New York City With Kids: The Whirlwind 8 Hours in Manhattan

As I have previous posted about our Misadventure day in New York City, it was just a prelude to what we actually did in New York City with only less than 8 hours.

It’s probably safe to say that 8 hours in New York City hardly enough to take in when you travel alone without kids, added 2 school-age children, we could only hope to do so much.

So here what we did on that HOT summer day in Manhattan.

8:00 AM: Hop on NYC Subway to the American Natural History.

Ah!! Probably one of the highlight for Mr. Z. He wasn’t fade by the dark and steaming hot of the subway station but mostly was mesmerized by the sound of subway trains, the energy of rush-hour commuters and the details of the ceiling in this decade old stations.

Unfortunately, we didn’t visit the American Museum of Natural History as planned.

8:30 AM: Wandering in Central Park, break for breakfast, and a stop at the playground

It actually sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is it was more wandering while *I* cursed myself for not being more prepare to get the detail map of the Central Park. Why on Earth did I think I can manage this 843 acres without getting lost?

Luckily, a short break at Le Pain Quotidien had helped us to slow down and enjoy the leisure morning in Central Park. The organic breakfast was delicious. I am still thinking about the fruit tart that I enjoyed.

Before long, we headed out in search of the fun playground as a reward for their somewhat good behavior. When you are on vacation, the bar has been lower considerably. Yes, we bribed, threatened and bargained for a decent behavior that won’t explode in the middle of the city.

Finally, we arrived at the Heckscher playground. To say, I was disappointed was an understatement. I guess coming from a small town where space is something you don’t have to think about when you go to the playground has somewhat change my view. The playground is big and has a very unique water-fun feature. But other than that, you won’t find much to enjoy. The sand area was way too hot in the heat so after a quick run to the slide, they were done.

I will make sure we have extra clothes for the water fountain next trip!

10:00 AM – The mother of all toy store – FAO Schwarz and iPhone is back to the mother ship

We needed a place with A/C stat! It was way to hot to pretend that I enjoyed the time in the playground. And the only place that came to mind and also had the bargaining power with my kids was the FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue. So away we went, a short walk to the Toy Store.

Ah!!! The cool, crisp air blew through my skin. This was where we were meant to be.

It took a good hour for Miss J and Mr. Z to comb through the whole store to find toys that within our budget. I knew it was a hard goal to do but we did walk out with only $20 lighter in our wallet.

And as a recent convert Mac users, we couldn’t ignore the pull of the clear glass window with the Apple symbol hanging and calling us in. I know.. I know.. We do have an Apple Store in Atlanta. BUT, it was cool to ride on the all glass elevator of the Apple Store Fifth Avenue.

12:00 AM – Lunch at John’s Pizzeria

It was lunch time and I had a plan. Pizza would be a good choice for us. Miss J and Mr. Z can eat pizza everyday of the week. With a good review from fellow travel blogger, we hopped on the Metro and headed to John’s Pizzeria.

John’s Pizzeria on Time Square is as cool as others said. The old stained glass provided a nice visual fun for kids while we waited for the food.

2:00 PM – The suburb kids in Time Square

A holiday to New York won’t be complete without a visit to Time Square. So after lunch, we walked back to Time Square. The experience was overwhelming with tourists, locals, cars and bright LCD Display on the buildings. It would definitely be much better to take a picture at night. But daytime, also provided a fun of its own. Where else in the world that they could chasing pigeons in the middle of the most famous city center?

2:30 PM – Toy R Us Ferris Wheel

Finally, we made it to the Toys-R-Us Time Square and the Ferris Wheel is there to greet tourists and locals alike.

Yes, it’s just a toy store BUT I have to admit that the selections are plentiful and it could be a fun day for kids to browse as long as you can say ‘No’ to buying all those toys.

4:00 PM – Back to parking garage and good bye NY

With a long road trip back to Atlanta ahead of us, we had to say ‘Good Bye’ to New York City and headed back to the parking garage. Yes, our one day in Manhattan might not live up to typical ‘must-do’ list but I think it’s a good introduction to our kids that we will sure to come back with more times to explore.

New York City Family Vacation

New York City with Kids: The Q Family Misadventure Day in Manhattan

New York City has been on my list of places I want to visit with my kids for a really long time. When the Travel Blog Exchange announced that they would host TBEX 2010, a travel blogger conference, in New York City this summer, I couldn’t wait to plan a trip with my kids. However, with some logistic and financial issues, I had to put that plan on hold and planed my trip solo.

