A Weekend in New York City with Young Kids

New York City

I thrive on New York City. The energy, the buildings, the food – I love it all. I wasn’t sure if it would be just as wonderful with kids, as we had never taken them before, but I was pleasantly surprised by how kid-friendly it was. It is incredibly easy to get around, there are playgrounds in all the right spots, and its busy and loud – which is perfect for maniac kids. Best of all – I loved seeing the city from their perspective!


When: A long weekend in July 2017

Where: Hotel Giraffe 

Weather: Highs in the 90’s and lows in the 70’s – HOT

Wear: Comfortable clothes for daytime (sleeveless dresses or shirts/shorts – its hot!), good walking shoes and several dressy outfits for dinners and Broadway shows

Ages: Our son was 2 and our daughter was 6

Our Hotel – Hotel Giraffe

At a corner in NoMad, you will find this little gem of a hotel! We stayed all three nights in NYC at Hotel Giraffe, which has now become our go to hotel in NYC. It is conveniently located between midtown and downtown, making it a quick walk or ride away from lots of attractions. It is also one block from Madison Gardens, which is excellent for families as it contains a playground and Shake Shack!

This place is PERFECT for families and an incredible value. Not only is a delicious breakfast included in your stay, but everyday there is a happy hour with great wines & snacks in the hotel lobby (also included!). This was a perfect chill time for our whole family. My husband and I got to sit and relax with a glass of wine while the kids munched on snacks.

We stayed in a one bedroom suite, which as any parent knows, is the only way to make a hotel stay with kids enjoyable! We weren’t stuck going to bed at 8pm because we were all in one space. After we put the kids in bed, we closed the door and were able to order room service, enjoy Game of Thrones on the TV :), and also open the balcony doors to listen to the sounds of the city. I was shocked at how spacious the room and bathroom were, especially for NYC standards. Best part is this hotel is extremely reasonable – best value for your money in NYC I could find! And oh, who doesn’t love a rooftop bar? Yep – they have one.

New York City


New York City

New York City

New York City

New York City

New York City

New York City

Itinerary & Activities

Finding activities to do in New York City is not a problem – it was trying to pick just a few to visit over our three days that was challenging. We were able to come up with a fantastic itinerary for a weekend in NYC that was kid-friendly and easy-going, with a good mix of tourist attractions, classic NYC experiences and good old fashion fun. For details on how our kids enjoyed the activities, see “Kid-friendly activities in NYC” (post coming this week).

Day ONE – Check in & Madison Gardens

  • Checked into Hotel Giraffe at 4pm
  • Enjoyed complimentary happy hour at Hotel Giraffe
  • Walked one block to Madison Gardens to play at playground
  • Dinner at Shake Shack in Madison Gardens
  • Dessert at Eataly

Day TWO – Empire State Building, Central Park & Broadway

  • Walked to Empire State Building for viewing on 82nd Floor
  • Took subway line to Madison Ave/72nd street exit and walked a few blocks to Central Park
  • Ate lunch at Le Pain Quotidien Conservatory Water
  • Rented sailboats from Sail the Park at Conservatory Water
  • Walked past Alice in Wonderland Statue to James Michael Levin Playground with splash pad
  • Walked to Belvedere Castle and climbed castle
  • Walked 20 minutes back to Madison Ave/72nd to take Subway back to Hotel Giraffe
  • Emmie and I ate dinner at Bread & Tulips
  • Took Lyft to see Aladdin the Musical (SO GOOD!)

Day THREE – Museum Day

  • Took the subway to American Museum of Natural History
  • Spent 2-3 hours exploring AMNH and ate lunch in cafeteria
  • Walked a few blocks to Children’s Museum of Manhattan
  • Dessert at Cafe Lalo
  • Took Lyft back to Hotel Giraffe

Day FOUR – Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

  • Started in Manhattan and walked across Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn
  • Rode Jane’s Carousel
  • Grabbed Hot Chocolates from Jacques Torres Chocolate
  • Picked up lunch to go from Shake Shack

Local Eats

Dining with a two year old, especially with our maniac, is never easy as they can’t sit still. While NYC offers the best restaurants around, we opted for easy environments that would make our dinners as pleasant as possible, and they were!

One block away from Hotel Giraffe in Madison Gardens is a Shake Shack. This was the perfect spot for dinner our first night. You order at the window, are given a buzzer, and grab the food when it is ready. There are plenty of tables and chairs in the park to dine at. The kids got to play in the park while we waited for the food making it an incredibly easy experience. And their mushroom burger was insane!

