The City that never sleeps, always lives up to its reputation. I’ve visited this concrete jungle four times and have a genuine love for the pace, attitude and claustrophobic feel, only NYC can deliver. I returned in April 2019 with my 16-week-old son in tow and I don’t know who loved it more! New York is at the vanguard of western art, entertainment, food trends, fashion and finance. There is plenty to see and do with a baby.
New York City supports a system for locals and tourists to move around without using a car, footfall is intense and the subway is always busy. I tell you this not to scare you, but to prepare you. The pavements are wide and flat. The grid system of the city is suited well to strollers. Get your walking shoes on and explore! You too, will fall in love with this City. Here is my travel guide, to visiting New York City with a baby.
Table of Contents
BOOKING YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT?
PEAK SEASON: New York is famed for its unique shopping experiences. Therefore, tourists buy up flights in the months leading up to Christmas. As the city’s most popular time, September to December sees millions of tourists take a big bite out of the Big Apple. And who can blame them with activities from ice-skating in Central Park to a winter’s Broadway show in Times Square. There is things for families, couples, friends and new parents.
OFF SEASON: January to August is the best time of year to purchase cheap flights. Tourism subsides after Christmas, with January to late-February classed as the off season. However, it’s usually very cold until March. It can be incredibly hot in July and August, but this can mean fewer tourists and more New Yorkers heading to the coast for their own holidays. Meaning you’ll have a better chance to see the sights without the crowds.
HOW LONG IS THE FLIGHT?
London to New York: 6 hours 47 minutes
Manchester to New York: 6 hours 32 minutes
Birmingham to New York: 6 hours 37 minutes
Glasgow to New York: 6 hours 18 minutes
Flying economy, prices vary from £ 230 – £ 600 (peak). Christmas and New Year are very expensive and I would advise I always use Skyscanner, for competitive rates for flights, car hire and accommodation. Before comparing them with Booking.com and AirBnB.
US Dollars. Exchange rates vary, so be sure to check prior to your trip.The Bank of England has an extensive list that is updated every day. If you intend on using your credit charge or debit card, you may incur charges for payments and cash withdrawals. We often use the Post Office for our exchange or use ATM’s in our destinations.
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
The Big Apple is one of the most popular destinations on the planet. So whether you’re booking direct flights to New York, or stopping on the way, airlines are very competitive with their prices for flight tickets. We start with Skyscanner, before shopping around. When travelling with a baby we recommend flying direct where possible. Flights to New York arrive at three main airports: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (EWR) and LaGuardia (LGA).
JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL (JFK)
John F. Kennedy International is the busiest airport in the United States. It has four runways, serving over 50 million passengers every year. AirTrain JFK is free and can get you anywhere around the airport: car parks, rental car locations, hotels and other airline terminals. The train runs every five minutes. If you’re catching a connecting flight, be sure to give yourself time to get from your gate and through security again.
Subway and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) connections from Jamaica Station and Howard Beach Station, get you to Lower Manhattan within an hour. Ideal if you are a travelling alone or as a couple. Groups of three or more are better off splitting a taxi fare in one of New York’s famous yellow cabs. Expect a fare of around $70, including tolls and tips for your driver ($10 is realistic for the latter). Distance to the city centre is 12 miles (20km) to Manhattan.
NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL (EWR)
EWR is New York’s second busiest airport after JFK and serves over 35 million passengers every year. It lies between Newark and New Jersey. The AirTrain operates at Newark Liberty International Airport to take passengers between terminals and to car rental facilities and hotels. It is completely free and operates all year-round. The New Jersey (NJ) Transit station is in the airport, too, and can take you to Penn Station in New York for around $12 per person. Taxi fares are commonly around $60 or $70, including tips, but the traffic can be unpredictable. Distance to the city centre is 15 miles (24km) to Manhattan
LA GUARDIA (LGA)
LaGuardia Airport is a more commercially-focussed airport and is the closest airport to Manhattan, just 10 miles (16km)away. New York City buses take passengers from LaGuardia to Manhattan in less than an hour. The M60 bus travels through Queens and down to Broadway in Manhattan. So it is the most frequented by passengers arriving at LGA. A taxi to Manhattan will typically cost around $40, while the bus is around $13.
VISA | ESTA
An ESTA is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. Anyone wanting to visit America, who is not a resident, will require an ESTA. This includes your baby. The forms are very thorough, allow time to complete and for errors to occur. When you are asked for an address and point of contact, enter the details of your first night’s accommodation. Apply for your ETSA HERE.
Depends on your budget. The nearer you are to a City centre, the more you will pay for accommodation. It is absolutely possible to stay for an extended period of time, in a hotel with a baby and be able to feed, sterilise equipment (for practical tips, click here.) However, you may prefer to use AirBnB or Booking.com to find and book a house or apartment. This option provides a proper bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. Despite the myth, you can find properties fro the same price if not less, than hotels.
If driving a car or RV and want to visit NYC there is plenty of parking available. Navigating around a new city, with a baby, especially a busy one can be frustrating. We always use pre-pay parking. It reduces stress and guarantees you a spot (you can pick it as near to where you want to be as possible). You know the price and select a price that suits your budget. Once purchased, you will be sent an email confirmation. Simply enter the address details into your GPS. When in America, we use ParkingPanda and in the UK, Just Park. Throughout Europe we use Parkapedia. All have phone apps and there are new apps available every month.
THINGS TO DO
By 1855, New York City was in desperate need of more green space, with a population that had doubled in the previous 30 years. Completed in 1873, Central Park’s boundaries are ponds, a central lake, a reservoir, public art, and schist outcrops. It boasts 50 fountains, 21 playgrounds, complete sports facilities, more than 25,000 trees and dozens of interesting landmarks like the stately Bethesda Terrace. The list of things to do is almost endless, and includes a zoo, boating, yoga classes, outdoor theatre and horse-drawn carriage tours. Or hire a bike and entry to the park and its facilities are free.
