We visited NYC with family the last week of December, along with the throngs of fellow tourists who had the same idea ; ) It was very busy but beautiful and festive, and the kids enjoyed the change of scenery with it being Rio’s first time in the Big Apple. I wanted to share a few photos and thoughts on what we did with the littles, where we stayed and where we ate!
I got several questions about driving vs Ubers vs subway when visiting NYC. Locals, feel free to share your thoughts, but as tourists we walked and/or took the subway almost everywhere with our travel stroller. Uber would be my second choice but we didn’t want to lug around carseats. Driving would be my last choice for NYC due to traffic and parking.
Our compact, lightweight travel stroller has served us VERY well since the kids were newborns (it can be used with many infant carseat brands). I have a detailed review post comparing it to another popular travel stroller as well. After baby #2 we added the ride-along attachment, and I like that your kid can choose to stand up for a better view or sit down when tired. The board flips up when you’re not using it, and once you detach it, the stroller is quick & easy to collapse and sling onto the shoulder.
One downside to the ride-along attachment is I find the stroller to be harder to push as a petite mom (same goes with the UPPAbaby and Cybex strollers after adding a sibling board). I need to extend my arms and walk off to one side, so Nick is usually the designated pusher.
Where We Stayed: The Fifth Avenue Hotel
I was looking up what’s new in the NYC hotel scene, and stumbled across The Fifth Avenue Hotel (google reviews) which just opened its doors a few weeks ago (not to be confused with several other hotels containing “fifth avenue” in their names). We booked a stayed with our small extended family and I never wanted to leave! They’re running a 3rd night free promo which helped a bit with the price tag.
Our stay felt wholly luxurious from the exquisite decor (the art, the chandeliers!) to how every amenity was well thought out. The beds & slippers were extra plush, the marble bathrooms had heated floors and Dyson hairdryers, and the remote-controlled blackout curtains were helpful for sleeping in. We also took advantage of the complimentary minibar in each room that got restocked daily with good snacks and drinks.
Service felt very personal with a small boutique hotel feel, and each room has a butler. Ours surprised the kids with a toy chest to pick a present out of, and they were over the moon! Our family also enjoyed the complimentary house car service and the included breakfast served in a beautiful conservatory. My mom hardly ever spends on herself, so it was nice getting to treat her on this trip.
For anyone interested, I saved a video tour of our hotel room under my NYC story highlight.
The Nomad location was great for us to stay in – a subway station just steps away, Madison Square Park and the Flatiron area a 5 min walk away, Bryant Park a 15 min walk away, and quite close to Koreatown where I’d personally be happy eating most of my meals.
The Winter Village is going on at Bryant Park until March 2nd, with small booths, lots of food stalls, ice skating and bumper cars on ice (for kids age 7 and older – sounded fun)! Visit their main website for the activities schedule. They have a small traditional wooden carousel which I thought was nothing to write home about, but the kids told me it was a highlight of the trip and rode it 4 times over our stay lol.
My friend Wendy heads into the city often with her little one, and suggested meeting up here! We:
- Got the wiggles out at Pier 51 playground which has water play features in the summer
- Strolled around Little island (pictured in the background above)
- Warmed up and got a variety of food at Market 57. Several dairy & nut allergy-friendly options such as karaage fried chicken and vegan dim sum stalls.
- Had a long walk to The High Line then to Hudson Yards to see the lights (pictured below)
We braved the Times Square + Rockefeller Center crowds one day, featuring another highlight of the trip according to my kids: the FAO Schwartz toy store. Go early because there’s usually a line to enter the store, and don’t promise the kids you’ll buy anything because the line to check-out is even longer. Mine thoroughly enjoyed perusing every aisle along with the toy demo stations throughout the store. We did get a souvenir at the Build-A-Bear inside, which has its own checkout counter with minimal line.
Other Rockefeller Center kid stores: FAO Schwartz, Lego Store, Nintendo Store, American Girl
After sightseeing a bit more in the area, our group of 8 managed to get a table at Joe’s Soup Dumpling with minimal wait. I wouldn’t go out of my way for this, but it was a good option in this very touristy area. We all agreed the generously-sized soup dumplings were tasty, there was a nice variety of lunch specials, and I appreciated many options without dairy, nuts or egg.
Whenever we travel I’m always hopeful for a play area nearby, so was thrilled to see this park with a good-sized playground just a short walk from our hotel. So many places to grab a variety of food nearby (including an outdoors Shake Shack in the park), and plenty of benches to sit on.
Where we ate (some allergy-friendly)
On every NYC trip we never even scratch the surface of the good eats there! Most of the below were chosen for their proximity to our hotel in the NoMad area:
- Dim Sum Sam (2 locations) for satisfying fast casual Cantonese food & baked goods without going all the way to Chinatown. I loved the pork & preserved egg congee, my mom always goes for HK-style wonton noodles, Rio’s usual at dim sum is BBQ Pork cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), and Nori is a roast duck + crispy skin pork gal all the way (similar to lechon kawali in filipino cuisine).
- Sushi hand rolls is another family favorite, and our hotel was on the same block as the popular KazuNori. There was also a much less busy restaurant, Bondi, right across the street serving $5 happy hour hand rolls with a more kid-friendly lower table.
- &Pizza Nomad for personal pizza with unlimited toppings, with dairy-free cheese as an option. Pretty good and for a very reasonable price for NYC! We even liked it a little more than our usual Blaze, if you’re familiar. Pizza is Nori’s all time favorite food, so I try to find an allergy-friendly spot if possible every trip.
- Traditas Pizza (for dairy eaters). Nick & I grabbed slices here after the kids snoozed, and thought it was delicious! Soft and chewy crust, nice flavor combos / toppings, and perfect sauce and amounts of cheese.
My mom kindly babysat the kids while my brother, Nick & I escaped for a few satisfying late night meals. Koreatown is a must for me each NYC visit, but always a struggle to choose just 1-2 spots! The newly opened Hojokban looked amazing, but reservations were booked for a month out.
The photo below is from Her Name is Han which is always decent, but we really loved our meal at Osamil (got the squid fries, chicken wings, Johnson stew, cocktails, and all the tables around us was having their signature pork shank). Sharing a shaved snow at Grace Street afterwards was the perfect palette cleanser.