $31.00 for a child and $35.00 as a senior that’s a lot of time and money.
We had a quick trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, ate coffee and cake in Bryant Park, took a quick trip into The New York Public Library and finally got the tube home from Grand Central Station. Phew!
You can read our full review of Ripley’s Believe it or not and whether it is worth a trip here!
I agree too that it does sound a lot to do in one day, but the beauty of doing the planning that we did above is that as you can see from the map, all these things are all very close and walkable.
Day 2 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
The next day was Bubby’s for breakfast, The High Line, The Vessel, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum followed by Hamilton on Broadway (just for me and Matt).
Bubby’s (a recommended place for breakfast) is right at the beginning of the High Line which you can then walk along towards Hudsons Yard where the brand new Vessel structure is. Do take a look at our post all about how to get tickets for the Vessel in Hudsons Yard.
After climbing the Vessel it’s a short stroll along the river to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (another option on the CityPass ticket).
It was a lovely way to spend the day and whilst we started at Bubby’s at 9.30, we didn’t finish at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum until 4pm. For me the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was not a must see in New York but we did enjoy our time wandering around there and it was quite a relaxed place.
Hamilton was possibly my favourite musical ever!
Day 3 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
Ellis Island Statue Cruises, Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island Museum 9/11 Memorial, Top of the Rock and NYC American Girl Doll Store
On day 3 of our 7 Day family holiday in New York we took a trip to Ellis Island and the Statute of Liberty with Statue Cruises and then visited the 9/11 Memorial which is a short walk up from Battery Park. After wandering into the new Occulus building (next to One World Trade and the 9/11 memorial) which houses lots of shops and a subway station, we made our way on the subway to the Rockerfeller Centre and went to the Top of the Rock. We finished our day with a purchase of an American Girl doll in the frankly enormous American Girl doll store, before heading back to the apartment for huge takeaway pizza.
Heading out to see the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island early is a brilliant way to make the most of your jet lag. I’ve written a post about all the things you can do to make the most of your jet lag but in short, if you’re awake early why not take advantage of the morning and skip the queues.
When we booked our CityPasses, Matt and I had chatted about whether to do the trip out to the Islands to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or to simply do the Cruise around Manhattan that is your other either/or option on the CityPass. Matt was minded to simply do the boat tour but the kids wanted to actually go and stand on the island with the statue so that’s what we did and we loved it. You can read our review here of the trip to see the statue of liberty, together with 8 tips on how to make the most of it with kids.
Following on from Ellis Island we wandered up into Manhattan towards the 9/11 Memorial. We had decided not to actually go into the museum but we spent some time appreciating the new memorial and talking to the kids about the significance of all the names, the flowers placed on some of them (when it would have been their birthday) and the sadness that the event caused. The girls were quiet and considerate and it took them back that people lost their lives who were pregnant and the memorial marked them plus an unborn child.
After the 9/11 Memorial we took the subway uptown to do the Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock
We arrived at the bottom of the elevators for the Top of the Rock at about 3pm which I was a bit worried might mean it would be heaving but I think we were before the sunset queues and after the lunchtime ones. We exchanged our CityPass tickets for Top of the Rock ones and rode straight up in the elevator. I loved the Top of the Rock more than the Empire State Building mainly because you can see the Empire State Building from the top of the rock. I’m not saying I wish I hadn’t done the Empire State Building (I kind of think you have to if you can) but the view felt more iconic to me. It was also less cold that day which helped the kids enjoy it more too!
The queues to get down after we’d been up the top for about an hour were quite long but moved quickly and we were soon wandering around the American Girl doll store so that Lily could part with a significant amount of her birthday and Christmas money. The twins sensibly declined to spend $115 on a doll! Fair point.
Day 4 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
American Museum of Natural History The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden
The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH) is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, and is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It was across Central Park from where we stayed in New York so we decided to walk the 30 minutes across the park to be at AMNH when it opened at 10am.
I’ve written a full review of the ANMH and our thoughts on it here.
We left the AMNH at around 1pm and grabbed a hot dog and sandwiches to eat in Central Park before wandering across to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was another museum that was included within the Citypass ticket. The lines weren’t busy as we went in but with a museum that spans an area of 2.2 million square feet and more than 2 million works just in its permanent exhibition we knew we couldn’t see it all, so decided to do the highlights list from the Lonely Planet book to New York that we used a lot when we were wandering around the city.
