Samantha Feuss is one of the most influential mummy bloggers in the USA and runs website Have Sippy Will Travel. She lives in northern New Jersey but she and her 6-year-old son regularly visit New York. The Big Apple – with Times Square, Broadway, Central Park and so many iconic places – is one of the most buzzing cities in the world and this, Feuss says, makes it the perfect family holiday destination. She tells suitcases&strollers the essential tips you need to do New York with kids.
Why is New York good for families to visit?
NYC is different than any place else for every reason. It's like no place else. Everything is walkable or accessible by public transportation (don't consider trying to drive from place to place; the parking costs and traffic will kill you) and there is nothing you can't find in the city from international foods to the best theater to some of the best art in the world.
Where is your favourite place to take kids in New York?
Depending on your child's personality and what they like, it's easy to find fun things to do in NYC. My son loves the theatre so we do as much of that as possible. Hanging out in the parks and zoos are always a good way to spend the day and you can always head over to the Nintendo store for bigger kids.
Where is your son’s favourite place in NYC to hang out?
What is the best free activity to do with kids in New York?
Central Park is free, and you can spend the whole day there. Bring bread and feed the ducks! There are also tons of parades and festivals going on, depending on the time of year. If you are there, how can you pass up the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Where is the best place to take kids in New York when the weather is bad?
Head into a museum, art class or show. Many shows are inexpensive and there are some great ones for kids. Symphony Space has many shows, not pricey, all aimed at young audiences. You can also get half price or cheap tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway (this is decided not by location, but by number of seats available) shows at TKTS, which has 3 locations in NYC.
[For suggestions on some kid-friendly shows in New York, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
What are some of the city secrets that tourists might not know about but shouldn’t miss on a family holiday in New York?
There is part of the Berlin Wall on Madison Avenue. Five slabs are available to be seen in a public, open plaza. One side has been painted by German artists while the other side remains blank due to the restrictions imposed on the Eastern Side [of Germany].
What’s the best way for children to have an authentic NYC experience?
That's hard to do in just a week or few days — I would say try everything. Be open to new things. And parents: prepare your kids for an adventure in food, culture and just a different "feel" than they are used to. It's pretty busy and can be either exciting or overwhelming to kids (and adults).
Which is the best place to stay if you are on family vacation in New York?
Depending on your budget, there are some great places to stay. The Benjamin in Midtown has large rooms and family packages offering lots of specials for kids and paying them lots of attention to make them feel special. Mum and dad will appreciate that as well. They even send them little robes and a "lending library" of books to use when they are there, as well as cookies and milk at bedtime.
What is the ideal time frame for a holiday to New York City with kids?
I would say you need at least a week to begin to take it in.
When is the best time of year to visit NYC?
Spring or fall. The seasons are visually lovely, the weather is nice and it's easier to walk around.
Where are your top places for family-friendly meals in New York?
· Junior's (Junior's Restaurant/Juniors Most Fabulous Cheesecakes and Desserts)has a name that kind of says it all. Best of all, it has a great location, status and it doesn't charge you an arm and leg for your food. And yes – try the cheesecake.
· Alice's Tea Cup (with 3 locations) is a lot of fun for kids. A good spot for tea or a light lunch, this Alice in Wonderland themed eatery will be a delight for children and adults alike.
What are your tips for kids' shops in New York?
· You are going to need to stop at FAO Schwarz; don't fight it. And it's fun, so why bother?
· The Toys R Us is HUGE and has a ferris wheel among other things, that's a good way to spend a rainy day or when you have some down time.
What is the best way to move around NYC with kids?
Walk when you can, hop on a bus or the subway when you can't or hail a cab if you get really lost!
What are your top 3 tips for families travelling to New York with kids?
· Save up – things cost more here. An example? Everything. From ChapStick to clothes to stuffed animals to dinner- it's going to cost you.
· Schedule down time; both you and your kids will need it (just like any vacation).
· Wear comfortable shoes – save the heels or the new sneakers for when you get home.
· Print out a map or get one. GPS can get wonky sometimes, and no one likes to be lost. To download a map, click here.
For more on things to do in New York with kids, see the story by suitcases&strollers contributor, Bindi Irwin, here.
For a cheaper base from which to visit New York City with kids, read the suitcases&strollers story New Jersey Insider.
Images: Malcom Brown; Samantha Feuss; Julienne Schaer; Marley White