Travel with Tots: A Day in NYC

When you have little kiddos (especially when you have a breastfed baby), gone are the days of picking up and jetting out of the house at the drop of a hat. A little planning and preparation are required, even for day trips. And sometimes the stress of that makes you throw in the towel before you even got started and you just decide to stay home. But that’s no fun!

I THINK we finally have these day trip adventures down to a science. And it is TOTALLY doable without any meltdowns…by anyone (yes, mamas have meltdowns too, am I right?!).

On Friday night, we decided to take a Saturday day trip to NYC. September is one of my favorite times to visit New York because the weather is PERFECT for walking around all day. It’s not too hot, not too cold. You can bring light layers to use as needed throughout the day. Makes for a way more comfortable trip for everyone, especially the little babes. We planned, prepared, and executed in less than 12 hours and everything went off without a hitch. Let me tell you how!

First of all, as we’ve been visiting a bunch of big touristy cities during our time living in Newport, RI, I have come up with ONE guiding principle that we start all our plans with - FIND HOME BASE. When you have a breastfed baby in diapers and a potty-trained toddler who can only hold his pee for so long, home base should include the following:

  • Easy parking
  • Clean restrooms
  • Family room (nursing room, changing station, etc.)
  • Close walking proximity to kid-friendly activities (of course, in cities like NYC, you can easily take the subway as well)

If you can find a good home base -a place to start and end your day, a place to go back to mid day if needed - you will have a smooth day trip adventure, I PROMISE.

Here’s a run-down of our smooth sailing, super fun day trip to NYC:

Newport to NYC drive time: 3 hours / Baby gear we brought: travel stroller, baby carrier, diaper bag, Willow breast pump

Pit stops: 1 (Connecticut - surprisingly, CT service stops off the highway are VERY nice and clean. Mason absolutely REFUSES to go potty in dirty restrooms. Wonder where he gets that from…)

Left Newport at 7am. Mobile ordered Starbucks so Mom & Dad could caffeinate and we could all eat breakfast on the road.

Arrived in NYC just after 10am. HOME BASE: Nordstrom NYC

Parked in a parking garage about a block from Nordstrom.

Walked to Nordstrom NYC to use restrooms and mama’s lounge (nurse/pump, diaper change). [TIP: wear a nursing tank, like Ailana J. Josephina Tank or Ailana J. Mason Tank to make nursing and pumping in public so much faster, easier, and more discreet. Also great base option for layering in NYC fall weather.] We also shopped because…NEW YORK! Mason needed new shoes and what better place to do that than Nordstrom.

Nordstrom NYC is located right near the entrance to Central Park South. This is a perfect spot for toddlers. My 3 year old, Mason, got a hot dog and watched all the horse-drawn carriage rides. We walked over to Heckscher Playground so he could burn off some energy from our 3-hour car ride. Nina and I took a seat near Umpire rock so she could have some snacks and people watch. [TIP: there are lots of benches and grassy areas to breastfeed baby also! Great places to rest and re-group]. There’s a dog park right there, so she got to see lots of pups. There is SO much to do in Central Park, but we chose Central Park South because of the proximity to where we wanted to park and all the good kiddo activities so close together. In addition to what we actually did, the Central Park Zoo, Wollman Rink, and the Central Park Carousel were really close by as well. But we let Mason pick what he wanted to do next after the playground amongst the above choices and TOY STORE and he said…toy store. Of course.

Toy stores are much more of a novelty than they were when we were kids. There just aren’t as many of them now because of Target and Amazon and what not, which is super sad. I have amazing memories of going to places like FAO Schwarz when I was a kid, so FAO Schwarz was definitely on my list.

From Central Park South, we stopped at Magnolia Bakery to get some sugary treats for our 15 minute walk to FAO Schwarz at Rockefeller Plaza. We put Mason in the stroller for this and Nina in the carrier. This helps us get from point A to point B much quicker and safer.

We did a little shopping at FAO Schwarz. It was WAY more crowded than I expected, but Mason did great. He was a little overwhelmed by all the people, but he had a lot of fun browsing all the toys.

From here, we went to Rockefeller Center, ate our Magnolia Bakery treats, and made our way to Top of the Rock Observatory. After enjoying the views, this was actually a great place to regroup mid-day. After you take the elevator back down from the observation decks, you enter the observatory gift shop. There is a food hall and restrooms so we got lunch, had our bathroom breaks, and did a diaper change for Nina. Nina took a little nap at this point.

Mason really wanted to see trains, so we walked about 10 minutes to Grand Central Station, which is so cool. It’s beautiful and such a simple thing to occupy a toddler obsessed with trains. There’s also a food hall there too, so a good place to sit and take a break!

At this point, it was late afternoon and we were ready to head back to HOME BASE and think about getting home. Grand Central is a 30 minute walk back to Nordstrom. We walked back through Times Square, where there is the big M&Ms World. Another good stop for tots, but Mason actually fell asleep in the stroller on the walk back so we just kept trekking. [TIP: Wear comfy shoes! Plan your outfit around your shoes and not the other way around. You will be doing a lot of walking and you don’t want your feet to hurt, to get blisters, etc.]

We got back to Nordstrom to get coffees, use the restroom, and use that mama’s lounge again! They also have family restrooms that are gender-neutral for dads and other caregivers who may not want to use the women’s lounge. I pumped and changed Nina’s diaper there. Then we walked back to the car and hit the road around  4:30pm!

With such a successful day trip, I think we’ll do it again and visit a different part of the city! What part of NYC should we visit next?!

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