Family Travel Survival Guide: New York City

Lodging, Food, and Festivities
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Blur of lights in Times Square
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG HOTELS: Times Square has a variety of lodging options for families, right in the thick of things (Brand X)

Lodging choices are numerous and tend to be at least $200 (including taxes) a night, yet average closer to $300 a night. We like to stay in the middle of the action in Times Square, at the Marriott Marquis or in the suites at The Blakely on 55th Street, close to Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Central Park. A more affordable option is to get out of Midtown and head to the Upper West Side. The Excelsior Hotel, on 81st Street, is across the street from the Museum of Natural History and down the block from Central Park. It's the place where I used to put my parents up when they visited me in the city, so how bad can it be? Also check out Hotel Belleclaire on Broadway and 77th Street, which features family suites.

I'm not a big fan of the Midtown hotels on the East Side or Battery Park lodgings, which are more catered to business people and lack the energy of being in Times Square or the Upper West Side. Those neighborhoods are usually dead on weekends, when office workers are home. And weekends are the best time to come to New York since the hotels are clamoring for the leisure traveler.

If your kids are like mine, they'll want to head back to New York just to get another hot pretzel on the street corner. But that's just the start to this gourmet extravaganza. I love the affordable bagels and lox at Zabar's (bring home a dozen bagels from H&H across the street); the hefty pastrami on rye sandwiches at Carnegie and Katz's delis; the pickle guy, selling dills from his big barrels in the Lower East Side; dim sum at the large banquet hall, Jing Fong in Chinatown; the thin-crust pies at John's Pizzeria; the large family-style pastas at Carmine's in Midtown and the Upper West Side; the heavenly Julie sandwich on focaccia at Alidoro in SoHo; and a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity. Still got room for more? Head to everyone's favorite candy store, Dylan's, and get ready to refinance the house.

The main events in New York start on New Year's Eve with the ball dropping in Times Square. There's also the incredible fireworks display on July 4th (watch from FDR Highway, which is closed that night), and, arguably the best parade in the world, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Seeing the large balloons being blown up on Central Park West the Wednesday night before the parade is a special treat. Also be on the lookout for the many food festivals held in New York during the summer and don't miss the farmer's market in Union Square on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at

Published: 23 Jun 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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