Grand Central Station
The grand old station just turned 100! This might not be a major sight; but try to take the subway from here - you’re kids might remember the station from the movie Madagascar. If you’re really into trains you can download an audio guide for your smart phone - check the website for this and other tours of the building.
International Center of Photography
The Museum at the International Centre of Photography is dedicated to historical and contemporary photography - there is no permanent exhibition. Check out their website for information on upcoming exhibitions, gallery talks and even classes and workshops. There’s a small museum store with a great selection on photography books and photography related stuff. We had lunch downstairs at the Catherine K. Café but cannot recommend the food there. If the weather is nice, head to Bryant Park afterwards - it’s right around the corner.
11 November 2012
One of my favorite shops for great jeans and cool clothes. Great style, cool brands. I always buy Wilfred tank tops here (and lots of other beautiful things!). Take your time and check out the store - I hope you’ll like it too!
A quirky bohemian-style boutique selling lovely - but expensive - clothes. Find hippie-chic dresses and cool jackets here.
THE store to find the perfect t-shirt. Great stylish basics for everyday wear in good, incredibly soft cotton. I love the long summer dresses and cosy knits.
Little Italy & SoHo
Continue your walk through Little Italy and visit SoHo. Stroll around the blocks and rest your feet in one of the cool cafés. There really is a lot of fun shopping in this area - to avoid a cranky kid choose your boutiques wisely. The following tips are my favorite stores.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
The place to find exotic ice cream flavors like Egg Custard, Taro, Ginger, Lychee along with more “normal” flavors. The family owned ice cream store is on of the oldest businesses of Chinatown. Souvenirs picturing the cute ice cream-eating Chinese dragon are for sale here too.
Walk through Chinatown
We ended up having a tasty dumpling lunch at the Happy Dumpling on Mulberry Street after having spent some time at the playground in Columbus Park. Chinatown is fun for children with its small quirky shops and food stalls. We bought a couple of Chinese buns for snack and strolled along the streets for a while.
Walk along Brooklyn Bridge
We started in Brooklyn; took the subway to York Street (you could also start High Street) and walked the bridge towards Manhattan. That way we had the famous Manhattan skyline in front of us the entire time. The bridge itself is beautiful, the view is great and there’s a lot to spot for kids. You’ll end up in the Financial District after you’ve walked the bridge from where it’s an easy walk to Chinatown.
10 November 2012
Five Guys - Burgers and Fries is a great place to eat a perfect burger with the toppings of your choice, fresh fries and everything sans trans fats. The burgers and fries of this restaurant chain have won several awards nationwide and have been called the “Willie Wonkas of Burgercraft” - cheap, tasty and fun.
Filled with a larger-than-life-piano, stuffed animals and toys, toys, toys this amazing store is a sight to be enjoyed by kids (and adults!) of all ages. A great place to wander around and get inspiration for the next letter to Santa. We ended up buying some cool stuff that’s hard to find in Europe; Play Foam and a couple of Star Wars themed Christmas ornaments. Right next to FAO Schwarz is the Apple flagship store which is also worth a visit.
Walk through Central Park
Manhattan’s “back yard” is well worth a visit, especially with kids in tow. The beautiful park is home to 21 playgrounds, there are cafés throughout the park. Go for a stroll, bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the quiet away from NYC’s chaos. The Central Park Zoo is located in the south-east corner of the park - a must if the kids (or you) are big fans of the movie “Madagascar”.
American Museum of Natural History
Days could be spent at this vast museum - space, dinosaurs, the history of mankind, anthropology, all kinds of animals from every corner of the world. Add to that the great temporary exhibitions, the space show “Journey to the Stars” and the IMAX movie theatre. It’ll keep you busy, no doubt. We had a great day here and enjoyed the space show, which was surprisingly good. We had lunch at the Museum Food Court, the food was ok. All in all we had a great time! The museum shops, where we bought astronaut ice cream and a set to grow our own florescent mushrooms, are very nice too.
9 November 2012
The Museum of Modern Art is definitely worth a visit - even with kids in tow. Check the website for art workshops and other activities for children or plan your visit in this extensive museum according to your and your child’s interest. We walked through the main exhibitions and checked out the most important works by Picasso, Pollock and Munch. There are several restaurants in the museum; we had lunch at the family-friendly Cafe 2 - the food was great, fast and healthy. Don’t forget to visit the MoMA store on your way out for a great selection of cool souvenirs, books on art for children (...and adults)!
