taza’s new york city guide: all about transportation

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lovetazaSubwayElevatorMap

hello! i’ve been having so much fun compiling some of our family’s favorite things to do in different neighborhoods around the city, but i wanted to do a quick post on transportation before continuing on with the city guides. navigating nyc transportation seems to be a big question i get a lot these days, especially for those of you visiting the city with little ones.

new york city, although technically a pretty small island, can be difficult to get around if you aren’t very familiar with the subway system, traffic, or…you have a stroller. :) it’s funny because i feel like it’s one of the most family friendly places to raise little ones and yet it’s not in many ways, when you really think about it. haha!

THE SUBWAY:  the easiest and most efficient way to get around new york city is by the subway.  you can pretty much get incredibly close to your final destination by taking a train, even if you have to transfer to a different line once or twice. but 9 out of 10 times, you’ll always beat city traffic by taking the train.  most subway lines run every few minutes, too. although there are often longer stretches between trains as well as delays on the weekends. (you can check the MTA train schedule HERE)

monday10

TRAVELING WITH KIDS:  for those of you traveling in new york city with little ones in tow, navigating the subway system with a stroller is a whole other story.  i know strollers on the subway can be annoying for a few other travelers who don’t have kids, and i often feel awkward or out of place as i try to not be in the way with my big double stroller as we commute on the train. but it’s really the only way i’m able to get around the city with my kids. i don’t know, but i’m just really thankful for the subway train and that all are able to use it…and for the subway elevators, although they are few and far between and often really smelly. they make life a bit easier on this mama and her toddlers.

because most of the subways here aren’t very stroller friendly (think lots and lots of stairs!), the kiddos and i have gotten pretty good at knowing which subway stations DO have elevators, and also which of those elevators are working.  we plan our outings accordingly. there might be longer avenues and blocks we have to walk to get to our final destination since there aren’t elevators at each station, but there isn’t a better city for walking, so we don’t seem to mind.

nyc-subway

for any mamas out there traveling in or to new york city, we’ve put together a fun little printable subway map (at the top of this post) highlighting all of the working elevators in manhattan for you! (with a few notes as to which are under maintenance or not working at the time of this post.) thanks to elizabeth natoli for helping me create this!  just print it and take it with you! i hope it helps!

also, i want to note that the people of new york are incredibly friendly and *usually* very willing to help. so, if you do by chance end up at a subway station where there is no working elevator and a million stairs and feel a bit stranded because it’s just you and your heavy stroller, don’t fret. because someone will always be willing to help you carry it up or down the steps.  it’s one of the things i love most about this city, all of the people. well, the kind ones, at least. ;)

BIKES:  in addition to the subway,  i think the next best way to see the city is on a bike! we love biking around the city with our kids and there are several bike paths and bike lanes now, making it even more manageable and safe. we use our own bikes, but citibike has been around for a while now, and is a great bike sharing system available in the city.  they have thousands of bikes parked all over the island and available 24/7.  there are also a ton of bike rental shops all over the city (a big list HERE), which might be a better bet if you want a particular kind of bike, want it for a longer period of time, or need a child/infant seat, etc.

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TAXI CABS AND UBER:  since most people don’t have cars in new york city, yellow taxi cabs are always abundant in the city (unless of course you are running late! i swear!) maybe it’s just me, but i don’t think you can really visit new york properly without hailing down a cab at least once.  (right?!)  it’s a fun experience. samson is still obsessed with it and makes it his job to put his arm out and yell “TAXI! TAXI!” trying to flag down a cab whenever we might be needing one.  uber is also a helpful resource for getting around the city and perhaps a bit more reliable since you can plan ahead of time as well as get a fare quote in advance.

i know many use and prefer buses, but i haven’t taken one for years so i’m not as familiar with the system.  we’ve also heard really great things about the double decker tour buses often offered that showcase the city from a higher view, but i have never done one, so i can’t recommend.  hopefully this can come in handy to a few of you on your next trip to the city! once you have a grasp on the subway system, new york city feels far more accessible and fun. at least i think so!

