Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square

 

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square pin

New York City is the number one destination for many travelers, and with all it has to offer it is easy to see why. Since the Big Apple is famous for its bargains and souvenirs, here are our top five shopping spots around Times Square for kids and parents.

 

nyc shopping macy's

 

Macy’s on 34th

The first place to take visiting kids is the most famous store in all of New York City, Macy’s. Built in 1902, Macy’s was originally a dry-goods store that continuously supplied the American population. It eventually became part of American culture.

Featured in numerous movies, this flagship store was considered the largest store in the entire world until 2009 when South Korea opened up Shinsegae. Despite the loss of their title, Macy’s is still the largest store in the US and its popularity grows with each generation.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square macy's

Children can explore and ride the original wooden escalators while parents shop for fashionable clothes at unbeatable prices. Those who decide to visit New York around Christmas time will be amazed at Macy’s famous window displays. Each year the Macy’s staff comes up with a different animated theme with elaborate scenery to get people even more in the holiday spirit.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square american

American Girl Store

Next stop is the American Girl store, located in the heart of Manhattan. American Girl features all of the characters including the classical favorites and the current Girl of the Year. While visiting the Truly Me section children can design their very own American Girl doll with different skin tone, hair color/style, eye color, and clothing options.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square dolls

Visitors can also stop by the doll hair salon to give their American Doll a fresh look. In the ‘Dress like Your Doll ‘ section, kids and their dolls can share the same outfit and hairstyle.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square injured

 

The store features an exclusive Doll Hospital for dolls who get sick aka need repairs. Depending on the severity of the ‘injury,’ recovery can take anywhere from two to three weeks. However, they will ship the toys home.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square brunch

 

Travelers feeling a little hungry should check out the café serving a themed brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. After dinner, visitors can swing by the bookstore. Here, all of their children’s favorite characters and their stories are on display.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square sweets

M&M Store

Families in the mood for something sweet should make a pit stop to the M&M store.
Located in the heart of Time Square, the store offers three floors filled with delicious little m&ms.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square liberty

The store is New York’s biggest candy store with a fifty foot, two-story high wall of chocolates containing seventy-two tubes from which guests can fill containers. Of course, guests can also purchase themed clothing, dishware, watches and piggy banks.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square hersheys

Hershey Chocolate Store

For more chocolatey goodness, families can make their way across the street to the Hershey Chocolate Store. This store specializes in the brand’s favorites like Mr. Good Bars, York peppermints, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.Those who can’t get enough of the stor’e merchandise should check out the entrance lamps shaped like authentic kisses.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square lamp

Like in the M&M store, there are plenty of logoed souvenirs here for fans to purchase. These include a giant-sized kiss ideal for birthdays and Valentine day gifts.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square kiss

Disney Store

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some Disney Store magic. From the up and coming movies to the classic Disney films, this store has something for everyone who has ever grown up watching Walt Disney animation.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square diz

Visitors can find stuffed animals, games, costumes, travel cups and movies in this two-story marvel. Kids needing a rest after the extensive shopping spree can relax in the castle, read a Disney tale or watch a short animation clip. Also not to be missed is the NYC souvenir section with items that are sold in this store only.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square castle

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should advise kids to stay close to them while walking the streets of New York City, especially at night.
  • For travelers wishing to fly with less luggage, most stores offer a ship to home option.
  • Parents wanting to partake in any American Girl activities should book tickets ahead of time. They should also mention any necessary accommodations to staff.
  • Parents of children with noise sensitivities might wish to avoid the area during peak hours.
  • Hershey’s has a strong smell of chocolate throughout the store that might present a challenge for smell sensitive patrons.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square street

Tokyo Shopping with Family

Tokyo Shopping with Family pin

Shopping in Tokyo is vastly different than the experience most of us are familiar with in the United States. Most of the city’s shopping areas are comprised of walkable streets or portions of streets. Others have grown around areas, with heavy foot traffic such as train stations or temples. When it comes to purchasing souvenirs, the products available run the gambit from cutting-edge electronics to inexpensive tchotchkes. For those traveling to the Japanese capital for the first time, here are our favorite spots to explore.