After dinner at Shake Shack, we walked across the street to Eataly for dessert. They had a delicious selection of gelatos and sorbets, making it a perfect spot for my dairy free daughter and this chocolate loving mama.

For our afternoon in Central Park, we again opted for the easy grab and go outside dining rather than sitting at a table in a restaurant trying to entertain Easton. We ate at Le Pain Quotidien Conservatory Water, which is right behind the pond where you can rent the boats for sailing. I loved their avocado toast (so good!), and my son loved the hot dog. My daughter is a much pickier eater, so they didn’t have anything she wanted, but I always bring peanut butter crackers as a back up for her. While hot, we sat underneath a shaded table and enjoyed watching the sailboats. They also serve ice cream at this spot, but seeing as how we have to go dairy free for Emmie, we grabbed some snow cones from a street vendor. Good call on a hot day!

For our girls night out (we were headed to Broadway!), Emmie and I ate at Bread & Tulips, which is the restaurant below Hotel Giraffe. This made it super convenient for us, rather than trying to walk to another restaurant or having to take a car to two spots. (I am all about convenient with kids – less stress!). I was so pleasantly surprised with this restaurant! The decor was rustic chic, the food was delicious and the waiter was very friendly. My daughter even ate the mushroom arancini appetizer – win! They were great with kids – highly recommend!

On our museum day, we ate lunch at American Museum of Natural History. They have several cafes to choose from, but we chose the Food Court on the first floor as they had the most diverse selection. It was quick, easy, and noisy – great for kids.

Across the street from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is Cafe Lalowhich is the perfect spot for an afternoon treat! (they also serve food, but we just wanted cake!). I have read that it can be busy, but we went at 3pm and were able to grab one of the few empty tables. This place is well known as it was in “You’ve Got Mail”, and as soon as we walked in I recognized it. They have a vast selection of desserts to choose from, and we got the Oreo Cake (ridiculously good!!), Chocolate Cake and ice cream. It was heavenly!

We decided to make it simple for our last night and stay in our room for dinner. My husband picked up pizza from Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza and brought it back. It was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. We got the Formaggio Bianco and Shroomtown. While the Shroomtown was a bit much for this mushroom lover, the Formaggio Bianco was incredible!

For breakfast each day, we ate at Hotel Giraffe. They offered a wonderful complimentary spread of breakfast pastries, fruit and cereal, making it super convenient and budget friendly. We also took advantage of their happy hour and would enjoy their wine, crackers and olives every afternoon (the kids enjoyed water, not wine 🙂 Such a nice touch!

New York City Kids
Waiting for her Shake Shack in Madison Gardens.
Bread and Tulips Restaurant

Getting Around

We did it all in NYC – walked, rode the subway and took Lyft – and incredibly enough, we survived it all without a stroller (we left it at our previous destination! Ah!). While we did survive, I highly recommend bringing a good portable stroller so you aren’t stuck carrying around 30+lbs the whole time! Make sure it isn’t too bulky as you will want to fold it up on the subway.

We mostly walked everyone, as our hotel was great for close walks to attractions, eats and playgrounds. We were a little far from Central Park, so we took the subway there. Kids had no problem and it was easy to navigate (no changing trains). Easton is free, but Emmie, Mike and I were $3 each a ride pass, which is good for 2 hours. When we couldn’t walk, this was our preferred method of transport as we didn’t have a car seat.

I did end up taking Lyft once with East – because one afternoon I was on my own with the kids and I wasn’t about to manage the subway with East and Emmie on my own. It’s super cheap, convenient and easy, the only downside is the no car seat situation. However, for $10 more a ride, you can get a car with a car seat, so if you aren’t comfortable with your kids riding without one, you can definitely make it work. It is not required by law in NYC, and we were only going a few blocks (never made it faster than 15mph in traffic), so I let Easton ride in the middle without one. If we had gone on any further or taken any highways, I would have definitely recommend getting the car seat, but for our short hop, I was fine with it.

Any way you put, New York City is incredible easy to get around in – just don’t forget your stroller!

New York City
How Easton got around the city without a stroller!

I love New York City! Our time went by way to quickly, and we had so much fun. For any doubters out there about bringing your kids to NYC, there is a lot for them to do and enjoy – BRING THEM! We sure had a lovely and memorable weekend away!

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