Have Toddler Will Travel: New York City

Wondering how to survive New York City with toddlers?

Here’s our week-long adventure in the Big Apple…

When faced with the decision of whether to stay at home with my nearly two-year-old while my husband was traveling to New York City on business for a week – it was a no-brainer. I literally started packing before my husband finished the sentence about the trip! Firstly, the thought of a week alone at home with my little guy scared me a little bit, and my 30th birthday was during this time, and who could pass up great shopping? It was time to see if New York City with toddlers was doable.

This wasn’t Liam’s first time on a plane, we had traveled to Cuba in December which, except for giving me a bloody nose on the plane ride home was ok! The flight to New York was only an hour each way (and luckily the hum of the jet engine lulled him to sleep on both flights!)

Here are my trips and tricks for traveling to New York City with toddlers!

Location, Location, Location!

There really are lots of great New York hotels for families. We ended up staying at 53rd and Lexington which was a great spot. A 10-minute walk to Central Park, the subway, and some great (toddler-friendly) restaurants.


Getting Around:

Getting around the city can prove being a bit of a challenge. We took a coach bus into the city ($12 USD per adult) and once we were there were going to rely on the subway and the good-old heel toe express. We also were armed with our fabulous Quinny Stroller and our baby sling.

Other than walking and the subway we took a double decker bus around the city, with the option to hop-on or hop off at various locations.

The subway can be a challenge to those with strollers, New York City is not as accessible as Toronto, and only certain stations have elevators up to street level.

New York with Toddlers Must-See Attractions:

With about twelve hours a day to fill of toddler time, while daddy was at work, I had done lots of research about where to go and what to do. Here are my top picks of things to do in New York with toddlers…

Central Park:

It really is a magical and huge park, filled with lots of friendly New Yorkers and their pooches. We spent most mornings exploring the massive, 800-acre park. With a carousel, a zoo, a castle, and so much more, you literally could spend a week in there. The cost for the 15 minute ride around the park was well worth it!

Central Park Zoo:

It’s the PERFECT size zoo for a toddler (and pregnant mommy). With polar bears, sea lions, penguins, and more, plan to spend one-two hours here with the animals. And at only $12/adult to get in, it’s a great deal. Stop in next door at the RainForest Café for a snack, of what-else but Goldfish Crackers and some juice.

South Street Seaport:

We (well, I!) decided that a two hour wait for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty was not in the cards. So, we hopped onto the bus and headed to the next stop, The South Street Seaport, and had a blast. This old commercial port for NYC is now a place to see a tall ship, shop at some great boutiques, have a nice lunch, and admire the views of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a great place for kids, who can watch the water taxis, helicopters, and all the goings-on of NYC.

Bryant Park:

Right beside the New York City Library, Bryant Park is a clean and fun little park in the middle of the city to have a break, run around, and grab a carousel ride for $2.00. This carousel is smaller than Central Park’s and great for littler ones.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan:

Five floors of wonder! This is the place to be, especially on a rainy day. With activities for all ages from, Playworks, a thrilling space for kids under the age of five.

Go City Kids says that “Preschoolers can feed alphabet letters to a talking baby dragon, play scientist in a sand laboratory, and conjure up some make-believe on a fire truck, city bus, or general store. Babies can play high tech peek-a-boo (parents, older siblings, and caregivers will be as transfixed as toddlers) and experiment with sound, air, and colors. And families can use a computer to create a story, complete with video, and email it home, or to grandma. Every element is engaging for kids of all abilities, and designed with thought and care. Be prepared for crowds and possible a wait to get in (check at the front desk).The third floor ladies’ and mens’ rooms have padded changing tables, with paper rolls for extra hygenic cover.”

Visiting NYC? Find Deals, Compare Rates, and Read Hotel Reviews on TripAdvisor

About the author:
Kirsty Sheen-Kernohan is a mom of two and a graphic designer living in Ontario, Canada.

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26 Responses to Have Toddler Will Travel: New York City

  1. Thanks for your tips! They are very helpful as I’m planning a trip for me and my 1 1/2 year old while my husband is at work during the day. We’ll be staying at Times Square on the Bryant Park side. One question I had… did you bring a carseat? I saw that you used all of those other types of transportation to get around having to use it in the city. The only thing I’m questioning right now is getting from the airport to the hotel. Thanks!

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Nicole!

      I didn’t actually write this article, but you definitely can bring your car seat to install for those rides from/to the airport. Or, depending on which airport you’re flying into, you can look into hiring a car service that will provide a car seat. It’ll cost more than a cab would cost but maybe not so much that it’s worth avoiding the hassle? Otherwise there are shuttle buses as well – just not always that convenient.

  2. Robin D. at #

    Great tips! We are headed into NYC for the same situation w an almost 2 yo and really looking forward to it!

  3. Savannah at #

    I will be traveling out to new york next month. We land in New Jersey and we will be staying in time square. Im not quite sure about how we will get around with 15 month old, luggage and possible car seat. Is it hard getting around the city with a toddler? Thanks!!!

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Savannah!
      Take the train to/from Newark — I’m guessing that’s where you’ll be landing. You end up in Penn Station and it’s not too far of a walk to Times Square from there. If you’re definitely bringing the car seat, I’d babywear for the walk and put the car seat and whatever else fits in the stroller. Does that make sense?

  4. nicholas Arnold at #

    Hi – am thinking of a holiday in new york in the summer – 2 adults and 4 kids (aged 10,8,5,2) – is it practical to get around new york – am guessing most taxis won’t take 6 and is the subway practical with a 2 year old in a stroller?

