Is New York baby-friendly? (Part 1)

Is New York baby-friendly? (Part 1)

That was our first question as we returned to New York as a family of 4. New York holds a special place in our hearts. It’s where Gemma got her start in fashion (where “paying her dues” meant picking up a skim latte at Starbucks every day and taking the elevator to the 5th floor to fill the cup with a specific type of ice). It’s where Daniel realized he didn’t want to wear a suit every day and be an investment professional forever. It’s where we spent the greater part of our 20s, very much settled into our “pre-kid” lives. And so when we returned to New York last month with our 3.5 year old and 8 month old, we wondered how the trip would go as parents (are babies allowed at the Comedy Cellar?).

Spoiler alert: New York is definitely family friendly, and we'll be covering our favorites in a 3-part guide:
  1. Upper West Side
  2. West Village / Downtown
  3. Other Recommendations

Day 1: Upper West Side

Main Stops: American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center

There’s no better place to start than the super family friendly Upper West Side with the best of culture, history, art, and play all within reach.

[BREAKFAST] Maman (152 Columbus Ave): A pleasant start to any morning. They’ve got ample seating inside and an extensive dine-in menu with European touches like their tartine au saumon and eggs ratatouille. Our 8 month old was feeling a bit restless that morning, and we opted for the takeout counter instead – they have a lovely assortment of pastries (pain au chocolat is a crowd favorite in our family), and coffee to go made for an excellent start to the day.

Dinosaur Hall at American Museum of Natural History

[MORNING ACTIVITY] American Museum of Natural History (stroller-friendly entrance: 81st Street / Rose Center for Earth and Space): There are so many museums in the area, it’s really hard to choose just one – but where else are you going to see dinosaur fossils (incl. a 122 foot Titanosaur), watch stars in the planetarium, or look above at a massive blue whale? This is an absolute must visit for any curious kid aged 3 or above (our dinosaur loving 3-year old continues to talk about our visit here). It’s easy to spend all day here and there are multiple breastfeeding stations in the museum if needed!

Other options: DiMenna Children’s History Museum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan (we actually went here on a separate day and we’d say it’s only worth it if you’re staying for an extended amount of time and/or the weather is miserable).

[LUNCH] Red Farm (2170 Broadway St): While we’ve heard great things about the food court at the museum (and honestly would have allowed us to stay longer at the museum!), we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to dine at an old favorite of ours: Red Farm. It’s a modern twist on traditional dim sum – order anything with the word “dumpling”, the pastrami egg roll, and the bacon & egg fried rice. More expensive than a traditional dim sum restaurant, but the dishes are memorable and quality is always high. Very family friendly.

Adventure Playground at Central Park

[AFTERNOON ACTIVITY] Central Park (68th St / Central Park West): We always try to bake in free and unbounded play for our toddler when traveling, and Central Park is the perfect destination where there’s something for everyone – beautiful playgrounds for our 3-year old, and gorgeous trails and views for Gemma takes our 8-month old on a stroller nap. While you can’t go wrong with any of the playgrounds there, we opted for Adventure Playground and Tarr-Coyne Tots Playground as there were age appropriate options for each kid close to each other.

Scooter Raceway at Camp 

[DINNER] Momofuku Noodle Bar (10 Columbus Circle #301): SKIP THE LINE - you can make a reservation on Resy! And if you aren’t able to snag a spot online, you can put your name down in person and head to Camp – a dreamy toy store with a well curated selection, and a fun events space featuring a Slime Lab and Splatter Room (passes can be booked in advance online).

Fountain at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

[POST-DINNER] Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (Lincoln Center Plaza): If you have time to squeeze in a little stroll, Lincoln Center is a great stop before heading home for the night. The fountain is magical in its own right, but it’s especially so at night when the whole plaza is illuminated.

Do you have other favorites in the Upper West Side? Please let us know in the comments! Stay tuned for our Day 2 guide where we explore the West Village / Downtown.

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