Whether you’ve got one day or one thousand to explore the city, there’s no way you’ll see everything in New York; it’s kind of like Ikea that way (only with better meatballs). But don’t despair—we’ve mapped out three itineraries jam-packed with sights, bites, and, yes, even a few moments of rest perfect for both time-crunched tourists and natives in need of kid-friendly calendar-filler.
Day One: Central Park
According to the fairy tale, Goldilocks only found one porridge to her liking, but you’ll find three–served “Baby Bear,” “Mama Bear,” and “Papa Bear” style, with various combinations of honey, raisins, bananas and fresh cream–at Sarabeth’s, a cozy city chain beloved for its baked good-heavy breakfasts and award-winning jams. Once fortified, hit the Central Park Zoo for a veritable ark of animal attractions amidst a verdant perennial garden. Stop by the Delacorte Musical Clock on the hour to watch a whimsical display, and don’t miss the crowd-pleasing sea lion feeding at 11:30 am.
Central Park has more playgrounds than the Duggars have children, so chances are you’ll have to choose just one or two to visit out of the 21. But the most popular jungle gym in the park might be José de Creeft’s Alice in Wonderland sculpture (on the east side, at 75th Street).
Pack a picnic lunch from a nearby deli and settle in for a nosh on the Sheep Meadow (a lush 15-acre pasture now home to more domesticated animals like sunbathers and Frisbee aficionados) before hitting “Museum Mile,” the stretch of 5th Avenue between 82nd and 105th Streets so nicknamed for the staggering amount of art densely packed within its 23 blocks. Get lost in the Met’s vast wings of European paintings… or just spend an afternoon resisting the urge to use the spiral of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as one big twisty slide.
When you’re done, indulge in 5th Avenue’s other historical hallmark: shopping. Sure, there’s always the flagship Saks, but we suspect the kids will clamor for a trip to iconic toy store F.A.O. Schwarz–even if they’re too young to associate it with Tom Hanks’ killer floor piano routine in Big.
End the day with dinner at Serendipity 3, an Upper East Side institution with an extensive American menu that’s sure to placate even the pickiest of your progeny, not to mention a specialty that’s spawned a fanatical following–the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.
There’s a reason Andy Warhol once called Serendipity his favorite sweet shop–but then, he never got to sample the Wonka-esque wares at Dylan’s Candy Bar around the corner, another worthy dessert destination.