We just had the pleasure of spending a few days in one of my all time favorite places: New York City. We hit up the island of Manhattan twice and went on a full-out playground tour. So what do we recommend doing with preschoolers if you find yourself in Manhattan for a day? I’d say anything because there is just too much to do for all ages in NYC, but here is what we did and what we loved.
South Central Park
Wow. This playground blew us away with it’s unique climbing structures, water ways, and it’s bridges that connect it to Umpire Rock. Most of my daughter’s time was spent climbing all over the rock, but there is a small water play area that she also enjoyed.
The Carousel and The Mall
We opted not to go to the zoo, since there is so much to do for free. We also didn’t go on the carousel, because M doesn’t like rides right now. We watched it from the side with an ice cream cone, instead, and then walked towards the Mall where there was some fantastic bubble making (and popping) going on!
Bethesda Fountain, The Lake, and Conservatory Water
Everyone enjoyed the fountain, terrace, and watching boaters on the Lake. Seeing the sailboats on the Conservatory Water was also fun.
Belvadere Castle and Diana Ross Playground
M was super excited to see a castle, so we tacked west just north of the Ramble. We climbed the inside but I think that seeing the bride (who she thought was the resident Princess) in the wedding outside was the highlight for my three-year-old. I would’ve loved to explore the Ramble but we’d been walking all day at this point. Our last stop before getting back on the subway was the Diana Ross playground, which is enclosed and a nice place for parents to relax!
Times Square and the subway
Times Square might be fun for a lot of little ones, with all the characters hanging around plus the Disney Store just down the street… but for M it was a little overwhelming. Too many lights and sounds to stay for long, and even the Disney store didn’t entice her to stay for more than a few minutes! She enjoys everything about riding the subway, however, so in that sense I’ve got a real city kid on my hands.
My daughter just had a blast with all the little statues and fountains located between sky scrapers. She likes all the dogs on leashes, too, and they like her back! Most of our time was spent at the Imagination Playground and the Pearl Street Playground, where M made some little friends.
World Trade Center Memorial
I wouldn’t really recommend taking small kids to the memorial because you aren’t going to get out of it what you should. Little kids obviously aren’t going to understand the gravity of the place, and are going to want to play, but that doesn’t mean that taking them will be a total disaster (unless you’re going inside, then it could really be a total disaster and a waste of your time and money). M really liked looking at the footprints of the towers and was able to grasp the basic concept that something really sad took place here and people died. We ate a snack in the courtyard and there were a lot of squirrels for her to chase, so I’m glad we stopped by.
Staten Island Ferry
I like riding the ferry because it’s free and it goes right past the Statue of Liberty. It also offers an awesome view of downtown Manhattan. It’s a total win with small children, too. They get to ride a “boat”, look down at the water, spot other boats and seagulls, and they can’t run off too far. The terminal can also be fun. They have a fish tank, there are other kids to run with (if you’re child is as extroverted as mine), and M even put on a dance show for everyone to the live music of a gospel singer. Lots of fun!
So that was our time in Manhattan! We enjoyed it immensely and I’m hoping to land a contract there someday soon so that we can be New Yorkers, at least temporarily.