How To Survive Sightseeing In New York With Toddlers

Back in November, we drove to New York for a few days to show my parents around. I would consider it as one of the most stressful trips I’ve taken so far with my kids, mostly because I was trying make sure that my parents get to see as much tourist attractions as possible while also trying to accommodate my kids’ schedule. I was always rushing to enjoy where we were because I knew we had to leave soon so the kids could take their nap on time. So today, I’ll be sharing with you what to do (and not to do) to survive sightseeing in New York with your toddler.

Don’t Take Your Car

cars street parking

Being the planner that I’ve always been, this trip wouldn’t have been complete if I didn’t create our itinerary. In all fairness to myself, I did ask my husband to review it and asked if it was too ambitious considering our kids are going with us; he said it wasn’t and that it was totally doable. But, guess what? Nothing went according to our plan. And it wasn’t the unpredictability of having toddlers in tow that ruined our plans, it was the struggle to find a parking spot in New York.

When we arrived in New York (Wednesday night), my husband was able to find a spot in a street that needs to be cleaned on Thursday mornings; so the next morning, he needed to park our car somewhere else before we had to leave the apartment. We were planning to have breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s and just walk so we won’t have to take the car and struggle with parking again. However, he didn’t find any parking spot after looking for more than an hour so we just decided to take the car with us, then left it at a paid parking garage (after breakfast) and just took Uber to go to Manhattan. For the entire time we were there, that has always been our struggle – where to park the car.

Book A Hotel In Manhattan

Manhattan skyline at night

Since our trip was just spontaneous, we didn’t have enough time to book accommodations and get a good deal like we always do. Booking hotel rooms in Manhattan a week before our trip was pricier than what we’d hope; so my husband suggested that we check out Airbnb. He did find an apartment in Bronx that cost less than a day’s rate of the Manhattan hotels. I usually check out the location to find out how far it is from the attractions but didn’t this time because we were running out of time. Of course, we went ahead and booked it. I booked the apartment before I created the itinerary; so it wasn’t until a few days before our trip that I found out that the apartment is an hour away to most attractions.

Normally, if we traveled without the kids, I wouldn’t mind if our accommodation is that far. But since having kids, I always consider their schedule whenever we’re going somewhere. I NEVER want to adjust their schedule just so my husband and I could go wherever we want to. Usually, whenever we need to go somewhere, I always make sure that we’re home in time for their nap time, or they’ve already taken their nap and be home before their bed time. And just like most trips we’ve taken, I planned to go back to the apartment before their nap time and have them take their nap there, then leave shortly after they’ve woken up to continue our sightseeing.

But since our apartment is an hour away from the attractions, that didn’t happen. We failed to have them take their nap conveniently. On our first day, they took their naps in the cabs and Uber cars that we took. On our second day, however, we managed to get them to take their naps in the apartment but it took them A WHILE before they did because they took a shorter nap on the way back to the apartment.

It might cost you more, but if you could afford it, book a hotel in Manhattan. That way, it will be more convenient for your little one and the whole family. And it will also help keep your sanity.

Prepare To Change Diapers In The Most Unconventional Ways

brooklyn bridge

And I thought most establishments in this country are kid-friendly? They’re not!!! Okay, maybe it’s just those places that we’ve visited. But, I’ve had to change poopy diapers either at the park while I asked my parents to cover the kids with our coats so they have their privacy; or while the kids are standing up in the bathroom because there’s no portable changing table in it. And how fun is it that my kids pooped A LOT while we were out and about. It was such a struggle for me; so maybe if you have a stroller with you, that would make diaper changing so much easier. We chose not to bring ours because we don’t have an umbrella stroller and ours would take up all of the space allotted for our luggages. And I didn’t know that we’re going to need it for this reason.

Nevertheless, we all had fun & my parents got to see most of the tourist attractions; even though we had long days all throughout our trip, especially the kids. And now, for the fun part, let me share with you what we ended up doing during our trip and some tips for your visit.

