I have been to NYC several times in my life, but never with kids. TOTALLY different world with kids.
When we got off the train at Penn Station I quickly realized how different NYC was from Philadelphia and how while I was a single chick cruising the streets I felt wild and independent darting and weaving through the crowds, fighting for my place at street crossings, and walking fast and with purpose at all times... this is not the case for a mom with kids.
I had the stroller. Michael had the luggage. Jonah had his hand on Michael's pocket and the train station was NOTHING when compared to the streets. We made it up the station stairs and headed toward our hotel. The streets were jammed. Up and Downtown are not the same as Midtown, but we came to NYC to see a show and so I'd booked a Midtown hotel. Everything about Manhattan is insanely crowded, and no one in New York has time to be courteous. You can't blame them. You simply can't say "excuse me" 3,000 times a day. You just move where you need to move and do what you need to do to get where you want to be.
It was raining.
Jonah took a LONG time to figure out that walking fast was serious business and that he did not have time to play "don't step on a crack" at 42nd and 5th. The stroller was an adventure in and of itself. Puddles collect at the ends of the handicapped entry ramps at every street crossing and to avoid them you've got to take the time to pop a stroller wheelie and people just do NOT want to wait for you. People aren't used to looking for little people when avoiding collisions, and so you've got to be proactive in protecting your kids.
That first run to the hotel was the worst - especially since our room wasn't ready when we got there and we had to check our bags and go back out onto the streets. Neither of us is as familiar with NYC as we are with Philly so we didn't really know where to go in the rain and cold when we'd planned to hang at the hotel awhile. We ended up at Applebees, which was prices the same as it is everywhere else in the U.S., thankfully, and though Maeryn lost a blue balloon to the ceiling gods in the restaurant, it was a nice lunchtime excursion.
Our first day in New York was sort of a wash. We walked around a lot, just trying to get our bearings and figure out how to do kids in this city. There were other moms with strollers and kids - but they just DID IT. They were street tough moms who knew the ropes and were out to keep their kids safe. I was impressed and tried to take cues from them. By this morning I was doing pretty well.
We ended up at the NYC Public Library near dinner time, where we found the children's area and Jonah made a BUNCH of little friends and played for over an hour. All of the parents were locals and I asked one of the moms for a good place to eat that was reasonable for the family. She sent me to Bryant Park. We had sort of meandered our way through the little place on our way to the library and thought about ice skating, but skate rental is $12 (skating is free - so if you have ice skates, bring them!) per pair, so we balked since we were running out of funds. The moms at the library directed me to the nearest McDonalds. Michael and I opted not to eat dinner in order to save some cash, we got the kids their usual faire, and then headed back to the hotel.
The Comfort Inn Times Square is very small. It would be awesome for one or two people. But not four. NOT kids. Nice place. Clean. Friendly. NOT good for kids. WAY too small.
We met Hanniel, a former student and now good friend and NYC resident, who volunteered to babysit Maeryn (thank goodness!) while Michael, Jonah, and I headed off to Mary Poppins on Broadway. It was great to see Hanni, and GREAT to be headed to a show with our five year old.
The play was magical and fun and well worth the money. Jonah, who is VERY emotionally sensitive, was not afraid for one minute and was totally into the entire thing. He fell asleep before the finale, but got to see most of the story (barring Mary Poppins flying over the audience for her final exit - which was really great to watch) and will talk to you about it for hours if you ask him.
Just for the record, if you are planning a trip to NYC, a Broadway show is a MUST DO. I don't care how much money the ticket costs (if you don't care much what show you see, find the TKTS line in Times Square and rush tickets for cheap the day of), it is worth it. Do note, however, that children under four are not permitted in Broadway houses and if your son or daughter won't be able to sit through it, don't bring them. Don't think "oh, maybe even though they can't do the same activity for more than five minutes including a kids program on TV they'll sit through this expensive and fantastic Broadway play. Don't bring them. If your kid is going to sing along, don't bring them (though some actors ask for the audience to join in and some matinee performances expect it and even encourage it) - though it's cute for them to know the songs to Mary Poppins or the Little Mermaid or what have you, it is not cute for the people in front of the child who paid over $80 to hear a Broadway star sing it - not your adorable little munchkin. It's not a Wiggles concert or even an adult rock concert. It's a Broadway show. No singing along. Please.