Well, at the last minute, Mr. Rojo decided he was up for a 16 hours road trip with 2 kids to visit our family in Philadelphia and would swing by to meet me in New York City afterward.

I wouldn’t recommend this kind of impromptu trip to anyone. But sometimes the kids got so much out from just a quick trip than any other trips.

They loved spending time (even for a short amount) with their long distance cousins. Mr. Rojo loved reconnect with his cousins.

A Day of Misadventure Starts off as a Good Day

We started off the day bright and early. Mr. Z could hardly contain himself for a ride on the subway. This boy can go anywhere as long as there is a subway. Miss J, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about those dark and dingy looking of the subway. In her defense, we just came back from our summer trip to Thailand where subway and skytrain systems are still in its infant years.

With all the excitement for the subway ride, I made a few mistakes along the way. Previous night, I had done all my research about what to do in New York City with kids when we would have less than one day. With a great post from Jamie from Travel Savvy Mom, I armed myself with a good starting list of worthy and family friendly attractions in New York City for a first-time visitor.

From her list, I have to trim it down even more because we would have half the time as her plan. So I came up with a short list of a few things we thought our kids would enjoy.

A Short List of a Short List

The American Museum of Natural History was on top of the list. They both had watch Night of the Museum movies countless time so I think it would be fun for them to experience the museum first hand. Plus, with a claim as the world largest museum, now.. I would love to check them out.

A ride to Top of The Rock was another one that I hoped to accomplish that day. It would be a great way to take in the view of skyscappers of the Big Apple.

Now, I felt really ambitious to also add a plan to ride the Staten Island Ferry to the list. We wouldn’t have enough time to visit the Statue of Liberty but a ferry ride with her view would be a great experience for them.

Well, my plan was to plan for more than we need so we could pick and choose and adjust the itinerary as the day goes.

I also didn’t think a visit to New York City would be fun without going to Time Square. Yes, it’s touristy but there is no other places like that anywhere else.

Now that we had our short list, we were ready to explore Manhattan! Until…

Mistake #1: Too eager for the museum

We or I forgot to double check the museum admission hours and we arrived one full hour earlier than the opening hour. Now, I might typically wait out and try to find a way to kill the time. But we were in New York during that I had to say one of the HOTTEST week. Sitting out on the front entrance wasn’t on the card. Like that wasn’t enough, the kids were in need of a potty break.

So off we went walking to Central Park in the hope to find a restroom and came back in time for the museum.

Mistake #2: The wanderers of Central Park

I thought I had all the maps we would need walking around Manhattan. BUT, yup another mistake on this traveling mom. I forgot the map in the trunk of our car which we parked all the way in midtown. So our walk in Central Park was less than ideal to say the least. And did I mention that it was HOT yet!!

It would be lovely to write about our wonderful leisure walk along the path in one of the most popular park in the world. But my story was the opposite. Kids were whining and complaining and whining some more.

And why didn’t they have a map at each entrance of Central Park. At least for a silly tourist like us who dare to wander to Central Park with no idea where we were going.

However, I have to say the stereotype of mean New Yorkers were so NOT true. We got so many helps to find our way in the park. They were all friendly and willing to help out.

Needless to say, we eventually found ourselves at the Le Pain Quotidien restaurant. A quick rest with organic breakfast and freshly made bakery set everyone in the right mood.

While we were waiting, I put my iPhone to good use and check out the list of recommended things to do. Of course, there are Central Park Zoo which would take too long to do in our limited time, the Conservatory Pool which seemed to be too far for these little legs. So I chose for the playground.

Mistake #3: Not ready to get wet

We marched along the pathway of Central park passing group of little kids enjoying their summer camp , a group of runners jogging with determination and a family biking together to the Heckscher playground.

Once we got there I realized yet another mistake. This playground would be a blast if we had a set of clothes to change afterward.

It doesn’t have the coolest playset you could find but the water feature is definitely the main attraction here. Kids could walk along different path that filled with water to their angles meandering to the fountain. My kids were looking with envy eyes for kids who had a blast playing with their water gun.

Next time, kiddo.. Next time..

I held off as long as I could but with the heat beating down on us I finally had enough. We started to round up the kids and ready to head for somewhere cool. Preferably with A/C and within a short walking distance. It took some convincing and bribing for them to agree to leave the playground.

So where did we promise the kids we would take them? The Museum of Toys! Ok.. Not exactly the museum of toys but that what we like to call the famous ‘FAO Schwarz’ and ‘Toy R US on TimeSquare’

Yeah.. I know.. How could I turn a day of educational to a day of shopping.

Well, that’s something I still tried to deal with.

New York City Family Vacation