    • Corinne at #

      You should have no trouble with the subway–a stroller will pose a bit of a pain but try to stick to a lightweight, umbrella one. Having said that, there are a lot of minivan cabs on NYC streets these days, so it might not be as difficult as you think! I’d book a service for airport transfers and go for it!

  5. Tracey at #

    Hi I will be traveling to New York from Scotland with an 18 month. We’ve been to New York 3 times before but just me and my partner. Can we take her on the coach with out a car seat? We want to head up to Woodbury common. We’re planning on taking the train to and from airport and using the subway to get around using a stroller or baby backpack.

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Tracey! You can definitely take a coach without a car seat. Have a blast in NYC with your toddler!

  6. Tsveta at #

    Hello! We are travelling with our 17 months old son to New York for 4 days. Can we take taxies without a car seat?
    Thank you!

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Tsveta!

      It is perfectly legal to ride in a taxi in NYC without a car seat. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you have a number of options for airport transfers, etc. You can book a car that will have one installed, or take transit (depending on where you’re coming in). Good luck!

  7. Kelly webb at #

    Hi! I’m coming to New York landing at JFK with a 2 1/2 year old. I don’t want to take the subway as we land quite late at night and wanted to take a taxi or even a coach (we are staying at the Westin Times Square and i saw there is a bus station nearby?) We also have a 6 year old so there will be 4 of us a pram and 3 big suitcases. Will a taxi take all of us without a car seat or what other ideas are there for a transfer? Any help/advice would be appreciated!! Thanks!

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Kelly! There are lots of mini-van taxis these days, so you should have no issue when you land. It’s not illegal to ride in the back of a taxi without a car seat, but you might feel weird about it. Private or semi-private shuttle transfers are an option, you can pre-book and even order one with a car seat installed. That might be your best bet with toddler and a late arrival — you give them your flight details and they will be there to greet you when you land. Certainly that will cost a bit more, but the peace of mind would be worth it. Good luck!

  8. Brooke at #

    Thank you so much for this information! I have a two year old and will be about 5 months pregnant when we travel. This is such perfect information and helpful to know it will be a great trip for us!

  9. Mai at #

    Hi!! Visiting NYC .. Have a 5 and 3 year old. My 5 year old will be fine walking but my 3 year old tires easily . I don’t really like lugging a stroller and was wondering if wearing a hiking type of carrier makes sense or a hassle? Thanks for your input! Love the article !

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Mai!
      A hiking carrier might be more bulky and cumbersome than an umbrella stroller, to be honest. Our G-Lite had a carry strap, so when it was folded we could sling it over our shoulder. If your 3yo wants to walk you’ll still have to wear the giant carrier. And the stroller could manage your 5yo in case they want a break too!

  10. Gemma at #

    we are travelling to New York in December with a 3 year old and an 18 month. He have a double stroller that is liteweight. How easy is it to get round xxx

    • Corinne at #

      It’s a pain on the subways if it’s crowded, but there’s *usually* not too much snow in NYC so you should be good on the sidewalks in town.

  11. Emma at #

    Hi, I’m bringing my 6 month old and want to know if I can use my car seat on the coach trip to Woodbury common as I don’t feel comfortable not putting in a car seat

  12. Iqra at #

    Hi ! We r planning to travel to NYC with a 3 year old but we r coming from Asia and have Neva expereineced extreme winters. Do u think it’s a good idea to take kid along for holiday season?

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Iqra! NYC in winter is pretty magical. If you have the right coats and boots (and hats and mitts!) you will have a wonderful time exploring the city, especially your 3-year-old!

  13. mariangela at #

    hi! wondering if anyone could help with a question- going to nbc with a 18mo and i currently have a bugaboo donkey stroller and a mountain buggy terrain jogging stroller – which would be better to take? they are both big and both can carry a ton of things- and the baby does come with ton of things.. or should i invest in a smaller stroller? my only concern is carrying all the things with the limited space in an umbrella stroller- id hate to spend another 2-300 if its not needed — we are staying near central park, and maybe plan to take the subway once to soho and back – ive been many times, but never with a baby —

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Mariangela! I don’t think there is a need to purchase a new stroller. The Donkey is pretty wide, so I might go for the Mountain Buggy–also because it folds up in one piece which might be easier if you need to break it down. However, a decent umbrella stroller can last a long time. When they get a bit bigger they require less stuff (hard to believe, I know!) and it’s handy to have smaller wheels for when they’re not as stroller-bound but need to rest from time to time.

  14. Tina at #

    Hi. I’m traveling to NY this Christmas with a 2 1/2 year old and will be staying near Times Square. should I pack thermal pants for her to wear under her pants or Could a footmuff for the stroller work? Also, should I get a boots or could a sneakers work for her?

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Tina!

      Leggings or tights under her regular pants should be fine to keep her warm, but a footmuff for the stroller might be easier to keep her temperature regulated if you’ll be going in and out of buildings. Some kind of thermal boots might be a good idea if you’ll be playing for any length of time in parks or playgrounds. She’ll be miserable if her feet are cold or wet. Bogs are pretty good boots for in and out of wet and cold without being too bulky or heavy. They can be quite $$$ but in my opinion they’re worth it. Have a great time!

  15. Brandi Sundby at #

    Hi Corinne! Great post. As a Canadian ex-pat living in NYC, I’d like to advocate for spending some time in Brooklyn while in The Big Apple 🙂

    So many young families live in Brooklyn, meaning there are so many toddler-friendly sites and activities. For parents wanting stunning picture-worthy views of the Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge Park is a must-see. Plus there are great playgrounds, a water splash pad, a carousel, and great eats! https://thelittlestpassport.com/blog/2018/1/31/tiny-itineraries-brooklyn-bridge-park-and-dumbo-with-a-toddler

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