Planning a trip to Times Square with kids is like prepping for a NASA mission, minus the zero-gravity part.
You’ve got packing lists that would make Santa Claus blush…
Visions of news reports that’d spook Stephen King…
And Mama Bear Mentality to keep your tiny humans safe in the middle of the city that never naps, much less sleeps.
You’re on a mission not just to survive Times Square.
But, trying to outdo your own childhood memories in the urban jungle that tasted better than any Big Apple.
So, how do you actually pull it off while maintaining your sanity?
This post is all about surviving Times Square with kids.
I Won’t Judge If You Jump Ahead
Delawareans’ Secret Shortcut to New York City
When it comes to heading to the concrete jungle of New York City, Delawareans have our own tried and true method – the Megabus!
If you want the cheapest way to travel to New York City, the Megabus was (and apparently still is) a frequently used mode of transport.
As an undergrad at the University of Delaware, I hopped on the Megabus, too, and only paid $20.
But, there’s another option that’s worth considering – Amtrak.
You have your own cozy seat, a window to gaze out of, and a smooth ride that’s more scenic than being stuffed with a bunch of random people.
Riding the Rails of Amtrak with Kids
Living in Delaware has its perks, and one of them is easy access to Amtrak services that whisk us straight into the heart of the Big Apple.
With my dad being a New Yorker, there was absolutely no way I would ever drive in Manhattan.
And when my husband said he had a meeting in New York days before Mother’s Day, we agreed to make it a family trip.
So, this was officially our first train ride with the kids.
No cramped airplane seats or security pat-downs to worry about.
After a smooth and relatively quick 90-minute ride, we arrived at Moynihan Train Station, aka New York Penn Station.
If you’re a large family like us, Amtrak can be more cost-effective than you’d expect.
Kids are usually half-priced on Amtrak, and babies ride for free!
Just like when we fly, we strategically planned our trip time to coincide with our kids’ sleep schedule.
Even when they were up and active, we had plenty of room (even in Coach) for our busy one-year-old son to climb across his sister and say hi to every passerby.
Plus, during the summer season, Amtrak often offers special discounts for off-peak travel times.
I recently booked a roundtrip ticket from Delaware to Washington, DC for just $40!
Don’t worry, a detailed Amtrak blog post is on the horizon.
But in the meantime, check out my recent MOMcation to DC here.
Wrangling a large crew on trips requires all the savings you can get. Hopper lets you track prices of your trip and pay when they drop. Just click here to save on your next trip.
Where to Stay in New York for First-Timers
When it comes to choosing where to stay in New York City for first-timers, the New Yorker Hotel holds a special place in my heart.
Right next to Penn Station, the New Yorker is just a few doors down right next to Mcdonald’s.
It exudes an enchanting old-world charm that transports you to a bygone era.
I remember our annual family trips to the city as a kid, where every June, like clockwork, we would make the New Yorker our home away from home.
It became our family tradition, and the hotel became a part of our New York experience.
The Magic of the New York City Subway Map
Navigating the New York subway system is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.
Even with my dad being a New Yorker, I still felt like a lost puppy.
As a mom of three energetic kids, the New York City Subway Map is an absolute lifesaver when you’re wrangling excited little ones who can’t wait to explore everything New York has to offer.
An honorable mention for the best new york subway apps is Citymapper.
Citymapper is basically the Clark Kent of subway mastery.
You’ll have the works: subway maps, train schedules, and even live updates on those pesky delays (because let’s be real, the subway behaves like a moody teenager).
The best thing about this app is that it works in most of the major cities in America and Europe.
Rattled in the Subway
Now, let’s address the elephant (or should I say rat?) in the room: New York City subway rats.
I know it’s concerning, especially if this is your first time in the Big Apple, and I won’t sugarcoat it.
Rats do exist in the New York City subways.
In all honesty, the occasional rat sighting is a part of the New York City experience.
But here’s the funny thing—I have miraculously managed to avoid any run-ins with these furry critters.
So, while I can’t promise a rat-free subway ride, I can assure you that they’re not lurking around every corner.
Just remember, keep your eyes open, be aware of your surroundings, and enjoy the ride.
The Mane Attraction of Where to Stay in Times Square
Just imagine entering your hotel room, and there it is — a breathtaking view overlooking the iconic Times Square.
Sounds absolutely fabulous, right?
Well, it was…almost.
My husband, being the thoughtful man he is, decided to treat me to a Mother’s Day getaway, knowing I would be juggling the kids while he was busy with work.
With three energetic kids in tow, the idea of being cooped up in a tiny hotel room all day until my husband finished work sounded like a recipe for disaster (and my sanity).
So, initially, we just booked a corner room with a Times Square view.
We thought, “Perfect! Ample space for the kids to roam and for me to maintain a shred of sanity.”
Later we ended up booking the connecting room which turned out to be a full living room with a kitchenette and yet another view of Times Square.
Now, if we had known what we know now, we would’ve skipped the corner room that only overlooked the street directly in front of the hotel.
Instead, we would’ve gone for the connecting room and the one with a full-on Times Square view (42nd Street, Broadway, the works!).
Despite the slight misunderstanding in room selection (and added expense of a room we didn’t utilize), it turned out to be one of our favorite hotel experiences ever.
Mainly, because our kids were obsessed with the window.
