Our Whistle-stop Tour of New York City With Kids Part One: Getting There

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New York with Kids Series poster

Our trip to New York City happened almost by accident. We had decided to look at heading to Cancun in Mexico for our summer holidays and on researching how to get there, and realising that there were no direct flights at the time of year we wanted to go, we figured that the most efficient way was with a stop in a US city.

Cities such as Charlotte, Dallas and Atlanta seemed to be popping up as the most common routes.

We discussed the possibility of not just changing flights and heading straight down to Cancun but leaving the airport and spending a few nights in whichever city we stopped in.

When we both thought about which US city we would most like to spend a few nights there was no question it was New York. A quick Google search showed that there were direct flights from Dublin to New York and from New York down to Cancun and so our New York adventure began!

This three part series will look at how we got there, where we stayed and ate and finally what we did and saw on our brief visit to the city that never sleeps.

New York with Kids Series poster

Getting There

Clearly, the only feasible way to get to New York as part of our summer holiday was to fly. There are plenty of options to get from Dublin to New York but as we also wanted to get from New York to Cancun as part of the same trip we used the Skyscanner app to do a multi-city search. After we played around with a few dates we finalised our flights using United Airlines and booked directly on their website through SkyScanner. If you have never used Skyscanner, it is amazing for putting together DIY trips or just to do a search on the best deals on flights to where you want to go. Not sponsored – just a happy user.

It was great to have just one booking for all our flights. We ended up flying out early morning on a Friday in late July 2019 from Dublin Airport to Newark Liberty (which is actually in New Jersey but just outside New York City). We spent the weekend in New York before flying down to Cancun, from Newark Liberty again, on the following Monday evening. With the time difference, this gave us 3 nights in New York and almost 4 full days to explore.

Our experience of United Airlines was good. I sent them a query about our flights home as we had a tight transfer through Washington Dulles and to help us through it they upgraded three of our four flights on our booking from economy to premium economy. The Dublin to New York flight was the one that they didn’t upgrade but we really appreciated the gesture, especially since we didn’t even ask them to do it. It put them in a really positive light before we even got on the plane.

There was a lot of excitement on the day we flew. It was our kids’ first time leaving Europe and having any sort of major time difference. They were eager to experience jet lag (bless their innocence!). Check-in was busy but smooth. We had tried to check in on the United app before we headed to the airport but it didn’t seem to work for which they were very apologetic. The kids were given some “wings”, to clip on their top, while we waited in the queue which was a cute touch.

As we were traveling from Dublin we did US pre-clearance at Dublin airport. This is such a fantastic service to have. The US customs staff were super nice to the kids and we proceeded to our boarding gate without issue.

We were flying on a beautiful modern Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner and I have to say it was amazing! There was a really modern entertainment system with more movies and TV shows then you could ever need and the windows could be dimmed via electronics rather than pull down blind. All very fancy!

As a morning flight, we were served a cooked breakfast, there were complimentary drinks and, later on, a little snack.

United Airlines Breakfas
A traditional airline breakfast

Even though we were well and truly in steerage (row 55) it was a really enjoyable flight. This is coming from someone who does not like flying.

Row 55 United Airlines Dublin to Newark
Back in steerage

The only fly in the ointment was landing. We touched down in Newark Liberty airport well ahead of schedule only to have the engines roar again as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac and we were taking off again. As a nervous flier, my anxiety hit the roof, my poor son beside me also became anxious and eventually said he felt sick and as we grabbed the sick bag he was sick, thankfully getting most of it in the bag until he accidentally dropped the bag and we had vomit everywhere. It certainly distracted from the go-around the flight was now doing back to Newark, where thankfully we landed about 15 minutes after the first touch down.

We certainly arrived into New York City with a bang!! I think we can take the “New York, New York – so good they name it twice” slogan and amend it to “New York, New York – so good we landed twice!”

Getting into Manhattan from New York Liberty Airport

Safely on solid ground, our first challenge was to get from Newark Liberty Airport to our hotel which was situated in Manhattan. We had researched loads of options and finally decided to arrange a private transfer. If I’m honest it seemed very expensive at $135 (€120) each way but I can tell you now that after a 7-hour flight and a vomiting child I have never been so happy to just get in a car and be driven to the door of our hotel. At that moment I would have paid hundreds!

We used a company called NYC Perfect Transportation and the clue is in the name, they were perfect. There was an optional meet and greet service that they had added on to the booking (an additional $25) but we decided to leave it there and it worked brilliantly. Our driver Peters was literally at our luggage carousel when we got there. The car itself was a big comfortable Chevrolet and was lovely and air-conditioned as the outside temperatures were hot and humid.

If you don’t want to splash out on the luxury of a private transfer you can just grab a cab at the airport if you are a party of 4 or less. A cab from Newark to Manhattan is approximately $55 so for us, who needed two cabs, it would have been $110. At this point our private transfer didn’t seem like too bad value.

There are some public transport options. You can get an express bus from Newark airport into Manhattan where it will drop you at Grand Central Station, Bryant Park or Port Authority Bus Station. The Express bus would have cost us only about $50 but we would have had to figure our way from our drop off point to the hotel (an hour walk away) by either subway or source two cabs. There is also an Airtrain from the terminal that will take you to other station where you can transfer to a New Jersey Transit train into Penn Station. A final option is to use one of the many shuttle services that offer shared transfers via minivan.

One of the final nails in the coffin for our use of public transport was the reviews I had read of the Express bus and some of the shuttle services. Suffice to say they were not good. Just take care to research your options fully before proceeding and if you are more than four travelling have your arrangements made in advance.

We arrived at our hotel without any issue having had a really pleasant trip with Peters who pointed out some of the landmarks as we got closer from New Jersey into Manhattan. It was like a mini tour as we navigated the streets of Manhattan to be deposited at the door of our hotel in the Upper East Side.

New York City Skyline
New York City on the horizon

Part two gives the low down on where we stayed and where we ate during our whistle stop tour of New York City.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. We booked and paid for every aspect of this trip ourselves. We were not asked to write this post by anyone and all opinions are mine and my family’s.