Cheap Family Vacations in NYC: A Resident’s Insider Guide
Cheap family vacations in New York City? You’re surprised, huh? Never considered New York City as a destination for this? Well, unknown to many, the big apple is an ideal destination for just
that! The big apple is home to several million children, not to mention a few more million child visitors. As a result, New York City really caters to kids! What makes my suggestions for an affordable trip to New York City unique? Just about every entry has been personally tested. I live here and I’ve done it all! You can benefit from my experiences which will arm you to plan awesome family holidays in the greatest city!
GREAT CHILDREN'S BOOKS ABOUT NYC FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
Before you leave for New York City (and while you are planning cheap family vacations), why not peak your children's interest in the big apple by reading them a great book about it? Read before you go and/or on the flight/drive? Or if they are old enough, give them a book to read on their own! You can borrow the book from your library (why not? after all we're building cheap family vacations) or buy them discounted at Barnes and Noble, by joining the Kids’ Club for FREE, and save 30% off your first book Also, if you are an AAA (Automobile Association of America) member, you can save at Barnes & Noble too.
Here are some suggestions for your cheap family vacations:
Froggie Went A-Courting: An Old Tale with a New Twist by Marjorie Priceman
Larry Gets Lost in New York City by John Skewes
Next Stop, New York City! by Patricia Reilly Giff and Blanche Sims
New York State of Mind by Billy Joel
Statue of Liberty by Lucille Rech Penner
The Brooklyn Bridge: New York City's Graceful Connection by Vicki Weiner
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
The Nutcracker: A Story and a Ballet by Ellen Eichenwald Switzer
Wow! New York City: Imagine a City Built with a Paper Clip by Puck
Eloise at The Plaza by Kay Thompson
From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
In New York by Marc Brown
Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle
Count on the Subway by Paul Dubois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender
Zoom! Zoom! Sounds of Things That Go in the City by Robert Burleigh
CREATE YOUR OWN CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS PACKAGE DEAL!
Looking for a memorable, completely unique family vacation? Let the experts help you! I am listing the folks at New York City Vacation Package because they are the ONLY group devoted solely to NYC. And…their prices are extremely reasonable and fair! Their negotiable prices with hotels and sightseeing places can equal cheap family vacations for you!
Check out their Cheap Family Vacations Package Deals here. The great thing is that they know NYC inside and out, they understand kids and families, and know what works and what doesn’t. You don’t have to tell them what kind of room works for families—they KNOW! You can tell them about the kinds of sights you'd like to see, and the ones that don't interest you. In addition, they will suggest family outings that you may NEVER have considered. It's a great way to use someone else's expertise and let THEM do the work for you! One step further to well-planned, interesting, and fun cheap family vacations!!
Visiting during the holidays? Check out their unique holiday and seasonal package deals including
Christmas Holiday Walking Tour, Breakfast with Santa, and Insider's VIP Thanksgiving Day Parade Party Vacation!!
WHERE TO SLEEP FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
Cheap family vacations in New York City start with great sleeping accommodations. There are plenty of options that are just perfect for families.
1. Be sure to subscribe to MY BLOG AND DAILY DEAL as I’m always sharing great deals for hotels and other sleeping accommodations! I'll arm you with lots of ways to create cheap family vacations.
2. SUITE HOTELS are an ideal choice for families as they provide the additional room that families need. Check out my detailed list of super suite hotels complete with great tips for traveling with kids. You'll be amazed at the low prices and awesome amenities. Cheap family vacations!
3. VACATION APARTMENT RENTALS offer an enjoyable and budget-friendly alternative to staying in a hotel. These are great options for cheap family vacations. You’ll find well-equipped, beautifully-furnished apartments in great areas. You can't put a price on an available kitchen--it will save you lots of money and you'll appreciate the convenience. The reasonable prices will truly surprise you. Check out my great listing for families here.
4. RENT A TIME SHARE IN NYC! Now hang on--I'm not suggesting that you sit and listen to a sales pitch--I'm talking about just renting one from an owner (the guy who DID listen to the pitch). NYC time shares are usually quite luxurious, offer super amenities, and are priced more competitively than hotels--especially if you rent by the week. Check out my recommendations here. Another great option for cheap family vacations.
6. Check out ALL OPTIONS FOR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS here.
Yes, you can have cheap family vacations in New York City beginning with great accommodations!
WHAT TO DO
GREAT MUSEUMS FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES
New York City is filled to the brim with fantastic museums.
Here are the best choices for kids and families along with
discounts and saving opportunities that will add to your planning cheap family vacations. Want to bring the cost down of YOUR vacation? Visit these museums on their free days, buy one of the three discount attraction passes which give you free entry to most of the museums, or use one of the discount tips provided next to the museum of your choice. All these steps will help ensure cheap family vacations.
AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Central Park West at 79th Street
This is the largest museum of its kind in the world. Kids will love the giant dinosaur skeleton that stands five-stories high, the incredible programs tailored to their levels, the mammals exhibit, the IMAX theater, and the 94 foot blue whale hanging above the Hall of Ocean Life. Have your kids log on to the museum’s children’s website in advance to get them excited about their visit!
