Kid-Centric Day(s) in NYC

Sep 2nd, 2009, 01:31 PM
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Kid-Centric Day(s) in NYC

I'm working on planning an 8 day itinerary to NYC for my family of 4 (2 small kids) + my MIL. We have a couple of days with museums, etc. where we will trade-off on taking care of the kids so the grown-ups can get their fix, but I'm also planning to see several of the local zoos, children's museums, etc. I would appreciate feedback on the 2 days below - looking for more logistical feedback than feedback on your feelings regarding traveling with children...particularly if negative My daughter is well traveled and likes to see and do and the baby, well, the baby will probably just hang in the sling & go with the flow.

Day 1:
-Children’s Museum of Manhattan (West 83rd)
-Pick up lunch @ Zabar’s (80th & Broadway) & picnic in Central Park
-Central Park Children’s Zoo & Carousel
-Frozen Hot Chocolate @ Serendipity 3
-Shopping @ FAO Schwartz & Dylan’s Candy Bar (& anything else that strikes our fancy)

Day 2:
-Brooklyn Botanic Garden
-Prospect Park Zoo (Picnic Lunch @ the zoo)
-Brooklyn Children’s Museum
-Dinner @ Grimaldi’s Pizza (under the Brooklyn Bridge)
-Walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge

We like to get going relatively early in the mornings (let's face don't really get to sleep in with little ones) so my plan in Brooklyn was to hit the Botanic Garden early since they open at 8, get to the zoo by 10 and then the children's museum by 1 or 2. On the map they all 3 looked pretty close together, but I know sometimes that can be deceiving.

Is it reasonable to think that we could walk all the way back from the Brooklyn Bridge to our hotel (Embassy Suites @ 102 North End Ave)? I just have a hard time estimating how far it really is.

Thanks in advance for your help!
joygerm is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 01:51 PM
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According to Google maps (which you can set for walking directions) from the Brooklyn side of the Bridge to your hotel is about 2.5 miles.

I don't often travel with little kids (unless a friend or relative brings one along) but my first impression is that day one seems a bit ambitious (how old is your daughter?), but you know her better! Zabars, museum , Central Park (but not the zoo part of it) are on the Upper West Side which is a very kid-centric neighborhood. Perhaps doing the shopping and snacking in that area will be less challenging. There are toy stores in the area (much smaller scale, of course) and Jacques Torres chocolates could be your hot chocolate stop.
When is this trip? In the cold or rain, the distances might also be less appealing
nyer is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 01:56 PM
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Thanks for your reply, nyer. My thought was that we would spend a couple of hours at the museum and then pick up lunch at Zabar's which is just a couple of blocks away and then walk over towards the zoo for lunch. What I'd read indicated that most people only spend 1-2 hours at the Central Park Zoo so that would just put us into the early afternoon. The trip's not until next Spring, but I'm just now starting planning.
joygerm is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 02:12 PM
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Hi joygerm--

I'm looking at Day 2.. I live in Brooklyn (but I don't have kids so I can't really offer that perspective). I think the zoo and garden is an easy combo. They are close together. Have you given thought to how you would get there from your hotel that morning? I'm assuming a cab---there's not an easy way on the subway from your hotel's area of town that I'm aware of.

I think you would take a car service to the Brooklyn Children's Museum from the Botanical Garden. Might be a lot time/energy wise though--but maybe not. Do you know if you'd be doing this trip on a weekend?

Either way, I think you'd take a car service to Grimaldi's. You could take the subway, but the stop is not that close and you'd need to transfer in order to get to the area of Brooklyn that Grimaldi's is in. You'll want to time that well (maybe arriving for an earlier dinner--5:30?) because the line is usually very long.

There's a great playground in that area (Dumbo) that I think your daughter might like depending on her age, the Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's at Main St. and Plymouth.

Looking forward to how your trip plays out--I have a 3 year-old nephew that I'm dying to get up here to visit. Maybe I'll send my sister your trip report!
Katie_H is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Thanks, Katie. I'll definitely write a trip report, but it won't be until next year unfortunately.

I was thinking that we would take the 3 train from Chambers St Station (a little bit of a walk from our hotel) to the Eastern Pkwy – Brooklyn Museum Station which appears to be pretty close to the Garden.

Then I thought that we would walk down to the zoo and from the zoo take the B43 bus from Washington Ave @ Empire Blvd to Brooklyn Ave @ Bergen St to get to the Children's Museum.

Do those sound right? I hadn't thought about how we would get to Grimaldi's, but I'm thinking that a car service would probably make sense. Is this Dumbo playground near Grimaldi's? I'm assuming so if it's in the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
joygerm is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 03:42 PM
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I don't know how old your daughter is, but I would skip Serendipity. There's usually a ridiculous wait considering the quality of the food and you can find a chocolate-y dessert many other places that would be sure to please a child.
ellenem is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 04:37 PM
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You might want to consider the Museum of Natural History. This is the classic place that parents and nannies take kids when the weather is bad - and the 2nd grade class trip for NYC schools. They have a lot of kid friendly exhibits, some interactive - and often special programs.