What We Ended Up Doing In New York

Day 1

family in front of Statue of Liberty at Liberty Island, New York, taken at a family trip

Liberty Island & Ellis Island – Ticket per person is $18 and that includes the audio tour, and exploring in both Liberty and Ellis Islands. They do offer different types of tickets which you could check out here.

Lunch – Jollibee – This is the most popular Filipino fast food restaurant; and not a lot of states is as lucky as New York to have one. We do have one in Virginia but it is a longer drive from where we live as compared to driving to New York. So whenever we go to New York, I always make sure that we dine here at least once. You can read more about Jollibee and what people think about it here.

toddler feeding birds at Ellis Island, New York, taken at a family trip

Roosevelt Island – Taking the tram to go to Roosevelt Island costs $3 per person while going back to Manhattan costs a little less than $3 per person. There are also different ways to get to Roosevelt Island and you can check them out here. While at Roosevelt Island, you can take a shuttle for free to go around the island.

Dinner – Popeye’s – We were supposed to have dinner at another Filipino restaurant in Queens but we all had a long day especially the kids so we just decided to go back to the apartment after we visited Roosevelt Island and got food from Popeye.

Day 2

Grandparents with toddler at Times Square, New York, taken at a family trip

Times Square & Empire State – The kids enjoyed Times Square a lot since they were able to run around; my daughter especially loved feeding and running after the birds. We then walked towards Empire State but didn’t plan to go up the observatory because we’ve read how long the line could take. And since we have toddlers with us, we anticipated that they wouldn’t love that so we only planned to have some pictures taken inside the building, as well as outside where there’ll be a view of the Empire State. However, if you are planning to enjoy the view the Empire State offers, you can find more information about the different ticket types here.

Lunch – Shanghai Asian Manor – We planned to have lunch at Chinatown on our first day but didn’t get to go until our second day. We went to Shanghai Asian Manor, a highly-rated Chinese restaurant (based on my Google search). The serving was really fast but they weren’t that busy yet since we were there a bit early. Everything we ordered was really good! You can check out the reviews I found from TripAdvisor here.

Grandparents with toddler at Times Square, New York, taken at a family trip

Nap time – We then went back to the apartment and had the kids nap there for a couple of hours. We were planning to go to Central Park after they had woken up from their nap but they didn’t wake up until 4. It was getting dark so there won’t be much of a sightseeing to do so we decided to postpone our Central Park visit until the next day. We just headed straight to my aunt’s apartment in Manhattan shortly after they woke up.

Dinner – Manhattan – We had dinner at my aunt’s apartment in Manhattan. It was so much fun catching up with my relatives and the kids had so much fun meeting them; especially the attention they are getting from our relatives.

Day 3

Mommy and 2 toddlers playing in the fall leaves at Central Park, New York, taken at a family trip

grandma and 2 toddlers taken in fall at Central Park, New York, taken at a family trip

Mommy, gradma, and 2 toddlers taken in fall at Central Park, New York, taken at a family trip

Central Park – We walked around Central Park in our last day in the city. My son enjoyed walking and running around the grass-filled leaves; while my daughter loved picking chestnuts up from the ground. Then we went back to my aunt’s apartment in Manhattan where we had brunch before we drove back home.

As stressful as this New York trip went, I still plan to visit New York with my kids in the future. Just like any trip that we take, I will just make sure to be better and wiser in planning to ensure a trip that’s as smooth as possible.

If you loved this post, don’t forget to pin it.

Are you looking to visit New York City with your family? Are you looking for family trip ideas or family trip destinations? Check out this guide to survive sightseeing in New York that has travel tips for your family travel. Travel with kids, travel with baby, travel with baby, this will ensure your family trips will go as smooth as possible. Click on the image to learn more.

What did you think of this post? Did you find this helpful? Have you been to New York with your little ones? What other tips would you share to other moms who are planning to go to New York with their little ones? Let me know in the comments. You know I always love to hear from you.

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  • I can imagine how difficult and stressful travelling with toddlers can me. I’ve never visited the US, but I would love to visit some key cities someday.