1-Download the free iPhone or iPod touch APP here or borrow a preloaded iPod touch at the museum! It will help navigate, tour, highlight, find, share, teach and explore!
2-Consider enrolling your 6-13 years old in A Night at the Museum, the museum's wildly popular sleepover experience.
3-Check out the museum's vast array of family programs in advance of your visit.
General Admission: Adults: $22, Children (2-12): $12.50, Seniors/Students: $17.
Most people don't realize that the admission price is actually a 'suggested' price. Translation: pay what you wish!!! However, if you, your wife/husband, or your family plan to visit many of special exhibits, it pays to become a member. Many of the special exhibits cost extra per person. There are many levels of membership. If you become an individual member for just $105, or a family member for $140, your admission includes unlimited admission to museum and the special exhibitions plus all sorts of extras. You will save a lot of money by becoming a member. In addition, most of the fee is tax deductible.
If you are a member of the New York Hall of Science, or another science museum ANYWHERE, click
here to see if your card shares reciprocal benefits that allow you free entrance to this museum. Many do. Click here to learn more about the ASTC Passport Program.
Show your Cool Culture card (CoolCulture.org) and gain free admission!
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN
212 West 83rd Street
Between Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue
The museum has great hands-on exhibits for children of all ages. Permanent features include the playroom for children 4 and under, the Winnie-the-Pooh play land sandbox, puppet theater for kids to perform shows, and computers. Check the schedule for special daily activities as there are lots of them. This is one of those places that your kids will never want to leave. Spending the day here makes for really cheap family vacations.
Regular Admission: $12 Adults and children, Seniors $8, Children under 2 are free.
Show your Cool Culture Card and enter for FREE.
On the first Friday of every month admission is free from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.
If you live in NYC or visit frequently consider becoming a member and enjoy a huge number of benefits.
As always check your wallet for membership cards. If you are a member of any other children’s museum in the United States or Canada (as part of the reciprocal membership program), your admission is absolutely FREE. Now that really adds to cheap family vacations!
Show your Entertainment Book coupon, and you can buy one ticket and get the second ticket for FREE making for cheap family vacations.
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS
182 Lafayette Street
Between Broome and Grand Street
The Children’s Museum of the Arts celebrates the visual and performing artist in every child through teaching, collecting, creating and exhibiting children’s art. Its goal is to unleash the artist in every child in New York City. It’s an incredible place to take your kids! You’ll find an amazing open art studio where your child can explore painting, collage, and sculpture through self-guided art projects, a performing arts gallery, where children of all ages can use their imaginations and creativity to invent an original theatrical performance, play stations where children are encouraged to see, touch, and manipulate a variety of things to stimulate their artistic imagination, wonderful exhibitions designed to encourage conversation about art, and much, much more! Your admission fee covers all workshops and materials, and children are encouraged to take their creations home (that’s what your refrigerator is for!:>). Another great stop for cheap family vacations.
Regular Admission: $11 per person, 1 to 65 years old, Under 1 and over 65: Free.
Visit on any Thursday, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and you can pay whatever you wish!
A family membership makes sense if you live in New York City and/or plan to go often. An annual family membership fee of $250, $135 of which is tax deductible, entitles you to a host of benefits.
Show your Cool Culture Card and enter for FREE.
Take advantage of lots of free programs and workshops on Governor’s Island during the summer, Friday through Sunday, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Employees of Bloomberg and Base enjoy free admission when displaying an employee ID card.
FDNY FIRE ZONE
34 West 51 Street
Located at Rockefeller Center, next to Radio City Music Hall
The Fire Zone is New York City's state-of-the-art fire-safety learning center. You can learn about the power of fire, climb on a real fire truck, try on bunker gear, meet a firefighter, feel a "hot" door, and learn to crawl through a smoke-filled hallway, even in the dark. Learn to identify hazards in your home, and help your children participate in making an escape plan. You'll gain first-hand experience in respecting fire and learn what to do in an emergency. In addition, a firefighter and facilitator bring groups through a multimedia fire-safety presentation every hour on the half hour.
Regular Admission: general admission is free. However, the fire-safety presentation is $6.00 for adults and children; and $2.00 for seniors (60 and over).
Show or buy your New York Pass and admission and the fire safety presentation are free!
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
This is certainly one of the greatest museums in the world. However, it’s huge! My advice is to select one or two exhibits at most for each visit. My son and nieces always enjoyed the Costume Institute, arms and armor, musical instruments, and the Egyptian rooms. My son really began an interest in art by going a few times a year. I made it a point to read to him about the exhibit before visiting and I made sure to go armed with knowledge. Tours are very useful for developing an interest in art too. Contact the museum in advance of your visit and check out their listing of all children’s activities and their calendar events. I recommend that you select one of the daily family activities, free with admission, for your visit. It's also useful to download their free map and some publications to help educate your kids about the museum and specific exhibits before and after your visit. Here are some fun things for your kids to do and learn from.
