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Uncovering the best family holidays

Family Holidays in New York

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When Simon wanted to write about family time in New York we were all for it having spent three weeks over Christmas in that wonderful city. Don't think twice about it, go and love it! 

Many cities can claim the phrase ‘trip of a lifetime’, but in New York, it takes on a whole new meaning. If you’re taking the kids for the first time, you might even find a few minutes of peace as they stare around at the multitude of sights, sounds and smells. There’s a real sense of wonder here, and whether it’s seeing the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge, feeding polar bears in Central Park or standing in the middle of Times Square, they may even be lost for words. You might think there are no such things as cheap holidays to New York City but if you know where to go, there are bargain family days out all over the city.

Though travelling with a family in tow is never a smooth ride, you’ll find NYC caters for those of us with kids at every turn. What’s more, I was pleasantly surprised at how many free things there are to do here. Central Park alone is enough for an entire day of (relatively) stress-free fun with its zoo, row boats and even a castle on the edge of the lake. We ended up escaping the scramble at the American Museum of Natural History and eating our picnic lunch on the lawns here, which made for an extremely welcome break.

Blue Whale by Ken Rockwell

Even the museum itself carries only a suggested donation so it’s easier to keep costs down as a large family and still enjoy all the dinosaur skeletons and life-size model animals. Judging by the reactions of my eight-year-old, the gigantic whales were the best thing she’d ever seen (if you don’t count the numerous gift shops).

Top of the Rock by New York Sightseeing Tours

On those days you’re willing to fork out a bit more, the crowd-pleasing main attractions won’t disappoint. Make room for the Empire State Building on your itinerary but go early if you want to minimize the queues. We opted for a good alternative at the Top of the Rock observation deck in Rockefeller Plaza. The views were just as spectacular and you can see the Empire State as well as the Chrysler Building and the Hudson.

In fact, it’s worth digging around for the less-hyped attractions here, as many of them are perfect for kids. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is home to an indoor climbing wall, which impressed my two, as well as loads of interactive exhibits. There’s also a gem of a place called Lower East Side Tenement Museum which we found fascinating from a history point of view, but the kids also loved looking round the tiny apartments, filled with objects used by real immigrant families over a century ago.

It’s no wonder NYC rates so highly as a family destination. Thanks to the bumper list of child-friendly museums, playparks and animal attractions, you’re never short of entertainment ideas and there seem to be milkshake diners, bakeries and family-friendly pizzerias on almost every corner. The best thing about the city is that it offers some brilliant but truly exhausting days out, which in turn also ensures the kids have some pretty quiet nights as well.

Simon Clark is an accomplished travel writer with over five years of blogging experience. He focuses on holiday destinations in Egypt, Turkey and other Mediterranean spots, but his recent trip to the Big Apple, with his family, inspired him to write about visiting the biggest city in the USA.

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