Roosevelt Island Tram
One of the cheapest ways to check out the skyline of Manhattan is this aerial tram between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. You can pay with your MetroCard or pay a couple of bucks for around trip per person. The tram leaves several times an hour, the trip takes less than five minutes. In this time you’ll enjoy a great view of the skyline and have great photo opportunities. We enjoyed the calm of Roosevelt Island, went for a short walk and had our mid-morning snack. A lovely break from busy Manhattan!
Dylan's Candy Store
Take the subway to 59th Street or Lexington Avenue/59th Street and go crazy in this marvelous candy store. Load up on sweet souvenirs or satisfy your sweet tooth right away - there’s really a lot to choose from. In the basement there’s also a selection of items like shirts, pillows, umbrellas or stationary with a candy theme. We bought a little bag of sweets and a box of Star Wars candy canes for our Christmas tree to bring back to my husband in Europe. There’s a café on site, too. When you feel all Willy Wonka and had enough of any candy-themed music (“I Want Candy”, “Truly Scrumptious”) exit the store and walk towards the East River.
We went here in the evening just before heading back to our hotel. Times Square is bustling with people, it’s loud, crowded and neon lights brighten up the night. It’s a crazy place where you don’t want to spend all too much time, but it’s fascinating anyway. There’s a lot of stores around including a gigantic Toys’R’Us (with an indoor ferris wheel!) and a Disney Store.
Go here for fantastic burgers and crispy fries - fresh, simple and high-quality versions of American fast food classics, ice cream and shakes. Prepare to wait in line for a bit but it’s totally worth it! There’s several Shake Shacks in NYC, check out their webpage for more outlets. We tried the cheeseburger - it was divine! Truly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!
Walk along the shore of southern Manhattan
Take the subway to Whitehall and start your walk at Battery Park. Keep walking along the shore in a northern direction. With the water on your left hand-side you’ll spot the Statue of Liberty and the New Jersey shore from afar. And as a bonus you’ll pass some playgrounds on the way - a perfect outlet for all that stored up sight-seeing energy. We ended our walk right before Pier 25, which is close to the subway station Chambers Street.
American Girl Place
THE place to go to buy a doll! The store is on several floors and stocks a huge variety of dolls (probably including one that looks just like your daughter!) and all kinds of doll accessoires like clothes, horses, furniture. There’s even a doll hair salon, a doll café and restaurant and a doll photo studio on site. Even my son was fascinated by this huge store - we didn’t buy anything though.
Anthropologie is definitely one of my favorite stores in the States. They have cute, quirky, funky women’s clothes, shoes and accessoires. They also sell furniture and cool things for your home. A great place to pick up some Christmas gifts!
A huge lego store right next to the Rockefeller; love at first sight for any kid! Marvel at Star Wars-stuff, the beautiful window displays and let your child start writing her letter to Santa right away.
Rockefeller Center - Top of The Rock
People often choose between going to the observation deck on the Empire State Building and this one - and one of the main perks with this one, is that you can see the beautiful Empire State from the Top of the Rock. It’s true, the views are just amazing. The observation platforms are on different levels so you can always find a spot to enjoy the views and snap some pictures. We sat down and had a snack on one of the benches in the sun. Most of the observation deck is outdoors; don’t go here if it’s raining. I had pre-bought our tickets online; the price is the same but you’ll breeze past those lines!
Where we stayed - Hotel Sofitel
Staying at the Sofitel was not my first choice but it proved to be a good alternative to the other hotel I had booked initially. We arrived in NYC a week or so after the storm Sandy had hit and had to change our plans slightly. Anyway, we enjoyed the hotel’s comfortable and quiet rooms, the plush beds and the very good breakfast. The hotel is located in Midtown on 44th Street between Times Square and 5th Avenue. The closest subway station is Bryant Park, which is around the block. The location is perfect for exploring this part of Manhattan on foot and the subway takes you to other interesting areas like SoHo in no time. There are a lot of shops in the neighborhood, especially on 5th Avenue of course. One negative aspect was that most restaurants in the area are quite fancy, so finding a relaxed place to grab a quick dinner with a kid is not as easy as in other parts of the city. The hotel is nice and clean, the staff is very helpful and eager to give you tips and ideas on how to spend your day in their city.
We always had breakfast at the hotel - it would have been cheaper to go somewhere else, like Starbuck’s, but we were jet-lagged and woke up super-hungry every morning at around 5am, so the hotel breakfast was our best - and easiest - bet. The croissants were amazingly good! There’s a kids‘ menu for breakfast with a variety of hot and cold dishes like porridge, fruit, and pancakes. The portions are quite big so we usually ended up ordering an adult-size fruit platter and a kid-size portion of porridge or pancakes. A basket of bread, croissants and muffins is complimentary when ordering a breakfast dish.