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Planning New York City trip - practicalities(44 Posts)
Thinking about a trip some time next year to New York (me, DH, DC who will be 7 and 10) - got lots to go on in terms of what to do there, but got some questions about some practicalities:
*When’s best to go*: I’ve googled lots about this, and looked at holiday weather websites, but still note sure what the summer weather is really like. The holiday weather sites say the average temperature in July and August is 25C, which doesn’t seem too bad at all, but all the guides say it’s boiling hot and unbearable. What’s summer really like? Or how about Easter / April time? Other option would be October half term.
*Where else to visit*: thinking we’ll stay over in the States for a couple of weeks, given the cost and time involved in getting there, with one week in NYC and another week somewhere else. Any recommendations? Wondering about Boston or Washington - any other ideas? Don’t want something a flight away really.
And any other practical tips welcome too!
We went in January a few years ago. It was very cold, so cold that some flights were grounded. What makes it worse is the way they have built streets in a grid system. It means the cold wind blows right through, with no buildings in the way to create a natural wind break.
Summer, if it's 25 degrees it's warm. But with no airflow if that makes sense? So the heat becomes very humid and stifling.
Sorry I can't really recommend a good time to visit, temperature wise. I'd rather be warm than cold though!
We went end of October - it was just brilliant. Warm enough to sit in a bar in sunnies and a t shirt during the day but chilly on an evening.
We went with our DCs (older than yours - 13 and 18yrs) and booked a house in New Jersey that gave us 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms plus reception rooms. It's was a great experience as the DCs didn't have to share and we either had breakfast in the house or a local diner and then travelled into NYC by the double decker commuter train. We had all day in the city sometimes including dinner or we came back to provinces for a restaurant or we self catered. It was ideal as the trains ran until about 2pm so we could do a Broadway Show plus dinner and not worry about getting back.
Plus we could easily travel to other major cities when we got bored of NYC.
New York then train up to Boston would be nice or vice versa, October time is nice, it’s lovely seeing all the Halloween decorations around that time too.
May half term or October half term.
October time would mean you were there in the fall season too if you wanted to do a bit of a drive round the Boston area, we drove down to cape cod from Boston for a night was stunning scenery
Summer is super humid, so would avoid main school holidays if possible, or go at very end. Easter or October would be good. You can get train to Washington or Boston easily, probably more for kids in Washington but stay in Georgetown rather than downtown. Fly into one and out of another. You could probably do both over 10 days if it’s easiest with school half terms.
NY weather is notoriously changeable- I’ve been in April and had snow but also had a 90 degree heatwave in May! I would avoid high summer as it’s usually sticky/humid and mid-winter due to the cold but other than that, it’s impossible to accurately predict NY weather even one day to the next so I’d go for whenever works with school holidays etc.
For a two center holiday DC and Boston are both great cities, I would plan to fly into NY and back from the other (or vice versa if cheaper) and take the Amtrak in between. My personal preference is for DC but only because we know it really well (DH used to live there) and I second advice to stay in Georgetown, however, Boston is lovely in the fall so would go for Boston if you pick October. I’d also be wary of DC temperatures in high summer, I was there mid-Sept (and then travelled up to CT via NYC for a wedding on the train) and it hit 95 degrees so far too hot to wander around outdoors (at least for me anyway)!
Hard to tell. For example I have been several times and in April it was absolutely freezing while in October didn't need a coat!
NY can be very hot and humid in the summer. New Yorkers escape to the Hamptons for a reason!
I would actually start in Boston. You can drive to Cape Cod for a beach holiday, and visit the lovely small towns, then go back to Boston and do the Freedom Trail and museums in Boston. You can also see the whales on the very steady catamarans out of Boston Harbour which is a fantastic trip. Or do these locations the other way round. It is also worth taking children to Plimoth Plantation which recreates where the Pilgrim Fathers settled. It’s excellent.
Then get the rail to NY. Boston to Ny is about 4 hours but there are quicker express trains.
NY does of course have lots to do. Washington DC ditto but highlights are more museum based. I like all three cities but I would choose NY and Boston plus Cape Cod . This would be great for 2 weeks right at the end of August.