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara

 

Akihabara

The shopping venue enjoys the reputation as the place to go to for anything and everything electronic. Akihabara began as a group of small shops which supplied do-it-yourselfers with specific electronic components. The area later experienced increased demand for consumer-ready, out-of-the-box products.

While the small, very specialized shops continue to thrive, large mainstream stores, such as the massive Yodobashi Camera store, now comprise the majority of the shopping experience.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara electronics

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Discuss with your child in advance the items that you are looking for to purchase and how much you are willing to spend. The area is filled with many bargains, and one might find themselves tempted to buy unnecessary things that can’t be returned.
  • Make sure at all times that your child is next to you so they don’t press any buttons or break any items.
  • Parents might want to explain ahead of time to older kids the concept of the Maid cafes since they might ask questions about girls in odd uniforms standing on street corners.

Nakamise-dōri

Nakamise-dōri is one of the oldest shopping areas in the city and continues to be one of the most popular. This shopping area begins at the Kaminari-Mon gate and ends at the foot of Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. The area is famous for tourist fares such as figurines and T-shirts, along with several shops selling local food. With over ninety shops to explore, this venue is always busy, so parents should be prepared to spend several hours walking around.
Tokyo Shopping with Family fried mochi

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Visitors should arrive early in the morning since it gets mobbed with tourists and school kids in the afternoon.
  • THE food to try is the sweet and fried mochi balls.

Harajuku

The concept of this area is different than anything found in the States. or Europe.
Harajuku is comprised of two parallel streets filled with shops selling  Japanese designer clothing.

The uniqueness of Harajuku is the choice of the fashion genre. Though the area may look awkwardly designed is an efficient way for parents and children to shop together. Omotesando street is famous for its upscale apparel boutiques while counterculture and youth apparel dominate Takeshita Don.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family clothes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This place caters mostly to fashion oriented young people, especially teenagers.
  • If your child is not particularly interested in fashion, then make sure they have adequate electronic entertainment while other family members shop.

Shinjuku

Travelers can find the Shinjuku shopping area around Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train stop. Flagship stores of many major electronic and fashion retailers can be found here. Also, there are additional shopping opportunities in the underground areas.

Shinjuku is also one of the largest entertainment districts in Tokyo, with a huge selection of clubs and restaurants to enjoy. With such a diverse array of shopping, entertainment, and dining options, anyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience.

Tokyo Shopping with Family shoes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • One of the worst intersections in Tokyo is in Shinjuku, where pedestrians can cross in eight different directions simultaneously.
  • For families with kids that are not interested in shopping, there are several cat cafes in the neighborhood that will delight all members of the family.

100-Yen Store

The 100-Yen store is Japan’s version of the Dollar Store. There are many of these stores around Japan, and more are opening every year. The concept is the same like in the US; the company buys in bulk and can sell their products at a reduced price. As in the United States, it is not the best place to purchase electronics, but the 100-Yen store is perfect for T-shirts, souvenirs, and sundries.
Tokyo Shopping with Family city

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should set a fixed budget when shopping since one might be tempted to buy things that are not necessary.
  • The store sells toys and souvenirs that are great to use as budget friendly rewards for kids with autism.

Have you visited Tokyo with your children? What are your shopping tips?