Day or night, there was always something happening down on the streets of Times Square.
Street performers putting on shows, characters like Spiderman wandering around for photo ops—it was like a real-life circus right outside our hotel.
Our kids were in awe, and I have to admit, it was pretty entertaining for us, too.
However, let me share a little secret with you: the bathroom turned into a wild treasure hunt for hidden hairs.
I’m talking about hairs lurking in every nook and cranny, even in places you didn’t think hairs could find their way into.
Showering became an adventure filled with second thoughts and questions.
Despite this hairy situation, I must admit that the view from the room was nothing short of incredible.
Initially, we planned to sleep with the blinds open and use the sheers to allow the vibrant lights of New York to be our nightlight.
But, the lively atmosphere of Times Square right outside our window was too bright as our nightlight.
The City That Never Sleeps is an understatement when you’re actually trying to sleep.
Big Apple, But Small Budget
If you’re rolling into the Big Apple for the first time with your personal Brady Bunch, Times Square has got some real wallet-friendly places for you.
If you’re looking for things to do in times square for free, just look right out your window.
You’ll see a whole slice of life without even setting foot outside.
When you’re ready to brave the crowds, try meandering through the iconic landmark, snapping family selfies in front of the dazzling billboards.
You might even stumble upon a free public event or performance — proof that the best things in Times Square really do come free, or at least with the cost of your hotel room!
We Accidentally Found A New York Dinosaur Museum Deal
The American Museum of Natural History is like a Disneyland for the chronically curious.
From the land of the dinosaurs to the stars in the galaxies far, far away, this Central Park museum has a thrilling quest awaiting every pint-sized Indiana Jones.
We bought our tickets with the best intentions, full price, and everything.
But, my husband started feeling under the weather out of the blue after a long day’s work.
So we ended up arriving at the museum just an hour shy of closing.
But, it turned out they discounted the ticket prices during this time.
If you’re not a stickler for time (or if you’re into last-minute discounts like we inadvertently discovered), you might want to aim for the final hour to save some serious bucks!
Our Central Park Pursuits Cut Short
Central Park, folks, is the crème de la crème of my global happy places — no kidding.
The place has the same effect on me as stumbling upon uncharted territory.
Case in point: locating the Balto statue as a kid felt akin to discovering Atlantis (seriously, it took years!).
Now, this urban oasis is a buffet of attractions.
You’ve got horse-drawn carriage rides, sprawling picnic spots, boat rentals, and did I mention the zoo?
Just keep a hawk eye on your kids, and definitely, the overly friendly ones they might meet (Netflix documentaries, you’ve ruined me).
But let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the beauty of Central Park.
It’s the emerald heart in the concrete body of New York.
This time around though, Mother Nature wasn’t quite on our side — a sudden downpour and the ticking clock post-museum visit cut our park rendezvous short.
But Central Park, we’ll be back for more, rain or shine.
The Disney Store Times Square
This place is a kid’s dream come true, and let’s be honest, ours too.
You’ll find all things Disney, from Mickey to Elsa, and everything in between.
It’s practically impossible to leave empty-handed, so be ready to break out your wallet.
But hey, it’s worth it to see those magical smiles on your kids’ faces.
Juniors Restaurant & Bakery:
If you’re a cheesecake lover like me, prepare to have your taste buds transported to heaven.
Juniors is the cheesecake mecca, and it’s conveniently located in the heart of Times Square.
The moment you step inside, the heavenly aroma of freshly baked goods hits you like a sweet slap in the face.
The cheesecakes here are pure bliss, with flavors that will make your taste buds sing.
Classic New York-style, fruity variations, you name it – they’ve got it all.
Just be ready to loosen those waistbands because you won’t be able to resist going for seconds…or thirds.
Joe’s Pizza Broadway
Thank goodness for the kindness of New Yorkers, who were always willing to help lost moms like me find their way.
One random chat on the street led us to an amazing pizza place with a line out the door.
Apparently, it was a big deal, and we had to wait 20 minutes, but hey, good pizza is worth the wait, right?
And not just any pizza, but the kind that makes you close your eyes and savor every bite.
Joe’s Pizza Broadway is the real deal.
Yes, there might be a long line and a wait, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Just prepare for some serious napkin action because this pizza is delightfully messy.
This post was all about surviving Times Square with kids.
Remember that in the midst of the chaos, it’s the spilled milk MOMents that create the most treasured memories.
Embrace the mess, find the humor, and savor every precious second with your little ones.
Because, let’s be honest, these are the stories we’ll be laughing about for years to come.
It may be crazy, but it’s crazy you won’t want to miss.
I hope this blog post has brought a smile to your face and reminded you that you too, can survive Times Square with kids and make it memorable.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for a real, relatable, behind-the-scenes version of motherhood.
Together, we’ll navigate the spills, the meltdowns, and the unpredictable twists and turns of motherhood.
Other posts you may like:
- Living in Delaware: The Good, The Bad, and The Scrapple
- Boston Disappoints: Why The Best Time to Travel Had Us Running Back Home
- Mom Guilt? Why You Need a Momcation in DC
Until our next adventure, keep embracing the spilled milk MOMents, and keep spreading laughter wherever you go.
Cheers to being imperfectly perfect moms on the journey of a lifetime!