This post is part of the “Mommy Shorts Guide to Manhattan,” a series where I share all our favorite family-friendly spots in NYC.
The most frequently asked question I get from my readers is, “I’m coming to New York. What should we do?” To which I usually respond with something like, “I need more info! Where are you staying? Are you coming with kids? How old are they? How old are you?? Are you more interested in museums, shows or food? What time of year are you coming? How much time do you have? Have you been here before or is this your first time?”
If someone asks me to recommend restaurants, I have a similar response. “What neighborhood are you looking for? What kind of food do you like? Do you want somewhere trendy, family friendly or more of a hidden gem? Someplace cheap or do you want to go all out? Is it for two or a bigger group?”
And so on and so on.
It’s funny because if you asked me where to go in Copenhagen or what to eat Paris, I could rattle off a few places with total and complete confidence. But when it comes to my own home city? It’s way more complicated.
There is SO MUCH to do here. And you should plan your time strategically because there is no reason to waste time commuting when there is probably a day’s worth of activities in each neighborhood. Walking from place to place is half the NYC experience!
I usually end up giving people a list of things to do that are right around each other. Have breakfast here, take a walk here, check out this store which is next this museum and end up here for lunch. I’ve written out lengthy DMs for so many people, I realized it would be much easier to direct them all to one place on the blog with detailed descriptions, researched information, pictures and links.
But you can’t fit recommendations for your hometown in one blog post. Especially when your hometown is New York City. And so, today, I am announcing…
(A series which I’m pretty sure can go on indefinitely.)
Every Thursday, I will be posting some kind of Manhattan round-up. I’ll start with a breakdown of things to do in specific neighborhoods. Then I’ll move on to posts based on interests like our favorite museums, the best playgrounds, the pinkest places in Manhattan, Mazzy and Harlow’s go-to ice cream shops and murals to visit if all you care about is getting a few good photos for Instagram.
There are tons of other resources on the internet that cover the best things to see and do in NYC. I’m not going to be nearly as comprehensive as those sites. And I don’t pretend to know nearly as much about uptown as I do downtown. I’m hoping my guide is valuable because it’s what my family likes to do here. I’m also excited to use this series as an opportunity to explore new places in my city and call it work!
Here’s my first tip! If you are currently planning a trip to NYC, I highly suggest booking a downtown hotel as opposed to midtown. That way you can start and end the day with more of a cool neighborhood vibe, no matter what major tourist attractions you see during the day. I still very much recommend seeing a Broadway show, checking out Times Square and going to the top of the Empire State Building— you just don’t have to sleep there. You’re welcome.
If there are any specific topics you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments below! If you are from NYC and think something should be on my radar, let me know that too! I am open to anyone around here throwing out suggestions and helping me out.
Next week, I’ll be starting with my guide to the East Village, which is not necessarily the first place I would suggest visiting if you are a tourist in Manhattan, but it’s definitely the area that is the most recognizable from my Instagram feed.
Hope you guys enjoy the ride!
Love 💗 this.
I think it is a great idea! I’ve been to New York a few times and I always end up doing the same things. Now that I live in Montreal I’m hoping I can go more often because I love it and now I’ll have new things to discover!
We’re MOVING (back) to NYC next year but this time not in a studio in Hell’s Kitchen and with two kids in tow. I’m overwhelmed but we’re deciding between settling in the East Village or UES (we want great public schools) so I’m definitely looking forward to the next post! Thank you for the head start!
Yes!! Cannot wait for these posts! Love your blog Ilana, it’s my no.1 favourite! From an Irish mom living in California 💕
We are doing a whirlwind very short trip into NYC 12/26-12/29. Any insider tips for things not too miss or what there is to do around the holidays/winter?
i’ve planned two NY trips and both times we try to plan places to go and things to do and once we get there we get overwhelmed or don’t like the restaurant that looked good online and when we leave it feels like we missed so much ! i always try to write down where you guys stop to eat on your snapchat to keep note for next time and all the cool places you stop, this will be so great!!
So excited! I’m already stoked to bring my kids to NYC in the next year or two via train. (We live in D.C.) I have ideas for the first trip, but I’m sure we’ll be making many more in the future. I’d especially love to read restaurant recommendations and parks/playgrounds to stop in, as those are the hardest things to judge as a tourist.
This is fantastic! New York is on my list and I would like to be prepared before I go someday. I can’t wait to read all about it!
Yay! I’m so excited for this series!!!
any specific downtown hotel recommendations?
I’m so excited for this series! I live just outside of NYC and worked full time there mostly near Lincoln Center (NYPL) and in Chelsea from age 22-30. Now I own my own Wedding/Event company and still work in the city pretty often! I would love to see some of the places that you and your friends eat as well as any potential date night spots, which I’m sure are few and far between with two kids, but any ideas would be awesome! My husband and I are always looking for new restaurants to try, our most recent date was at Pearl Oyster Bar (Lobster rolls yum!!). And I’m always looking for places to take clients to grab a bite for a meeting! I will of course be looking forward to the ice cream recommendations as well! Ample Hills (near Bubbys) is my personal favorite!
Yay! Please recommend family friendly places during winter time and must dos for kids! We are going in February and it’s my son’s first time.
I have been waiting impatiently for this since you announced it. We went to NYC for our honeymoon and have been itching to go back. What do you mean by “downtown”? We stayed in Soho last time. Thanks.
This is great! I can’t wait to read more. We would also love tips of stuff to do outside the city. I know you did a recent post about a visit upstate, which was great, but we’re curious about beach information. Maybe near your summer house? Thanks!
I’m very excited to read these! Wonderful idea! And for those of us that know next-to-nothing about NYC geography…I will suggest you share/create a general layout/map of the relevant neighborhoods.
I’m excited for theses. I love NYC and have been a few times, bug my husband says he doesn’t understand the fuss. (he would much prefer the country over city). I’d also find maps useful in relation to Times Square as that’s generally where buses drop off for one day exploration type tours. (living in Massachusetts makes it easy to board a bus to visit.)
Are you still planning on posting these weekly? I looked for the Oct. 19 post but couldn’t find it. Looking forward to following this series!
I am – I just got way too comprehensive with my East Village rundown, since I live there, and wasn’t able to finish in time. Planning to post this Thursday and every Thursday after— just might have to be a little less ambitious with each post!
Great! Thanks so much! Looking forward to using your guides for my next visit.
playgrounds and coffee. I live in the District of Columbia and that is basically how my friends and I travel around our own city, where can I get coffee and the kids can play. I haven’t gotten up to NYC since having kids but when I do get there again I know the only way I will get to enjoy it is if I plan the trip around playgrounds (and coffee).
What about some great family photographers. I would love to donfamily photos while we are there!