  1. Love this post Naomi! I just did a series of guides to NYC too after spending my summer there! miss it too much!

    michaela x

    http://www.lifeofaladybear.com

  2. SO handy…visiting in a few weeks and needed this (we have the same stroller). THANK YOU!!

  3. Yes YEs YES!!! I needed this in July! My husband carried our Bugaboo stroller up and down many flights of stairs. And when my baby was sleeping we had to be even more careful. Another problem I had was accessing the handicap gate, because the stroller would not fit through the regular turnstile.
    I always wondered how you walked around NYC with a DOUBLE STROLLER! Thank you for this!

  4. Lily

    So helpful, thank you! I am visiting NYC with my one year old in December and haven’t been since having a baby. I’m curious about cabs/uber with kiddos in regards to car seats and safety. Any advice? Thanks!

  5. This is so helpful, thank you! We have a brand new baby girl and plan to visit NYC soon for my husband’s residency interviews, so this will be a lifesaver!
    xx Lexi, Glitter, Inc.

  6. Kaylan

    Great post Naomi! Going to send this along to my mama friends who live in the city. About cabs though… how would you know if one,or do any really, have carseats? We were stranded once a couple years ago in DC and it was a super late night and so I just held my 6mo old in the back of a cab and prayed for dear life. But when we were in NYC several times I never considered a cab because I never spotted one with carseats and it’s just too risky! I’m assuming you guys don’t actually use one with your kids?

  7. Leanne

    The first time I went to NYC, my mom and I were so afraid to use the subway! The maps and names of the lines were so intimidating.

    Thankfully, we bit the bullet (and got our first not-so-nice experience out of the way on our first go) and ended up have a much more wide-spread trip, rather than if we would’ve done it all by foot. And a cheaper one, too — we didn’t even take a taxi!

    Walking is definitely my favourite way to see NYC (although I bet biking will be a close second once I do it!) and I really reeeeally really hope (need?) to go back asap.

    Thank you for the lovely post for us NYC daydreamers, Naomi:)

    xx
    Leanne
    https://somebodysdove.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/above-and-beyond/

  8. Trish O

    Thank you for this guide. I must say, I am very intimidated to take my kids to NYC, and we are from Chicago area. My kids are older (10 and 12) but that makes me more nervous. The stroller, you just stick them in and BAM, they are not going anyplace. I worry my big kids will get tired and crabby and I wont know where to go. How do you think it would be for 10 and 12 year olds to navigate the city via bike? They don’t do much city riding, mostly suburban. Will they get clobbered by a cab? Anyone with experience let me know. My hubby boss said we should just hire a car and be done with it. Too much,

  9. Alexandria

    Hi!

    Great article! I’m curious what brand stroller you have? Thanks!

  10. Bea

    Every post like this makes me want to take the first airplane and coma and visit New York!!
    AAAAAHHHH!!!
    Wonderful!!!

  11. Before I left the city I really started to utilize the busses more. I found that I often really loved them as it made my morning and evening commute a bit more sunny and they were often less crowded than the subways in Williamsburg! They’re also great when you want to get from say Chinatown to Alphabet City and there aren’t great subway options!

  12. Madeline

    Where did you get your flats? I love them!

  13. arielle

    you are so brave! I think I would just hide in my own little neck of the woods if I had to remember all of the different stops that I could and couldn’t stop at. thanks for sharing! this may come in really useful one day!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  14. Laurel

    This is fantastic! Thanks so much for this. I remember when I lived in France and was traveling between places a lot, how difficult it was with a large rolling suitcase in the subway, even though the subway itself was very convenient. It was hard to know when there would be an elevator available. We’re hoping to go to NYC this Spring with a little one in tow so I will definitely be bookmarking this!

  15. Alexandria

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! As someone who travels to the city often but not enough to know the ins and outs, this was helpful!