You don;t say how old your daughter is - but toddlers up love something here.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 05:17 PM
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I was looking for something else and just found this -

including -
Itinerary: 4 Days With Kids
From breakfast to bedtime, our crammed-but-kid-friendly plan for what to eating, shopping, and sightseeing.
starrs is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 06:11 AM
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Not sure if you want to do 2 zoos and 2 children's museum -- 2 days in a row. Think about (in Brooklyn) - doing the Botanical Garden, walk the Brooklyn Bridge which leaves you at the entrance to Chinatown - where you can explore the street food markets, shopping, and lunching - maybe dim sum - at a gazillion choices - Ping's is good for dim sum - or dining.
jroth is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 06:58 AM
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I don't think you've told us when this trip is. Weather has turned cooler so be prepared for that and also have rain day alternatives.

>Frozen hot chocolate not worth the trouble at Serendipity and it's not that close to the other places you list (nor is Dylan's really). I'd go to the snack bar at FAO Schwartz or get ice cream in the park.

>Long long lines at Grimaldi's. Plan B is Ignazio's nearby--new but not open Mon/Tues. Pete's downtown next to the River Cafe is another option.

>You've got too much walking all day to walk the bridge back (imo) Use or to get sense of distances and time to walk.

Battery Park which is across from your hotel has a great playground.
mclaurie is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 07:14 AM
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Thank you all for the feedback. I should have clarified - these are not 2 consecutive days, but 2 days within an 8 day trip. We like to see zoos & children's museums whenever we travel so I think we'll be okay seeing 2 of each (especially if they're spaced a couple of days apart).

We'll be coming in late Spring 2010. My daughter will be 3 when we're there (for those of you who'd asked).

Love the link for the "4 Days with Kids" itinerary. It gave me some other ideas as well. Thanks, Starrs!
joygerm is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 07:15 AM
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Forgot to mention that my husband works for Hilton Hotels so in order for us to take advantage of his travel perks we have to make plans pretty far out - that's why I'm already planning (plus I love planning trips as I'm sure many of you can understand). Thanks!
joygerm is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 07:19 AM
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If your daughter will be 3, then DEFINITELY skip Serendipity.
ellenem is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 07:22 AM
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You have traveled with your kids more than I have (obviously) but with mine (and they are troopers) I only plan one big thing a day (i.e. one zoo or one museum). That seems to work well, we start our day around 9:00 or 10:00 and go until 3:00, get them back to the hotel for nap (not anymore thank goodness) and then have a leisurely evening. So I think your days are too packed.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 07:48 AM
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It just seems like Serendipity is something that everyone should experience at least once in life, no? I've been there, but this will be my husband's & MIL's first trip to NYC & my hubby loves ice cream so it was as much a stop for him as the little ones.
joygerm is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 08:04 AM
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Joygerm--you got me--I admit to not being a frequent bus rider in Brooklyn. Your plan sounds like it will work--you'll definitely need your energy for that day though; I'm a big fan of public transportation too, so if you're up for it than great.

The park is a short walk from Grimaldi's. There's a full website to it here:
I haven't walked down there in a couple of months; I know they are working on expanding it by a lot---not sure how that process is going but I'll be down in Dumbo this weekend so I'll take a look around. It's definitely a good place for a picnic/snack with the view of the two bridges.

There's great ice cream all over the city--my favorite is actually in Brooklyn--it's called Blue Marble and it's on Atlantic Ave. It's not particularly convenient to where you'll be but...throwing it out there anyway for anyone reading. It's fantastic.

Following jroth's suggestion, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard St. is pretty good. Grom Gelato in the West Village on Bleeker is also very good. I can't really comment on Serendipity because after living here for 5 years I still haven't been---so I'm not sure what I'm missing. If you're braced for the crowds and really want to go, I'd just go for it.
Katie_H is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 08:46 AM
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I have been to Serendipity a number of times and have never really understood the allure of this over other places for ice cream, especially considering how crowded it can be. But if it means that much to you, go for it--and deal with an infant and three-year-old during the possibly long wait.
ellenem is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 09:22 AM
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Will you have a stroller for the 3-year-old? I definitely would -- between a zoo, children's museum, and the bridge, that's a lot of walking for short legs. With a stroller, much better.

And I'd also suggest skipping Serendipity for reasons already mentioned by others.
kansasmom is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 03:24 PM
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Re - Serendipity - I can recall a time way back when - quite a few years ago when Serendipity was really something different and worth the visit. But sometimes success can breed - blah. And over the years it has just become a tourist spot - nothing special. And last time I walked past there was a crowd waiting on the sidewalk to get in. Come on.
jroth is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 06:11 AM
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Hi, joygerm. I can just imagine how magical NYC is going to seem to your kids based on this itinerary! I have to agree that Serendipity is overrated. There's usually a long wait and you can't make advanced reservations. Maybe you could hit Alice's Tea Cup instead? Little girls tend to love getting cream tea there with fancy teapots and scones.

Grimaldi's can also have a very long wait. They don't accept reservations and people have been know to wait over an hour for a table. If the weather is nice, you could phone in an order for a pie in advance, pick it up, and take it to the waterfront park for a picnic. Your daughter could even hit the playground there. And if you have room, definitely get a scoop of ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory on the pier...their chocolate chunk is to die for!
MariaHart is offline  

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