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I’d been to the Met a few years before but had forgotten the feeling I had then, and had this time when we walked into the area exhibiting The Temple Of Dendur. It has to be my favourite museum moment of all time, well after seeing David in Florence . The kids loved listening to the audio tour and skipped round the museum finding exhibits to listen too. We literally had to pull them away from the exhibits in order to get around in any sort of time.
Finally they gave up, and we decided to try and find coffee and ice cream, although upon realising the time decided to head over to Madison Square Garden early instead and find something to eat there.
Our basketball game at Madison Square Garden was due to start at 7pm so we treated the kids to another McDonalds and made our way into the stadium. We had bought college basketball tickets at only $10 each as opposed to $100 which meant that even if we didn’t enjoy it so much it wouldn’t matter at all. As it happened we did love it, all of us, although I’ve no idea how they can make the last 6 minutes of the game last so long – they stop sooo often. Watch out for drinks prices too. A pint and three waters cost $35 almost as much as four tickets!
Day 5 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
Roosevelt Island Tramway, Dylan’s Candy Bar store, Serendipity 3, and MoMA The Museum of Modern Art.
Day 5 was a real mixed bag of things but all in a similar area and supposedly tied in with MOMA being slightly quieter on a Friday afternoon before the free hours start every Friday between 4 and 8pm. The weather was the worst we had all week this day, but save for the Roosevelt Island Tramway bit everything else was indoors so it didn’t matter too much.
The Roosevelt Island Tramway is cheap and cheerful and included in your weekly metro card costs in any event if you’ve bought them.
The reason to do the Roosevelt Island Tramway is that you get a completely different view of Manhattan back across the water. The day we went this view didn’t really work out for us as it was grey and about to pour with rain but nonetheless if you’ve promised the kids a trip to Dylans Candy Store it’s about half a block away so not exactly out of the way.
We got to Dylans Candy Store at 10ish as we had tried to go to Serendipity 3 first for coffee and ice cream but it didn’t open 11. Popping in first gave us the chance to book Serendipity 3 though as it is very popular and got very busy during the time we were there.
Early doors was also the perfect time to visit Dylans Candy Store as there was very few people in there. This store is very popular with you tubers and the kids couldn’t wait to get in. It was amazing – the perfect ‘kid in a candy store’ ideal – I gave them $7 each to spend which doesn’t go very far it has to be said but I also thought it was really naughty of them not to have scales until you had queued to pay. Bit cheeky for a store that often has lines.
Once the kids had huge bags of sugar we took them for more sugar in Serendipity 3. Serendipity 3 is ice cream sundae heaven. The sundaes are the largest I’ve ever seen. We ordered 3 between 7 and we still has far far too much! Our sundaes were definitely classed as lunch that day.
Finally we went onto MOMA. Sadly for us the trip to MOMA didn’t really work well for us at all. I think the rain had brought everyone off the streets and into MOMA at the same time and we struggled to see things for all the people. The security guards also prevented the kids from sitting on the floor in front of the art, something the team in the Children’s department have asked them to stop doing apparently, but for us it didn’t really work as a family friendly activity. That being said, their resource room for kids is very friendly and the kids whiled away an hour or so in there.
Day 6 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
MoMath: the National Museum of Mathematics and Brooklyn Bridge
MoMath was a fairly late addition to the plan and I’m glad we hit it early. There was lots of things to do at MoMath but I think if it had been too busy the kids would have been disappointed as they would have had to queue for everything before they tried it. As we were there just after it opened at 10 and stayed until 11.30 ish they got to try pretty much everything and it was pretty quiet.
The downside to doing MoMath first was that when we got the train over to Brooklyn to walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge it was absolutely heaving! Very sunny, very busy and very hot!
Day 7 of our 7 Day Family Holiday in New York
Guggenheim Museum before a picnic lunch in Central Park and then Home!
Our trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York with the kids was on the last day of our seven day New York Family Holiday but the kids will tell you that it was the best of the three art museums that we visited with them that week. I put that down completely to the fact that the kids activity pack was exceptional and also that we visited when the museum was quiet at 10am on a Sunday morning. So yes in summary it was worth taking kids to Guggenheim Museum in New York! You can read our full review of the Guggenheim with Kids here.
There are however hundreds more things to do in New York with kids and we have a really detailed post with lot of ideas of Things to do in New York with Kids here, together with 1o Tips on how to make a trip to New York easier with Kids
We also have a New York CityPASS Review 2019: Will It Save You Money?