[y] New York City Family Vacation Guide
There’s no place in the world quite like New York City. From the dazzling lights of Times Square to the idyllic beauty of Central Park, the city is a relentless showcase of urban energy and cosmopolitan diversity. New York City boasts some of the world’s most famous landmarks, museums, parks, theaters, and historic sites, offering a little bit of something for everyone. For those seeking the ultimate city experience, New York City is the only place to go.
NYC Fun Guide
New York City is the largest city in the United States and located on the East Coast in New York State. It is renowned for its iconic skyline and incredible ethnic diversity. The city is divided into five boroughs and can be accessed by its three international airports, Amtrak, Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, PATH, bus services, major highways as well as by ship.
The city boasts an unmatched array of attractions and world-famous landmarks to see as well as some of the most distinguished museums and cultural institutions on the planet. Times Square holds an incredible collection of Broadway theaters, shops, restaurants and nightlife spots and is famous throughout the world for its blazing neon lights and digital billboards. Central Park offers 843 acres of beautiful greenery as well as activities such as cycling, boating and horse-drawn carriage rides. The celebrated Empire State Building boasts striking views from its observation deck as does Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, a vast complex that also hosts shops, restaurants and the famed Radio City Music Hall.
Lower Manhattan boasts the historic Brooklyn Bridge, a great place to see the city’s stunning skyline. It is also the home of Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall on Wall Street as well as Battery Park, known for its breathtaking waterfront views. The iconic Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can also be accessed by ferry from Lower Manhattan while the Staten Island Ferry offers free views of the city’s beautiful skyline and harbor.
New York City is also renowned for its staggering collection of museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. Here, visitors will find world-class museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History and many others. Outside of Manhattan, attractions such as Coney Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn and the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx can be found. Other attractions in New York City include the historic Grand Central Terminal, the United Nations headquarters, the High Line and the city’s celebrated neighborhoods such as SoHo and Greenwich Village.
NYC Downtown Hotels
If you want to visit the best place in the nation for food, fun, and sights to see, look no further than Downtown NYC. The Downtown NYC area has a plethora of things you can check out on your vacation. Just a few major attractions in the area include the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and of course gorgeous Central Park. Worried about getting around in Downtown NYC as a first-time traveler? Fortunately, you do have a lot of options for getting from point A to point B that is not only easy but also affordable. You can take a cab, the bus, the subway or even explore the area entirely on foot. One of the best things about Downtown NYC is amazing food. Some of the most renowned restaurants in the country are located here. A few well-known options include the ritzy Nobu restaurant located at 40 West 57th Street and also Cafe Reggio on MacDougal Street. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown NYC that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
- The Chatwal
One of the newest 5-star luxury hotels in the Times Square area. Close enough to everything but a welcome retreat away from all the hustle and bustle.
- Doubletree Times Square
Great hotel that offers 2 room suites with pull out sofas for families. Right in the middle of Times Square and easy walking distance to Toys R Us store, Broadway plays and Rockefeller Center.
- Hilton at Rockefeller
Just steps away from 5th Ave, Rockefeller Center and 2 blocks from Times Square. Great place for families since it’s in such a central location.
- Tribeca Grand in Tribeca
In the Tribeca neighborhood and makes you feel like you are a local living in NYC. Great location to the downtown area where local shops and restaurants abound.
- The James in SoHo
One the “hot” new hotels with a great rooftop pool and bar, The James. Easy walking distance to SoHo which has some of the best restaurants and shopping in all of NYC and much less crowded
New York Weather
People who live in New York often have a love-hate relationship with the weather. Wherever you are in the state, you’ll experience the change of seasons, which is wonderful. However, the summers can be extraordinarily hot while the winters can be freezing and rife with snowfall. For the most part, though, New York residents absolutely love the change of seasons. There aren’t too many other places in the country that offer summers that truly feel like summer and winters that come with all the real makings of winter. The best part about the change of seasons in New York is when the leaves on the trees change.
The best months to visit New York are the ones that are mostly mild. March through May and September through October have moderate weather without any severe inclines or declines in temperature. These are also the months that see a high amount of tourism, because tourists want to visit New York when the weather’s the nicest, not when it’s hot and humid or freezing cold. There’s also a spike in tourism during the wintertime in New York City when tourists flock to Manhattan to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and head to Times Square for New Year’s Eve.