For kids older than about 9 years old, consider taking one of the many free tours given throughout the day. You’ll have the expertise of an art historian who can introduce you to specific exhibitions throughout the museum. We take one every time we visit. This is a perfect place to keep on track for cheap family vacations.
General Admission Adults: $25, Seniors (65+): $17, Students: $12, Under 12: free.
If you intend to visit often, consider becoming a member. You'll enjoy free unlimited admission to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters museum and gardens, members-only emails with advance notice of exhibitions, programs, events, and special offers, access to the exclusive Members Dining Room, 10% discount in The Met Store, plus seasonal double discounts, discount on audio guides and museum parking.
The admission chart says “SUGGESTED” admission. So, pay what you wish, don’t be shy! I’ve seen people pay .25 for admission!
Children under 12 years are free when accompanied by an adult.
All New York City public school students, along with students from Bard Graduate Center, Barnard College, Columbia University, and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, may visit the museum for free.
Admission ticket includes same-day entrance to The Cloister Museum & Gardens.
Show your Cool Culture Card (CoolCulture.org) and gain free admission!
Show your Bank of America card and receive FREE admission on the first full weekend of every month!
TIP: Take advantage of all the free daily museum tours led by art historians! Most of the tours last an hour and will enhance your enjoyment and understanding of art and any special exhibit. I just took the introductory museum tour and found it to be fascinating. After the historian explained each piece, I came away with a much greater understanding and appreciation of what we viewed together.
NEW YORK CITY FIRE MUSEUM
278 Spring Street
Between Hudson and Varick Streets
The New York City Fire Museum is a great find! It is a particularly great destination for children, and especially boys. The energetic firefighter volunteers who staff the museum communicate their enthusiasm and are extremely inspiring. Feel what it’s like to be a real firefighter as you try on the heavy firefighter outfits and pose for pictures by their trucks. You’ll see fire trucks, old hose carts, artwork, uniforms, historical fire fighting equipment including pre-civil war hand pump fire engines, horse-drawn engines through early motorized engines, and much, much more. The second floor is a moving dedication to 9/11 and serves to honor all its heroes. For groups of 20 and more, you can experience a fire safety simulation where visitors experience the feel of a real fire in a NYC apartment complete with smoke, lasers, and black lights.
Regular Admission: Adults $8, Seniors, Students and Children $5.
Remember that admission price is ‘suggested,’ so if you cannot pay the fee, feel free to pay less.
If you live in NYC or visit frequently, consider becoming a member. Membership plans are extremely affordable, support the museum’s great work, and provide you with a host of opportunities.
NEW YORK CITY POLICE MUSEUM
100 Old Slip between Front and South Streets
New York, New York
The New York City Police Museum is a great place to visit with children and families. All young boys, and many young girls, dream of becoming a policeman or policewoman. After all, New York City is home to the largest police force in the world. With artifacts that date all the way back to the Dutch settlers, visitors can discover the impact of the NYPD over the last three centuries. Visitors will learn the the reason that police precincts around the nation are marked with green lights outside their doors, why officers are called “cops,” why their bosses are called “brass,” and which came first, the Model T or the Highway Unit! Hear the moving stories of officers responding to the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, and learn how the NYPD now works beyond the borders of New York City to ensure the safety of every citizen. Check out all the great offerings for kids including the Junior Officers Discovery Zone complete with a real police car and fingerprint station, and very interesting family programs.
Regular Admission: $8 adults, $5 for children, seniors and students, children under 2 are free, members of service are free.
Show your Cool Culture card (CoolCulture.org) and enter for FREE.
If you become a museum member, you’ll get unlimited admission to this museum and other museums participating in the reciprocal membership program. This is a GREAT deal when you consider the other participating members such as the Intrepid Museum (expensive), the New York City Fire Museum, and many more!
If you are a member of any museum that offers reciprocal benefits, admission is free. Check this list, narmassociation.org, as it includes many well known institutions that you MAY already be a member of!
Be sure to subscribe to my blog and daily deal for unannounced discount deals to this museum and others!
Columbia University students, both undergraduate and graduate, enjoy free entry when displaying their school ID with validation sticker.
Buy the Downtown Culture Pass and gain free admission. The pass grants adults, teens and children unlimited admission for $30, $15, and $5, respectively, for three consecutive days to participating museums. The participants of the program are the M.O.A.F., the Fraunces Tavern Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the National Museum of the American Indian, the N.Y.C. Police Museum, the Skyscraper Museum, the Tribute W.T.C. Visitor Center and Wall Street Walks.
If you are a member of The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Fraunces Tavern Museum, The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, The National Museum of Crime & Punishment, The Studio Museum in Harlem, or The Museum of Chinese in American--Admissions is FREE!
Show your AAA card (Automobile Association of America) and receive a discount.
MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE
36-01 35 Avenue
Astoria, Queens, New York
Located in Astoria, in the borough of Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is the only museum in the United States dedicated to exploring the art, history, and technology of the moving image. It reopened in January 2011 after an extensive renovation and expansion, showcasing a sleek, modern design, a new 267-seat theater and 68-seat screening room, new lobby, shop, and café, a major new gallery and much more. So, this is an ideal time to visit.
Regular Admission: $12 adults, $9 senior citizens and college students with valid ID, $6 children ages three to eighteen. Paid admission includes tickets to daily film screenings and exhibitions, except for special ticketed events.
Plan to visit on a Friday evening, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, when admission is FREE. Separate screening tickets must be purchased during these free hours.
Teachers with valid ID enjoy free admission.
Free admission for NYU students with current ID.
Active-duty military personnel enjoy free admission.
Show your Cool Culture card (CoolCulture.org) and admission is free.
If you live in NYC or plan to visit a lot, consider becoming a member. Admission is free all the time. Membership starts at just $75 per year and includes lots of perks such as 20 free screenings per year, invitations to film previews, unlimited free admission to the Museum’s galleries, access to special insider events and more!
WFUV members enjoy discounted admission.
Check out Schooltix as they often offer discount tickets.
THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM
Corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street
This is another great family destination that is particularly good for children and train enthusiasts. Our son, who was a HUGE TRAIN ENTHUSIAST, absolutely loved this museum. It is housed in a historic 1936 IND subway station and features 19 restored subway cars and other exhibits. It offers exhibits devoted to urban public transportation history, the development of the greater New York Metropolitan region through the presentations of exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops dealing with the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation. Your kids will love the age-appropriate education workshop and computer resource center. Every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30, programs for young transit fans are offered free with museum admission; a great addition to cheap family vacations. Their website isn’t always up-to-date, so you can to call them for their children and family calendar at 718-694-1792.
The New York Transit Museum also has an annex museum in in Grand Central Terminal that presents changing exhibitions. It addition, your family will enjoy their annual Christmas model train exhibit.
Regular Admission: Adults: $7, Children 2 – 17: $5, Senior Citizens (62+): $5, Seniors visit free on Wednesdays, Members: Free.
If you live in NYC or plan to visit often, consider becoming a member. It’s extremely affordable, includes all sorts of perks including unlimited visits, 10% discount at the Transit Museum Store.
Show your Columbia University ID Card and admission is FREE!
ROSE CENTER FOR EARTH AND SPACE
(Located at the American Museum of Natural History)
Central Park West at 79th Street
General Telephone Inquiries: 212-769-5100
Reservations by Telephone: 212-769-5200
The Rose Center for Earth and Space is housed within the American Museum of Natural History. You’ll find the Hayden Planetarium with highlights including (but surely not limited to) The Star Theater: one of the most technologically advanced Space Theaters which uses high-resolution full dome video to show its famous space shows and is narrated by actress Whoopi Goldberg; The Big Bang Theater which demonstrates the birth of the universe; The Cullman Hall of the Universe which demonstrates four distinct zones: Universes, Galaxies, Stars, and Planets.
There are numerous programs designed specifically for families and children. Plan to visit those particularly suited for children ages 5-12 and their families. They provide an interactive gateway to the wonders of the museum and a hands-on, behind-the scenes look at its science. Every major field of museum science and research, from anthropology to zoology, is represented. Children, accompanied by adults, can explore an array of artifacts and specimens, puzzles, and scientific challenges. Activities for older visitors are located on the upper level. Parents should take a look at the amazing variety of science and nature programs available to educate children ages 2 through 12 and their parents about the wonders of the museum. Check out their programs and activities listings for kids and families. The Planetarium presents a monthly lecture series, quarterly parties, and special events including the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. Attendance at one of these programs may advance your child’s interest in science. Lastly, we always enjoy eating lunch in the cafeteria. The variety of available food is wide and the kids enjoy the planet cookies! You can easily spend the entire day in this museum.
Regular Admission: it’s not widely advertised, but the admission fee is SUGGESTED only. So, you can pay what you wish. (A suggested admission fee can only be paid in person, not online) Adults: $22, Children (2-12): $12.50, Seniors/Students with ID: $17, Members: Free.
Suggested Admission plus more: If you choose to pay what you wish AND would like to attend a special exhibition, IMAX film, or Hayden Planetarium Space Show, you can do so by adding $25 per adult, $13.50 per child, and $20.00 per senior or student to the amount you wish to pay for general admission. This is the cheapest way to enjoy all activities at the museum.
SuperSaver Admission: includes admission to the Museum and Rose Center for Earth and Space plus all special exhibitions, IMAX films, and the Hayden Planetarium Space Show. If you purchase SuperSaver tickets online, you’ll pay a service charge of $4 per ticket. Adults: $35, Children (2-12): $22, and Seniors/Students with ID: $28.
