How To Do New York With Kids
This past long weekend, we traveled to New York for my cousin’s wedding. We thought we would maximize our time there and arrive a couple days early before the festivities began to enjoy a mini family vacation. The last time I was in New York was around 7 years ago when I was single, childless and just about to begin my graduate program in Vancouver. During that last visit, I did a lot of long and leisurely art gallery visits in Manhattan, while also eating at trendy, hole in the wall type places (which were delicious) because those are things you can do without children with very little effort. In fact, the privilege of looking through an art gallery in peace was not something I considered a luxury, until I had children. Fast forward to this past weekend, I know that you can most definitely do downtown NYC with children as many moms and bloggers before me have, but since my cousin’s wedding was on Long Island in the Queen’s area, we decided to stay in a hotel closer to family and the festivities, rather than in Manhattan. The great thing about New York is that there is so much to see and do in all five boroughs of the city.
We decided to drive down from Canada since it is relatively close (our province borders with New York state) and forego the hassle of flying with car seats. Since my mother, brother and his girlfriend were also going, we decided to rent a van for the journey so we could all go in the same vehicle. While it was squishy at times, it was so beneficial to have five adults to help with the two kids. This made the drive relatively painless and while we did make many stops, we arrived in good time. Without stopping, from Toronto you could probably make it to New York City in about 8 hours. But a word to the wise, as tempting as it may be to speed down those expansive highways, DON’T DO IT! State troopers line the highways hiding in the medians waiting for their next
Canadian victim. We made it to NYC without any issues, but we weren’t so lucky on the way back home. It was just after midnight when we rounded a bend in a small upstate town where the speed limit cut in half. Needless to say, we got a ticket, which is the first one my Australian husband has ever received since moving here ten years ago. He was not happy about it given his excellent driving record. Sigh, you live and learn.
We woke up early ready to explore the city, but there was a massive thunderstorm, which ended up grounding a bunch of planes. In fact, a few of my other Canadian cousins flights got canceled and rescheduled for much later in the day. One of them couldn’t get on any flights at all. The next scheduled flight was after the wedding, so he decided to stay home and send his regrets. I was sad for him, but really glad that we decided to drive. The funny thing was that about an hour after the thunderstorm, it completely cleared up. The sun came out and it turned out to be a beautiful day. I have never been to Brooklyn while visiting New York, and had heard about the kid friendly piers, shops and parks along the bridge, so we decided to venture out that way. It took us about an hour in traffic, but it was so worth it once we arrived. We parked near Pier 6 which has a parkade. (If you arrive before 9:30am, you can park for $15 all day). Pier 6 is home to a really comprehensive children’s park. There are about 3 or 4 parks all grouped together, including a really great splash pad. Here is a great review of all the things to do at Brooklyn Bridge Park. We ended up staying at the park for almost three hours, while also walking along the piers to the actual Brooklyn Bridge stopping for ice cream then heading back to the hotel. The kids loved it, and we almost considering going back for a second time after the wedding, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time.
The wedding itself took place on the Saturday of the weekend at a beautiful venue on Long Island. Thankfully the rain held off, so the ceremony took place outdoors in the garden. Then we headed indoors for the reception where food and air conditioning was in abundance.
My cousin was born and raised in New York City, but he still considers his Korean heritage a big part of his identity. So the Korean traditional ceremony of Pyebaek was also included in his Western wedding. Here’s the description from Wikipedia:
“Pyebaek is a Korean wedding custom that is traditionally held a few days after the official ceremony, with only family members present. The ceremony begins with the older couple seated on cushions behind a table in front of a painted screen, with the newlyweds opposite them. The newlyweds perform a deep bow which begins standing and ends with the newlyweds pressing their foreheads to their hands while kneeling on the floor. The bride may present the groom‘s parents with jujubes (Korean dates) and chestnuts, which symbolize children. A variation will have the newlyweds offering cups of wine, usually cheongju. The bride offers the cup to the father, and the groom offers the cup to the mother. Sometimes the parents will then also offer the newlyweds cups of cheongju or soju. The older couple then shares some wisdom on marriage from their advanced experience. Finally they will throw the jujubes and chestnuts back at the bride, who has to try catching them with her wedding skirt.”
It was overall a beautiful wedding, but the best part of all in my opinion was the after party, which was held outdoors in Long Island City and overseas the Manhattan skyline. It was beautiful to see the skyline as the sun was setting, and lit up against the evening sky. My only regret was not being able to share the moment with my husband and kids. Since the wedding festivities started at 10 in the morning, it was a long day for the boys, and there was no way they would have made it to midnight at the after party, so my husband took one for the team and stayed in the hotel with them as they slept.
During one of the mornings it rained, I googled some kid friendly indoor places to take the kids. Nearby where we were staying was the New York Hall Of Science (NYSCI), which is sort of like an interactive science museum for kids. What I loved most about it was that it was catered to children of all ages, with a great toddler and preschool exhibition as well. Everything was hands on and the kids were able to touch and play with everything in NYSCI. There was also a large outdoors component with mini golf, a huge park and a rocket ship exhibition. The icing on the cake was the Angry Birds universe currently on exhibit, which my oldest loved. I really cannot say enough good things about NYSCI, and look forward to taking my kids back there again since the exhibits are always changing. Also if you go on a Friday afternoon, admission is free!
We only stayed in New York for the long weekend, and since the family wedding was the main event, we couldn’t go see everything on our list. But for the future, I would love to also check out the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the many carousels in the city, such as the one at Fantasy Forest. When the kids are older and less likely to run off in crowds, I’ll take them into Manhattan for all the great sights there, but for now, I am happy to explore the endless amounts of activities outside of the city. Tell me what your favorite go-to spots for families are in NYC!