The Hudson Valley and New York City
From the Hudson Valley down to New York City, weather and the change of seasons are basically the same. The springtime is short but sweet, with super low humidity, mild temperatures and blooming flowers. Summertime temperatures range from the 70s up to the 90s and the humidity can be very high. The Autumn is absolutely gorgeous, especially in the Hudson Valley, with people coming from all over to view the amazing foliage. Weather is crisp but not too cold yet, with some days still feeling spring-like. The wintertime is especially cold during January and snowfall occurs, although how much varies. Some winters have be exceptionally difficult while others are very mild.
Upstate New York
Upstate New York has similar weather to the Hudson Valley and New York City, but conditions are slightly more severe during the colder months. The Autumn is chillier than the southern part of the state, but the views and foliage is even more beautiful. Upstate New York is well known for its treacherous winters. Buffalo, NY, which is in one of New York’s most northern points, can get extreme winter weather, with tons of snowfall and freezing temperatures.
New York Transportation
New York City has the largest subway system in the world. It is the main form of travel for nearly everyone in the city. The subway lines are easy to navigate with the help of a map that is available at any token booth or visitor center. The subways are fast, safe and very efficient. Visitors in the city should purchase daily or weekly MetroCards that allow an unlimited number of rides over a certain period. The subways run 24 hours a day in Manhattan although service is more limited in the outer extremes of the boroughs like Queens and the Bronx. Buses are available above ground although they tend to be slower and less reliable than the subways in Manhattan. Buses are sometimes the only option in the outer boroughs.
Taxicabs are everywhere in New York City. They far outnumber any other vehicles in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Cabs are inexpensive, tightly regulated and very convenient. Stepping to the curb and hailing a cab is very easy in most parts of the city. Cabs can take longer than the subway because of traffic although they allow families to avoid the crowds and confusion of the subways during rush hour. It is sometimes easiest to find a cab outside of a large hotel or other attraction. Visitors in the outer reaches of the boroughs like the Bronx or Staten Island might need to call a taxi service to get a cab.
There are a number of rental car agencies hidden throughout New York City usually near indoor, underground or outdoor parking lots. Renting a car in New York provides a family with the freedom to go anywhere. They are especially useful when traveling to locations like the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens or the Bronx Zoo. Something to be aware of is that traffic is very bad in Manhattan and the areas close to Manhattan. The highways can be confusing as well. Renting a car is not usually a good idea in Manhattan because there is almost no on-street parking.
One option for families who are visiting Brooklyn, Queens, and portions of the Bronx are dollar vans. These are privately run vans regulated by the city. Visitors get in the van from a marked stop or the base of operations for the company. Riders can get off the van at any location along the route. Payment is made when leaving the van. These are convenient although they can be inconsistent or hard to find. They are very convenient in certain neighborhoods in areas like Queens where there is a lack of transportation.
Visitors to New York City might need to take a ferry. The most popular option is the Staten Island Ferry that takes passengers to the borough of the same name. There are also ferries to the Statue of Liberty. A few ferries that leave from the southern parts of Manhattan drop riders in neighborhoods in Brooklyn like Red Hook. Ferries can be convenient although they do not run at all times of the day and could leave visitors stranded in an area if not timed correctly.
New York City Attractions
There are not many places in the world that are better to visit than New York. You will be able to find something fun and exciting to do no matter where you are at in the city. While New York is filled with countless attractions, these are the four attractions that everyone must-see while visiting the city.
Statue of Liberty
You can not go to New York and not see the most iconic landmark in the world. There are several ferries that take visitors to the island holding the Statue of Liberty. Going to the top of the Statue of Liberty gives you an amazing view of New York City that you are not able to get anywhere else.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was established in 1870, and it currently receives over 5 million visitors each year. There are over 2 million pieces of art on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which makes it the largest museum in the United States. There is no better place in the country to see amazing works of art from some of the most famous artists of all-time. Some of the popular artists with works on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art include Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and El Greco.
If you are looking to see one of the most beautiful spots in New York, then you must go visit Central Park. Central Park was created in 1857, and it currently receives more than 37 million visitors each year. Central Park is such an iconic park in New York that it was named a U.S National Historic Landmark in 1963. The entire park is filled with amazing plant and animal life. The ice skating rink, playgrounds, and zoo located in the park are perfect places to take children. There is just something very tranquil about being in a beautiful park in the middle of the city. Visit Our Central Park Guide
If you love watching plays and musicals, then you have to go to Broadway while visiting New York. There are currently 40 different theaters on Broadway that have shows playing throughout the year. This makes Broadway one of the largest theater districts in the world. Several of the biggest movie stars perform on Broadway when they are not shooting a movie. Broadway performances attract more than 12 million audience members each year, which accounts for over $1 billion in ticket sales. You will not find better theater performances anywhere else in the world.