Museum Plus One Admission: includes admission to the Museum and Rose Center for Earth and Space plus one special exhibition, IMAX film, or Hayden Planetarium Space Show. If you purchase these tickets online, there will be a service charge of $4 per ticket. Adults: $27, Children (2-12): $16, Seniors/Students with ID: $22.
Metro-North train riders can purchase discount round-trip rail tickets plus discount admission to the museum and one space show in the Hayden Planetarium: adults, $23; seniors/disabled/individuals receiving medicare and students, $17.50; children 2-12, $14; children under 2, free; AMNH member adults, $11.50; AMNH member children, $7.00.
If you are resident, plan to visit often, or even bring a large family, you should definitely considering becoming a member. You’ll enjoy all sorts of perks and will make for real cheap family vacations.
SONY WONDER TECHNOLOGY LAB
550 Madison Avenue at 56th Street
Phone Number: 212-883-8100
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab is a must for all families and kids. As you might expect, the lab is a highly interactive, multimedia destination that allows visitors to experiment with high-tech toys. Your specially issued ID card, coded with your name and pictures, is inserted into each of the activities. Upon exit, you’ll receive a personalized certificate noting all of the activities that you completed during your visit. You’ll enjoy a myriad of special exhibits, FREE screenings of top movies (including special ones for children) in their 73-seat high definition theater, lots of very unique workshops and exhibits, and much more. The best part is that admission to the lab is free always. Another great destination for creating cheap family vacations together.
WHAT TO DO FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
GREAT SIGHTSEEING ATTRACTIONS FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES
There is a vast array of awesome sightseeing attractions for you and your family to enjoy. Click the link and start a dialogue with your family about what interests everyone the most. Have each family member select one outing!
WHAT TO DO FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
GREAT ZOOS FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES
New York City has 5 fantastic zoos. Each boasts its own special features and uniqueness. Check out all zoos here. These pages include visitor and discount tips. Enjoy!
FUN AND CHEAP EATS FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
The best way to ensure a successful family meal is good food
that you know your kids will enjoy, fast service, good prices, and fun surroundings to entertain the kids while the food is cooking. I’ve listed a bunch of great options to help make fun and cheap family vacations. Consider the following too:
1. Register your name for free at the sites noted here and receive daily deals for many of these restaurants and ways to score cheap family vacations.
2. Subscribe to my free Blog and Daily Deal for up-to-the-minute deals on great restaurants. I guarantee that you'll find multiple opportunities for savings for upcoming cheap family vacations!
4. Treat yourself and the kids to the “Best of” foods around New York. These wallet friendly options include the best pizza, delis, burgers, hot dogs, and super food trucks! These are fun places which wll add to enjoyable and cheap family vacations.
GREAT RESTAURANT OPTIONS
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer
529 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
48 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that this place is not cheap (but it won't break the bank)--but I simply had to include it in the family section because the burgers are fantastic, but, most importantly, the shakes are beyond anything you've seen. I guarantee you that your kids will oooo and ahhh over the shakes. Beware: the lines are insane (really) and the restaurant is small. Get there FIRST THING.
519 Hudson Street at 10th Street
Head to this rodeo of a restaurant for delicious, festive Southwestern cuisine. Kids can order quesadillas or catfish fingers, corn dogs, and more from their own menu. The famous "Frito Pie" consists of Fritos covered in chili and cheese. Don't miss their ice cream shaped like a baked potato! The menus is good and varied and seems to offer something for everyone. The fence which surrounds the outdoor tables feature giant wagon wheels, there is a general store, and drinks are served in boot-shaped glasses.
Ellen's Stardust Diner
1650 Broadway at 51st Street
This retro 1950s-themed diner is filled with cool memorabilia and features a professional singing wait staff and variety shows. You can watch videos of 1950s shows on authentic television and via their ‘drive-in-theater’ screen. You’ll find typical diner food that features interesting names from the old television show characters. Kids will enjoy the experience. While I don’t consider their menu ‘cheap,’ it is reasonably priced and I’m listing it because it’s a great family destination and lots of fun.
198 Avenue A
Empire biscuit serves up flaky, delicious biscuits 24 hours a day! You and the kids will enjoy an endless variety of toppings, homemade jams, and butters (how about French toast butter?) and two different kinds of biscuits. There is also a variety of specialty sandwiches such as "The Kiki" which includes chocolate & caraway butter with coffee jelly, or make your own creation! All the choices and the great quality makes this place so much fun and a superb choice for cheap family vacations!
Hard Rock Café
221 West 57th Street
Between Broadway and Seventh Avenue
Located in the heart of Times Square, this is a classic Rock n' Roll-themed restaurant. You’ll find loud music and rock memorabilia from the Beatles, Billy Joel, Madonna, and Elvis, to name a few. The restaurant features 708 seats and a 1800 square foot Rock Souvenir Shop. Menu features lots of burgers, BBQ, sandwiches, salads, a variety of Fajitas, mac and cheese and more. Discounts:AAA (Automobile Association of America) members save 10% on food, alcohol-free drinks and merchandise at the Hard Rock Café.
