This post is near and dear to my heart; Justin and I really loved the time we had in New York and started a bucket list when I moved up there. We may not have been able to check off all of the items before we left New York but I feel like that just gives us more reasons to go back and visit soon!
Download the Ultimate New York City Bucket List here!
⎔ STATUE OF LIBERTY: Statue Cruises is the only authorized vendor that can take you to Liberty Island + Ellis Island and a fair price for what you get. I would recommend taking an early ferry and packing a lunch. You can picnic on either island with amazing views of Manhattan, but keep in mind that if you’re planning on going up the statue, you’ll need to store your things in a locker. If you’re bringing a stroller, there’s a ramp leading into the boat but you’ll have to carry it up potentially 2 flights of stairs if you want to get a picture by water.
Tip: when you first board the ferry, stay on the left side for a great view of the city. Reverse it on your way back.
⎔ TIMES SQUARE AT NIGHT: I recommend booking a reservation at one of the restaurants in Times Square an hour or so before sunset and watch as lights come to life with dusk. For the best photo op, stop by after 2am (except on holidays) or before the sunrises.
⎔ WALK THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE: if you want great photos with as few people as possible, it’s 100% worth waking up early to walk the bridge. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes, it’s a little over a mile walk one way. I recommend starting on the Manhattan side and then walking to one of the many restaurants around the bridge and Dumbo for brunch!
Tip: stop by and ride Jane’s Carousel – it’s only $2 a person!
⎔ CHELSEA MARKET: If the weather is bad, the Chelsea market is perfect for escaping the city, grabbing some grub, and shopping. Keep in mind that it can get a bit crowded without all the open space.
⎔ VISIT THE MET: This is the perfect rainy day activity and can easily entertain you for a whole day. If you have little ones, this isn’t the most kid friendly so be prepared. New York residents are able to pay-what-you-wish so if you’re from out of town, find a local to tag along with you!
⎔ GO TO THE TOP OF THE ROCK: If you can swing it, I recommend getting tickets around sunset. You’ll be able to catch an incredible view as the sky changes colors and watch the city light up!
⎔ THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: We loved visiting this museum and highly recommend it for kids of all ages. There are a lot of interactive activities and a lot of things that you can easily speak to. Admission is also pay-what-you-wish for local New Yorkers. Bonus for nursing mamas, there’s a Mamava on the first level right by the handicap entrance!
Tip: start on the top floor and work your way down. The museum has limited elevators so it’s easy to catch one to the top and walk down. Even with a stroller it’s manageable!
⎔ WORLD TRADE CENTER MEMORIAL + MUSEUM: The memorial is free to everyone and a great place to reflect and remember those we’ve lost. The museum is free on Tuesday evenings but you will need to “purchase” your ticket in advance.
⎔ PICNIC IN CENTRAL PARK: Another free and fun activity that’s great all year round! (Well maybe not in winter but it’s still a beautiful walk with all the snow!) Read my full Central Park blog post on the park and the free tour I recommend to everyone here! I mention a few free and inexpensive fun activities for the whole family.
⎔ WALK AROUND THE HIGHLINE: If you’re looking to take a stroll and get some great #instaworthy photos along the way then this is for you! It’s great window shopping with restaurants along the way once you’re hungry.
⎔ GO TO A YANKEES GAME: Availability and pricing will obviously vary but make sure you pencil it in! If it’s your child’s first game, make sure you stop by the customer service office to pick up an official certificate (this is also where you can drop off a stroller).
Tip: the first base side of the stadium will get shade first so keep that in mind on those hot summer days, especially with little ones!
⎔ FLAT IRON BUILDING: This iconic landmark is easy to spot and right by one of our favorite places to walk around and eat at – Eatly.
⎔ GAME/CONCERT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN: Next time you’re at MSG, make sure to get there a bit early and walk the stadium. This venue doubles as a museum with a lot of incredible artifacts and sports history. All along the ceiling there’s a running calendar that shares a memorable event that took place there on that day; it’s fun to see what happened on special days i.e. your birthday!
⎔ CHECK OUT THE BROOKLYN BOTANICAL GARDENS: We loved getting to explore the gardens and there is so much to see! Make sure to check the website for when things are in bloom like the cherry blossoms or the gorgeous lavender field. The conservatory shows you blooms from all different environments with the cafe tucked in the middle. The garden has a few self guided tours also hosts a bunch of kids activities so make sure to check the schedule!
⎔ CATCH A BROADWAY SHOW: Did you know that more people see a broadway show each year than all the major NY sporting events combined?! Everyone should see at least one show in their life in my opinion. You can try and win the lottery or test your luck scalping tickets but I think it’s worth the splurge to go! We won lotto tickets to Margaritaville and loved it!!
⎔ CHECK OUT SMORGASBURG: If you like being outdoors and food trucks you’ll love Smorgasburg. Starting in early spring through fall, this pop up takes place every Saturday in Williamsburg and Sunday in Prospect Park. More recently they’ve added a paired down version every Friday near WT in the financial district.
Tip: The Williamsburg location has great views of Manhattan but ordering food can take awhile with long lines and a packed crowd. Prospect Park is more low key and stroller friendly with plenty of grass space to set up and picnic from all the vendors.
⎔ RIDE THE SUBWAY TO GRAND CENTRAL: If you end up here make sure you look up and take in all the architectural details on the walls and ceilings. A great photo op is the clock tower in the heart of the station. There are also markets scattered throughout including a bread shop that makes loaves fresh throughout the day and offers samples. Take a load off and people watch for a bit or watch the masses of people swarming around during rush hour.
Bucket items we haven’t crossed off yet (will update as we do them!):
⎔ CONEY ISLAND
⎔ RIDE TO THE TOP OF THE WT OBSERVATORY
⎔ EXPLORE MoMA
⎔ GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
⎔ NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
⎔ ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
⎔ VISIT THE BRONX ZOO
⎔ EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
⎔ ICE SKATE AT ROCKAFELLER CENTER
TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH AN INFANT/CHILDREN:
- Be prepared to catch a ride from LGA or JFK; the subway system is [surprisingly] not connected the way the rest of the city is. Uber/Lyft provide options that include a carseat but depending on your child’s needs, that can be difficult. Read my full blog post on traveling with children COMING SOON!
- If you’re taking the subway anywhere, plan your route ahead of time and double check that your station stops are handicap accessible to ensure there’s an elevator available. Disclaimer: elevators are notorious for going out of service to be prepared to carry your stroller up/down a few flights of stairs.
- Travel strollers are lightweight and great for times like these; especially if you’re trying to hop on during rush hour (not recommended).
- Hand sanitizer is your best friend; use it excessively and use it often!
Download the Ultimate New York City Bucket List here!