    Cristina | *janded

    • It can really be difficult and stressful. I hope you get to visit the US someday. 🙂

  • I live in the suburbs of NYC I’ll be taking my kids in next week, via train. If I ever drive to Manhattan I use the best parking app you can sometimes find garages that have specials

  • Susie Liberatore

    Wow I don’t think I would ever have the patience for a toddler and NYC! We are actually going in July and I’m so nervous to take my son! Thanks for sharing these awesome tips

  • NYC is on our bucket list to travel to with the kids. Maybe i’ll wait until they’re a little older! But you pictures were beautiful and it looked like you had a fun time. Your mom looks exactly like my mom! I’m a big fan of Jollibee. The tosilog is the best. Filipino food is the only thing I’m craving now that I’m pregnant!

    • That’s great to hear! I had always craved Filipino food during both my pregnancies. Lol!

  • What a great guide! You’re one brave mama. I don’t think I’m prepared to take my kiddos to New York yet. But I can soooo relate to changing diapers in unconventional places. A weeks back, I had to change my daughter’s diaper on the floor of a Starbucks bathroom. Not my finest motherhood moment. lol!

    • Oh wow! I can relate; not really our finest motherhood moment. But we make do with what we have right? Lol.

  • Wow that sounds very stressful, but I’m glad everything worked out and that you were able to enjoy yourself. Thanks for all the tips.

    Cheers, J
    http://www.cheersj.com

  • Maggie Isley

    Oh my goodness, you are Wonder Woman! I’ve been considering taking the kids to NYC now that they’re teens – I’m not sure I could’ve done it when they were young!

  • Working Mum

    Gosh I would not have the patience to trek back for an hour just to put kids to sleep in the apartment! I still to the routine at home but no point when we are away, it just adds so much stress to the trip. Our 3yo, 2yo, & 6month old just sleep in cars between places and we ignore any routine, works out fine for us & makes life much motrouble relaxed. They are usually so excited to be somewhere different anyway! Changing them is always an interesting experience…the bathroom floor at Goa Airport was disgusting and some of the toilets in Malawi were a challenge, plus halfway up mountains with diarrhoea, always am adventure! Despite you saying you found it stressful you did so many great things and your photos look fantastic, looks like you had an amazing time in the end! 🙂

    • Yeah, most moms I know don’t really do their usual routine when traveling. I guess I’m just making things harder than they should be. Lol! Thank you!

  • Kristyn Schultz

    Great tips! We’ve been avoiding NYC since we had our son but maybe we can survive a trip to the city with a toddler haha

  • Julie Torres

    What a jam packed quick trip! As a New Yorker raising kids in the hustle and bustle I can appreciate your candor on getting around and finding ways to change diapers!

  • These are great tips, what a cute family
    xo
    http://www.laurajaneatelier.com

  • You are SO much braver than I am. Just thinking about my toddler in NYC gives me heart palpitations lol

  • Meredith

    This is an AWESOME post!!!! These are some amazing tips as well! I go there a lot for work, but have never brought my daughter! I’ll definitely keep these in mind if we ever bring her!!

  • Mamabops

    Thank you so much for these tips! I pinned this because I’m hoping to take our little ones to NYC in the next few years.

  • April Kitchens

    I’m hoping to take my 3.5 year old to New York and DC soon. I’m mainly worried about her being tired from walking as she is too tall to be worn in a carrier. Maybe one of those little umbrella strollers? I should have something figured out by then!

    • Yeah, umbrella strollers sounds like a great idea. I’m sure you’ll have anything planned out. 🙂

  • Sounds like you all had an awesome visit! Great tips, and a beautiful family! xo Sam

    https://iamsamthorpe.com/

  • Great article – happy you had a nice NYC visit!
    xx,
    Dina
    http://www.ModnitsaStyling.com

  • Elizabeth Voyles

    It sounds like such an awesome trip! I hope we can make it there someday! Changing diapers in unconventional places is a definite part of toddler travel, LOL.

  • Sounds like such a great trip. I agree about staying in Manhattan if possible. Makes a world of difference.