Hill Country Chicken
1123 Broadway at 25th Street
Love fried chicken? You'll find it here along with great pies (more than 12 flavors), sliders, biscuits, mac and cheese, a great children's menu, and good comfort food at great prices. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jekyll & Hyde Club
1409 Sixth Avenue
Near 57th Street
Offering a standard American menu, the Jekyll & Hyde Club provides as much entertainment as food. It’s like Halloween all year round with incredible special effects, interactive characters, pictures with moving eyeballs, interesting waiters and waitresses—there is always something going on!
1600 Broadway in Times Square
An all-day Times Square cereal bar and a wall of automat-style cabinets! But, this is not just any cereal bar. It's been created in partnership with Anthony Rudolf, of the former Per Se Restaurant. Besides the cereal, it should be tons of fun for the kids: while you'll order and be greeted by people, you'll receive a buzzer that tells you what cabinet to go to to pick up your order. You'll find your cereal but it may be accompanied by a newspaper or a toy or a temporary tattoo or tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton.
Prices are $7.50 for large bowl and $6.50 for small which all incorporate Kellogg’s brand cereals as the base, plus fruit, nuts, herbs, and various powders and seasonings. Guests can also create their own cereal bowls from the lists of available options. Cereal sundaes made with Blue Marble soft serve are also available, plus coffee and tea.
188 Allen Street
Between East Houston and Stanton Streets
This restaurant is centered around, you guessed it, sausages! You'll find a fantastic mix of varieties with all sorts of meat that is covered with a variety of toppings on a pretzel bun(!). Some examples include a shrimp-and-scallop sausage topped with cherry tomato relish and creamy dill mustand ($8.50), andouille sausage covered with fennel apple relish and truffle mayo ($8.50), a vegetarian option of eggplant and fennel sausage covered with pepper relish and black garlic mayo. For the cheapest option, try a beef frank ($2.50) with any of the many toppings. The pretzels are delicious for just munching. The shop also serves Brooklyn Beer and pricier brews. Fun!
40 Grand Street
Love cats and kittens? This is the place for you! A chic and lively haven where rescue cats find forever homes—and you can enjoy quality beverages and fresh baked goods. Enjoy cat-shaped pancakes and other breakfast/brunch treats, sandwiches, pastries from Balthzar and afternoon tea. Also features great special events for kids and adults: Movie time, Story Time, and Cats on the Mats which translates to Yoga surrounded by cats!
100 Stanton Street
Awesome grilled cheese!
54 Prince Street
Between Lafayette and Mulberry Streets
Enjoy any of 12 mac styles here, with a dish that is sure to please kids and adults including "Mac Lobsta." All the options add to a fun outing and cheap family vacations!
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
Between Allen and Orchard Streets
200 Ninth Avenue
1462 Second Avenue
Casual, simple and absolutely delicious meatballs that appeal to everyone, especially kids. Select your own cookies and ice cream to make the perfect ice cream sandwich for dessert. Soda, wine and beer are available. This is a small restaurant so get there early to avoid lines. I love this place.
The Melt Shop
601 Lexington Avenue
Telephone: 212-759-MELT (6358)
55 West 26th Street
This restaurant caters to the kid inside everyone by serving a few childhood classics, while also appealing to the mature palette with sophisticated variations of the world's most famous sandwich.
140 West 57th Street
Between 6th & 7th Avenues
Located in the heart of Times Square and within walking distance to more than 25 Broadway theaters, Planet Hollywood displays great Hollywood memorabilia and props from famous movies. The placemats feature movie trivia questions and there are huge screens throughout the restaurant that feature movie clips and close ups of diners. Birthday celebrators will see themselves on the big screens throughout the restaurant. We had a ball here. The menu offers everything from burgers to salads to sandwiches to pasta and pizza.
Pommes Frites (Belgian Fries)
123 Second Avenue
Between 7th Street and St. Mark's Place
A small, unassuming shop serving fantastic paper cones of Belgian-style fries in three sizes with 30 sauce options! Not sure which sauce you'd like? No worries, enjoy as many free sauce tastings before you buy! This is a great find for cheap family vacations!
225 East 60th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
Serendipity is most famous for its outrageous desserts and drinks including their frozen hot chocolate! They also feature a regular food menu and the kids will enjoy their 12-inch hot dogs. The restaurant is housed in a quaintly decorated townhouse and has an adorable little gift shop. Get their EARLY! The lines and crowds can get ridiculous. Although this restaurant is not technically 'cheap,' I am including it because it's a lot of fun.
Shake Shack Locations: Click the link below for their many locations
The Shake Shack offers surprisingly delicious food at reasonable prices. Operated by Danny Meyer (of Eleven Madison Park, Union Square Café and Tabla), you can select from a vast array of burgers, fries, drinks, and seasonal specialties. No waitress service and extremely casual. This is a great destination for cheap family vacations.
