Our first family trip to NYC! Take a look at our 4 day itinerary, including the food we ate along the way!
Don’t feel like reading? Scroll down to see tons of food photos!!
For Spring Break this year, my family and I decided to take a trip to NYC! Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I had actually never been, so I was super excited to share this experience with my husband and two teenagers!
Before heading up North I spent several hours researching and planning so we could make the most of our 4 days in Manhattan (actually more like 4 1/2 days… we flew out on the 5th day.) I planned our schedule around the two Broadway shows we pre-purchased tickets for (a highlight for my 13 year old daughter). Also, my kids made it very clear that we must visit the Central Park Zoo… they grew up watching Penquins of Madagascar.
The rest of our itinerary focused on first-timer, must-see sights in NYC. As beginners, we tried to just take it all in as we got acquainted with this massive city.
Feeding a Family of 4 in NYC
When traveling with kids (of any age) all parents know it’s crucial to have some idea of where, when and what everyone is going to eat! Therefore, I devoted a big part of my research to food! Our food needed to be highly rated, mostly healthy, appealing to everyone, budget friendly and exclusive to NYC.
To keep our budget and calories in check we mostly stuck to drinking water, sharing entrees and sharing desserts. We also stayed away from fine-dining establishments and stuck with practical, quick, casual places.
We were very satisfied with most of the food we ate. The places we ate at fit in perfectly with the logistics of our itinerary and the location of our hotel. Some of the places were touristy and some were local favorites.
NYC 4 Day Itinerary with Places to Eat Along The Way
If you’re planning a visit to NYC in the future, hopefully you’ll find our experience inspirational and helpful! If not… just enjoy the photos!
Our flight arrived at JFK airport around 10 a.m. We took a NY taxi into Manhattan (not a bad deal… a set fee plus tolls and tip) and were dropped off at our hotel. Fortunately we were able to do early check-in:Hilton Garden Inn Times Square, 790 Eighth Ave., New York, NY
Since this was our first visit to NYC, we chose to stay in Times Square so we would be in the middle of it all and be close to Broadway. We had a positive experience and would definitely stay at the Hilton again. The hotel was clean, quiet and convenient.
After checking in we walked about 4 minutes down the street for lunch at City Kitchen Times Square Food Market, 700 8th Ave. at 44th St.
I discovered that NYC loves Food Markets! They’re a great place to go with kids because you have a variety of vendors to choose from. The food is unique, high quality and reasonably priced.
After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Times Square and Broadway. We decided to have an early dinner at Junior’s so we could beat the evening crowd.
The menu at Juniors is impressive! They give large portions perfect for sharing. My son and husband shared the Roast Turkey meal. Had I known it was going to be humungous, I would not have ordered my open-face tuna melt… which was “meh”.
If the line is too long to get a table in the restaurant, you always have the option to go to the adjacent bakery for quicker service, especially if you’re just looking for the good stuff… dessert!
After dinner, we walked around a little more and then headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep!
Our day started with breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, 1650 Broadway, a 5 minute walk from our hotel.
Yeah, it’s touristy and over-priced, but the waitress’s take turns singing as you dine, so it’s unique and worth visiting once. Plus, you’re supporting aspiring Broadway performers!
After breakfast we set off on our first attraction using the NYC Explorer Pass (great way to save on museums, tours and other attractions.) We purchased the 3-Choice Pass and used it for the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, 9/11 Museum and Empire State Building. In hindsight, we should have purchased the 4-Choice so we could use it for The Metropolitan Museum of Art as well.
We picked up the Big Bus New York Downtown Tour at M&M world and stayed on until the Statue of Liberty (about 1 hour). We didn’t want to take the time to ride the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty, so we took some pictures from a distance and then headed out to take a closer look at Wall Street and the Charging Bull.
About 15 minutes up the street we came upon The Oculus (33-69 Vesey St.), a futuristic looking transportation hub at The World Trade Center. Inside is a shopping mall and food, which we explored for a few minutes. Although we could have eaten there, I wanted to check out a highly recommended spot about 2 blocks away: Pisillo Italian Panini, 97 Nassau Street.
