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New York City is one of my favorite cities in the entire world! I’ve visited NYC countless times over the years, but this trip was a bit different as we had Weldon in tow for his first trip to the Big Apple! Visiting NYC with a toddler made things a bit different than our usual New York tripss. We stayed in a new-to-us area and explored a whole new side (to us) of the city. We had the BEST time! I’m happy to share a recap of our trip in hopes that it inspires you to take your littles to visit the city as well. 🙂 Keep reading for all of my travel tips for visiting NYC with a toddler!
How We Got There | NYC with a Toddler
Thankfully there are a few direct flight options from New Orleans (MSY) to New York (LGA). On our way there, we flew Southwest and on our back, we flew JetBlue. While I’m definitely a Southwest fan since Michael and I have been able to secure the Companion Pass for the past few years, I have to give the nod to JetBlue on being a better experience with Weldon. We booked Weldon as a lap child (his last flight before turning two, so we took advantage of the free ticket!).
Someone sat next to us on the Southwest flight, which was totally fine, but obviously made for a cramped ride. We upgraded our seats on our JetBlue flight (thanks to the AmEx Platinum annual travel credit) to snag two seats in the first row. Luckily, no one else upgraded to the third seat so we had the entire row to ourselves! Weldon had tons of space to walk around and play with his toys on the flight. Being on the first row also made it super easy to board and deplane as well.
As for logistics and airplane travel with a toddler, specifically traveling to NYC with a toddler, I’ll share what we checked through to LGA and what we brought onboard with us. We checked two suitcases, the Large Away bag and the Bigger Carry On Away bag. On this trip, we also checked our carseat in this carseat bag (we’ve gate checked the carseat in the past but decided to check it this go around so that we had one less thing to carry through the airport). We have the Graco 4ever DLX. You can check carseats for free on all airlines. There’s always a chance the carseat will get damaged or lost when checking it, but it worked out well for us this go around.
For the plane, Michael and I both had our Away Everywhere bags (the Original). I also had Weldon’s Dagne Dover diaper bag and a small cooler. We gate checked our UppaBaby MINU stroller using this bag. I packed lots of new toys to entertain Weldon plus lots of snacks! For toys (and really everything), these bags are so handy! I have the large and medium. I shared links to specific toys below in the FAQ.
We took an Uber to and from the airport in NYC (we drove to the airport in New Orleans). It was actually a lot easier that I thought it would be – installing the carseat, etc. We hit bad traffic on our way from LGA to our hotel, it took us over an hour to get there. But thankfully, on our way out, it only took about 25 minutes to get to LGA from our hotel.
Where We Stayed | NYC with a Toddler
We stayed at the Thompson Central Park (a Hyatt property). It’s located a few blocks south of Central Park. It was the PERFECT location for our stay! Thanks to Michael’s Hyatt status, we were able to upgrade to a suite for a little extra room, which is always nice when you’re sharing a room with a child! I can’t rave enough about the Thompson. The customer service was outstanding and they have two restaurants on site, which ended up being super convenient for us with Weldon. We arrived later than we planned on our first night in the city and ended up grabbing dinner at the main restaurant in the lobby, Parker’s. It was perfect and easy. There’s also a really cool dive-y burger spot in the hotel as well, Burger Joint. Michael and I ordered dinner from there one night after Weldon went to bed.
If you’re planning on doing activities near Central Park or in Midtown, I highly recommend checking out the Thompson Central Park! We’re already planning our next stay there in December!
What We Did & Where We Ate | NYC with a Toddler
Michael and I have both visited New York numerous times, so this certainly wasn’t a “let’s see all the top sights in NYC” type of trip. We mainly visited to bebop around the city with friends.
We had Friday morning all to ourselves. While eating breakfast at our hotel, we grabbed tickets to the Central Park Zoo. You can purchase timed-entry tickets online. It’s within walking distance of the Thompson. It’s a small zoo, but it’s so pretty and situated right in Central Park. They have a great children’s area with goats and sheep, which Weldon loved! The penguins were also a big hit! We went at 10AM on Friday and the zoo was virtually empty. It was the perfect way to start the day!
After the zoo, we walked to Rockefeller Center and stopped for a quick latte at Ralph’s Coffee Truck. We headed to the LEGO store next. I’m not a huge LEGO person, but I have to admit, the store is really cool! We had so much fun looking at all of the displays, and they even had a LEGO table for littles to play with the larger sized LEGOS. For our last stop before lunch, we popped in FAO Schwarz. It was fun to walk around and see all of the toys and the different displays and interactive pop-ups, but I definitely wouldn’t go on a weekend or anytime around the holidays. It was pretty crowded when we went in the middle of the day on a Friday. We popped in sweetgreen for a quick lunch before heading back to our hotel for Weldon to nap.