Sigmund's Pretzel Bar
29 Avenue B
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
The artisanal pretzel, yummy on its own or as a sandwich base in more than 10 flavors, including jalapeno cheddar, garlic parsley, and more! You can even get a hot dog on a pretzel--fun for the kids! Serves dinner and brunch!
345 East 12th Street
Between First and Second Avenues
You’ll find any variety of mac and cheese here including regular, multi-grain, gluten-free, reduced lactose, and even vegan! You can order “A sampler” which includes a small portion of All-American, 4 Cheese, Cheeseburger, La Mancha, Cajun, Napoletana, and lpine, Parisienne. Parents will enjoy the opportunity to order beer and wine too! The varieties are fun and the food is yummy which makes it ideal for cheap family vacations.
Sticky's Finger Joint
31 West 8th Street
I have never met a child, let alone an adult, who didn't like chicken fingers. So, why not get the best? Sticky's Finger has created about 30 different versions of fingers, offered on a rotating basis, along with 15 sauce choices. There are side dishes and basic sodas too! Prices are great.
The Dumpling Man
100 St. Marks Place
A small counter top and takeout shop, The Dumpling Man makes handmade savory and sweet variety dumplings. All served with yummy specialty sauces.
The Kati Roll Company
49 West 39th Street
Between 5th and 6th Avenues
99 MacDougal Street
Between Bleecker and West Third Street
These delicious warm paratha rolls are stuffed with marinated meats, melted cheese, and savory Indian spices. You'll also find 12-ingredient chopped, organic salads with a choice of three dressings.
FANTASTIC CANDY STORES FOR CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
New York City is home to some of the most amazing candy stores anywhere. Think Candy Land meets Willy Wonka--heaven. Here are some of my favorites. A visit to any of these will result in huge smiles on your children's faces, and on your's too. Add at least one of these to your fun, cheap family vacations itinerary.
Dylan's Candy Bar
1011 Third Ave
Dylan’s Candy Bar is THE fantasy candy store for kids and parents alike! It carries over 5,000 kinds of candy ranging from standard gummy worms, gummy bears, peach rings and cola bottles, to wacky gummy teeth, killer gummy sharks and gummy brains. You can also find novelty and nostalgic candy, including Wax Lips, Pixy Stix and Pez. You’ll find great chocolate, chocolate covered pretzels, popcorn, fruit, nuts, well, you get the picture. It’s owned by Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph Lauren. If you’re in NYC, this is a must stop for your cheap family vacations! I hate to admit but this place is NOT cheap. I'm listing it just because it's plain fun. Economy Candy, listed next, IS cheap--great for cheap family vacations.
108 Rivington Street
In business since 1937, you’ll find hundreds of kinds of chocolates, candies, nuts, dried fruits; including halvah, sugar free candy, New York-themed candy, old-fashioned candy, novelty items, and the prices are reasonable. This place is filled to the rafters with candy—heaven on earth!
10 Fulton Street
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Avenue of the Americas
234 West 42 Street (Madame Tussaud's)
This candy store chain has taken NYC by storm. There seem to be outlets everywhere. You'll find just about every candy type, size, and shape that exists. How about the largest gummy worm ever? Maria Sugarpova candy, novelty gift items, bulk candy, Marilyn Monroe candy, and sale items (yeah!).
380 Broome Street
Between Mott and Mulberry Street
Gorgeous, delicious hard candies made with into unusual shapes and with unique shapes in the center. Watch the video above to get a real idea about how these candies are made.
The Sweet Life
63 Hester Street at Ludlow Street
Toll free: 800-692-6887
The Sweet Life has a huge selection of gourmet chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, licorice, gummy, candy, Jelly Belly beans, Glitterati candy, Halvah, sugar free candy and chocolates, European candy (from all countries), lollipops, organic dried fruits and chocolates, Puntini candy, gourmet fudge. They dip just about everything into chocolate, and why not!:>
Coco Le Vu Candy Shop
202 East 110th Street
Visit the recently opened Coco Le Vu Candy Shop where they are serving up 500 different types of candy, as well as fruits dipped in chocolate. The 2,550 square foot shop will includes space for birthday parties and other events.
Hershey's Times Square Store
Between 48th and 49th Streets
Although this is a bit of a tourist trip, it's still a lot of fun to check out if you are in the area. You'll find all the yummy chocolate, stuffed animals, boxes of chocolate, and cute gift items. This NOT a big store (like M & M's World) and the prices are not great -- it's just fun to look around.
M & M's World
Between 48th St & 49th Streets
If you like M & Ms, this is the place for you. It's HUGE. Besides the candy, you'll find lots of merchandise. Although it's a little too commercial, it IS fun all the same.
UNIQUE DESSERT SPOTS
New York City features some of the best, delicious dessert spots! I highly recommend that you try at least one. Prices are good and will add value to cheap family vacations.
