8 things to know about visiting New York with kids in 2022

Parenting

From fun things to do in NYC with kids to new hotels, restaurants and weed vendors (they’re everywhere!), here’s what parents should know about the Big Apple right now.

Considering a trip to New York with the kids in 2022? As always, there’s tons for families to do in New York. But a few things have changed over the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

1. There are new places to visit and stay

While the world stayed home in 2020, property developers were busy making New York a city visitors would want to return to.

A bird's eye view of Little Island in New York City

Little Island is on the west side of Manhattan, near Chelsea Market. Photo: Michael Grimm

If your kids need to run off excess energy, head to Little Island, a free public island park (within the larger Hudson River Park) that opened in May 2021. There’s tons of space to run around, not to mention stunning gardens, a central plaza with seating and snack bar, and breathtaking views of the city and the Hudson River.

A family looks out over the Manhattan skyline from a glass viewing box at Summit One Vanderbilt.

Along with incredible views, Summit One Vanderbilt also offers an immersive art experience. Photo: Summit One Vanderbilt

There are a handful of different high-rise observatories in New York, but Summit One Vanderbilt, which opened its doors to the public in October 2021, definitely stands out, offering unparalleled views and a somewhat thrilling experience (there’s an optional glass elevator!), not to mention tons of Insta-worthy photo opps. Kids under five are free, but if you’re travelling with a baby, note that strollers must be folded. Consider a baby carrier instead.

The interior of Margaritaville in New York City with a giant Statue of Liberty right in the middle of the dining area.

Margaritaville Resorts Times Square is a tropical paradise in the middle of New York. Photo: Kim Shiffman

Welcoming its first guests in July 2021, Margaritaville Resort Times Square is a fun spot for families, with its upscale but playful beachy vibe, multiple restaurants, ultra-clean, comfortable guest rooms and ideal location (theatres, restaurants, shopping and Times Square are all nearby). After a long day in the city, enjoy a drink by the rooftop bar while your kids splash around in the heated outdoor pool.

2. Some places now require reservations

In the Before Times, you could arrive at an art gallery or museum whenever you wanted, buy tickets and walk in. These days, in an effort to control crowds to manage the spread of COVID, many popular tourist attractions ask visitors to purchase tickets in advance and to arrive at a specific entrance time.

The Sept 11 memorial museum in New York City.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is a popular tourist attraction for families with older kids (children under 7 are free). Guests must purchase tickets in advance, which includes a specific entry time. Photo: Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company

Buying tickets days or weeks in advance requires a bit of itinerary planning, but you’re a parent—you’re not scared off by a little planning! Consider a CityPass, which lets you buy conveniently bundled tickets to popular attractions.

3. The restaurant landscape has changed

The pandemic forced dozens of once-loved small businesses to close their doors—especially restaurants. If you were planning to add all your old favourites to your family’s itinerary, check online first to avoid disappointment.

The interior of Johns of Bleeker Street restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village

Johns of Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village is a kid-friendly spot that’s been around for almost 100 years. Photo: David La Spina/NYC & Company

Of course, plenty of new restaurants have cropped up around Manhattan over the past year, too! Here’s an up-to-date listing of restaurants in New York. If your toddler isn’t used to restaurants yet, try these tips for ensuring your restaurant experience doesn’t suck!

4. Flying to New York is better now

There are brand new terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. A well-designed, modern airport with solid food options and strong safety measures makes travelling in and out of the city so much more enjoyable. Plus, for those in the Toronto area, Porter Airlines offers direct flights out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is a much less chaotic experience than Pearson.

That said, no airport can make flying with little ones completely stress-free. Try these tips for keeping your kids entertained on the plane.

5. COVID rules vary depending on where you go

Actors from the musical Come From Away sit in chairs on stage while an actor dressed as a pilot talks on the phone.

Come From Away is a Broadway show with Canadian roots, and is recommended for kids 10 and up. Photo: Michael Murphy

These days, it’s smart to always have a mask in your pocket (and a few extra masks for the kids in your bag). But be aware that COVID-related rules aren’t consistent across the city. For example, at Broadway shows, ticket holders must be masked and show proof of vaccination (at press time, anyway—the policy is subject to change). The same goes for The Ride, the popular bus-tour-meets-theatrical-experience. On the other hand, you can shop around Times Square and get a bite to eat with no mask at all. At some establishments, only non-vaccinated guests are asked to mask up.

6. Weed is everywhere now!

In September 2021, New York legalized cannabis for recreational use, and the city is now dotted with weed stores on street level, as well as parked trucks selling cannabis and accessories. You might even notice folks selling pre-rolled joints on the sidewalk in tourist-heavy areas, along with knock-off handbags and counterfeit sunglasses.

7. There’s a new mayor and he wants tourists to consider the boroughs

The Wonder Wheel in New York City's Coney Island sits behind a row of booths

Coney Island is located in the southern part of Brooklyn. You can get there from Manhattan by subway. Photo: Brittany Petronella/NYC & Company

In November 2021, Eric Adams was elected the city’s 110th mayor, and among his many priorities is promoting travel beyond Manhattan. He recently announced a campaign encouraging tourists to explore the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

8. The city is as magical as it always was

A wide angle shot of Times Square in the afternoon.

Photo: Brittany Petronella/NYC & Company

There’s a reason New York is such a wildly popular destination for travellers around the world: It’s truly like no other city. If you’re wondering what effect the pandemic has had on the sparkling, bustling metropolis, rest assured the city’s magic and energy are alive and well.

For more information about visiting New York, visit nycgo.com.

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