Vacation Ideas from our Family Vacation
in New York City

New York City Family Vacation Ideas: My best NYC vacation experience was an extremely memorable one from my teenage years. My father was in the Air Force, and as a result, we didn’t often see my extended family.

But the family was really creative about getting together once a year, regardless of finances or location. The year I turned 14, we decided to visit New York City for the first time to see my aunt, who is a nun of the Little Sisters of the Poor order and who was working out of a convent in Queens.

At the time, the very idea of this New York City family vacation was an embarrassment to my teenage sense of self.

I imagined New York to be an extremely sophisticated place, one where I would effortlessly blend in with my fast walk and my devotion to black clothes – but not with my extended family trotting merrily by my side.

And my 14-year-old self turned out to be right - even native New Yorkers were slightly nonplussed by the sight of a nun in full summer habit, and my grandparents, who bought and happily wore a number of foam souvenirs, investigating the Statue of Liberty.

That group was welcomed anywhere, just due to our sheer comedic appeal. The city’s energy and impact is literally addicting, and I went from a sulky teenager to an excited, active participant over the course of one afternoon.


As a result, NYC has turned into a frequent return destination over the years.

So here are my tips for your New York City family vacation, some taken from that long-ago vacation and others from more recent trips:

  • Don’t be afraid to play tourist. New Yorkers were and are much kinder than you’d think, and generally very happy to give directions/offer advice to travelers.
  • New York City is a great place to eat, especially to eat cheap. We visited Grimaldi’s, which is under the Brooklyn Bridge, and I still think of it as the best pizza I ever ate – the dough is slightly salty, which gives it a great chewy texture, and the sauce was carefully doled out so it wouldn’t sog out the rest of the slice.
  • Street vendors will sell you souvenirs in bulk if you need them. I still have the foam Statue of Liberty crown my grandfather bought and proudly wore throughout the entire trip.
  • Take more socks than you think you’ll need. You are going to be walking, and walking quickly, pretty much everywhere, and the socks will help prevent vacation-spoiling blisters. Also bring extra batteries for your camera, as you will be taking thousands of photos.
  • Schedule a guided tour if you can. It’s a great way to explore different area of the city, away from all the historical landmarks. There are a lot of great culinary tours that introduce you to various neighborhood restaurants, and you can try any ethnic cuisine imaginable. The Sex and the City tour has also turned into a family favorite over the years.
  • See your landmarks. No American should have to go through life without visiting the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the lions at the New York Public Library. These iconic images are part of our collective DNA, and it’s a little surreal but absolutely imperative to see them in person.
  • Go to a baseball game! Even if you hate baseball, the people-watching available at a NY game is unparalleled. Decide if you’re a Mets or a Yankees fan, and come to terms with what that says about your personality.
  • Let your family be themselves. Trust me, if New York can handle us, it can and will embrace you.
Of all the vacation ideas over the years, NYC is my favorite.

Don't stop now! Here are some more great vacation ideas to check out.
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