Things to Do in New York with Kids

Here are some places and tips to enjoy New York in MavenMomma style. Go to fun, maybe a little fanciful places, eat well, and have an amazing time without being too kid focused. Balance the “we” with the “me”! 

Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024

Take your kids on a time machine by taking a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it is one of the largest and most celebrated natural history museums in the world. Here, your kid’s minds wonder as they wander the halls learning about earth’s history, environments and cultures-past. While in NYC this is an absolute must see for all age groups. After all, where else can you take a trip around the world and back in time? 



Tip: Download the Explorer App in advance and plan your day at the museum.


Fun Fact: The American Museum of Natural History has a vast dinosaur fossil collection, including Tyrannosaurus Rex, however, most of the collection is not actually on display!  It is kept under wraps for preservation and research.  

Bonus Randomness You May Appreciate:  There is a cafeteria in the museum’s basement that serves kids faves including Jell-o cups topped with whipped cream and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. My girls ask me to make sure we can stop in before we leave the museum every time we go.

By far Central Park remains one of my favorite places in NYC. As a single chick, it was my spot to run, meet up with friends, or just relax and read. As a MavenMomma it is pretty much the same routine, mixed with a little more fun. From strolling through the zoo, climbing rocks, rowing boats, munching pretzels or playing in one of the parks 21 different playgrounds you can easily spend the entire day meandering through Central Park. I like to travel lite so we stop for lunch at the Boat House or the Leaping Frog Cafe, depends on how fancy we feel. 

Tip: Weekends are the best time for a family bike ride in the park because cars are banned and park roads turn into miles of scenic, traffic-free paths. Go mid morning while the park is alive but not as crowded.

Fun Fact: Central Park is called New York’s backyard, it stretches from North 110th Street to Central Park South (59th Street), and from Central Park West (8th Avenue) to 5th Ave.

3 Beekman Street, Beacon, New York

Dia: Beacon Entrance

Just 60 Miles north of Manhattan along the Hudson River is Dia: Beacon, an art museum that features extensive and sprawling installations that are worth the day trip to behold. You will naturally become a part of an  installation’s environment thanks to each gallery custom design around the collection featured within. Amongst Dia: Beacon’s most notable residents is Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, and Andy Warhol just to name a few. You can click here for more information on Dia: Beacon’s exhibits or better yet, just go.

If you’re interested in really making the most of your visit, you might want to consider taking one of the guided tours that the museum offers. They are both informative and relatively affordable. 

Tip: Stop at Moo Moo’s Creamery in Cold Spring, NY, for Homemade Ice Cream. Be sure to walk around the quaint village and take in the charm.

FunFact: Dia: Beacon’s space was originally a Nabisco box printing factory.



Looking to let your kids burn off some energy on a rainy NY day?  Check out Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment complex. For example Chelsea Piers Bowling Alley is a terrific location for a few rounds of bowling with the family. You can also enjoy laser tag, try out some arcade games, or simply enjoy the Indoor playground. You can also grab a bite at Fresh and Co without ever having to leave the building.

Sunday’s are a great day to visit because you’re going to find the best discounts that day. For example, bowling games are just $6.39 each, and you can get access to the arcade for only $3.


Tip: Check Groupon for deals prior to going!

Fun Fact: Buy yourself or your spouse a drink while your kids play! 

The High line is a breathtaking public park situated along what was at one time a New York Central Railroad. It features wonderfully landscaped walking trails, great lookout spots, diverse gardens, and art. There are also a variety of public programs available that are free and open to everyone.

The best time to visit the High Line with kids is Saturday when family activities are plenty


Tip: Remember to leave your furry friend at home when making a visit to the High Line. Dogs are not allowed on the trails to protect the landscape from damage.

Fun Fact: The High Line was created initially by neighborhood residents in 1999 to keep the track, a piece of New York history, from being demolished.

Whether you are a New York City resident or just visiting on vacation, Madison Square Park never fails to amaze. This is a sprawling, 7-acre green space where kids can roam and enjoy the playground. Spending a day surrounded by flowers, greenery, and art will refresh you and wear your little ones out! Complete your afternoon of leisure with kids by grabbing a quick lunch from Shake Shack OG location.  

Tip: Do it for the gram! Make sure to position yourself to get a pic of the Flatiron building in the background.  

Fun Fact: Madison Square Park features over thirty world-class installations from some of the most well-known artists. 




Pink A Licious

As an alternative to Broadway, consider getting tickets for “Pinkalicious the Musical,” which is currently touring the city. Keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates and make sure to snag tickets when the show stops by a venue near you. My girls were so excited to see one of their favorite book series brought to life. 

