New York City with a 9-Year-Old Boy

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We had not had a vacation since before COVID struck. We were in desperate need of a vacation. But where to go? We had a too-young-to-be-vaccinated child. We did not want to fly anywhere. We decided to visit some of my family and my best friend in Connecticut. Considering how often we get up that way – especially since with stops it’s about a 16-17 hour drive – we decided to stop in New York City for a few days as well. One reason was that we felt more confident with the vaccine requirements for restaurants up there than places closer to home.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find things to do with a boy in NYC when you don’t have a lot of time and don’t want to spend a fortune. There’s plenty to talk about with stores or plays that girls want to see. But when you’re trying to stay socially distanced as much as possible, it can be hard. We had three days. Here’s a few things that we did.

Statue of Liberty

This was wonderful! The last time I’d visited the Statue of Liberty, she’d been taken apart for repair. So getting to see the original torch, heading up into the Pedestal section, and then getting to see Ellis Island was wonderful. Our son really enjoyed it. He loved hearing the stories of immigrants, seeing how high up we were – even though we couldn’t go all the way to the top, and learning and seeing the pieces of the statue up close to really understand just how large she really is.

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Make sure you order your tickets from Statue Cruises and not someplace else. I was warned several times by folks that there are some fake places to buy from. To make sure I was ordering from the correct place, I started out from the National Park Service website and went from there.

Know that if you are climbing into the statue, you are CLIMBING. The elevator is only for folks who have disabilities. Those of us who are just middle-aged still have to walk. I felt better not being the only one who needed to stop a couple times for a breather. It’s 162 stairs. That’s more than 10 flights of stairs.

American Museum of Natural History

My son had first heard about this place from a Wild Kratts episode a few years back and it’s been on his bucket list ever since. They were having an amazing showing of different minerals and geodes that he just loved. The blue whale is awesome and the planetarium is great.


Download their app. It made finding the bathrooms and different displays a lot easier. The app included such detailed information when telling you where to go that it would describe the pattern on the floors as you were walking. Very helpful. Also, there’s a nice little spot next to a restroom that has a film on a loop. Good place to sit for a few minutes when you’ve been walking for hours.

FAQ Schwarz Private Tour

This was something that my best friend treated us to. She met us in NYC and introduced us to Toy Soldier Roy who was AMAZING! He was by far my son’s favorite person he met on the trip. We met Roy before the FAO Schwarz store opened to the public and Roy told us the history behind the store. He gave us a great personal tour of the store and our son even got to raid the schweet shop. This was our son’s favorite part of the trip. At the end of the tour each participant also got a small FAO Schwarz bear and, of course, each of us has named our bear “Roy.”

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I didn’t even know you could do this. So it’s good to have a friend who knows things like this. 🙂 Seriously though be prepared to have fun. Make sure everyone doesn’t have a hole in their sock because you also get to dance on the Big piano. After the store is open, understand that you WILL need to also buy a toy because you can’t do a tour of a toy store and then tell your kid they can’t buy a toy. It is also good to have a couple of adults so that if there is a toy you want to get for Christmas, one of you can go buy it sneakily while the other is watching the kid watch all the wonderful demos.

Other Fun Things

Surprisingly, our son really enjoyed seeing the artwork in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We also played with the sound in the arches in Grand Central station (go to the Oyster restaurant and stand diagonally at the arches. Then whisper or talk into one arch and the diagonal person can hear you as if you’re inside the arch), we went to the LEGO store, and also paid $10(!) for an ice cream cone from an ice cream truck. We did a few other things, but those were some of the highlights.

General Tip:

If you have a picky eater like us, Shake Shacks are everywhere. We did a couple meals where we bought him a hamburger, fries, and a shake then we got to go to a real Italian restaurant and eat wonderful food. (Our son commented at one place that they didn’t even provide real napkins, just big pieces of cloth, that made us all laugh and realize we need to eat at nicer restaurants).