There are tons of things to do in New York City with the whole family, but it can sometimes be hard to keep up with a grown companion in these busy city streets and the crowded public transportation system when you’re getting from place to place, much less a couple of little ones. While it can be a little more difficult, bring your kids to experience New York City with you is highly rewarding. From all of the things that they’ll see and learn to all of the new things that they get to try, like riding the subway, a child never forgets their first trip to NYC! It’s very possible to get around in New York City with kids, so here’s a few tips to make it a little more doable for your family.
1. The subway is not your enemy. While it may seem stressful taking a kid, especially if they’re in a stroller, on the subway system with you, it’s actually a little more manageable than you’d think! Even though things get pretty fast paced down in the subway system, New Yorkers are used to strollers being on the subways all the time, and they easily accommodate riders with kids.
The most important thing is to bring a lightweight stroller with you that you can easily carry up and down the steps with you when you’re getting on and off. The subways can get cramped, and the less space you’re taking up, the better. On that same note, some of the subway stations also have escalators, which come in handy! Make sure that when you’re not walking up the escalator, you’re standing as far the the right as possible so that the people in a hurry can get by you quickly without any disturbances.
2. Know your route before you get on the subway. You might feel like you need to rush once you get there, and when you see the train you need coming up the first instinct is to run right on, but make sure you know where you’re going before you do so. It’s hard to get from one place to another, especially with your kids, but it’s almost devastating when you realize you got on the wrong train and have to do it all over again! The best advice is to stay calm, and ask for directions if you need it. Luckily, there are many smartphone apps and websites now that help you navigate the subways, buses, taxis and walking routes in the city.
3. Avoid the subway during rush hours. If you go from 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm, you’re going to hit some heavy traffic down there. Of course, it’s difficult to avoid these times all together, that’s pretty much half the day you’re going to need public transportation, but this is the time that the subways are the least crowded and the least noisy.
4. When you’re not going far enough for the subway, but you are going so far that it’s not walkable, there are tons of those yellow taxi cabs in NYC. It’s not required by law for kids to ride in a carseat in a cab, which can be stressful for many parents. Many cab drivers are very helpful to parents with kids, and will get out and help you load your stroller into the back (another great reason to have a lightweight stroller in NYC) and will usually patiently wait if you decide to bring your own car seat and strap it in. If your kid is old enough to buckle up, make sure the seat belts in the back work before you get in the cab and start the meter running. When you’re hailing a cab, make sure you’re not waving down a cab whose off duty or busy, because it can get tiring holding out one hand and holding on to your kid with the other.
5. Stay near the places you’re going to visit most. Of course, the closer you stay to the places you’ll be going, the less you’ll need to worry about getting in and out of a car, bus or train. Many of the hotels in New York City are very accommodating to people traveling with kids, and are already ready to help you find a cab to get where you need to go safely, make kid-friendly suggestions in the area and most of them even know about all the city-specific child-friendly transportation services and are happy to help you arrange them.
This article was written by Lizz Riggs, editor of NYCTourist.com.