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5 Things to Do on a Day Trip to NYC with Kids

Posted by on December 28, 2015

Our Day trip to NYC with Kids

Visiting New York City for just a quick trip? How do you decide what to do when there are enough fun activities and sights to spend a week or more? Here are 5 things we did on a day trip to NYC with our kids, ages 7.5 and 2.5 at the time:

1. Train Ride

Coming from Long Island, we love going to the city by taking the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). It’s so much easier than driving in and dealing with traffic and parking and it adds to the fun adventure of the day. When we took the LIRR to the city this past summer, we had a great experience when the conductor taking tickets gave the kids a souvenir ticket! Although we have been on the LIRR many times, this was the first time we got souvenir tickets. The kids were really excited about it!

LIRR with kidsTrain Ride LIRRLooking out Train Window LIRRLIRR Souvenier TicketsCozy Kids on Train LIRR

Diesel Trains can be stinky!

Stinky Diesel LIRR

2. John’s Pizzeria of Times Square

We met friends with their ten and twelve year old sons at John’s Pizzeria for lunch. This is a great spot! Pizzas are made to order in their coal-fired brick oven. The building is a 19th century Cathedral church and is so beautiful! The restaurant can seat 500, with former balcony seating, beautiful spiraling stairs, a gigantic wall mural, and gorgeous stained glass windows. We arrived at around 11am, and that was the perfect time! No crowd then, but by the time we left, the place was buzzing and there was a 20 minute wait for tables.

John's Pizzeria Times SquareKids at John's PizzeriaGreat pizza NYC John's PizzeriaJohn's Pizzeria Hand MadeBrick Oven John's PizzeriaStained GlassBalcony at John's PizzeriaFriends at John's Pizzeria


3. Toys R Us Times Square

This is one of those places you just have to see. Sadly, Toys R Us just announced they are not renewing their ridiculously overpriced lease and will be closing this location at the end of January 2016. They have said they will find another location in the area, so hopefully it will still remain a fun attraction to recommend. But for now, if you are visiting before the end of January, be sure to see the incredible four-story store, with a Ferris Wheel in the middle of the store, and sections for each type of toy imaginable. LEGOS, dinosaurs, robots, superheroes, games, dolls, candy,…it seems to go on and on. After riding the Ferris wheel, we didn’t do much more than walk through each area, taking it all in, but if you wanted to, you could do activities like cookie decorating, building a robot, and more. You can find all of the activities they offer here.

IMG_6240NYC Toys R Us Ferris Wheel IMG_6213

The views from the ferris wheel:

View from Toys R Us Ferris WheelIMG_6216IMG_6218IMG_6219

Exploring and playing with all the toys was really fun, and I was surprised that my kids did not beg for toys. We told them when we went in that they could choose one thing, and John chose superheroes (I got two because they were on sale), and Ella actually chose candy! The dinosaurs and fluffy puppies were tempting, but they both decided they wanted to chose something else.


With a little guidance, John chose two superheroes.


Ella passed on the toys, favoring candy instead. Yum!



4. Grand Central Terminal

If the weather is nice, a walk down to Grand Central Terminal is pleasant.  If it’s too cold or rainy, you can take the subway, but you should know that it still involves quite a bit of walking, just underground. If walking will be too much for those in your party, you might just want to splurge on a cab. If we hadn’t brought a stroller for John (age 2.5), we would never have arrived. Even Ella (age 7.5) had to take multiple breaks, and with the sights, sounds, and smells bombarding her senses, she was close to having a meltdown. A quick stop at Starbucks for a smoothie brought her back around, and she was able to keep up and enjoy things once we got to the Grand Central Terminal.

City Smells NYC

Grand Central Terminal is an absolutely amazing place to see. Be sure to brush up on the history of the Grand Central Terminal before going there, especially if your children are older than 6 and can really appreciate the history and fun facts. Be sure to visit the lower level where more tracks and the cafeteria are located. When I entered the “cafeteria”, which is really a giant food court hosting many tasty looking restaurants, I felt like I was whisked back in time to the 1950’s. The architecture and design is so beautiful.


The whispering wall:



After the above activities, we still had a two-hour train ride back home, so in order to miss rush hour we got back to the LIRR train station and just made it onto our train. If the kids were a little older we probably would have stayed into the evening to catch a Broadway show or perhaps we would have joined our friends who took a tour of the Freedom Tower after we parted ways at Grand Central Station.

5. Subway Art and Music

One of the greatest things that happened on our day trip to NYC was when we heard the West Village Quartet playing in the subway halls. When the kids heard the music, they ran over and started dancing. John was so excited to hear a song he recognized from watching Little Einsteins. The Quartet played the next song just for him: Twinkle Little Star. It made him very happy. When you’re traveling with kids, the best thing is seeing the sights through their eyes. The “little” things, like the tiles that make up the Madison Square Garden signs, are bits of art that kids see when we tend to overlook them. When you’re in New York City, you have to rush around a bit, but try to slow down when you can. Let your child take the lead, and see things through their perspective. You’ll learn something new, I promise.


Subway MusiciansMadison Square Garden Subway

Travel Tip: When visiting New York City, especially the first time, don’t try to squeeze everything in or you’ll pay for it.  Rushing the kids around to try to take it all in will make you lose the fun of exploration. You will end up with tired and cranky kids, while you become irritable yourself. NYC is exhausting. Exhilarating, exciting, amazing, yes, but also exhausting. Keep the fun in your visit by taking time to relax. Enjoy the little things, like art on the subway walls, subway musicians, vents in the sidewalks, birds on the street. If you rush past it all, you might miss the best experience that was supposed to be unique to you and your family.


Have you visited NYC with young kids? What activities were your favorites? Tell us about it in the comments below!


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