Tip: Sign up for the cast meet and greet backstage. Your little one will have the chance to take pictures and enjoy a magical moment.

This year, if you are in the New York area from August 26th – September 9th treat yourself and the little ones to a family experience at the US Open. From watching lively tennis matches throughout the stadium to fun activities there is something for the entire family, be sure not to leave home without your AMEX. You will need the card to buy stuff, but most importantly participate in the fun activities Amex sponsors.

Tip: If you are looking for more kids programming, check out Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day an event that honors tennis legend, Arthur Ashe. This celebration is the largest single-day, grassroots tennis, and entertainment event, featuring concerts and tennis stars. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place August 24th-two days before opening day for the US Open.

Fun Fact: 2001 marked the first women’s final played in prime time. For the 16 years before, the women’s final was played between the men’s two semi-finals.  Typically bogus treatment, but we can thank the sister power of Serena and Venus for breaking that barrier. Based on the strength and popularity of the William’s sisters, CBS bumped the women’s final into Prime Time.

Two Days in Legoland

Having kids is always making me do things I told myself I would NEVER do. I can just hear myself saying, “Motherhood will not change me.” Then I actually became a mother and thus, the first chapter of, momma plans, and my kids laugh.

I knew that taking my kids to Legoland was a must.  A dreaded must, but a must nonetheless. I put off this excursion as long as I could then, my oldest daughter’s obsession with all things Lego deepened. So like any MavenMomma, worth the title, I put on my super momma cape and planned a bday getaway for her. I went in with a one and done mentality-I will do it this once and never go back. How did we do?  My kids had a blast, I was pleasantly surprised, and we are going back for baby girl’s bday in the Fall.  And this one, puts me at chapter 1000 in my momma plans, and my kids laugh chronicles.  

Okay, let me be 100. I will pay for every comfort and convenience within reason.  Keep that thought in mind as I give you the MavenMomma lowdown on how I made Legoland fun for the whole family.

Take the Easy Route

Explore alternate ways of commuting to Legoland. We took Amtrak from LA-Union Station to Ocean City and a car service to the hotel. I was grateful for the decision as we whizzed past the traffic on PCH and arrived two hours before friends who opted to drive.

Go in Spring and Fall- when it is not too hot, not cold, nor overly crowded. 

"pleasant weather = pleasant people"
#Mavens101

Should I Stay or Should I Go​

There was no way I was going to Legoland and coming back the same day. Day trips trigger my Cinderella syndrome. The big clock in my momma brain gongs and I start packing up my family’s things, throwing them into the trunk and my girls into the back seat as I try to beat LA traffic. You guessed it, thanks to my one and done agenda I opted to stay.

Stay two nights if you can swing it, this gives you time to plan an itinerary that does not feel rushed. Our two nights allowed us to spend one full day in the park, followed by dinner and arcade fun, with rest time scheduled in as needed.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was talking to my happy girls as we strolled through Miniland USA. The following day we spent the morning and afternoon in the parks, before we enjoyed dinner and a movie poolside.  2 days allowed me to set a pace where we enjoyed the sites, activities, attractions and most importantly, each another.  

I started looking at vacation packages well in advance of my expected March travel dates. I signed up for travel updates and deals at Legoland.com which enabled me to score a deal that gave us the 2nd day in park free with a two-night stay. Plus this year, Legoland’s 20th birthday, your birthday kid receives free park admission.  

Be sure to join the treasure hunt. During our stay the girls went on daily quest for clues in the hotel's lobby. The answer to those clues unlocked our rooms prize chest.

Download the Legoland App before you go. The app enables you make reservations and map your visit, before arrival. Preplan so you can hit the ground running-pun intended.

Another way you can get the jump on things is to get  Reserve -N- Ride.  This ride scheduling service is designed to reduce wait time and add a sense of ease as you make your way through the park. There are several price points: Express reduces your wait time by 25%, Deluxe by 50%, and Ultimate by 95%. I chose deluxe for myself and my girls, which was perfect since it gave us time to have fun playing games and snacking while we waited for our next attraction’s time slot.

Be a Wiz

Text Legoland’s Wizard,  a concierge service at your finger tips. Order room service rent poolside cabana, etc by texting the wizard and a friendly Legoland staff member is your service.

The Dish

There are options to eat healthy, or however you wish at Legoland.  There is a wide variety of cuisines; from Asian cuisine in Ninja’s Kitchen and Wok and Bowl Ramen to American Classics like Fun Town’s Urban Kitchen and Knights Smokehouse BBQ. All of which are remarkable amusement park eats. I found the food to be well seasoned and well prepared. If you have ever eaten at an amusement park, you know this is pretty exceptional. Try the brisket sandwich from the Garden Deli and Cafe directly above Miniland USA…sooo good.