 

Taking Kids with Autism to the Mall of America

 Guest post by  Denise Klipsic Ochsendorf

Shopping and visiting the Mall of America with Children with Autism is a challenge, but with careful thought to visit, it can still exciting, fun and a great day of shopping.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America columns

When to go to the Mall of America

The Mall is a Shopping complex, so its traffic patterns fall in line with any other retail outlet.Exceptions would be for special events and holidays which usually bring in a lot of people.
Recently, the Halloween event at Nickelodeon Universe and then an appearance by the cast of the Hunger Games paralleled the holiday traffic in the mall’s main corridors.
So it is important to check the mall’s event schedule before you go.You may not be able to plan around such events, but you can, at least, plan for them, if needed.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America logo
Regular Mall traffic patterns, I find mirror that of many theme parks.
Weekdays are the least busy.We find Monday and Wednesday are truly the best days to go if you are trying to avoid crowds. Mornings are also nice.
The Mall’s regular hours are 10 am, but they do open early for mall walkers.From 10am-Noon, even on weekends, there are relatively fewer shoppers, pending events.Holiday shopping hours are little more hectic, but the same rules apply: mornings and weekdays are the best, just not on Black Friday.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America escalators

It is important to note that Tuesdays are Toddler Tuesday at the Mall.
This can be either good or bad for families with kids with autism. Toddler Tuesdays are good for free dining options for kids under 6 and discounts at various attractions, but it does bring a lot of young children to the mall (Crying babies, etc.)

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America coppola

Getting to the Mall

If you are staying Minneapolis or coming from the airport- the best bet is to take the light rail to the mall.
The light rail is relatively new, so it is clean and comfortable to ride.The Mall is its last stop, so it does take about ½ hour to make the journey from MPLS, but the time you save on parking is worth it.
Your children will love it too!
The train goes through tunnels and over bridges making it an added experience to your trip to the Mall.The ride will cost each person up to $2.75 a person with reduced fares for people with disabilities. Kids 5 and under are free.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America first floor
If you come by car and are staying closer to the mall, you will want to park in the West Parking lot.
Both Parking Lots can be busy, but the west lot does not fill up as fast and has far less traffic.
One reason I recommend the west lot is also its location to nicer bathrooms, less busy entrances to the mall and elevators and the elimination of up/down steps to get to the skyways. Try to park on the lower level if you can, this just gives you different options to enter the mall and also is the same level as Guest Services if you need to rent a stroller or need other assistance.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America ceiling

Planning the day when your kid has autism

Based on where you come in, you will have different options.
If you come in at the center main Mall entrance, you will want to take the elevator/escalator to the main level if you need Guest Services.The elevators on this side are a little hidden if you come to the main entrance.
If you go towards the center of the mall, you should see the elevator closer to the inner walkway.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America lego

Guest Services:

Check in here to rent your stroller ($6 single, $8 double).Wheelchair rentals are also available.
You can let Guest Services know you are traveling with a child with autism.
Make sure you have a picture and information for your child in case she/he gets lost.
You can leave it with them. (This is not a common practice, so you may need to fill in the details.
You can stop back after you leave to get your paperwork)  *Paperwork can consist of a picture, your child’s name, and a telephone number. For more info:

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America lockers

If you choose to skip Guest Service, my recommendation is to stay away from the elevators in the Mall’s main corridors.
They are SLOW and Fill up fast. The Macy’s Elevator is nestled by the SW entrance door and is easy to use and it located right next to the bathroom. Other Anchor Store Elevators are tucked back a little bit but are a little less busy.
The Mall Corridors on the corners have a few elevators that I would recommend as well.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America stores

If you need Lockers, there are lockers at all main entrances to the mall on level 1. Levels 2 & 3 have them as well, but only on the East and West Side.
They come in all sizes and range from $6-$16 depending on the size. Lockers are great to use for those winter coats, as the mall gets pretty warm as it fills up.

Mapping out Bathrooms before you get started is a good idea.

The Mall has plenty of Bathrooms, but not all of them are suitable for families with children with autism.
I mentioned the Macy’s Bathroom before. This is a favorite of ours not only for its location but it usually pretty clean and it has a separate quiet area which is good for getting your kids away from all the noise and avoiding meltdowns.
Nordstrom’s have similar bathrooms. In the main mall corridors, you do have some options. I recommend the Family Restrooms. These are nice because they give you the space you may need and are private. They are next to the regular bathrooms on the first floor only. (They are quite busy, though, so you may have a wait.)

