First Time USA – Family Travel Suggestions – East Coast Edition

Alice in Wonderland statue

New York.

New York is amazing for kids but busy. If you’re children tend to get overwhelmed, stay in Brooklyn or Harlem (yes, I really did say Harlem) where the streets are less crowded. You’ll have easy access to parks and trains for heading into the city. Avoid rush hour on the train.

There are fantastic Broadway shows for kids and always a couple of options. Any little girl in your life with LOVE Cinderella. Matilda is fun for adults and kids (we went, just two adults!). Sometimes the kids’ diction wasn’t that great and it was hard to figure out the words but the dancing made up for it. Check online for discount codes. Broadway Box is a good site for discount codes, and you can just take the code to the theater to get your tickets to avoid booking fee.

Central Park is amazing for kids. Check out our post on Central Park for kids.

Nerdtastic kids will love the Natural History Museum, which is pay what you wish.

Older kids might enjoy ice skating in Bryant Park or Central Park in Winter.

Kids love NYC firetrucks!
Kids love NYC firetrucks!

Washington DC.

As a kid, I was obsessed with US Presidents. This was back in the day when, even though we lived in New Zealand, our encyclopedias came from the US and were very US-centric. If you have a child that leans nerdy, they may very well have Washington DC at the top of their list of places to visit.

You can easily take a short tour of the Capitol building and see the monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial. Since the Smithsonian museums are free, they’re good for kids with unpredictable levels of stamina. If it’s free, it doesn’t matter if you’re only there for 30 minutes.

White House tours are tough to organize for non-US residents. You’ll need to contact your embassy. When I did, they would only arrange tours for groups of 10 or more. If you’re American, you contact your congress person, at least a month in advance.


If you’re dragging your kids around museums and some adult attractions, then giving them some theme parks to look forward to is probably a really good idea. If you go to DisneyLAND in Los Angeles, you only get the choice of Disneyland and California Adventure Park at the same location.

The Orlando area has a ton of theme parks in the same area, including DisneyWORLD so there is more to suit everyone. Check out our tips for planning a theme park trip. Tickets for the Florida parks can be pricey, so plan your trip in a way that maximizes your value from your tickets. Themepark trips to Australia were a highlight of my childhood so I do think it’s worth it, especially if your children are in the 8-10 range.

If you’re traveling in fall, winter, or early Spring (when the North East weather can be unpredictable and at times outright freezing), then including some Florida time means you won’t be bundled up in coats your whole trip.


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