Shop Wise

If you are going to buy stuff, do not wait until near the park’s closing to do so. Legoland stores offer the option to buy, and they will have purchases waiting for you before exiting the park. This way you can make sure your kids get what they want without your Cinderella syndrome making you urged them to hurry up! I know it is not just me.  

All in all, with these tips, add-ons, and little comforts a momma can find amusement and -gasp!- enjoy herself alongside her babycakes.

New York Family Friendly Restaurants

Your Family’s Culinary Guide To Dining Out In NYC

Whether you’re a New York City or visiting MavenMomma.  If you want everyone happy with their meal without too sugary, kiddie, or cantankerous of a culinary experience-this list is for you.

Buttermilk Channel 

524 Court Street Brooklyn
Brooklyn, NY 
718-852-8490

Buttermilk Channel is the American Bistro du jour in Carroll Gardens.  Just check out Instagram for photos of people and plates gives you a taste of what is in store for you at this hot spot.    At brunch, the specialties include Short Rib Hash and Pecan Pie French Toast.  Signature dinner dishes are Fried Chicken with Cheddar waffles and the Duck Meatloaf. 

The full bar serves seasonal signature and classic cocktails, American and French wine, beer and cider. 

A reservation here is a must and for extra busy times, roll with an umbrella stroller or leave the stroller at home.  Request outdoor seating, weather permitted.

Dinosaur Barbecue Harlem

790 W. 125 St. Harlem, NY 
212-694-1777

When I lived in the New York area Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, was one of my spots for gatherings with friends and kids.  As a momma with southern roots the traditional barbecue, sides, and fresh lemonade were a taste of home.  Good food, southern hospitality, and ample space, plus various locations throughout the New York Area. Add this one to your list of Family Friendly Faves.

Serendipity 3

225 East 60th Street NY, NY

Go for the Frozen Hot Chocolate and the classic New York feel. It gets crowded so leave the stroller elsewhere if possible.  

Sushi Yasaka

251 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023
212-496-8460

I introduced my kids to Japanese cuisine at Sushi Yasaka.  After an afternoon at the Natural History Museum, it became our go-to dinner spot with the agreement that they try something new on each visit.  While they always fall back to their faves of miso and tuna rolls, momma could order the Omakase and let the girls taste their “something new” from my selection. Great staff who offered friendly suggestions knowing I wanted my babies exposed different foods.  Make a reservation and go early to avoid the crowds. Then sit back and enjoy excellent sushi in zen, until your kids are anxiously ready to go.

Alice’s Tea Cup

102 West 73rd Street NY, NY
917-474-8950

After a morning at the Met and walking like an Egyptian, my girls and I typically have tea at this neighborhood and comfortable tea house. My kids and I like to point out all the storybook references we find as we dine on delicious scones, flavorful tea and a variety of finger sandwiches. For Tea, go with the Madhatter Tea for a full breadth of what they offer.

Fornino

Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park, NY
718-422-1107

A quintessential part of any NYC family dining experience. It is New York tourist nirvana.  Located at Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park on a rooftop, so it boasts an incredible view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.  It gets crowded, and there will be plenty of families around you (local and tourist), which is excellent as the kids tend to cross-play in this communal dining setting.  Amazing views, check. Family friendly, check. Delicious pizza, mangia!    Open seasonally, May through October, if gets chilly in the evening so bring a sweater for those babies!  

Jack’s Wife Freda

50 Carmine Street NY, NY
646-669-9888

The Carmine Street location of Jack’s Wife Freda is the perfect New York Neighborhood bistro where you will find American cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Chill food in a chill environment with delicious cocktails on mix this is a great staple for any MavenMomma and her family to enjoy breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days a week.

Landmarc

10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Fl NY, NY 
212-343-3883

Bistro Fair in a kid-friendly yet not overtly kiddie environment is my favorite way to dine with my girls. I also love that Landmarc is located in the Time Warner Center between the view of Central Park South and momma’s bag of tricks my kids never get antsy during a meal. Also, the front of Landmarc has been the scene of a couple of impromptu ballet as we are awaiting dessert.

