I tend to really overthink things and cause myself unnecessary anxiety when we travel with Nora. How are we going to fit everything? Is she going to sleep okay? Where will she sleep? Can I take food on the plane for her? (Duh!) Is the hotel baby-friendly? What restaurants are baby-friendly? Sometimes this stress is completely unnecessary, and other times, it’s valid.
I think stressing about traveling to New York City with a baby was legitimate — even though we chose to take her there. Now, there are plenty of people who rave that it’s a perfectly baby-friendly city, like the bellman at our hotel who, when questioned about baby-friendly restaurants in the area, responded, “all of them!” Oh fantastic! Let me just pop Nora in her stroller and we’ll head right over to Le Bernardin, then. I wouldn’t call New York City un-baby-friendly, but I definitely think other cities are much easier with a baby in tow.
What makes Manhattan with a baby so challenging? Well, for starters, the people, the crowds. By our last day, it was just easier to let Nora play with her toys in our hotel room rather than battle the crowds with her stroller. And all of those people want to go to the same shops and restaurants that you do. Trying to quickly grab lunch at Pret-a-Manger was navigating a mob scene. And you know how New York City has earned the title, “the city that never sleeps?” That’s because it’s noisy, all the time. All day and all night there are horns honking, sirens blaring — just noise. Nora got that memo loud and clear and partook by not sleeping much herself on our first night.
That said, I think we did quite alright on our brief stay in the Big Apple. Here is a list of where we stayed, ate, explored and shopped (by shop, I mean for things like groceries!) while in New York City, all of which I found to be baby-friendly.
Warwick New York Hotel
Right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Warwick New York Hotel is within walking distance of Central Park, one of my favorite baby-friendly spots in New York City. We find it easiest to stay in a suite when we travel with Nora, and Warwick often has deals on suites on Jetsetter. Take “deals” as a relative term — it’s still New York City, after all. Though the lobby is a little cramped, it’s easy enough to maneuver a stroller through, as are the hallways. The elevators are a bit small but we didn’t have any issues. There’s an accessible entrance on 6th Avenue, which is actually better for coming and going because most other guests seem to use the main entrance on 54th Street. We had a premier suite which was incredibly spacious, with more than enough room for our endless amount of “stuff,” and Nora had plenty of space to crawl. Best of all, there wasn’t much baby-proofing that needed to be done, and nearly all of the furniture had rounded edges, save for the mirrored coffee table. The crib that the hotel supplied was one of the nicer ones that’s actually like a mini crib, not a pack ‘n play.
We liked Bistro Milano so much that we ate there twice. Admittedly, when Nora and I first strolled by, my knee-jerk reaction was that it wasn’t baby-friendly due to the white tablecloths and the fact that I didn’t see any highchairs. But the bellman at the hotel recommended it for dinner, so we gave it a go. It ended up being a great choice. We sat in the outdoor café, the food (Northern Italian) was good and KP and I enjoyed summer sangria (delicious on that particularly muggy Manhattan evening). Stroller space — both for maneuvering and parking — wasn’t an issue. And Nora devoured an entire piece of pizza (sans crust) — a first!
One of my favorite New York City spots, Ray’s was a must for a slice. We didn’t dine in since our hotel was so close by, but you definitely could with a baby. There are several locations throughout the city.
53rd Street Gourmet Deli
Throwing all Weight Watchers caution to the wind, I was determined to get my hands on a proper New York bagel with a schmear. I foolishly bought one from a street vendor and promptly threw it in the garbage after one bite. It tasted like a cigarette-infused piece of cardboard. I wouldn’t allow that to be Nora’s first New York bagel experience. So we popped into 53rd Street Deli for the real deal. Nora and I shared a delicious toasted whole wheat bagel with what felt like an entire brick of cream cheese in the middle. They have more than just bagels, though — it’s a full deli with seating inside and out.
Ernest Klein Supermarket
I was stupidly happy to stumble upon Ernest Klein Supermarket, located just across the street from Warwick New York Hotel. It was one of our first stops to stock up on milk, fruit and cheese sticks. In addition to grocery items, there’s a deli, sushi bar and prepared foods. Silly as it may sound, having this supermarket so close by made my day. You never know what you’re going to need when you have a baby…
Let me reiterate: you never know what you’re going to need when you have a baby… So having not one, but two Duane Reades right near our hotel was very convenient. There are Duane Reades all over the city, though, so no matter where you stay, you’ll probably be covered.
I love Central Park. And I loved it even more after this trip since it was right up the street from our hotel, and I often found myself itching to escape the crowds with Nora. So we spent a morning and afternoon in the park. As always, it was so peaceful to just get away from everyone and everything else and enjoy the calm.
I still love New York City, but now that I have a baby and have experienced it with her, I think it will remain a mom and dad-only destination for the foreseeable future. Sure, it could’ve been worse, but it also could’ve been better. We ate some yummy food and I got to see some friends, but I really don’t know that Nora much enjoyed it, so why bother? I’m pretty sure she thoroughly enjoyed shredding the hotel magazines in our room, though, and for that, I apologize to housekeeping.