New York City Dining
New York City is the center of the United States food scene, and many critics feel that Le Bernardin is the center of the New York City food scene. It is one of the best restaurants in the world, and many people will consider an item crossed off of their bucket list after they finish a meal here. The food is extraordinary, the service is impeccable and the atmosphere is the height of elegance. The best way to experience this restaurant is by eating one of their legendary tasting menus. These meals are several courses and take a few hours to complete. It is an epic experience.
Colicchio and Sons
The food here is amazing. It is one of the best restaurants in the city. They absolutely perfectly prepare every dish on the menu. The best way to enjoy it is to experience the tasting menu that runs 10 to 12 courses. The service will leave patrons wowed.
Food critics consistently rate Gramercy Tavern near the top of their lists of the best restaurants in the city. After eating a meal here, diners will certainly agree with them. They serve sophisticated food that is beautifully presented. They have a bar area for walk-ins, but those who want to sit down at a table in the dining room need to book ahead of time to ensure a place.
Anyone in New York City who is looking for a memorable meal will find it at Daniel. The food is out of this world. From start to finish here, a meal is utter perfection. The staff is very knowledgeable, and they do a great job of paring wines from their well-stocked cellar with the amazing dishes they serve.
There are hundreds of bakeries in New York City, but no other bakery is even in the same league as Levain. Once people come in here and try a cookie, every other cookie will suffer by comparison for the rest of their lives. Be sure to get here early as the selection goes fast.
Many fantastic restaurants exist in New York, but this spot may lay claim to the best lunch in the city. They serve a five-course tasting menu that will be a meal that most people never forget. Anyone looking to impress someone with a phenomenal lunch will find what they are looking for here.
No place outside of Italy is more famous for its pizza than New York City. Of the hundreds of spots for pizza in the city, this is the absolute best.
New York Events
Trust that New York offers a bevy of intriguing and energetic events every year that create indelible memories for its guests. Discover an array of festivals and events that draw millions of guests to the city from across the globe. From classical music concerts and operas to world-class film festivals and sporting events, know that New York has the ability to satisfy every interest and curiosity. Consider that many of the city’s preeminent events occur every year inspiring guests to return time and again. Whether you are coming for a weekend getaway in the spring or for a family vacation in the fall, believe that the city features a range of events guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Open your mind and stimulate your curiosity at The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend. Learn from the expertise of writers and subjects of The Times’ arts section at a series of public lectures and conferences. Join the celebrations for the Chinese New Year. Revel in several days of festivities such as the Firecracker Ceremony and the Lunar New Year Parade & Festival.
See the latest works from prominent and emerging film directors at the Tribeca Film Festival. Feel like an A-list celebrity at a glamorous event that transforms the Manhattan neighborhood into a destination for red carpet galas. Catch a game at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium during an opening day game. Indulge in beautiful weather and savory food offered at both ballparks.
Basque in sumptuous Central Park during the Shakespeare Festival. Watch free performances by acclaimed actors like Al Pacino render works that still inspire 500 years after their original creation. Travel to Queens to watch the US Open Tennis Tournament drawing the very best players in the world to compete for a Grand Slam Championship.
Delight in Italian food and fun at the Feast of San Gennaro. Watch the parade featuring the patron saint of Naples as well as revel in the warmth and tradition of New York’s Little Italy neighborhood. Moreover, feel glamorous during Fashion’s Night Out. Visit over 800 retailers that participate in the event offering special promotions and items to patrons.
Come to New York and discover a range of wonderful activities that feature culture, glamor, art and professional sporting events. Experience the city like a native New Yorker or with the freshness as a first-time guest. Whether you are coming to New York for business or leisure travel, trust that the city provides plenty of events certain to make your experience unforgettable.
Family Fun near Downtown New York
New York Aquarium
The New York Aquarium is set on 14 acres in Coney Island and the only place to see Pacific walruses on the upper east coast. Both adults and kids will love getting close to these underwater creatures and taking part in special events and educational programs. Some of the underwater animals you will see at this aquarium include sharks, tropical fish, penguins, sea otters and seals.