10Below Ice Cream
10 Mott Street
132 Allen Street
42 1/2 St. Marks Place
10Below Ice Cream is New York’s first ice cream shop that serves Thai-inspired ice cream rolls. It's nothing odd-don't worry--it's how it's prepared. They servce completely fresh, made-to-order ice cream. They roll each individual ice cream order with the freshest ingredients right in front of your eyes, meaning no preservatives or stabilizers are added. It’s fresh off the plate. They turn liquid cream to ice cream in under two minutes. Using an advanced cold plate that reaches temperatures well below -10°F, the ice cream produces smaller ice molecules to make it naturally smoother and creamier, eliminating the need to add in additional fat and emulsifiers to create the same rich, creamy texture we love in ice cream.
All I can say is "yum."
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar
203 East 10th Street
This is a small, elegant restaurant that is devoted to serious dessert food. You'll find a 3-course dessert menu for $16. This is not a casual place to bring kids. But, if your kids are old enough to sit and relax, this will be fun. If your kids are too young and they can't sit, sail across the street to the Dessert Club, owned by the same group, for a cupcake, cookie, or sundae—all just as delicious!
379 Grand Street (Cash only)
Between Essex and Norfolk
220 West 23rd Street (Cash and Credit Cards)
Between 7th & 8th Avenues
This is one of my favorite places! This places turns out the most delicious yeast, cake and filled doughnuts anywhere. Wide variety of flavors, beverages, and you'll find delicious ice cream in the summer. A great place for cheap family vacations.
111 Mercer Street
This brightly colored shop boasts some of the best cupcakes anywhere-seriously. You'll find Valrhona chocolate cupcakes to salted caramel to bubblegum pink vanilla. This shop has been featured on TV many times and has had their own television show. Discounts: mention the flavor of the day (found on Twitter) and that cupcake is free!
Milk and Cookies
19 Commerce Street
A dessert shop featuring homemade cookies served alone and in ice cream sandwiches. You'll also find beverages, brownies, bars, cupcakes, and custom cookie dough to take home!
Momofuku Milk Bar
251 East 13th Street
Between 3rd and 2nd Avenues
561 Columbus Avenue near 87th Street
15 W. 56th Street near Fifth Avenue
Inventive sweet treats known for their crack pie and cereal milk soft ice cream.
5 Carmine Street
Popbar makes its pops from fresh, high quality ingredients that produce a very delicious product. These are not the paper-wrapped pops that you buy in the grocery store! You'll find pops that are made from gelato (ingredients are imported from Italy), sorbet, and yogurt. They are Kosher, and gluten and preservative free. The flavors are unbelievable. Your family will enjoy the experience of walking into this delightful store and selecting something special. It's just a lot of fun.
102 St Marks Pl
(between 1st Ave and Ave A)
Puddin’ is a serious sweets shop serving up rich, delicious, creamy pudding goodness. Puddin’ sources the highest-quality goods for its signature dessert, toppings and cakes! Mix-and-match from seasonal and seasonal flavors and numerous housemade toppings—including crushed graham crackers, salted caramel sauce, dried cherry compote and sprinkles!
362 West 45th Street
An amazing array of cookies and flavors ranging from the usual to maple bacon with toffee and sea salt. Most popular are their ice cream sandwiches that are made with delicious ice cream paired with homemade cookies.
Spot Dessert Bar
13 St. Marks Place
Delicious desserts with an Asian flair. Menu changes with the season and all concoctions are very unique.
New York City provides a huge assortment of playgrounds, all FREE, adding to cheap family vacations in
New York city. Every parent knows that kids need time to run, play and to "blow off steam." Your kids will be delighted to explore the many parks that offer a wide variety of play equipment while featuring different themes. Park playgrounds open daily at 7:30 am and close at dusk. Given that these are free, this is certainly perfect for cheap family vacations.
Here are 3 of our favorites.
The Ancient Playground, located just north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and despite it’s name, it offers a modern array of playing equipment that feature different themes(ancient Egyptian, rustic, etc), slides, tunnels, sand box, bucket, tires and strap swings, as well as two 2 different water features. Your biggest problem will be getting your children to leave this playground. Playgrounds make for fun and cheap family vacations!
Seventh Avenue & Central Park South, from 61st to 63rd Streets
After running around the climbing structures and rubber safety surface of Central Park’s largest playground, kids can cool off with circular spray-fountain areas connected by elevated water channels that double as walkways. Another addition for cheap family vacations!
Pier 6 Playgrounds/Brooklyn
With a spectacular view of Manhattan, and 5 different playgrounds, this is a great destination for all. There are two-story slides and huge climbers, 10 swing sets, a 6,000 square foot sandbox, a marsh garden, and a water-jet play area in a boulder like grotto. Enjoy an on-site brick-oven pizza place with ice-cream nearby. On summer weekends, the ferry to Governor's Island leaves Pier 6 every 30 minutes!. Log on to brooklynbridgepark.org/park/pier-6 for more details.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FOR REALLY CHEAP FAMILY VACATIONS
Taking public transportation is a great way to save money during your visit to New York City. In addition, most kids love taking the subways and buses. It's a real treat for them. You'll find the kids begging to take the subway, creating real cheap family vacations.