Planning a New York City family vacation is exciting because there are so many unique things to do in the Big Apple, and there are some things you can do to keep the trip free of stress. Avoid frazzled nerves for everyone by choosing activities that interest each family member. Try some new foods, but make sure family favorites are available, especially if any family members are picky eaters. Also, set up a combination of planned activities and unscheduled time to keep things moving at an easy pace.

How to have a stress-free NYC vacation

  • Look for Photo Opportunities
    Dean Drobot/

    Pictures of your family vacation to the city make inexpensive, unique mementos of the trip. A trip to New York City provides plenty of photo opportunities, and the photos make keepsakes your family can enjoy for years. Plan to include some daytime or nighttime images of the New York City skyline. Expect to find chances to capture snapshots of the skyscrapers and city lights from different angles. Also include images of places you visit.

  • Set Up a Home Away from Home
    Robert Cicchetti/

    It’s important to set up a home base at your vacation rental home that helps keep everyone at ease when the comforts of home are close at hand. Choosing a good vacation home is one way to achieve that level of comfort. Look for a place that’s in quiet neighborhood. This is especially helpful if your family is used to a serene lifestyle. With kids, hungry often equals cranky. So it’s smart to rent a vacation home with a kitchen so you can cook the kind of food your kids are used to, and you can stock the cupboards and fridge with familiar snacks.

  • Make a Plan for Navigating the City Before You Go

    Spend some time reviewing maps ahead of time to determine the distance to things you want to see and do. Also, check maps to learn about subway access and bus routes for things that are farther away, or familiarize yourself with other forms of public transportation used in the city, like Uber rides and taxis.

  • Schedule Family-Friendly Activities
    Stuart Monk/

    Plan a few things to do, and confirm the hours at your chosen venues. If your kids are younger, consider the proximity of places to eat family-friendly meals around your chosen activities. Consider the length of time it takes to complete activities or tours for young kids who tire easily, and include a mix of high-energy activities for older kids. These are things like skating if it’s winter or watching a play in an air-conditioned theater on a hot summer afternoon.

  • Leave Unscheduled Time in Your Itinerary
    Rudy Balasko/

    Leaving some free time in your schedule is one way to maintain a relaxed pace. That way, if you find something unplanned you want to do, you can enjoy it. Plus, if someone gets tired and needs a nap, it’s easy to fit in your day.