Staten Island Zoo
The Staten Island Zoo might be a very tiny zoo, but it still offers an experience that the entire family won’t forget. Whether you want to see monkeys or tigers, you will find it at this zoo. In the Children’s Center, your kids can even pet and feed farm animals such as pigs and goats. There are also tons of educational programs available and animal presentations every weekend at this zoo.
A trip to New York isn’t complete without visiting Central Park. This 843-acre park is one of the most popular parks in the world and offers tons of fun activities for families. When you go to this park, you can go on hikes, go fishing, take a boat ride and even swim in a public swimming pool. Your kids will also love playing on any of the many playgrounds in this park. Make sure to bring a picnic lunch with you because you could end up spending the entire day at this park. Central Park is a great way to spend the day. A beautiful park offering a great zoo for kids, lots of walking trails around many famous sculptures and ice skating in the winter on the famous Wollman Rink.
American Museum of Natural History
Both adults and kids can learn something new at the American Museum of Natural History. The museum has been around since 1869 and offers something for everyone. Some of the most interesting exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History include Journey to the Stars, Flight of the Butterflies, Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians and Hayden Planetarium.
Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex
Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex is a waterfront sports village that is the perfect place for kids to be. This complex has the best facilities for baseball, boxing, dance, ice skating, basketball, gymnastics, running, volleyball and swimming. There are so many things to do that your kids will never want to leave.
New York City Fire Museum
Everyone in the family will get a kick out of the New York City Fire Museum. This museum is housed in a renovated 1904 firehouse and features a lot of interesting artifacts from the late 1700s to present. Some of the interesting artifacts you will see at this museum include pre-Civil War hand-pumped fire engines and horse-drawn vehicles.
Shopping near Downtown New York
As a major international city, New York City offers a medley of trendy, exclusive and modern shopping opportunities for any taste and budget. The city’s neighborhoods abound with unique options that feature established brands, high-end designers and unique curiosities that offer visitors a potential surprise.
Lower Manhattan & the Financial District
Visitors find irresistible deals at the discount giant Century 21 located adjacent to the World Trade Center site. Closer to City Hall is the electronics giant J&R featuring the latest gadgets and technological advances for camera equipment, computers and software. At the South Street Seaport, visitors find traditional festive restaurants and retailers like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch in an outdoor setting with cobblestone-paved streets.
Overtime the SoHo neighborhood has emerged as a trendy, fashionable neighborhood. Inside what used to serve as lofts of artists, guests find numerous established brands like J. Crew, Old Navy, Levi’s Guess, and Club Monaco. Exclusive brands like Marc Jacobs and Chanel, among other brands, have established retail outlets in the neighborhood among the sophisticated cast-iron architecture and cobblestone streets. In addition, local designers and emerging producers have set-up small boutiques and portable kiosks on the street.
Fifth Avenue & 57th Street
The classic images of New York are drawn from this esteemed intersection. Retailers like Tiffany & Co., Nike, Coach and Louis Vuitton have established flag-hip stores in this area. More moderate retailers like Gap and Apple have outlets. Exclusive department stores reside in the area as well including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel.
This street between 57th and 79th streets features the most exclusive retail property on the planet. Indeed, the world’s most esteemed designers have shops on this street. Shoppers also find a bevy of art galleries featuring wonderful art, fine-dining and antique shops. Guests often spot the rich and famous and can even find a great deal for something special. Architectural enthusiasts find the area enriching as well given the selection of historic works.
Upper West Side
The Shops at Columbus Circle features a spectacular view of Midtown Manhattan, especially in the evening when the city’s come alive with its lights and energy. A variety of retail options exist in the center including Whole Foods Market, Hugo Boss, Sisley and Thomas Pink. Cafes and hotels reside in the area providing splendid views of Central Park.
Visitors to New York have a rich selection of shopping options to explore and experience. Guests from around the world come to the city to ultimately find items that only New York provides.
Map of Hotels in New York
- Manhattan – Find uptown hotels near Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir & Upper West Side
- Central Park – Book luxury & budget hotels near New York State Theatre & Terminal 5
- Midtown Center – Find casino hotels near Museum of Modern Art & St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Times Square – Check out boutique hotels near New York City Theatre District
- Empire State Building – Browse hotels near New York Public Library & Museum of Sex
- Wall Street – Book riverfront hotels near Downtown Manhattan Heliport & Battery Park City