    Alexandria

  16. Gemma

    Wow! So thoughtful to do this. Thanks so much! Now I just need to tackle getting there on the Acela with a toddler! Ha.

  17. Great tips! We did NYC when our little boy turned one and he loved the subway. We were really confused on the carseats in taxis situation. We obviously had him ride in his airport to manhattan but we had different people tell us different things. Do you put the kids in a carseat in a cab? We ended up doing that in the one destination that wasn’t super convenient to walk to just since we weren’t sure the protocol!

  18. Cay

    Hah, spoken like a Manhattanite ;). I think you mean that Manhattan is a small island, not New York City.

    • TAZA

      haha! you’re so right! :)

  19. So timely because we are coming next weekend with our littles for the first time! What about car seats – fine to hop in a cab with our three yr old and just hold him tight??

  20. Kelli

    Best post ever! Thank you so much! I am possibly moving to NYC this Spring and we have a now 8 month old boy. Finding those elevators will be a lot easier now!

  21. Ali

    Hi Naomi, I just tried to print the map and it’s actually really pixel-y…:( Is there a link to it, or a larger PDF? Or is my pregnant mind just so scrambled I’m missing something obvious? I SO APPRECIATE you creating this valuable resource. I live in Brooklyn and while I used to live in the city, I didn’t utilize the elevators then, but need them now with my (soon-t0-be double) stroller, and it’s often tough to find them when you’re already aboveground! :)

    Thanks again!

    • TAZA

      oh no! can you try again? i just made it so when you click on the map, it takes you to a large PDF that you can print or save for later. let me know if you have any other trouble! thanks for letting me know!

  22. Catherine

    This is total kismet! We are driving up to spend the weekend in New York tomorrow for our family “baby moon”. While we are familiar with the subway we are not familiar with utilizing it with the stroller we will have with us. Thank you so much– this will be such a big help!!

  23. Jenni Chow

    This is an incredible gift and service, Naomi! I have a 3 year old and a 5 month old. I live in Brooklyn and regularly went into the city with my toddler. Now with two, I am new to navigating the subway with my double stroller. I feel empowered to continue enjoying all the amazing family fun activities this city has to offer. Thank you, thank you!!!

  24. Michaela

    @Trish O — I’m also from NY (and grew up here). I think 10 and 12 is actually the perfect age to visit NY for the first time. They’ll be able to enjoy things like Central Park and the museums a bit more, and they’ll remember everything, too.

    Depending on their (and your) interests, I recommend the children’s museum downtown, the Museum of the Moving Image, the firefighter’s museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and of course the Natural History Museum. They might also appreciate a ride on the Staten Island Ferry (bonus: it’s free! and they have a hotdog stand on board). The Cloisters is also pretty cool– I really enjoyed it at that age.

    However, I wouldn’t recommend biking on the city streets with them. There’s too steep a learning curve and the risks, if something does go wrong, are pretty dire. If you really want to bike, rent them near Central Park (or get a CitiBike) and stay within the Park.

    The subway should be totally fine with them though! Kids take it by themselves here starting around eleven and twelve.

  25. Hannah

    I love reading your posts Naomi! My mom and I are planning a trip to New York in May, I’m so excited.Your posts have been such an inspiration, I can’t wait to check out all the places you’ve mentioned.

    We’ll probably try and stay more central so a lot of our travel will be done by walking and hopefully bike! I love the idea of biking around New York, it’s so picturesque. I would like to try the subway at least once, just to overcome my fears.