  • You have an adorable family. I grew up in NJ and was often in NYC-so I know NEVER to drive into the city. These are really good tips that you have put together. I would also add to take Uber over a cab (cabs are dirty and more expensive). Try to ask hotels for a press rate next time you are in the city and review them on your blog too.

    • Thank you! These are great tips! We’ve taken Uber instead of cabs while we were there because of the reasons you mentioned. I’ve only been blogging for a few months then so I wasn’t really sure someone would say yes to me if I ask them about press rate. Lol!

  • Babies to Bookworms

    Sounds like you had an awesome trip! I hope to take my daughter someday!

  • Lauren Jane

    These are such gereat photos! and tips! I’ve been to New York a few times, but it’s been mostly with adults or teenagers…I can’t imagine handling it with toddlers!

  • Sounds like you had a great trip, despite a couple of hiccups. I grew up in NJ and absolutely adore NYC. As cliche as it sounds, there is truly no other place like it on Earth. I can’t wait to bring my kids when we go back East for vacation. You can bet I’ll be referring to this post!

    • We love NY too; and I agree with you. There isn’t a place like it. Thank you!

  • Shannon Marie

    Looks like a fun trip! I’ll need these tips if I ever take my girls to NYC – I LOVE NYC!

  • Alicia Owen

    I can’t imagine visiting NYC myself, let alone taking my kids! lol I’m sure many parents will thank you for the tips, though. 🙂

  • Alina Orozco

    It drives me nuts that men’s rooms do not have changing tables! Why should I be the only one changing the baby. Glad you were able to make the trip work. You are my hero!

  • alicia nicole ? ✨

    I’m going to save this post for the future lol. My baby girl is 5 months old and I have a lot of family in NYC that want to see her so I’m going to need these tips soon! Parking is such a hassle, that is the main thing I remember from our last trip in 2015. We were driving a very large SUV and it was HELL haha! Great post!

  • Chelsea Padgett

    I miss NY so much! I hope we get to take the kids soon. Great tips!!!

    Chelsea || http://www.binkiesandbaubles.com

  • wew Belle! nice photos! beautiful fambam 😉 I guess I will save this for future reference hehe 🙂 thanks for a great post!

    Courtney Bentley || http://www.courtneyvioletbentley.com

  • Nicole Banuelos

    Thanks for the great tips! Looks like a fun trip!

  • these are really good tips! I don’t have much of a desire to go there, and my husband is from upstate new york, and says he couldnt ever go to the city, lol

  • karyl henry

    Oh my gosh NYC is overwhelming for me as an adult! I can’t imagine taking toddlers. But it looks like you did it exactly right. Yeah, I would NEVER drive around in NYC. When I lived in Maryland we would drive there, immediately park, and not move the car until it was time to leave. I get heartburn thinking about it 🙂

    • Lol! That’s what we used to do but we used to stay in my aunt’s apartment in Manhattan. This time around, we stayed further so we thought taking the car to Manhattan would be better. Boy are we wrong. Lol

  • tabithablue

    Yeah girl!! I love NY for kids, but it is definitely NOT the most family/kid friendly place! There are so many great spots there for kids, but around many of the main attractions, there aren’t. Sounds like you had a great time through it all though 🙂

  • Diandra Armitage

    We are going to NYC in July with my little toddler. Thank you for the tips!

  • Kassi Sherman

    I missed out on an opportunity to visit New York before I had kids and I have sworn that I will never do so again! Now that I have a little I am sure that he will be joining me on any adventure I take. These are some great tips and it looked like you have quite the fun trip – even if it was a little chaotic!

  • Lauren

    This looks like such a great trip! It’s perfect timing; we are talking about taking our kids to New York this summer.

    • Thank you! It was fun despite all the challenges. Good luck with your upcoming NY trip!

  • Kristin

    Looks like such a great trip! Short commute times, and scheduling around naps is a must for little ones!! I’m glad it worked out alright!

  • I grew up in New York so I find it especially fin to read this post and see it through your eyes.

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