New York Travel Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to New York

What’s that we hear? You’re bringing the entire family to New York for a vacation? Congratulations! New York is a family-friendly place with a plethora of things to do, see and experience and they look all the more exciting through the eyes of a child. Read on for more advice on planning your trip, navigating the city, and everything else you need to make the trip memorable, one that the family will look back on with fondness.

The city and the people

The most populous city in the United States, New York is a centre of finance, entertainment, and politics, and is one of the world’s major global cities, together with Tokyo, London, and Paris. It has an unrivalled collection of museums, media outlets, galleries, and stock exchanges.

New York City is in the state of New York and comprises five boroughs; namely, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. All of the boroughs, except one, have populations that exceed a million.

The city is a melting pot, with a large population of immigrants from more than 180 countries who help make it one of the most cosmopolitan global cities.  Aside from foreigners, the city is also tantalising to Americans because of its diversity, culture, and energy.


The city is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other place in the US, New York is also the centre of various service sector industries in the country, such as publishing, journalism, and mass media. Seventh Avenue has earned the nickname “Fashion Avenue”, while Manhattan’s Madison Avenue is synonymous with the advertising industry. Approximately 90% of the diamonds imported to the US pass through the city. Most of these diamonds are handled in what is referred to as the city’s Diamond District.

Historically, it developed largely in part to the New York Harbour, considered one of the finest ports in the world. Expanded in 1819, the port gave the city a tremendous advantage over other ports in the US such as those in Boston and Philadelphia. However, since the 1950s, the majority of the shipping activities have shifted to Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey.


New York is famous for being active and fast-paced, just think of the idiom, “in a New York minute” which means “right away”. The residents of the city are called New Yorkers and the nickname most used for the city is the “Big Apple”.

Notorious for its traffic but also famous for its well-designed subway, more than half of its residents, which includes professionals and the middle class, don’t own vehicles and commute to work via the public transportation system. New York has a pedestrian culture, very much unlike the car culture that dominates other big cities in the country.

Tourism and recreation

Tourism is a major industry, evident in the hundreds of attractions littered throughout the city. An average of 39 million tourists annually, most of them visiting the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, United Nations, and the Brooklyn Bridge, to name a few.

The city has more than 25,000 acres of parkland but the most famous is Central Park. It has been featured in movies and television shows alike. New Yorkers, as well as tourists, like to go there for relaxation and recreation.


The city’s Theatre District is not only active; it is also influential. Times Square in Manhattan serves as the centre of the country’s theatre industry and is one of the attractions tourists all over the world travel for. Considered to be of the highest quality, it is considered at par with London’s West end theatre district. However, don’t let the name fool you, the theatres on Broadway are not located on Broadway Street.

Colleges and universities

Aside from being the country’s financial centre, New York is also a centre of academic medicine. NYU Medical Center and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, as well as their medical schools, are in the city. Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College also call Manhattan their home. Some of the country’s top art and design schools and including Parsons of School Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the School of Visual Arts.


New Yorkers are passionate about baseball and with two teams, the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, they have double the chance of getting into the World Series championship. New York City is the only one in the US that has more than a single team in baseball, ice hockey, basketball, and football.

Cultural Institutions

You’ll never be disappointed if you love museums and come to New York. Most of the city’s museums are located along what is known as Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue and some of the most popular are the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Guggenheim Museum.

Aside from museums, the city has a plethora of symphony, opera, and dance performances. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is the largest of its kind and is home to a dozen different companies, including the New York City Ballet and the New York Philharmonic.

What are New Yorkers like?

New York is home to many races and ethnicities but the four largest ethnic groups in New York City are Whites, Hispanics, Asians, and African-Americans. Half of New Yorkers speak another language aside from English and more than 200 languages are spoken in the city.

New Yorkers are typically busy people who are always in a rush so it’s no surprise that most visitors to the city think that they are rude. One thing is for sure though, they are brusquer that people from the Midwestern.

If asking for directions, avoid people who are on their phones or who have headphones on because they are busy and probably won’t be too receptive. Look for someone who isn’t preoccupied and ask your question straight away.

A Few More Trips for Your Trip to New York

Before we close this guide, here are a few more tips which you’ll find valuable during your trip to New York with the family.

Check if restaurants have an “A” rating

Diarrhoea is a common problem when travelling and trying out new food. When in New York, only eat at restaurants which have an A rating from the NYC Health Department. A non-A rating means that the restaurant does not possess a clean kitchen or have had infractions on their cleanliness rating. Street food, however, does not have ratings so use your judgment when evaluating the quality of food. 

Give New York enough time

New York is massive and the city alone is so big that you need to spend a minimum of 3 days to fully enjoy the main attractions. If you want to explore the city without being rushed, 5 days is more appropriate but if you have more time, make it 7. This way, you’ll have more time to see the outer boroughs too.

Don’t obsess about the main tourist attractions

You don’t need to do everything just for the sake of doing it. A lot of people go to New York overwhelmed and they are compelled to see and do all the major attractions, but even people who live in New York will be the first to tell you that you will NEVER see everything. Instead, you should consider what you actually want to see rather than ticking off a list some people posted on the Internet.

Research ahead

You don’t have to empty your bank account to afford a New York vacation with the family. If you do your research ahead to know which museums you can get into with a suggested donation, where to stay that is both safe and affordable, and when is the best time to book your tickets, you could end up even being under your budget.

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