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Top Five Free/Cheap Things to do in New York City with Kids

We love New York City.  It's our absolute favorite city in the whole world.  (It doesn't hurt that I lived there for a year right out of college and it's the city where Matt and I fell in love!)  We try to visit at least once a year, eat at all our favorite restaurants and see my old stomping ground.
I have to say our boys (ages 3 and 1) love New York just as much as we do!  We are definitely a city family.  We love all the busyness and constant entertainment a city provides!  My boys would be content just sitting in their stroller all day as we explore everywhere around New York City because there is so much to see: all the cars and trucks, people, bikes, video advertisements on buildings, live performers, etc.  If you are looking to explore the Big Apple with your littles, here are our top five things to do/see that are almost entirely free!!
1. Visit Times Square
Of course everyone has to visit Times Square.  It is probably the number one place people think about when they think of NYC.  I have to say our boys LOVED walking around Times Square!  All the bright lights and advertisements on big screens everywhere.  People dressed up as Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, etc.  And not to mention checking out the Disney and M&Ms Store in Times Square... Oh and we also got a happy meal at the Times Square McDondalds! LOL!
The Westin New York City Times Square
We decided to stay right in Times Square at The Westin New York at Times Square and it was FANTASTIC!  We loved stepping right out of our hotel and into the touristy part of the city... the location was perfect.  Our room was perfect for us too!  The view overlooking the city from our room was so amazing- and bonus, Matt was able to park on the street for free (since it was the weekend!) and we could see our car out our window!!!  *Side note, if you ever want to try parking on the street, make sure you read ALL parking signs very carefully- we have received parking tickets more times than we're proud of).

The Westin is perfect for our kids too.  We requested a baby crib for Dylan to sleep in and Christopher slept in our Kidco travel tent.  I felt bad because we didn't even arrive until after midnight and I had to call the housekeeping service to bring us a crib but they were so accommodating and sweet to me despite my late night request.  We were really only in our room to sleep, but the room was perfect for our sleeping arrangements.  In the morning, we ate breakfast in the Westin's Foundry Kitchen and chose their breakfast buffet (kids 5 and under eat free!).  The boys loved all the fresh fruit and I was happy that they were getting a healthy start to our day!! .  There was a great selection of options for Matt and me and we were all filled up and ready to explore NYC.


2. Explore Central Park
Central Park is a must see if you come to New York.  It is a great place to just walk around and let your kids run wild!!!  There are so many amazing areas of Central Park that you really have to see: the mall, Cleopatra's needle, Bethesda Fountain, the pond, strawberry fields, the Belvedere Castle  and the reservoir, not to mention a number of rocks to climb around and playgrounds for the kids.  If you want to spend a little bit of money, there are a number of horse and buggies or bike taxis you can take across the park to see everything!! 
3. Play at one of the numerous playgrounds around Manhattan
I remember when we were in Cuba and we literally did not see a single playground the entire time we were there... NYC is the OPPOSITE!!  Especially if you explore around lower Manhattan, there are plenty of jungle gyms for your littles!  We really appreciate how, amidst such a big city, there is so much green space and beautiful trees and flowers.  Also, the playgrounds are enclosed with a gate- which is amazing because I'm sure every parents' worst fear is having one of their children wander off into the biggest city in the USA.

4.  Visit the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial
There is so much history to talk about with your older kids when you visit NYC.  I mean, to talk about 9/11 with your kids and help them understand such a significant event in our country's history... it is a must see.  I think it's hard for kids to really understand events they weren't alive for until they are actually there.  I know for me, personally, anytime we are visiting another country and Matt shares about their country's history it makes a lot more sense being there than hearing about it at our kitchen table at home.
It's a really easy subway ride to get to the Freedom Tower.  You can take the blue E line to the World Trade Center and should be able to just look up and see the Freedom Tower since it's so big! LOL!  The whole thing really is breath- taking and if you feel like spending a little extra money, it's worth taking a tour as well.

5. Take the Ferry to Staten Island and View the Statue of Liberty
While you are in lower Manhattan visiting the Freedom Tower, you can easily get to the Staten Island Ferry Station (St. George Terminal) to take the ferry across the New York City Bay to Staten Island!   We actually haven't done this with our kids yet because we only visit NYC for such a short amount of time that we want to stop at all our favorite food places, but it is really fun to see the city from the water and take some good photos and get a close up view of the Statue of Liberty!  The whole trip should take a little more than an hour, with wait time and riding the ferry across (which takes about 25 minutes), getting off the ferry, and then getting back on to return.  The best part is, it's free!!!

NYC is definitely our favorite city in the world and is perfect for all ages... even kids!!  If you are interested in our favorite NYC eateries or other must sees please comment below or contact me! :)

Comments

  1. I love NYC too. I've been there twice, but haven't had a chance to take my kids yet. Now, I can't wait to! These are all such great ideas, and my kids would love to explore.

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    1. Oh NYC is a fantastic city for kids- ours LOVED all the busyness!!! And it was fun for us too! :)

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  2. Can’t wait to go back to NYC & try some of ur suggestions!!!

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    1. Yes! We want to try to visit every year!!

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  3. Ahh I'm terrified of taking the little ones to NYC... Always think of it as more of a just adults holiday haha

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    1. It's soooo kid friendly- much more than you would think! Our kids loved the trip so much!

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  4. I love NYC too! The last time I visited was to run NYC Marathon. Unfortunately my family didn’t come but we will definitely plan another visit in the future. Still haven’t seen the new Freedom Tower.

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    1. Elaine! I am SO impressed you ran in the NYC Marathon!! What was THAT like!? You go girl!!!!!

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  5. I love the Staten Island Ferry! I always take out-of-town friends on it when they come to visit me. Such a unique view and I'm sure kids would love it too! Another great free/cheap activity for kids is Coney Island. You can take the subway there, there's a beach, an amusement park where you can pay per ride, and other fun stuff like Nathan's Hot Dogs.

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    1. OH my gosh, you are right!!!! I haven't done that in YEARS and definitely not with kids, but my boys would LOVE that in the summer time!!

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  6. I've been to NYC several times and didn't do half of the things you listed! I need to go back. I've always been a little reluctant to stay in the heart of it all, but your experience at the Westin has changed my mind. It's always good to hear about great customer service at a hotel, and I haven't often found that to be the case in NYC.

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    1. Yes! We've stayed at other places too and were not as impressed, but the Westin was AMAZING! We would highly recommend!! <3

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  7. Aw what a cutie he is! I think the ferry would be so much fun!!

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  8. This is such a perfect list. New York is just SO expensive and even more so with kids. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there are free things to do there too. People are always trying to sell you something.

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  9. The energy with which you describe being in Times Square takes me back to my experiences there as a kid. Sounds like everyone enjoyed it.

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  10. My hometown! Love how many free events there are also!

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  11. The Micky Mouse packpack and suitcase are so cute, I would have have for myself :D Looks like you had gorgeous trip guys!

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  12. It's awesome that NYC is accessible for kids as well! Some cities seem so not kid friendly!!!

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  13. It has been years since I've been to NYC - it was just one year after 9/11. I'd love to get there and see the Freedom Tower. It was a hole of rubble before. Im also still kicking myself for not having spent time in Central Park. What was I thinking?!?!

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