This place did not disappoint. The 4 of us split 2 sandwiches and they were awesome! Seating was limited.
After lunch we headed to the 9/11 Museum. We spent a couple of hours in the museum and then had some quiet time at the 9/11 Memorial (reflecting pools where the twin towers used to stand.)
Early evening we strolled through Chinatown and Little Italy, stopping for cannoli’s and tiramisu in one of the many Italian bakeries. Then we began our 2 1/2 mile walk back to our hotel. (We could have hopped on the subway, but wanted to be out on the streets of NYC instead!)
For dinner we walked a couple of minutes from our hotel to a quiet, charming, small Italian restaurant where we relaxed and enjoyed great service and food: Patzeria Family & Friends, 311 West 48th St.
First thing in the morning we headed to the Empire State Building (recommend 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. to beat the crowds). On the way we stopped in a random pastry/bakery shop for a quick breakfast.
After a couple hours of taking in the amazing view on top of the Empire State Building, we headed down 5th Avenue. We stopped at Macy’s to explore a few of it’s 11 floors and then headed a couple of blocks down the street for lunch at Best Bagel & Coffee, 225 West 35th St.
Since there is limited seating inside, we grabbed our sandwiches and drinks and headed back to Macy’s where there are chairs and tables in an area in front of the department store. In the sunshine, at 40 degrees, it actually felt warm!
After lunch we hopped on the Big Bus New York Uptown Tour (2nd day was free) at Bryant Park. After about an hour on top of the freezing bus, we concluded in Times Square and then explored Rockefeller Center, FAO Schwarz and the Nintendo Store (a highlight for my son).
We had to cut our day short so we could head back to our hotel, freshen up, and eat dinner before our 7:00 p.m. show. For dinner we enjoyed burgers, onion rings and fries at Bareburger, 366 W. 46th St., Hell’s Kitchen.
After seeing Mean Girls (which was awesome) we were ready for dessert, so we walked about 12 minutes to Schmackary’s, 362 West 45th St.
On Day 4 we picked up breakfast at The Food Emporium, a supermarket which was a block from our hotel. We grabbed bananas, muffins, yogurt and drinks and brought it back to our hotel to eat. Then we headed out to Central Park.
We spent a couple of hours at the Central Park Zoo (half of that time was spent watching the red pandas!). In the interest of saving time, we grabbed some chicken fingers and fries at the cafeteria style restaurant at the zoo for lunch. We would have been better off with protein bars from the supermarket!
As we explored more of Central Park, we made sure to see Bow Bridge, the Alice in Wonderland statue, and Imagine Mosaic. We basically just walked and walked and walked! In hindsight, we should have spent the afternoon at The Met instead, which was about an 18 minute walk from the zoo. Next time!
For dinner we had a 5:30 p.m. reservation for Brooklyn Diner, 155 West 43rd St. It was a good thing, because the small restaurant was packed.
I enjoyed a simple light salad, a few bites of my daughters enormous hot dog and yummy Noodle Kugel. The chicken pot pie is supposed to be very good there as well.
After our 8:00 p.m. Broadway show, Be More Chill, it was time for a sweet treat! I promised my kids we would return to Hershey’s Chocolate World, 701 7th Ave, Times Square, so they could get hot chocolate.
For our final meal in NYC, we headed to Westway Diner, 614 9th Ave, about 10 minutes from our hotel. This classic diner offered your typical breakfast items, was reasonably priced, had quick service and was clean. Their lunch and dinner menu looked great as well.
A Recap of Family Approved Places to Eat in NYC:
- City Kitchen Times Square Food Market
- Ellen’s Stardust Diner
- Pisillo Italian Panini
- Patzeria Family & Friends
- Best Bagel & Coffee
- Food Emporium Supermarket
- Brooklyn Diner
- Hershey’s Chocolate World
- Westway Diner