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NYC with a toddler?

I love big cities. I love how alive they are, how endless the culinary, cultural, interpersonal experiences can be, how outrageous personalities and clothing are acceptable, how beautiful architecture and urban design truly can be…

If our upcoming trip to New York City wasn’t to involve my pregnant self and a toddler, I’d be perfectly content looking up a few things to do and stumbling upon the rest. This time, though, we’re tag-alongs for part of papa’s two week film shoot and half expecting to be dropped off and fending for ourselves in “The City” for ten full days. Wait, am I out of my mind?! My decision to go along swayed several times before realizing that no matter how hard a trip with a needy, ego-centric (but adorable) munchkin in a big city might be, it will hardly get easier with two in tow. At least, not in my foreseeable future. So, we’re going to go along for the wild ride. I am treating it as the Ayo-moon I had described in a previous blog: a special and rare week of just enjoying my one and only child before baby number two shakes his world up. I’m getting excited at this prospect and for a change of scenery, but this sort of trip requires a lot of advanced planning, especially given these facts:

-Toddler attention spans are short. They tend to view drawn-out [dining, cultural, artistic] experiences (all things that I love) as overrated.
-Strollers and big city public transportation aren’t always the best of friends.
-Autumn East Coast weather can be unpredictable.
-Ayo is still a bit of a wreck without a midday nap.
-Mama in her third trimester is likely to be carrying around the aforementioned train-wreck of a napless toddler, stroller and bag of toddler essentials if aforementioned toddler is not granted a suitable nap time and place…

For these reasons, we’ve been researching dozens of engaging activities around the city for mother and son along with open hours, inclement weather alternatives (i.e. indoor+outdoor), stroller access points and parks to walk in during naptime. I found quite a few options: free things, cheap things, 100 things to do in NYC with your kids before they grow up, best playgrounds in NYC

I have been trying to nail down 8-10 solid “major” or several hour activities (museums, zoos…) and a dozen “minor” ones (best carousels, best storytime in the city, bakery pitstops) in the hopes that we will really both enjoy our time. We can always change up our plans, but my experience is that it is better to have a plan rather than none at all. Here are some fun major activities I found online so far that I think that Ayo will really enjoy. Bonus: many of them are free for kids under two years old! We have yet to sort out where we we eat, sleep during the day (most likely in a stroller), how to get to these places and how to get back to our New York accommodation / to the airport / and then back home on our own.

New York Transit Museum: (We are in the stage of utter fascination of trains, planes and big automobiles)
Children’s Museum of Art: Museum with a huge ball-pit, an area just for kids to create, paint. Bonus: Toddlers aren’t free but it is pay-as-you-wish day on Thursday. (Only in the USA!)
Pier 25 Playground: A giant playground jutting onto the Hudson River, with magnificent cityscape, giant climbing structures, sandboxes, sprinklers
High Line Park: An elevated park that allows kids to see the craziness of the city below. Looking at the events page, it looks like on Wednesdays chefs help kids design their own snacks
Children’s Museum of Manhattan: Special area for kids under 4 years old featuring a giant dragon who eats letters, a deli and a fire truck
Central Park: Looks like the toy boats, rowboats and massive playground still has summer (long) hours until the end of October! Looking forward to the changing leaves, outdoor music, the zoo where you can ride camels, watch sea lions being fed..
Manhattan’s Chinatown: Come on, I have to take Ayo back to his roots! So excited about this one. We had such a fun Asian day in Los Angeles last year, we could definitely do with another!

Have you been to NYC with a young child? What else do you think we should definitely check out during our stay?
Of course, as much as I love watching my toddler have the time of his life, I hope I can find some really exciting things to do for mama too (such as MoMA, delicious snack stops like this one, café people watching..). So, grown-up friendly must-sees are well-appreciated too.

Image courtesy of Rachel at Redmag on Flickr

 

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