Friday afternoon we ventured past Columbus Circle to the Upper West Side to meet friends from our D.C. days. My friend Charlotte has a little boy the same age as Weldon. We had smoothies at Joe and the Juice and then ventured to Central Park for the boys to burn off some energy. After parting ways, we strolled across the park to the East Side to meet friends at their apartment for happy hour drinks and to let the littles play (our other friends have a little one the same age as Weldon too!). After getting Weldon down for the night, Michael grabbed us dinner at the burger dive connected to the Thompson. It was really good!
Thanks to Michael’s Hyatt status, we were able to enjoy free breakfast every morning at our hotel. After a big breakfast, we strolled over to Blank Street Coffee to grab a second hit of caffeine. Their lattes are superb! We met friends near Central Park Zoo to stroll through the park and over to where we signed up for a Little Maestros music class for the morning. While Little Maestros offers different packages of music classes throughout the year, you can also snag a “drop-in” class ticket online and through their Instagram page. We tagged along with our friends who live in NYC and their friends too for the music class and brunch afterwards at Seamore’s on the Upper East Side.
The music class was so much fun and so cute! I had my coffee and I brought an extra croissant for Weldon to snack on. He had the best time!
Seamore’s was GREAT for lunch! We had a large party, including five (yes, FIVE) strollers with toddlers in tow. They seated us immediately outside (the weather was gorgeous that day!), and both the service and food were spectacular! After lunch, we headed back to our hotel for nap time.
After naps, we strolled to Sip & Co. for a snack, and Michael and I grabbed a half-bottle of rosé from Central Perk Wine to drink along our walk (pro-tip: ask your hotel for to-go coffee cups!). We strolled through the park and met friends for happy hour drinks at their apartment. After heading back to the hotel and getting Weldon to bed, Michael and I devoured Don Antonio‘s pizza we had delivered to the hotel. It was so good and the perfect way to end the day!
Our flight back home was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, so we took advantage of the morning and grabbed coffee and croissants at Zibetto, which was fantastic, and headed to Central Park to meet our friends one last time and to let Weldon and their little girl run around and burn off some energy. It was the perfect way to end our stay!
Frequently Asked Questions NYC with a Toddler
I had quite a few DMs on Instagram during our trip so I thought I’d round up a few FAQs here for you!
Sleeping arrangements with baby? We always ask for a suite upgrade when sharing a hotel room with Weldon. Luckily, with Michael’s hotel status with both Hyatt and Marriott, it usually works out. Even if you don’t have loyalty status with a hotel, it’s worth letting them know that you’re traveling with a child and asking if they have any suite upgrades available. The extra space is really helpful!
We travel with this Lotus travel crib. It fits perfectly in my Large Away bag. I use these sheets with it. We also always use the SlumberPod. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, it’s worth every penny! Not only does it create a dark area for Weldon to sleep, it also creates a barrier between him and us, which makes sharing a room so much easier! He isn’t able to see us during nap time or when he’s winding down for the night and we’re up watching TV and eating dinner close by. The SlumberPod has a pocket for a monitor. We use this one. It fits perfectly in the pocket and doesn’t rely on WiFi. In my experience, the WiFi monitors never work on hotel WiFi.
Did the hotel provide a crib? No, but I did read on their website that they will provide one upon request pending availability. I prefer to travel with our own crib for Weldon. That way, I know what I’m getting, I know the setup, and I know the SlumberPod will work. If you’re set on using a hotel crib, I would highly recommend calling ahead of time to confirm availability.
Did you take the subway with the stroller? We did not. We walked everywhere on this trip. I asked my two friends with kids who live in the city about this … the subway is totally doable, although it can be a pain because you have to be aware of where the elevators are located. Another option is the bus, although one friend mentioned that sometimes you have to fold the stroller up for the ride.
General logistics of traveling with a baby and being in New York and getting around? It was actually really easy! Granted we walked everywhere. Some of our walks took a good 30 to 45 minutes, but the weather was so nice, we didn’t mind. We took an Uber to and from the airport in NYC. We had our carseat with us and just installed it in both Ubers. Both drivers were super patient and really nice about it! We used our UppaBaby MINU stroller the entire time. It was great for strolling around the city. We have the snack tray addition on our stroller and it came in so handy while out and about and at restaurants (even our hotel restaurant) where there were no high chairs.
Tip: Always have food and snacks on hand for your little one! We kept this cooler in the stroller at all times. It was great for snacks and for when we wanted to hang with our friends but Weldon needed to eat (for example, his dinner time).
Did you check your stroller? See above. No, we gate checked it using this bag.
Did you check your carseat? See above. Yes, we did using this bag.
What bags did you check and what did you take to the gate/carry-on? See above.
In flight entertainment? I purchased a few new toys for Weldon and brought some old favorites. The best for in-flight entertainment: these spinner toys (they suction to the window), this sticker book, these small board books, and this magnetic drawing board. And snacks, lots of snacks! I use this container, stasher bags, this snack cup, and these stackable cups to store most of his snacks.
I hope this post was helpful! Feel free to leave a comment or email me with any questions you have – [email protected]!