    Love reading about your life Naomi, if my life is half as good as your highlight reel I’ll be doing great. Hope you’re doing well. Can’t wait to meet the newest addition to the family!

    xx
    Hannah

  26. What a great post! I always had such a hard time finding places with my stroller when we travel.

  27. Elena

    I must say, I don’t find NYC to be the best place to raise a child. In fact, most people move outside of the city once they have children because grass and fresh air is what kids need and love most. NYC is a spectacular and exciting place to live, especially for adults, but it’s tough on kids. I realize many people decide to raise there kids in a bustling city like New York, but a concrete jungle is not ideal for a small child. Smelly elevators, pollution, garbage everywhere, hundreds of people on the subway spreading germs…..exhaust…the list goes on and on. I do think its courageous what you’re doing, but I can’t agree that NYC is a family friendly place to raise a child. Just my opinion.

  28. Laura

    Peoples! Just get CityMapper! It’s amazing!

  29. Rose J.

    Subways are definitely where it’s at in NYC. The only state I ever took the bus was in Utah! Now UTA ruled while living in Salt Lake City! Here in Jersey…you need a car. But not Philly or NYC. Also Texas, and NC where we used to love too! Need vehicles there! Thanks for sharing your experiences in the city!

    Rose :-)

  30. marie

    Such an informative guide! I’ll definitely keep this post in mind if I ever visit NYC as it’s one of my family’s must-travel cities! ;) I have a baby boy so this will be really handy!

    http://smittenbyangels.blogspot.com

  31. Lauren

    I love this post, but an important note – Citibike does not rent helmets with bikes! You have to go to specifically to a bike shop like Bike & Roll to rent one. I say this because it makes me so, so nervous to see people biking around the city without helmets; so anyone planning on visiting and using Citibike – make sure you either purchase or rent a helmet too!

  32. mary

    We were in NYC a few weeks ago with my 1 year old and everytime I saw an elevator I had a “THANK GOD” moment. It makes life so much easier to not have to take P out of his stroller because you just KNOW he’s not going back in. Thanks for this helpful post.

  33. Trudi Wilkes

    Hi,

    I’ve never commented on a blog before but I felt compelled to email you to ask you to remove the word ‘handicapped’ from this piece. The term ‘people with disabilities’ would be a much better phrase to use. Handicapped is not only dated but also really quite offensive, to me ( I am able bodied) and millions of others around the world. Might be worth doing a bit of a goggle search on why you shouldn’t use this word anymore.

    Thank you.
    Trudi, London, UK

  34. laura

    I lived in New York this summer and adored it, but the metro system is so confusing. thanks for the recommendations!

  35. Tong

    Fantastic! I was in NY in May and was completely lost with traveling with prams in subways. I had a friend and my hubby with me to help with the pram up and down the stairs. Otherwise, I would have given up with all the stairs and stroller unfriendly rotating doors.. When we were there, there was another lady with a wheelchair that had no idea how to get around those revolving doors. I often wonder how you travel in NY with your double stroller. Thanks for the guide!!! You would think that the NY Metro would actually come up with this sort of guide themselves.

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  37. Lucie

    You are so lucky in NYC! In Paris, we have only one line (the most recent one) with elevators… And all the other lines and stations have a bazillion stairs, too. ;)

  38. mara

    SOMEDAY i will make it to NYC (husband and i did spend one afternoon there because we had a long, all-day layover….it was only enough to make us want more!). i lived in china for a few months with my sister and her family and my nephew (probably 4 or 5 at the time) absolutely LOVED hailing cabs for us :) it’s a similar city vibe as new york i think, and we so enjoyed the subway and the occasional taxi ride too. oh i miss the big cities! SLC isn’t quite the same.. ;)

  39. Anna

    hi! Thank you so much for this great map! My husband, 10 month old daughter and I went to NYC this past weekend and this was really helpful, as were your other NYC guides. Thanks : )

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  41. Laura Z.

    Thanks for putting this together! It is such a struggle with strollers & I’m always wishing that MTA had a better tool for navigating the system of elevators.

    This iPhone app recently came to my attention, which made me think of your map… While intended for wheelchair-users, I have found it immensely helpful when trying to get beyond my neighborhood ! (And it’s frEE :) Definitely helpful for those of the stroller brigade.
    Best, Laura