Destination Spotlight: New York City Travel Guide
Issue #30-23 features a Destination Spotlight travel guide on New York City including highlights of the city, the best places to stay, where to eat and the top things to do and see
Destination Spotlight travel guides from The Family Travel Guy are delivered to your inbox on the last Friday of the month highlighting a new location each time that we have visited, as I previewed at the beginning of the year: Here's what you can expect in 2023 from The Family Travel Bulletin
Destination Spotlight: New York City Overview
New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. There is something for everyone in the Big Apple, from iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building, Central Park, Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty to world-class museums like The Met and The Natural History Museum, to Broadway shows, and world famous restaurants.
If you’re planning a visit to New York City, you’ll probably be visiting Manhattan, but New York City is actually made up of five boroughs connected by bridges, tunnels, the subway system and by ferry:
Manhattan is home to the most famous skyline in the world and where you’ll find popular attractions to visit like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Broadway and more.
Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, known for its diverse neighborhoods and world famous Brooklyn Bridge
Queens: Queens is the largest borough of New York City and is home to a diverse mix of cultures. Queens is also home to two of the city's three major airports, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
The Bronx: The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City and where you’ll find Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, and the New York Botanical Garden.
Staten Island is the southernmost borough of New York City and is known for its beautiful parks, such as the Staten Island Greenbelt, and is accessible by the Staten Island Ferry, which provides fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.
Each of the five boroughs has its own unique personality, so it's worth exploring all of them if you have the time.
Know Before You Go
When to Visit
There is no bad time to visit New York City, as it largely depends on your preferences for weather, events and the crowd levels.
It will be hot and humid during Summer (with an occasional thunderstorm) and much more crowded. Winter can be a nice to visit with holiday decorations and events, but it will be cold and snowy.
Overall, I would recommend Spring and Fall as great times to visit New York City due to the pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and the array of events and activities happening during those seasons.
How to Get There
New York City is served by three major airports that include:
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
All three airports are located in the New York metropolitan area and there are many transportation options available to get you into the city including taxi, Uber/Lyft, Airtrain/Subway or the JFK Express Bus.
For our trips to New York City, I like to fly non-stop into JFK and use a pre-booked car service, like Blacklane, for a transfer into the city. For most first-time visits to a new airport, I like to pre-book a car transfer service for ease of use, reliability and not having to wait around for an Uber or taxi.
Where to Stay
There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting New York City that depend on your particular preferences, travel style, hotel location and budget.
If you’re using points to cover the cost of your hotel, there are many hotels to choose from popular hotel brands from Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and IHG. If you’re paying for your stay, I always recommend checking to see if you can extract extra value and benefits from Marriott STARS/LUMINOUS, Hyatt Prive, Hilton Impresario, Virtuoso and other programs.
For our most recent trip to New York City, we stayed at the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, which is located on one end of Times Square. The boutique style hotel sits just outside the main hustle and bustle of Times Square and offers one of the best views of Times Square from the R Lounge.
We stayed for 5 nights at the Renaissance New York Times Square, which I think was perfect for exploring the city and still having enough time in the city to relax, instead of always feeling like we had to be on the go if we had less days in New York City.
We selected this hotel since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities and since we had lots of Marriott Bonvoy points that could help cover our entire stay.
Things To Do
There is so much to see and do in New York City and deciding on the best things to do can sometimes be overwhelming.
These are the places we explored, things we did on each day of our trip (we had four full days to explore) and would recommend you to consider adding to your family trip itinerary as well:
Statue of Liberty, One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, NYSE
Summit One Vanderbilt, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and Lion King on Broadway
Central Park, Natural History Museum and The Met
Visit Times Square
Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
Edge, Vessel, Hudson Yards, Harry Potter New York and the Empire State Building
I broke up the different places to visit by proximity to each other to make it easier to plan out your day and visit to each location. This is especially helpful when traveling with kids, as you don't want to be running from one end of Manhattan to the other.
During our time in New York City, we walked a lot (~5-7 miles a day) and used Uber to get to places quicker that were further away or when we were tired from a long day of walking everywhere.
Where to Eat
New York City features many wonderful restaurants and various food options from all around the world to choose from. There truly is something for everyone, including the pickiest of kids, in New York City.
The places we ate at largely depended on which part of Manhattan we were in around lunch time or dinner time and location mainly dictated the available restaurant options for us. For example, I always like to plan ahead and research food options closest to where we would be in the city, so we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat.
Knowing what options we have near us and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children, but for this trip I didn't make a list of places to eat at and figured there would always be something close by where we were that would work for everyone.
For breakfast each morning, we enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the hotel at the R Lounge (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit). The R Lounge features amazing views of Times Square and in the mornings is only open for Marriott Platinum/Titanium members for breakfast. In the evenings, the lounge opens up for drinks, appetizers and small bites like pizza and sandwiches. We had light dinners here on a few nights since it was an easy option and were given R Lounge credit coupons from our hotel loyalty program status.
While exploring New York City, some of the restaurants we enjoyed for either lunch or dinner included:
Bryant Park Cafe
Eataly NYC Flatiron
Broadstone Bar & Kitchen
Mercado Little Spain & La Barra
Carmine's Italian Restaurant
Loab Boathouse (inside Central Park)
Since we had a hearty breakfast most mornings, we ended up having lunch and dinner at odd times throughout the day after visiting an attraction so didn't experience long waits for meals.
I hope this destination spotlight guide helps you plan out your next trip to New York City and gives you a glimpse into highlights of the city, as well as a look the best places to stay and things to do and see in the Big Apple.
New York City is a place I can visit many times without getting bored, as the hustle and bustle of the city makes it a new experience every time we visit. From all of the museums to visit, restaurants to try and just seeing the skyscrapers for the first time as you make your way into the city is an unforgettable moment for everyone, especially for kids. And then being able to see it all from a different perspective from all of the observation decks from newer buildings like the Edge, One World Observatory and Summit One Vanderbilt to classics like Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building makes it all seem new again.
There is so much to see and do so be sure to leave yourself enough time to take it all in. No matter what you are interested in, New York City has something to offer for everyone, as there is so much to do and explore throughout the city that you'll leave wanting to come back soon and experience it again.
The Family Travel Guy
I hope this email helped spark some travel inspiration!
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