New York in 2 Days: Tips for First Time Visiting NYC with Kids

Visiting New York in 2 days can be done! We planned 2 days in NYC with our family of five and had an amazing first time visit to NYC.

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With Broadway, unique shopping, some of the United States biggest landmarks, and so many food options, New York City is a great city to visit for families.

We have been talking about visiting NYC for years but in early 2020 we started planning a trip. Our family had started to become more interested in Broadway shows and we couldn’t wait to see a show.

Then COVID-19 took over the world, with NYC as the epi-center. We put our trip on hold and stayed home like everyone else.

We took the time to explore other areas of New York state but we couldn’t wait to start planning again. In 2021 we decided to drive into NYC and started planning our New York itinerary for 2 days.

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Visiting New York City During COVID

The first question I get asked is what is it like visiting New York City during COVID. This is not such an easy answer and because things are changing daily with cases and vaccinations I am going to give my opinion but take it as that, an opinion, and do what you feel is best.

New York City is slowly reopening. There were less people out on the streets. Mask wearing was about 80% on the streets and nearly 100% inside stores or museums. Many restaurants were closed but we planned to eat outside or order take-out.

Public transportation is available and COVID safety rules are in place like social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing.

Visiting during this time is up to you and your comfort level. We planned on spending most of our time outside and decided we would walk everywhere.

I checked the NY state website to watch for new hot spots, but I felt with mask wearing and the activities we had planned, we could safely visit the city.

New York state still has a public mask mandate in place as of March 2021.

Best Time To Visit New York City

Any time you visit NYC is great because the city has so much to do. We visited in late February and I was grateful the weather was in the high 50’s. Weather in the winter months can range from very cold single digits to 30s/40s.

Spring and Fall are great times to visit because you avoid the summer crowds but have the nice weather. Fall in NY state is always a good time to visit due to the fall foliage.

If you are going to visit in winter, consider a visit during Christmastime to see all the festivities for the season. Check out this post about visiting NYC during Christmas.

Summer is probably the best time to visit. Warm, long summer days allows you lots of time to explore the city and see everything you want to see. Summer does tend to see more tourists and prices for accommodations may reflect that.

2 days in NYC ANHM

Getting to New York City

We drove into New York City from Rochester, New York. I was very hesitant to drive into the city but it was actually very easy.

Other options are taking the train into the city or flying into one of the NYC airports.

Getting Around New York City

The best way to get around New York City is to walk!! You get to see everything and there are so many surprises throughout NYC.

If you are visiting NYC with kids you may want to take the subway or bring a stroller with you. I suggest researching the subway and how to use it before you find yourself in the middle of the city. More information can be found here.

Where to Stay in New York City with Kids

There are places to stay all over NYC that range from budget friendly to super luxury. New York City is not an inexpensive city. If you drive into the city be sure to include the nightly parking rate into your budget.

We stayed at the Homewood Suites on 37th Street. It fit our family of five and was under $200 a night. Parking was an additional $50.00 a night.

When planning your accommodations be sure to include all fees and consider where you want to visit. Pick a location based on things you want to see and do.

On our most recent visit we stayed in Times Square at The Westin New York. It was a great location for families. Check out our review: Where to Stay in New York City: Westin New York Times Square Review

What to See in New York City

If you have 2 days to visit New York City you are going to have to decide on must see attractions and things you might need to skip.

We stayed close to Times Square and Broadway which meant we visited things in and around Midtown. I do plan to go back to visit Lower Manhattan but because we decided to walk for the entire trip we skipped Lower Manhattan.

Lower ManhattanMidtown Manhattan
-Statue of Liberty
-Battery Park
-9/11 Memorial
-Brooklyn Bridge
-Wall Street
-Charging Bull Statue
-Grand Central Station
-Rockefeller Center
-Times Square
-Empire State Building
-American Museum of Natural History
-Metropolitan Museum of Art
-Central Park
-Central Park Zoo
-NBC Studios Tour

Tips for First Time Visiting New York City

Be prepared to walk a lot. If you have young children bring a stroller or carrier. I suggest comfortable shoes as well.

Plan ahead of time. Do some research before you leave for NY. This will save you so much time on the streets wondering what way to go or where to stop next. We planned our trip out before we arrived and knew where we wanted to go.

