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Taking the Kids to NYC: Our Top 5 Highlights

NYC with kids? Yes, it’s do-able and we did it!

We are fortunate enough to have friends in NYC, so it makes taking a last minute trip a whole lot easier. Usually, however, it is either Hubby or I taking a solo trip. This time, we took the kids. With Max now 5 years old and Stella now 11, travel is also a whole lot easier. So we felt that the Christmas school holiday break was a window we couldn’t resist.

We left on December 30th and drove all day. Literally — ALL day. It was close to 10 hours in the car by the time we arrived. (Driving was our only way to make this trip possible; four airplane tickets would just be far too hard on the budget.) We stayed in our friends’ living room on a pull-out sofa, with the kids sleeping on the floor, for three nights. It was remarkably comfortable and all of us slept really well every night. Then we drove home, but broke the trip in half this time by stopping in Syracuse overnight.

Taking all of my cues from Sarah’s experience in NYC with her boys, we took in as many kid-friendly sights as we could and even managed to squeeze in a few adult ones too. All in all, here are our family’s Top 5 Highlights from this trip to the Big Apple:

1.  Museum of Natural History


Just about everyone, including my friend Sarah, recommended taking the kids to see the American Museum of Natural History. Its reputation for kids has only been enhanced by the movie Night in a Museum, and yes, the dinosaurs were spectacular! But there was sooooo much more to see! We spent the entire day at the museum and we STILL didn’t see it all!

Among the permanent exhibits that we did see, the Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls (shown in the photo above) and the Biodiversity and Environmental Halls were among our favourites. To keep it reasonable in terms of time and interest, we decided each person in the family could pick one area of the museum and that would be what we’d tackle for our first visit. (Yes, “first” visit — we definitely need to come back again!).

I would like to point out that although it is not immediately apparent to the visitor, the actual admission fee is a voluntary donation. Yes, you read that right — a museum that is priced so that any family, no matter what income level, can afford to go. This policy is tops in my books.

2.  The Lego Store

lego store

Naturally, a Lego Store has never been on the top of my NYC highlights before. But with the kids, it was a “must do.” And boy am I glad we did! All four of us were utterly amazed by the place. There were Lego creations of the Rockefeller Center (shown in photo above), the Sydney Opera House, and even a massive dragon that towered in the ceiling with its tail wrapping around all sections of the store.

The price to take in this attraction? Free-ninety-nine! That is, of course, if you can resist buying anything! We were totally charmed by a station that allowed you to create your own mini-figures — create three figures and take them home for $9.99.

3.  The Nintendo Store


Going to Nintendo World was absolutely last on my list. But the kids were in heaven! There’s 10,000 square feet (two floors) of Nintendo games, accessories, memorabilia and … last but not least in our house — an entire section devoted to Pokemon!

Visitors are welcome to enjoy the latest games (one station shown in the photo above) and there was a large area on the second floor with Wii U systems to play. I’ve never been into video games, but I managed to amuse myself with all of the cute clothes for kids. The kids couldn’t even be bothered to look at what I was picking out for them because they were enthralled with all the cool gaming gear.

4.  Dinner at The Atrium


In some ways, a family holiday is all about compromise. We indulged the kids’ interests in Lego and Nintendo, and they indulged our interest in a fabulous dining experience. For New Year’s Eve, we were fortunate enough to have a meal at Atrium Dumbo, a new restaurant in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Our good friends, the couple we stay with, both work in the restaurant industry. And this restaurant is actually the new creation of one half of this couple. It’s a really chic place, in a really chic location, at the edge of the Brooklyn bridge.

For New Year’s, a special ‘table d’hote’ had been created. It was a real taste sensation for Hubby and I, with new tastes and new combinations of tastes. (As you can imagine, a 5-year-old can only last so long, but we were able to stretch our evening out into a leisurely affair by bringing along his LeapPad and headphones.) The restaurant itself was very welcoming to families and we were certainly not the only ones with kids in tow.

5.  Annie at the Palace Theater


If you are a long-time reader, you’ll know that, for me, going to NYC and not seeing a Broadway show is a real tragedy! But it was peak season, with millions (literally!) of tourists in town for New Year’s Eve — AND the Annie Musical was stopping its run on January 5th. My chances didn’t look good, but I wasn’t going to give up easily. On the morning of the show, I went to the ticket box office and asked about any cancellations. The friendly woman there told me that she had owners’ tickets that she cannot release until 10 minutes before the show. They were premium location and if I came back at that time, she’d have them set aside for me.

Needless to say, Stella and I were definitely back at that time! She was true to her word and we were able to buy two amazing seats for the show! We were thrilled. It was Stella’s first Broadway experience and the theater was stunning, and the show was excellent. I really couldn’t have been more pleased. This topped my trip off with a big, sweet cherry!


  1. YAY Julie! So glad you went with the kids, and had so much fun! and yes, it is a completely different New York experience with kids, but just as great!!! And still so much left to do for the next time!

    I saw Annie in March with my younger son and we loved it! so glad you ladies got a chance to go :) This summer we are planning on seeing Matilda.

    WE LOVE NY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. This is very cool. I’ve been to Manhatten once on a business trip and always wanted to go back with the family…This is a great post and a keeper for us! Thanks!

  3. What a great article, we are taking the kids to NYC this summer and I’m sure they will love the Natural History Museum!

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Awesome! What a great trip.

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