Emily Lyons and her family enjoy the delights of the Big Apple…

New York might not be the first holiday destination you’d consider with a young family, but if you aren’t daunted by the prospect of trans-Atlantic fl ights then the Big Apple is great for kids. After some careful research we decided to split our time between the trendy neighbourhood of Flatbush in Brooklyn and midtown Manhattan.

The four of us, my partner Nick and nippers Cleo, six, and Sid, one, arrived in Brooklyn one hot steamy August day and settled into our lovely air-conditioned apartment with views right across the ‘burb over to Coney Island.

THREE FUN-FILLED DAYS
We wanted to get to know the neighbourhood and it didn’t take long as the annual street block party was happening right outside our apartment. The road was closed and families gathered together to eat, drink and dance. There was even a magician and face-painting for the kids! Now that’s a perfect introduction to Brooklyn life! We were staying a stone’s throw from Prospect Park, the largest public space in Brooklyn. People come from all the city for picnics, cycling, boating, relaxing and the splash pad! Safe to say, our children loved it and we stayed there for hours cooling off and messing about in the water.

And best of all, it didn’t cost a cent. One of our best days in the city was our visit to Coney Island, just 20 minutes away on the subway. Cleo is a six-yearold thrill-seeker so we headed straight for Luna Park, the legendary amusement park where there’s something for all ages and all levels of bravery! After three fun-fi lled days in Brooklyn, we checked into to our Manhattan base, The Roger Smith Hotel (www.rogersmith. com) on Lexington Avenue, just up the road from The Chrysler Building, for the next leg of our stay. We chose a Midtown hotel because we wanted to be near to Central Park and other attractions geared towards young families.

Central Park is beautiful. We loved the stunning vistas across the Manhattan skyline as we explored the park on bikes. Bike hire is a big thing and the easiest way to get around the park (with young kids) because of its size. There are quite a few hire places offering bikes with toddler seats, so we found the process pretty easy (and surprisingly cheap). In summer many others had the same idea so it was as well we’d booked in advance. There are play areas scattered around the park, along with cafes and a boating lake, rocks to climb and woodland to explore. It is the stunning green heart of the city and somewhere no visitor to New York should miss. Not so well known is Bryant Park, situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan.

There are always lots of different activities going on in Bryant Park and we stumbled across a juggling lesson, open to everyone, all skills welcome and equipment is provided. That kept our kids amused while we had a well-earned sit down. If you are planning to take in some of the many tourist attractions in Manhattan then you would be wise to pick up a CityPASS (www.citypass. com/new-york) offering big discounts on entry and queue jumping.

MEMORY MAKING
One of the attractions included in the pass was The Empire State Building. We wanted to go up at night time and knew it would be very popular but luckily with the CityPASS we were able to skip the queues. So, after two long elevator rides, we were marvelling at the incredible view over Manhattan. Talk about memory making; it was an evening our six year old will never forget. One of the best ways to see Manhattan is to take one of the many sight seeing boat cruises. Also using the pass, we opted for the Circle Line cruise which takes in views of The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and, of course, the breathtaking Manhattan skyline.

You can sit inside or outside on the boat and the commentary is very informative. On the way back to our hotel we walked through Times Square, past Grand Central station and across Broadway. There is always a famous landmark round every corner and that is what makes New York so magical for all ages. Our daughter is a big fan of the fi lm Annie so she was very excited to visit the place where it’s set. On our only rainy day, we headed to the American Museum of Natural History, the setting of Night At The Museum. This place is awesome and you really need more than one visit to take it all in, but what we did see, we really enjoyed. The museum has so many exhibits it can be quite overwhelming so best to take in bite-sized chunks. After that we headed for Hayden Planetarium, which we had pre-booked. It was fantastic.

The lights went down and we laid back in our seats and watched in awe as the wonders of the galaxy were projected overhead. We couldn’t leave without a look at the dinosaur exhibits, the museum has one of the biggest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, including T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Barosaurus and much more. And so our stay in New York came to an end and with our minds full of great memories we head off to Newark airport to boarded our plane back to Manchester. New York is one of the most wonderful places in the world and would never get boring no matter how many times you visit. Quite simply, the holiday of a lifetime.

For all there is to do and see in NYC, visit www.nycgo.com