I used to live in NYC and I would say expect it to be cold (or even fucking freezing), from Dec-Apr. Then the summer, which is from Jun-Sept is boiling hot - like 90 degrees and very humid hot. Personally, I think the best times to visit are the May and Oct half-terms. Any other time is a gamble - you may get lucky - but it could be either sub-zero or roasting. Boston and Washington DC are basically the same (although Boston is even colder than NY in winter).
As for what to see - with a 7 and 10 year old I'd say 3-4 days in NYC is enough as it's not actually that great from a kid's POV. Given the choice of a 2-destination holiday I'd probably go with Washington, because the museums are amazing and some of them are kid-friendly. The Air and Space Museum, for instance, is amazing at any age and the monuments and the walk around the Tidal Basin are lovely. Plus you can go and see the White House and all kinds of iconic stuff. The other alternative, if you're brave and go in summer, would be to do NYC plus a beach area like Cape Cod - that would be a nice mix of city + beach/relaxation. HTH.
Thanks very much everyone - this is really useful.
So how cold is April? Surely not quite as bad as proper winter? The only problem with May and October half terms, which do sound ideal, is that the trip would only be a week (not taking the children out of school - and DH is a teacher, so gotta be back for his work in any case!).
I went in mid August and found it lovely! I'm not a massive heat/sun person so was worried but found a lot of the buildings provide shade and I loved just walking around in shorts and vest top and not worrying about coats etc. It was quieter too because I assume New Yorkers leave the city in August. The evenings were nice too but just be warned of heavy rain in the evenings. I've never seen rain quite like it!
April will be nice but you might have the odd cold day. As everyone has said, rule Summer out as it’s uncomfortably hot and humid, unless you’re doing a beach component, but you should be ok at Easter.
I would also agree that DC is more appealing than Boston, especially for kids. Georgetown is the best place to stay there.
One thing you might consider is spending the entire time based in New York City but hiring a car so you can get about the area. No, you don’t need one at all if you’re just planning to stay in Manhattan, but if you fancy getting out to the boroughs and having a snout round, and the coastal areas, then it’s brilliant fun. Driving in the city isn’t as scary as it sounds and you can see and do so much more if you have a car. Maybe it’s not something that appeals but just throwing it out there.
I think it depends if the children are into museums or not. I agree that the museums are great in Washington but there isn’t the beach option or whale watching to break up the culture. You can spend day after day in the Washington Museums and Boston has many delights for a few days. It really depends if two cities is what you want or a two week trip at the end of summer and you fly back from NY. It’s ok right at the end of August/ beginning of September we found. Air con everywhere of course.
Washington is a lovely city, full of history (full of American history), great museums, Georgetown is quaint and full of little chi chi restaurants, but nothing would induce me to spend time in sweltering DC in August.
Boston otoh has lots to offer (especially for children) and isn't quite as reminiscent of the hob of hell. That is where I would go.
The New Jersey coast (Shipsbottom) is not that far away.
As others have posted the summer can be extremely muggy.
I would not hire a car in NYC! It took me about a year to pluck up the courage to drive in the city - and the first time I did it was on a Sunday (the quietest day of the week). Take the subway or overground trains if you want to go to the Bronx Zoo or visit Brooklyn. Seriously!
How cold is April? Depends. It can be cold and snowy or it can be mild - there is really no way of knowing which you'll get - but if you want some guaranteed warmth I would recommend doing NYC + Florida, which is very easy to do if you get a cheap Jet Blue flight down there. Beware doing Disney at Easter though - it's the busiest time of year to visit and FGS don't coincide your visit with the US 'Spring Break' holiday.
It looks like spring break is between 3-18 March, so you should be okay!
Thanks. Looking like DH needs to change career so we can go for 2 weeks in May or October!
If the choice were August or April (which I think it is, if we want to go for 2 weeks and don’t want to go at Christmas), I’m guessing the concensus would be April, since everyone is saying how humid summer is?
I would go in April if possible rather than August due to the humidity.
Do not go there at Christmas time; it can be extremely crowded between Christmas and New Year as well as perishingly cold due to the wind-chill.
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