New York City With Kids? There's An App For That

Empire State Selfie 2014

I love traveling with kids – all four of them, or just one or two. My philosophy is that the more you do it, the better you get at it, right? For my most recent adventure, I took my two oldest kids with me to explore New York City. My goal was to let my kids set our super-tourist agenda. They could keep us as busy or as lazy as their 9-year-old hearts desired. I love the city but I wanted them to direct us for the weekend and it was truly an experience to remember.

As I was scrolling through my Amtrak app and checking out the dozen or so trains leaving Boston and heading into Penn Station, I realized that smartphone apps would be my ticket to a smooth weekend in the city. For just about anything you might need to help make your weekend perfect, there’s probably an app for it. Charge up your phone and check out these must-have apps for your next trip to the Big Apple with (or without) your kids.



Don’t let the New York subway system scare you away! HopStop makes it almost too easy to take public transportation. Do you want the subway? The bus? Or a combination? Enter your destination and let the app find your location and give you a series of public transportation options to get you there.  Do you want to get from Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building? HOPSTOP will give you four options, their estimated times, and the cost – Subway Line D or F, Bus M5, or take a taxi. Once you pick your route, the app will give you step by step directions to get you to the subway and on the correct train. It’s foolproof!


If you’ve got bags or tired kids, perhaps the subway is not your thing. Sometimes you really just need a taxi or, better yet, a fairy godmother to wave her wand and pick up you and your tired cherubs. Fairy godmothers are hard to come by in NYC but the next best thing might be Uber. Uber can get a bad rap in some cities but in New York, Uber drivers are required to register with the city and will have that designation somewhere on their vehicle. Uber is better than a taxi for so many reasons. Once you have the Uber app on your phone, just click on your Uber icon and a list of available Uber vehicles in your area shows up almost immediately. Once you pick a car, you can expect your driver in a matter of minutes. As a mom, my favorite part about Uber and kids is the seatbelts! Can’t find those in a yellow cab… Once you have an Uber account, your payment information is also securely stored so all transactions you make with your driver are done electronically – no cash, no swiping credit cards. It really couldn’t be easier.



As my kids and I were walking around the city, one of us would suddenly realize we were really, really hungry. Trust me when I tell you that there is absolutely no shortage of food options in the city but knowing where to go or where to find food for special diets can be a little bit tricky. Enter Yelp. When I needed a meal fast and I needed a restaurant that happily served gluten-free food for me and my daughter, I would simply type in “Gluten-free” into my Yelp app and search nearby. Almost instantly, I would get a list and a map of nearby restaurants that serve gluten-free food. I could quick scroll through the reviews, check out a menu and see the location on a map. We ate really, really well all weekend long – some of the best gluten-free meals I have had in a long time thanks to Yelp. Looking for a great coffee shop? Ice cream? Chinese food? Yelp will tell you where to go.

Open Table

Open Table has helped me in many cities. Enter how many people you have eating dinner (or lunch or breakfast) and what time you would like to eat and search nearby. Up pops a list of restaurants with available seating for your party. Open Table also links to menus and customer reviews to help you get a feel for the restaurant, food, and pricing. With one click, you can make a reservation and know your table will be ready when you arrive.


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