New York City – the city that never sleeps! Crowded, colourful, loud, busy, exciting, fast paced, eclectic, with a seemingly infinite number of landmarks and showstoppers that you simply must experience. Having been there on a number of occasions (with and without kids) it’s one of those places that always steals my heart and makes me want to sell up and move there in a heartbeat!
Travelling recently with my husband and 4 year old daughter, Daisy, with only one week to jam pack everything into our schedule, it was a case of ensuring we made our own adventures, lived every moment and were spontaneous with our choices dependent on weather, energy levels, distance and money. After all, there’s no point visiting one of the world’s most interesting cities only to simply tick off each tourism icon because you feel you need to. Rather, we wanted to soak up every experience, create new memories and uncover places we hadn’t even thought of visiting! And we wanted to do it ‘our way’. Having said that, with so much on offer we managed to cover a lot of ground and we could write a book about all the places we visited. But, instead, here’s a mere snapshot:
1. THE HIGH LINE
Built on an abandoned railway track this unique space is simply genius. Through sheer innovation, the unused space has been reclaimed and transformed into a highly functional and seamless urban design masterpiece, providing a public sanctuary and creative hub set high amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. The footpath takes you high above the city of Manhattan where you can catch glimpses of the infamous NYC skyline, all whilst meandering along fields of wildflowers, listening to live music along the way, watching performing artists with the sounds of New York traffic below. It’s really quite extraordinary!
2. CENTRAL PARK
This is hands down one of our favourite spots in New York. A natural green urban oasis set amongst the busy NYC streets and busting metropolis, it’s a welcome escape to visit with the kids and run wild. Whether you’re after a slow stroll along the many paths, a play in the park , or simply a picnic under a tree, this place caters for everyone. Our favourite experience is rowing the lake and gaining a different perspective from the water and allowing you to soak in much more of the park than you can see on foot. But nothing quite beats kicking off the shoes, grabbing a traditional hot dog, churro or pretzel from the local food carts and plonking on the green grass at Sheep Meadow – a place to watch all the passers by, buskers, joggers and even horse and carts pass you by. To me, this is the true heart and soul of NYC, with colourful characters at every turn and a place you’ll never tire of visiting.
3. TOP OF THE ROCK
This place is great for kids! If you’ve visited the Empire State Building before then it might be time to mix it up a bit and visit its mighty skyscraper opponent – the Rockefeller Centre. The 360-degree views from here are simply breathtaking. With three outdoor observation decks to choose from, you must visit an hour before sunset to gain one of the best birds eye views of the big apple and watch as the city lights up!
4. AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Whilst mum jumped on the Sex and the City tour bus for a few hours, Dad took the reigns and decided to take our 4 year old, Daisy, on an adventure to the American Museum of Natural History. Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, this is one of the largest museums in the world and a place your kids will love! Informative, educational and scientific, Daisy, loved the dinosaurs and the butterfly collection and not to mention exploring the 32 million specimens and artifacts.
5. MEZZRO JAZZ BAR
An avid pianist and long time lover of jazz, I simply had to visit an authentic jazz bar on our travels. Having a 4-year old made this somewhat problematic considering most of the good acts didn’t start until 10pm each night, so with that in mind, we decided that it was time to forget the usual routine and live a little! We ended up lining up with the masses outside a notorious jazz bar in Greenwich Village with a sleeping 4-year old in tow. After explaining to the man on the door that we would not be any trouble we were relieved to find ourselves sitting a few rows back from one of NYC’s finest jazz piano soloists. With a drink in hand, dim lights, a sleeping girl in our arms and nothing but the soothing sounds of jazz, this was my ultimate dream come true. We returned to our hotel room at 1am and all slept soundly. The lesson learnt here was that when travelling it’s best to follow your dreams, make the most of all opportunities and forget about sticking to the rules. Daisy slept in until 9am the following day and was very happy to hear about our adventures and to hear she was up so late like Cinderella! So…as you can see…NYC is the perfect place to travel with kids.