 

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America lego store

One final note before you get started

The Mall is full of sensory overload for many children with autism.
Depending on your child, you may want to have a plan for some way to deal with meltdowns if they occur.

There are quiet areas like those I mentioned in the mall, but you may find other areas that may work for you as start your day.
You will want to note where these areas are, as you can get turned around in the mall quite quickly.
Also, headphones or ear plugs are always a good option for your kids.We have a set of heavy duty sound masking headphones our daughter uses.
We also use blankets in the stroller to at least minimize the visual stimulation for our son, when he lets us.

Taking your kids with Autism to the Mall of America themepark

 

Denise Klipsic Ochsendorf  is an  autism mom of two active kids  and  happy owner of a Twin Cities Kids Consignment Sale (Just Between Friends) as well as  an avid Autistic Globetrotter who  loves to travel the backroads of America and hopes someday to make it Europe with her family

Nancy Sathre-Vogel’s Book “Changing Gears”

 

I admit I was surprised when I was asked to review Nancy Sathre-Vogel’s current book “Changing Gears: A Family’s Odyssey to the End of the World”  that chronicles her family‘s biking journey.
By any standard, I am not the outdoorsy type—I can’t even ride a bike. Nevertheless, I have to say I’m happy I agreed since the book is a definite ‘must read.’

 

Review of Nancy Sathre-Vogel's "Changing Gears book family

Nancy is a natural-born storyteller who created quite the page-turner. She engages her readers from the start, and even the skeptics find themselves rooting for this family by the end of the first chapter.

She does not shy away from describing feeling beaten and wanting to give up—“…Sometimes you’ve had enough…you reach the end of your rope and can fight no longer…”— And portrays her adventure with brutal honesty that most parents with special-needs children will find refreshing.

Similarly, her stories of people writing disparaging remarks on her blog to criticize her parenting skills leaving her feeling hurt and second guessing her decisions will strike a cord with many exasperated parents.

Her recollections reminded me of the times I have had to endure school officials’ and family members’ criticism when making decisions concerning my child.

Changing Gears’ message to parents


Changing Gears is one of these books that once you start you just can’t put down. At first glance, the book seems to be a story of a riveting adventure; after all, very few of us have biked halfway around the world, let alone with two elementary school kids.

The trip they plan is so complicated that any incident carried the potential of derailing them from small events like a missing helmet or rainy days to more defining ones like bike thefts and severe sickness.

Nevertheless, as the story unfolds the readers start to understand the extent to which this fraught-filled journey helped shape and bond the Vogel family.

In the book’s finale,  Nancy’s recollection of how she reaches her destination is an extraordinarily touching moment that should resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to complete their goals.

As a parent to a special needs child, I can identify with her ‘ completion fatigue’ – the feeling of fighting for a goal for so long that you cannot thoroughly enjoy it when the moment finally happens.

However, the book’s deeper message is about encouraging families to pursue their dreams despite seemingly major setbacks: “…Living your dream won’t always be easy or fun…you’ll forge ahead even in the hard times…”

In many ways, the Vogel family’s completion of their mission is a milestone worthy of celebration for all of us parents.
It signifies how important it 
is for parents not only to “grab life by the horns,” and to live life to the fullest but to set an example for their kids to follow!

That simple but powerful message should inspire many families, especially those struggling with medical or mental issues, and remind them that sticking to their dreams together as a family should be their top priority.


Review of Nancy Sathre-Vogel's "Changing Gears' book book

 

 

After 21 years of classroom teaching, Nancy Sathre-Vogel made the decision to leave her teaching career behind to travel the world on a bicycle.

Together with her husband and twin sons, she cycled 27,000 miles throughout the Americas, including traveling from Alaska to Argentina. She currently lives in Idaho, with her family and pursues her passions of writing and bead work.

 

 

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