Think about where you want to go to eat and attractions you want to see before you arrive will save a lot of time. Eating was probably the most challenging part due to COVID. Places we had hoped would be open were not and we were exhausted from walking everywhere.

Talk to your kids about what they would like to see and do in NYC and make a family list. Then you can start planning out your days. It helps to know where things are located as you are exploring so you don’t miss anything.

New York in 2 Days

This is our itinerary for 2 day sin NYC with kids. We walked a lot and we packed a lot of outdoor sight seeing in. Due to COVID we did have to alter our itinerary a bit but it turned out to be a great way to see the city for our first visit.

NY in 2 Days: Arrival Day

We left for NYC around 7:00am from our house in Rochester. The drive to NYC is about 5 hours and we wanted to arrive a little after lunch time to avoid any traffic.

We drove in through the Lincoln Tunnel and our hotel was fairly close. We spent about 10 minutes driving into the city before arriving at the Homewood Suites.

The parking garage is located across the street and they will park your car. Be sure to collect everything you will need from your car, because you will not see it again until you depart.

Thankfully our room was ready so we checked-in and then headed out to explore the city. Our first stop was a walk past Madison Square Garden. The boys have become big basketball fans and they wanted to see it.

We continued on to the Nintendo Store and FAO Schwartz. These are both located near Rockefeller Center. In the winter you can see the big Christmas tree or go ice skating.

You can also go to the Top of the Roc. This offers 360 degree views of the city. We also checked out NBC Studios. They do offer Studio tours but they have been paused due to COVID. This is on the top of our list for next time.

Directly next to the Tonight Show marquee is Magnolia Bakery. We ordered many goodies but the best is the Banana pudding and you have to stop in to get some. It was so good!!

After Magnolia Bakery we started our way back to the hotel for the night. The sun was going down and the temperature started to drop. On the way home we made sure to walk by some Broadway shows including Hamilton!!

One of the main reasons we wanted to visit NY was Broadway and even though the shows are currently closed it was fun to discover all the shows we currently love!

2 days in NYC Broadway Cursed Child

Once back at the hotel we ordered a pizza from Vito’s Slices and Ices and spent the evening in for the night.

2 Days in NYC: Our Very Own Walking Tour

I knew we would walk a lot but I didn’t realize we would walk over 24,000 steps. This was a big day of walking and to say we were exhausted by the end of it would be an understatement.

We had reservations for a 10:00am visit to the American Natural History Museum. This was the only activity we reserved during our visit.

We had breakfast at our hotel and then started the hour walk to the museum. It was a chilly day and I was happy we packed hats and gloves.

On our drive we made sure to watch Night at the Museum although upon visiting we discovered it is a lot different than the movie. Most of the movie was actually filmed in Canada.

It was still a nice museum and we spent the first few hours of the morning inside while it warmed up outside.

2 days in NYC American Natural History Museum

Next stop was lunch and because we were across from Central Park we decided to order from a food truck and take our food to a bench in the park.

We decided on a Nathan’s hot dog truck. It was okay, I do wish we stopped at the falafel food truck across the street, but we didn’t know at the time what was there, and we needed to get something at this point.

After lunch we walked a little through Central Park, got caught in the middle of two men screaming obscenities’ at each other, and started our way back to our hotel for a mid-day break.

Along the way home we stopped at a few more Broadway shows, saw the filming of a TV show and were asked to move because we were in the shot, and picked up food from the restaurant next door; Acuario Cafe.

Acuario Café is located in a small alley way and is an unassuming gem. The food was so good and I was really glad we made a point to stop.

After a rest we made our way to Times Square. Times Square is something everyone should see on their first visit to New York City but after you see it there is not much else to do.

We visited the Disney store, the M&M store, and saw the 2021 NYE ball. It was busy but the kids were excited to see the area and it is part of the NYC experience.

For dinner that night we end up eating Five Guys. It was not ideal, we really wanted to expereince something that we couldn’t get at home but the truck we had planned on eating at was closed fro the night.

Unfortunately sometimes even well planned vacations don’t go as planned. We brought the food back to our room and it was kind of a bummer we didn’t get to enjoy some more authentic NYC cuisine on our final night.

I think 2 days in New York City is a good taste of what the city has to offer and gives you a feel for the city. As we plan our next visit I feel like I have a better understanding of what we want to see and do.

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2 days in New York City with Kids

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