Where to Stay in New York with Kids: The Only List You Need
Take a look at New York's five great family neighbourhoods for all of you
Don’t let its nickname fool you, 'the city that never sleeps' has a number of neighborhoods that can accommodate those who still adhere to a strict bedtime (and maybe even need a midday nap). New York City is the perfect place to visit with children. Storied cultural institutions, an extensive mass transit system (as well as an army of taxis), a plethora of restaurants and world class parks all combine to make New York City the ideal family destination.
It has something for everyone: (the most testing of) little ones included. However, not all neighborhoods are created equal. We’ve combed through all the criteria in true Plum Guide fashion, assessing all the elements of a family-friendly neighborhood – including restaurants and markets, transportation options, and family friendly outings — to come up with our guide on where to stay in New York with kids.
A classic: The Upper West Side
Where there’s a park, there’s a playground. (Ok, so that'll keep them occupied for 5 minutes.) Bordered on both sides by green giants — Central and Riverside Parks — Manhattan’s Upper West Side is the perfect place for the family who likes to picnic. We love our family homes in the area like Joan of Arch. Pick up some New York snacks at Zabar’s Market and then wander either east or west. You'll soon stumble onto one of the area’s distinct playgrounds. And if your kids get tired of one spot (as always), walk a block or two to find another. And of course, no family trip to New York is complete without a visit to the Natural History Museum, which is central to the entire area. (So we're afraid you won't be able to avoid them spotting it no matter how hard you try.)
Secret (and not so Secret) Gardens of the Upper East Side
The more literary minded might find a home like White Bricks on New York’s Upper East Side. Statues commemorating great children’s literature, including Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carroll’s Alice, dot Central Park East. (Don’t miss the “Balto” state either, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the dog who saved a whole Alaskan town. Along with the Central park Zoo, eastern Central Park even has its own 'secret garden' with a statue of the famed author Frances Hodgson Burnett at its center. And don’t be intimidated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Within its hallowed walls, there is plenty to enthrall kids (well, you hope).
Just as much a place for great music as a cultural centre; Harlem has always been a place for families. Classic brownstones line its side streets and historic parks, including sloping St. Nicholas Park and pocket-sized Marcus Garvey and Jackie Robinson, are some of the oldest in Manhattan. Restaurants abound here, and the region is linked to the rest of the city by the express A train. For a real adventure try heading north to Fort Tryon Park where John D. Rockefeller, Jr. reconstructed a medieval french monastery. Even if your children aren't interested in the art (no matter how hard you've been trying), they'll enjoy (and hopefully wear themselves out) running around the ancient halls and courtyards, as well as the manicured park gardens just beyond.
Morningside Heights melting pot
Built around the campus of Columbia University, and wedged between three (yes, three) of the city’s largest parks, it’s no wonder the multi-cultural mecca of Morningside Heights is on our list of where to stay in New York with kids. Two train lines provide easy access to the rest of the city, but there’s plenty here to make you stay, including restaurants that feature what seems like every world cuisine. If you tire of the attractions of Morningside, Riverside and northern Central Park, head to the grounds of New York’s northern cathedral, St. John the Divine, or to the Columbia University campus for some inspiration. Afterwards (and only if you can cope with their energy post inevitable sugar rush), treat your family to some dessert at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, a venerable local institution in its own right.
Prodigious Park Slope
Slightly further afield, but still easily accessible by multiple train lines, Park Slope has long been a centre of family life for a reason. Set around Brooklyn’s Prospect Park there's plenty to do and see here. Check out one of the area’s many family friendly restaurants or spend an afternoon at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Park Slope, and the greater city of Brooklyn, have their own world class museums, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Ride the carousel at Prospect Park or visit the the local zoo. Hopefully we've inspired you with these neighbourhoods, or you'd like to find out where to stay in New York with kids for yourself.