This past month my husband and I took our two sons (3 year old and 1 year old) to NYC for their first trip. We had a great time and did a lot of things “right”. We also learned some lessons along the way, on what we would do different. I am sharing our experience to help others who may be planning a similar trip.
Frozen on Broadway
This trip was a very last minute, spontaneous trip (at least for me!). One month earlier, I received an email that a new block of tickets had been released for Frozen the musical on Broadway, and I decided on a whim to take my oldest son.
The Frozen website states that the show is intended for children 8 years and older. I personally think the wording should reflect the type of behavior expected rather then giving an age. My 3 year old sat mesmerized without making a peep or moving a muscle the entire show. It was perfect for him. But I also know plenty of 3 year olds that would not be able to handle a 2 1/2 hour show. If you are considering taking your child to a Broadway show, my advice is to first take them to a community theatre show and see how they do. Are they able to sit through the entire performance without disrupting anyone else? If the answer is yes, then there are several kid friendly shows currently on Broadway that you can introduce them to. Frozen was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend it.
When we purchased our tickets, I took a risk and purchased “partial view” seats. They were the lowest priced seats available but they were in the Orchestra only two rows from the front. The reason they were partial view is because they were all the way to the left. We sat in those seats the first half of the show and had no issues with the seats at all.
However, during the show I noticed that one row behind us had center orchestra seats open (full view). I asked at intermission if we could move into them (for no additional cost) and they said yes. They were amazing seats, but I would never pay the full price for those seats when I could pay much less for the partial view seats, that really were not much different. So if you are shopping for tickets, I recommend considering partial view seats. They really offer a great value!
If you are worried about your small child being too short to see the stage, the theatre offers booster seat cushions so that little ones can see a little better. Because it’s “Frozen” they do a really good job catering to the younger crowd with souvenirs and snacks galore! So make sure to keep that in mind as you develop your trip’s budget.
Where to Stay
While my oldest son and I enjoyed our mommy/son Broadway date, my husband and youngest son took a nap in our hotel room. We stayed at the Intercontinental in Times Square which I highly recommend. The customer service was amazing from the moment we stepped into the hotel, until we checked out.
I booked the room for a super low rate (50% off!!!) on Hotwire, so I was worried we would get a bare bones room and perhaps not be treated as nicely as full price paying customers. But when we checked in, the receptionist offered us a complimentary room upgrade. He also offered us four complimentary drink vouchers (alcoholic and non alcoholic), as well as an extended check out time of 2pm instead of 11am. I instantly felt at home.
We took the elevator to the 30th floor and the view from our room (Room 3018) was gorgeous.
Our boys loved looking out onto the city. My youngest kept saying “big trucks wow”. My husband and I both agree that anytime we go to NYC we will make sure we have a room with a view, as it was free and easy entertainment for the boys the entire time.
In addition to the excellent customer service, the hotel was also in a great location. It was RIGHT next to the St. James theatre, where we saw Frozen, and it was a one minute walk to all the action in the Times Square/Theatre district. I loved being so close to all the action, but also not being right in the middle of the chaos as soon as you step outside the door. Hell’s Kitchen, which had hundreds of amazing looking restaurants was also only a five minute walk from the hotel.
Where to Eat
Speaking of Hell’s Kitchen, we had a delicious brunch at “Mom’s Kitchen and Bar” on Sunday morning. The atmosphere is very kid friendly with fun and bright decor.
The menu had so many delicious sounding options, it was really hard to choose. I didn’t snap a picture of my husband’s meal (oops), but I did get a picture of my mouth-watering delicious Bacon, Chicken and Waffles, which was covered in melted cheese.
My boys split the Bedrock Pancakes which is pancakes with Fruity Pebbles inside.
My only caution is that it starts to get busy around 10am, so if you want a non-hightop table for your toddler’s highchair(s) without waiting too long, try to arrive no later then 10am.
If you do have to wait for a seat, there is a small community garden right around the corner where you can let your little ones run around and burn some energy before being confined to a high chair.
Where to Play
Speaking of burning energy and getting out to play, Central Park is a MUST visit with kids. I know there is a zoo and carousel within Central Park, but we didn’t even touch that. My boys were simply thrilled with the free entertainment contained in the multiple playgrounds there.
My boys also enjoyed visiting the M&M store in Times Square.
Everything above, is what I think we did “right”. Now for a few lessons learned. First and foremost, I wish I would have done more research and planning ahead of time. I typically am your type A, plan every second type of traveler. But for this trip I decided to be more spontaneous. And I instantly regretted it. When it came time to eat lunch, we wasted so much time wandering around trying to find something we wanted. We also just assumed we would find a pedicab to take us to Central Park the second we wanted one. Not accurate. I wish I would have done the research before the trip. Lesson learned.
How to Get Around
We decided to drive our car to NYC because the train would have cost us $400 and the bus is too unpredictable to use with young children (in my opinion). The drive only took 3.5 hours and it was very nice to travel in a comfortable vehicle with the ability to make stops as needed. Parking was $39 for the night at our hotel and we decided to just park and never leave until we were ready to go home.
Leaving our car parked meant we needed to figure out how we would get around the city. I have a MAJOR phobia of rodents, so the subway was out of the question. Thankfully our hotel was in a great location and we could walk to most places. But we wanted to get to Central Park and that would have been entirely too long of a walk for us with the double stroller (more on the stroller issues later). Our original idea was to take one of those pedicabs. But after walking all over Times Square and not finding one, we retired that idea. Instead, we ended up using the “Hop on Hop off” tourist bus to get to Central Park, and my only regret with that, is that we didn’t start using the bus sooner.
Both boys rode the bus for free and it cost $35 each for me and my husband for unlimited rides all over uptown NYC all day. They also offer multi-day packages and packages that allow you to travel uptown and downtown.
While taking a cab would have been cheaper, cabs don’t come with car seats and we needed two of them. Also, with the Hop-on Hop Off bus, you get a guided tour and learn things along the way. Plus, the travel is unlimited all day. We really enjoyed the experience and will use it again next time we go to NYC. Next time we will do the multi-day/multi-location pass though!
Forget the Double Stroller
The biggest lesson learned was that double strollers and NYC do not mix. Trying to navigate the wide double stroller through the crowds of people in Times Square was a nightmare.
My husband and I both agreed that next time, we would bring two lightweight, umbrella strollers. This would allow us to each push one kid in a stroller and still be able to fold the strollers up compact enough so we could bring them on the bus with us.
And that was our trip in a nutshell! We had a great time overall, and do plan to go back. Do you have tips for traveling with kids to NYC, or suggestions of “must-do” or “must-eat” places? I would love to hear them. Drop a comment below.