Imperial Palace

13613 37th Ave, Flushing, NY 
212-837-1021

My fondest family-friendly meals were at Imperial Palace where, early on, my little ones would gum on pancakes while the adults enjoyed our Cantonese favorites. Their deep fried pig skin reminded us of granny’s chicharron.  Our main order was always the Dungeness crab rice which was the reason we went, and we typically finished with Peking duck.  We tended to over order so that we can try specialties in addition to our favorites-made the best leftovers. Lunch the next day was always spectacular.  Tip: the bathrooms are insanely small (2 stalls) for the restaurant’s size. Make the kids go before they are screaming how bad they have to pee.

The Palm Court

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
212-759-3000 or 888-850-0909

Alright, I know we already have tea on our list of spots in New York, but that is one is neighborhood tea.  This selection is quintessential HIGH tea!  When in New York one of my favorite things to with my girls is High Tea at Palm Court (in New York’s Plaza Hotel. Part of the fun of having little girls is getting fancy with them, and High Tea is one of the ways we get fancy. Go, sit, and let the good times and goodies be served.  Daily from 12pm – 4:45pm (last seating is at 4:30pm).  Choose from The New Yorker, The Champagne or the Children’s Eloise (peanut butter and jelly on the menu) Tea.

What are some of your favorite family restaurants in NYC?  Share with other momma’s below to inspire!  Also, check out MavenMomma tips for Vacationing with Kids.

 

How to Vacation with Kids and Keep Your Sanity

I remember my first family vacation, I had this moment of sad clarity that I would not be chilling.  Momma, does not get the chance to chill on family get aways very often. Then I turned back to one screaming baby as the other snatched her snack. You better believe my next vacation I planned different and better. Oh sure snacks would still get snatched! However, now I make sure that I get solo time during family vacations.

In addition to planning my solo time, I plan for the inevitable and the perhaps. Then I come up solutions and back up plans. 

That’s just how this MavenMomma’s mind works!  No doubt traveling with kids is A LOT. By thinking ahead and some trial and error I have some relaxing trips that everyone, including myself, enjoy. Here are a few tips for traveling with kids without needing a vacation when you return.

It Starts with the right destination

Resorts Matter

When looking for a hotel, balance budget, and accommodations.

Search for the kid and budget-friendly hotels with activities everyone can enjoy. Hotels with kid’s clubs or daycare options are always a plus, and a pool is a must.  Double check to make sure there is a lifeguard on duty full time. This will take a lot of stress off your shoulders and allow you to relax poolside while your kids splash around. We, of course, watch our kids, but at least momma will have an extra pair of eyes looking out for our little ones.  Some of my favorite vacations are those where I could have a blast with my babies, then drop them at a kid’s club to go do something for me.

Family Friendly Vacation Recommendations

Atlantis was my first solo vacation with my girls and we had a blast! Our room, in the Royal tower,  was lovely, but I don’t recall much about the room, as we only really slept there. My girls and I pretended to be mermaids,  in the the lazy river , explored Aquaventure, and enjoyed water sports on the Reef Atlantis.  We also visited the 14-acre dolphin habitat and education center. I felt at ease leaving my girls at Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA) which is super secure and fun. My kids eventually asked when they could go back during our stay. For ages 3 to 12 AKA invites kids to choose their own adventure within themed spaces designed specifically for children’s Atlantis imagination and enjoyment. Hosted by a staff Adventure Guides ready to help with culinary lessons, interactive electronic art, theater, outdoor play – and more.

For mommas and daddies, there is shopping, golf, Aura, a nightclub from the operators of Hakkasan Group; and the 30,000 square-foot flagship Mandara Spa.

It is Disney, what’s not to love right? Well here is the thing, while I find Disney World a bit overwhelming and more like an excursion, Disney’s Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawai’i, is my idea of a good family balance. My kids got to enjoy Disney Magic with the character events, meet and greets, and themed areas, and I got to disappear and go have some fun or just relax while my kids were with Auntie- Aunty’s Beach House.

The other thing I love about this resort is the ability to be more budget conscious. I had groceries delivered before arrival, and we had some meals in rooms saving up for those character meals which are a must.

Located on the lux Seven Mile Beach. You can spend time relaxing or having beach fun with the family. Adults can enjoy a round of golf-I was informed it is a challenging course. I would not know, catch me on the beach or in the spa.

At the Ritz Grand Cayman you will luxuriate, no matter what you do.  Here, you will experience top-notch service in paradise, it is the Ritz Carlton, afterall. 

I will note that through their kid’s program (Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ambassadors Kids), my girls became little oceanographers-fun while learning. Our getaway to the Grand Cayman will forever be vacation GOAT.

Now that you have a destination,  let's book a flight!

Travel at The Right Time

Consider flight times. We all know what happens when schedules are disrupted, it can lead to a very cranky kid and stressed out momma. Try your best to avoid red-eye flights since they are after bedtime. Just getting on the plane and settled will usually be a complete shit show.

