New York City with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

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New York City with Kids: A Family Vacation

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With a park, a playground and a museum around nearly every corner, New York City is designed to be family friendly. But to avoid being overwhelmed with options -- especially when you visit New York with kids -- it's best to put together a plan that will keep your little ones entertained every step of the way.

For example, while exploring the east side of Manhattan, you might find yourself doing more wandering than you want in order to keep the kids amused. But having lived in the city for more than six years, two of which were with our daughter, we found the west side to be denser with diversions for the younger crowd. As long as you don't mind taking the subway -- which is an efficient and safe option for Manhattan travel -- or are willing to walk a bit, you can fill a day with fun along the west side.

While your options are nearly endless, the following itinerary is certain to create a great family vacation day in New York City with kids.

Morning


Start in lower Manhattan's Battery Park City where there is a park or playground around every corner. North Cove Marina (off of Liberty Street and South End Avenue) is a great place for a breakfast picnic; you can put together some coffee, hot chocolate and pastry selections from Financier Patisserie (3-4 World Financial Center, inside the Winter Garden; 212-786-3220). Then sit along the water and watch the boats fly by or admire the mega-yachts parked at the marina. There is plenty of space for kids to run and climb among the concrete landscaping at World Financial Center Plaza (just watch out for the bicyclists).

After breakfast, walk north along the river esplanade to Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, where you are most likely to find organized outdoor activities for kids on the lawn, or enjoy the extensive playground that includes everything a kid could want in jungle gyms and swings. It even has a sandpit and sprinklers for the hot days.

When the outdoor fun is done in Battery Park, head east along Chambers Street to the A/C subway train and take it north to West 14th Street. Walk west to the High Line Elevated Park, a train system built in the 1930s to remove dangerous freight trains from the streets of Manhattan. In June 2009, it opened as an elevated, outdoor museum with a mile and a half of concrete pathways, gardens and plants, and interactive artwork. Kids will love to see the tracks, now overgrown with gardens, and climb on the structures.

For lunch during your family vacation day in New York with kids, visit the Chelsea Market, (75 Ninth Ave., between W. 15th and 16th streets). The market, originally an 1890s biscuit company, is filled with interesting architectural and art elements, as well as delicious lunch options from Italian to Thai, and plenty of dessert selections including ice cream and scrumptious cupcakes.


Afternoon


Once you've satisfied your hunger, walk back to the A/C subway line, which you can catch at either West 14th or West 23rd street. (Use the W. 14th Street option if you are stroller-bound; there's an elevator at this station.) Take it to the 59th Street/ Columbus Circle stop where you'll find the legendary Central Park. While there is plenty to do at the park, the best way to see the highlights and get some history of the neighborhood is to take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage. At about $50 for a 20-minute ride, it's a bit pricey -- but it's well worth the experience; and during off-seasons, you can negotiate the rate a bit.

Next stop: the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street; 212-769-5100), where kids can examine up-close nearly every animal that has ever existed on Earth, plus plenty of rocks and stars. The museum also houses an IMAX theater --a great place to take rest while you take in a show. To get there, just go back to the A/C subway station and get on a northbound C train, which will take you directly to the museum at the 81st Street stop.

When you've had your fill of science, walk north on Central Park West and west on 83rd Street where you'll find the Children's Museum of Manhattan (The Tisch Building, 212 W. 83rd S; 212-721-1223). Activities here include special exhibits for kids, plus lots to hear and see and touch with plenty of space to run.


Evening


After the museum, have dinner at a kid-friendly restaurant in the neighborhood. Kefi's (505 Columbus Ave.; 212-873-0200) serves Greek cuisine, while Artie's Delicatessen (2290 Broadway -- at 83rd Street; 212-579-5959) offers a selection of sandwiches for kids to choose from and enjoy.

By the time your New York City family vacation day is done, you'll have seen the best of what Manhattan has to offer kids. And we guarantee, you will all sleep well that night!

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