This is based on an itinerary I recently did for a client:
Day 1– Take an Uber to Battery Park to pick up tickets for Statue of Liberty. I booked these tickets months earlier online as my clients wanted to climb up the crown of the Statue of Liberty and these tickets book out months in advance. It’s better to book an early admission time as the queues for Statue of Liberty are lengthy due to the security checks. The ferry will go to Statue of Liberty and for the best view sit on the right side. The ferry then stops at Ellis Island which was the gateway for millions of immigrants into the US and is worth getting off for a quick walk around if you’re kids aren’t too tired.
My clients then walked past Wall St and the charging bull status and had lunch at Eataly NYC Downtown-great choice of kid friendly Italian restaurants.
After lunch they crossed the road to visit 9/11 Tribute Museum. They had older kids so it was appropriate but you need to think about whether it is appropriate to visit given ages and temperament of your children.
They then walked to Central Park and visited the Zoo (one of their kids loved the movie Madagascar and insisted on this) . They had lunch at the Express Cafe at Loeb Boathouse. There is a fancier restaurant if your children are patient and well behaved enough but my clients kids were too desperate to hire a rowboat and row around the lake.
They also hired a horse and carriage and had a 30 min ride around Central Park. The kids loved it and the parents felt like total tourists.
They then walked back to the hotel via Magnolia Cupcake Bakery.
After an afternoon rest they hit Bowlmor for some indoor bowling fun and then had dinner at Junior’s Cheesecake in Times Square too. Juniors is the ultimate kid friendly restaurant with their claim to fame being “Home of the World’s most fabulous cheesecake”.
Day 3-They started out the morning with a visit to Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. This museum is actually housed on an aircraft carrier on the Hudson River and contains the first ever space shuttle and a guided missile submarine.
They then did the famous Empire State Building but I had booked them skip the line tickets so they wouldn’t have to wait for hours in the queues. Another client had said first thing in the morning or lunchtime is one of the quieter times to visit.
They then went to a 2pm performance of The Lion King. I recommend you seeing at least one Broadway production while you’re in New York. My clients had pre-purchased their tickets as they knew they wanted to see The Lion King but otherwise you can line up at the famous TKTS Booth in Times Square and see what discounted tickets you can buy for the days performances.
They had a real Broadway type day as that night they went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where aspiring singers and actors work as waitstaff and burst into song as they work!
Day 4-They did Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the top of The Rockerfeller Center first thing in the morning to try and beat the crowds. They were glad they’d already done Empire State Building as the view from Top of The Rock was so much better and they think they’d have been disappointed if they had done it the other way around. If you only have time or money for one of these then choose Top of the Rock.
They then went to Nintendo New York in The Rockerfeller Center as they have a gamer in the family . They also said that they had lunch in a Food Hall here and it was a great option for kids. After lunch they hit Fire Zone , a fire learning safety centre that is based on play, and said the kids loved meeting fire men and learning what to do in case of a fire.
That afternoon they went to a magic show and said this was really enjoyed by the whole family- it was Sam Eaton’s Quantum Eye.
Day 5- Last day and again this choice was based on a movie the kids loved- Night at a Museum. The American Museum of Natural History is truly fantastic. There is so much to see that you could easily spend the day here-the highlight for the family were the dinosaurs and the 94 foot blue whale.
They do even have Night at The Museum sleepovers on set dates but you will need to book early as these are popular with New York families too.
Where to stay
My clients stayed at The Iroquois. This is a hotel I use a lot and not just for families. It has a fantastically central midtown location making it easy walking distance to most sights as well as a slew of cafes, shops and restaurants. It is also reasonably priced for a luxury hotel. It is a member of Small Luxury Hotels and I have always found the staff unfailingly helpful with any requests I have had on behalf of clients.
Their suites can be combined to make 1,2 or 3 bedrooms and when booking their rooms I usually book the deluxe category -they’re spacious and come as either double or twin bedded.
They offer a great range of free walking tours through the hotel that lets you discover various area of New York.
The Concierge is a gem and can help with tickets, restaurant recommendations and more.