New York City with kids in tow (and how to enjoy the diversity)
“Did you take your kids to New York City? Wasn’t that dangerous?”
Fear is contagious. Fear of traveling to far-away places and fear of taking your kids along. But fear is unnecessary. You can easily travel with your kids, even in a city like New York. By sharing our story I willl take away your fears for sure!
This is the second part of my series about New York City. It shows you how your kids can enjoy New York to the fullest! We talked to our kids about diversity where New York City is one big crossroad of our multicultural world. This story is about Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn, giant toy stores and the lights of Times Square.
Ease your kids
When you arrive in the city you will get overwhelmed by the excitement. That first sense of excitement is one of the greatest things about traveling. Looking at your kids, how can you let them get used to a city like New York? 4 tips:
- Let them study a map of the city
I am a map freak. Maybe a control freak, but I like to know where I am when I travel. And where we will be heading next. The great thing about letting your kids study the map, is that they get an idea of the size of the city, locations and distances. It helps them put it all in perspective.
- Buy them a hotdog and let them watch the city pass by
New York life happens on the street! Let them get used to street life and use one of the street icons in New York: the street vendor. It’s totally safe to order at a street vendor. Buy a simple hot dog and sit down. Have them look at people and comment. It’s a fun game!
- Put them in charge of the subway map.
Our daughter called herself the “Metro-Master”. She was intruiged by the coloured lines on the map and always wanted to figure out the best way to get to our destination.
Do you think the New York subway and the subway stations are a dangerous place for kids? Don’t worry, they might look old but there is nothing to be afraid of. Just look at this short video… Mind you, it will not win an Oscar for best Documentary!
- Central Park!
A great way of winding down after a full day of sightseeing is Central Park. I was truly impressed by the size, the tidiness and the comfort of the park. We watched a baseball game, enjoyed the Turtle Pond and relaxed while lying on the grass. This surely gives them new energy for another day of sightseeing (or, sadly, the return trip in our case).
Part II – Excitement for the kids!
OK, you got them all relaxed and feeling in charge! Now it is time to go out and do fun things! New York is the city of diversity. Let’s show them what diversity is all about!
We started with a boat tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Tip: buy your tickets online and beforehand!). Ellis Island is not a real kids destination, but the story is fascinating. Millions of immigrants to the USA arrived at this very island, hoping to be allowed access to the land of hopes and dreams. From all over the world they arrived at Ellis Island. Many of them stayed in New York, making the city such a diverse place.
Our kids found Times Square one of the most exciting places in the city. Especially because of all the lights at night. New Yorkers call Times Square the “Crossroads of the World”.
The second day in New York was a rainy one, but that didn’t mind because enough to do on and around Times Square. Our kids wanted to see the huge Toys’R’Us store and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Add the Disney store and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant and a rainy day turns into a sunny one…
A fabulous place to show them is the Flatiron building. Famous for its shape where the apex of the building is just 2 meters (six feet) wide! I am a storyteller so I told them a bit of history about the building. They found it fascinating to know that back in the old days young men were waiting for the wind to blow around the strangely shaped building in such a way it lifted the skirts of women passing by. Barelegged spectacle!
Of course we went to see Ground Zero. Our kids know all about the planes that hit the World Trade Center in 2001. My daughter was not even one month old at 9/11, now almost 10 years ago. We sat there watching the sky, imaging those two towers… Sometimes diversity makes the world a better place, sometimes it turns into hatred. When returning we passed a small memorial.
One of the things that made the most impression was a bike tour through Manhattan and on to Brooklyn! We rented bikes at Battery Park and off we went.
We crossed Manhattan from the West to the East before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is amazing but also a mile long. Having bikes to cross it is much easier for traveling families.
Brooklyn is a totally different world from Manhattan. Make sure to visit the park below the Bridge for great views on Manhattan.
You might think it is too dangerous to cycle with kids in New York. Don’t worry too much. There are dedicated bike lanes (even ones without other traffic) and you can also choose to just use the Hudson or East river boardwalk.
We cycled in Bangkok and now New York and we believe it is a great way to view the city. It’s like your own hop-on-hop-off vehicle..
A last tip that I mentioned earlier on this blog: give your kids their own small, digital camera. Our son took some interesting pictures with his own camera. It helps making them more aware of buildings, people and events.
Of course there is so much more to see with your kids: the Museum of Natural History and Coney Island to name just two. And don’t forget to elevate yourself to the top of at least one of those skyscrapers: Empire State Building or Rockefeller Plaza. But more about that in the third and last post in this series about New York City.