RECOMMENDED BIKE HIRE: Central Park Bike Hire
NATIONAL 9/11 MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM
Pay your respects by visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, built on the site of the World Trade Centre. There are twin reflecting pools here, an acre in size, marking out the exact footprints of the Twin Towers. Alongside the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The bronze panels on parapets, surrounding these pools, are inscribed with the names of every person who died in the two attacks. Among the exhibits are the monumental Last Column, fragments from the aircraft and a damaged fire truck. Accessible by foot, suitable for a stroller. Very popular with tourists from around the world, I recommend booking up to six months in advance.
RECOMMENDED TICKETS: 9/11 Memorial Museum Admission
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
It was once the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Empire State Building is a testament to New Yorks ambition in the late 20s, early 30s. The Main Deck on the 86th floor is open until 2am, providing you with a view that will remain etched in your memory. On a clear day, the panoramas scroll out for 80 miles, as far as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Further up there’s an indoor observatory on the 102nd floor, once part of a docking station for airships, and accessed with an upgrade.
You can take a pram right up to the top (we were one of three prams up there, when we visited). However, there is airport style security at the bottom of the tower. Your pram will need to fold down, be placed on the belt and go through the metal detector. They will not let you leave your pram at the bottom for security reasons and when you complete your viewing you exit at the opposite side of the building, via the gift shop.
SKIP THE LINE TICKETS: Empire State Building Tickets
STATUE OF LIBERTY
From 1886, immigrants making the voyage to New York for a new life would be greeted by this inspiring symbol of freedom. The 93-metre Statue of Liberty depicts the Roman goddess Libertas. Striding free of the shackles at her feet, holding aloft a torch in her right hand and carrying a tablet in her left hand bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence. New York’s main point of departure for Liberty Island is Battery Park. The queues for the ferry and new Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island can be long and slow. Purchasing a “skip the line” Priority or Flexible Statue of Liberty Tickets are recommended. Trips to the top of the crown are highly coveted, as is the pedestal. I would recommend booking one month in advance, at the very minimum.
RECOMMENDED TICKETS: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tickets
Built during the Great Depression, the Rockefeller Center is made up of 19 buildings: 14 Art Deco and five International Style. Commissioned by the Rockefeller family, who first made their money in the oil industry. On street level you will recognise the buildings from many movies. You’ve got the Atlas statue (1936) facing St Patrick’s Cathedral across Fifth Avenue and Prometheus (1934) on the west side of the famous sunken plaza. Guided tours to the top of the observation deck are informative. As always with NYC, it is busy and when travelling with a baby we recommend purchasing fast track tickets where possible.
RECOMMENDED TICKETS: Top of the Rock Sight Seeing
The Brooklyn Bridge links Manhattan to Brooklyn, across the East River. It became the world’s first steel wire suspension bridge upon its completion in 1883. A year later, the showman P.T. Barnum (who inspired The Greatest Showman), led a parade of 21 elephants across the bridge to allay doubts about its structural integrity. The Brooklyn Bridge is best crossed as a pedestrian on the elevated walkway above the road, and through the very centre of the towers, for satisfying vistas of New York’s silhouette and the cables overhead. Pram accessible and free of charge.
Broadway’s theatre district compliments Times Square, a bowtie shaped plaza where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet. It’s an urban ravine walled by dazzling electronic billboards. It’s something you have to see, especially if you’re a first-timer. On busy days more than 460,000 people pass through Times Square. Up to a million come to ring in the New Year at the ball drop, a tradition going back to 1907. Walk around, drink in the modernism and use the traffic lights, It can get really busy, so head down early to get your pictures before heading to other population destinations.
STATEN ISLAND FERRY
The Staten Island Ferry is free and zips across the Upper New York Bay 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This crossing is one of the last survivors of a whole system of ferries, that shuttled people over the city’s waterways before the bridges were constructed. The service, between Whitehall Street and St George on Staten Island, is used by 22 million a year, and the five mile crossing takes about 25 minutes. As a visitor, the reason to make the trip will become clear as you pull away from Manhattan, taking in perfect views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan. You can take a pram on board, leave it downstairs (out of the way, with the break on) then take your baby on to the deck to see the views!
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
The Grand Central Terminal (1913) is a tribute to exceptional workmanship in its architecture and fittings. With more than 60 shops and 35 places to eat, this cavernous building is a popular meeting point for New Yorkers. The station itself has 44 platforms, more than any other train station in the world. On the palatial Main Concourse tilt your head back to see the mural of night sky constellations from 1912 by Paul César Helleu. Most famous is the information booth, crowned with a clock, each face of which is made from mesmerising opalescent glass. Free to enter.
INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
The Museum Complex is an educational and cultural non-profit institution centered on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. The USS Intrepid (1943), served in the Pacific during the Second World War and survived five kamikaze attacks. It was rescued from scrapping in 1978 and four years later, found a permanent home at Pier 86 off 46th Street. This is the centrepiece of a museum for US military and maritime history, allowing you to pore over the inner workings of a WWII-era aircraft carrier, but also view a serious collection of other vessels and aircraft.
SKIP THE QUEUE: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Priority Ticket
SUPER TOUR OF HEROES COMICS
This 3 hour tour, is a must for super hero or comic book fans. Narrated by an expert (die hard comic lover), learn more about your favourite heroes and villains. You get to see 40 film locations, including Avengers, Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises. You move around via a bus, so your stroller must be able to be packed down. Or use a baby carrier.
Meet your favourite Super Hero Here: NYC Super Tour of Hero Comics