Instead, try to schedule a flight that is right around your child’s naptime or for longer flights before bedtime. Depending on flight time I try to give my kids breakfast, lunch, or dinner just before the flight, go to the restroom and board the airplane. This way, they will already be relaxed and more likely to doze off during the flight. When my girls outgrew naps, I would let them run the airport halls, yeah I am that momma. Exercise then food preceding the flight helps wear them out, the perfect way for a kid to travel

Choose the Right Seat

I learned the hard way to pick my seats in advance for the flight. At purchase, I ended up with seat assignments all over the plane for myself and my family. No, airlines do not automatically seat you together. According to, USA Today, “In 2016, Congress passed a law requiring airlines to seat families with children together without charging them more. But the Transportation Department hasn’t written the required regulation and seems unlikely to do so anytime soon.” Most flights don’t have a problem with letting you pick your own seats, but you may need to reserve them months in advance. Without proper planning, you could end up paying extra to sit as a family. When I have booked a flight, last minute, I usually end up with seats apart from my kids. In those cases, I call the airline to find out if our seat assignment can be switched. If I strike out there, I arrive at the gate early and request the gate agents help.

One other note regarding seating…while most passengers may prefer to sit as far away from the plane bathroom as possible, being only a few rows away does have its benefits. If you know, you’ll likely be making frequent bathroom breaks with your children, sitting nearby the facilities will be a huge convenience.

Pack Practically and Purposefully

The first time I traveled with my oldest daughter, she was 6 Months. I packed each one of her cute little outfits, right down to socks, in its own baggie. She and I shared one medium suitcase. I nursed her right before the flight took off. I leaned back, momma thought I was boss! Then my second lovely daughter came along, she would have me singing softly into her ear the entire flight!

By the time I was traveling with two on my own, it was a different story. I brought the basics. I always tried to figure out how to get more out of less. I went from one med suitcase to one large and one med. I soon learned that over-packing is the kick off to a stressful vacation. So, I broke it down!

What MavenMomma Packs?

First, by considering how many days I would be away from home. A couple of days did not mean five different outfits for each baby girl!

Think about whether you’ll have access to a washer and dryer once you reach your destination. If yes, pack less and plan to wash before returning home. This will make unpacking quicker and easier when you arrive back home. Designate a separate bag specifically for dirty laundry so these items won’t get mixed in with everything else. Set aside a complete outfit for each child per day, including an extra set in case of an accident or spill – that outfit goes in your carry on. Also, be sure to pack for activities: swimwear, skiwear, whatever you need.

Don’t forget to set aside a comfortable outfit for travel days for each child. Loose-fitting clothes or even PJs for evening flights are a great idea. When kids are cozy and comfortable, they act comfy and cozy. Plus, these days you don’t need to sacrifice a cute outfit for comfort. I am a huge fan of Tea Collection for style and comfort. Also, I do love The Gap’s sale rack for PJ’s and t-shirt. Again, be sure to pack that extra set of clothes in our carry on, just in case of spills and/or lost luggage.

What to Keep in your Carryon Bag

Your carryon bag will be “momma’s bag of tricks” and the key to a successful flight with children. Keep plenty of snacks on hand to keep your child chill-ish throughout the journey. Try to choose goodies that are mess-free, easily contained, and won’t end up all over the plane’s floor.

Include a few toys or games to entertain your child and keep them sitting in their seat-fidget spinners and hand puzzles get high marks from my babies and myself. A tablet for watching movies or playing games will keep the kiddos mesmerized for hours. If you’d prefer to keep screen time to a minimum, pack some coloring books and crayons or a book or two to keep them distracted.

Don’t forget to pack your child’s favorite comfort item, whether that be a blanket, pacifier, or stuffed animal. This way you won’t be caught in a precarious situation with a tired child who can’t sleep without their go-to toy.

I like to make a list of the little things that are easy to forget but that my family can’t be without. For example, our medication(s), small toiletries, wet wipes, headphones, chargers, and a change of clothes for everyone including myself. I bring an emergency black t-shirt for me. 

Remember, relaxed, entertained, and feed is the key to traveling with kids. So, kick back, order a drink once in flight, and the kids are zoned out on their electronics. Unless you are nursing than just remember, you won’t always be nursing.

Make Time for Yourself

Keep in mind that this is a vacation for you too! Try to carve out a portion of the trip that is just for you. This might be a few hours at the spa or a nice dinner out with your man. This way, you too can return from your vacation feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!

Remember when momma is happy… Everyone is happy!