We recently took a family vacation to NYC thanks to cheap tickets from Spirit. We where able to get round trip tickets for less than $200. Yup, you read that correctly. We did not add anything, which means no checked bag and not carry on. We only used our one personal item. Spirit actually allows a decent sized personal item but we took small backpacks that could be carried easily since I knew I did not want to be weighed down. We did not pick seats but where seated next to each other and we checked-in in advance.
This meant carefully deciding what to bring and rolling everything. I also only packed summer dresses which meant I had space for an extra pair of shoes. I found some great t-shirt dresses at h&m for $10. Since my son's clothes are smaller packing was not an issue. I also took our trusted activity book and crayons to help him stay busy (we are transitioning away from electronics as a source of relieving boredom).
Overall, navigating the city with child in tow was not as bad as I feared even when I was lost because we carried water and snacks. Since we have a Starbucks water bottle we where able to full up always at every corner, especially in Manhattan.
Of course we went to the ToysRUs in Times Square. Which is closing in a few months according to some kind police officers who helped us later in the way when we where lost (again). There we found City Walks with Kids: New York. It's a deck of 50 cards that helps you plan walking trips with your child(ren). We decided to completely change our plan for the trip and start again using the cards.
Caution tho, the deck we got was outdated so some of the attractions were closed especially on Time Square but I still recommend the cards. They lead us to a lot of great places. We even came up with the idea of making up our own stops when a place was closed.
We decided to stop at Ben and Jerry's just off Time Square and the Disney Store. If you walk that particular card be prepared to spend money because that is pretty much all there is to do.
These wonderful little cards did lead us to the Sony Entertainment Center. which was not on my radar. It must have been very popular when it opened because the card said you needed to make a reservation a week in advance. We walked in early morning and got tickets. My son's favorite part was tall the video games you can play on the way out. Don't worry they are timed.
While all the roaming was wonderful we both really enjoyed seeing close friends and getting a natives take on the city. There is just so much to see in the city, getting great advice makes a big difference. We were able to visit the Studio Museum Harlem with friends during a Target free day. For me this was one of the highlights of the trip.
As far a food goes, the best I had was at a friend's family party in the Bronx with the music playing surrounded by wonderful welcoming people. Overall, NYC was very kind to us. We had experiences we will never forget like finding this empty open church in the middle of Manhattan right as my son reached the end of my patience. We were able to admire the space, light a candle and say a prayer. He even drew an image of GOD in the sand.
I left NYC feeling hopeful about our ability to create and maintain lasting friendships and my ability to plan a family vacation.