Gluten-Free Kid-Friendly Holiday Fun in New York City

Statue-of-Lady-Liberty

The City That Never Sleeps (Kind of Like Your Kid)

New York City truly is a kid’s wonderland! We recently took our brood to NYC for the day to experience the city decorated in all of its glory for the holiday season. Feeling overwhelmed in trying to plan a trip into New York that is kid-focused and gluten-free? Fear not! The possibilities are endless!

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is in the heart of mid-town Manhattan. It’s a one stop shop for all things Christmas and Holiday! We love Rockefeller Center because everything is in close proximity and little legs don’t tire out from walking all of those long city blocks.

Rockefeller Center Winter Ice Skating NYC

The Rink

If your kids aren’t accident prone (mine totally are so we opted NOT to partake), visit the ice staking rink and take the family for a spin or two around the ice. Or just watch the Zamboni clean the ice (my son was fascinated with this machine!).

The Tree

No trip to New York is complete during the holiday season without visiting the mammoth spruce Christmas Tree decorated with approximately 50,000 multicolored LED lights! This special tradition started back in 1931 and continues to be one of the must see spots during the holiday season.

Random Fact: Back in 2008, the Rockefeller Christmas tree was from our hometown in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Lego Store

My kids LOVE Legos — we probably have a million dollars in Harry Potter, Sponge Bob, Batman, and so on stored throughout our house. I must admit I do have some Lego animosity, especially when I step on a (insert expletive) random brick while barefoot. But enough about my delicate feet… The Lego Store will blow your mind. There are gigantic sculptures of the Statue of Liberty, Dragons and Dinosaurs, and even the Hulk made entirely of Legos. There are all kinds of Lego kits and pieces/parts available for purchase. We definitely left with major inspiration for our next build.

Christmas Spectacular Radio City Music Hall Featuring the Rockettes

The Christmas Spectacular is like a mini-Broadway show. Between the Rockettes, a live nativity scene, 40+ dancing Santa Clauses, and life-size teddy bears, there’s a lot to take in and enjoy. With that said, the show is 90 minutes with no intermission, so be prepared if your kids (or spouse) have a hard time sitting still.

Times Square

M&Ms World Times Square

Located at Broadway & 48th Streets, M&Ms World is a deliciously large three-story candy store with everything sweet! In addition to CANDY (yes, I’m screaming because I’m jacked up on sugar), there are M&M characters to meet and a nifty “Personalized Printer” where you can print a message or even your face on M&M’s.

Hershey’s Chocolate World Times Square

Hershey’s newest location at 701 7th Avenue is three times larger than their original NYC storefront (translation more chocolate!!!). In addition to buying supersize bottles of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (guilty as charged), there are some cool things for the kiddos to do in Chocolate World. Become a Digital Designer” and personalize a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar wrapper. My son wanted to add a Poop emoji (insert eye roll and sigh).

Times Square Side Note: Times Square has its fair share of interesting folk. You’ll see tons of costumed “characters” including Elmo, Superman, and the Statue of Liberty. The kids can take a picture with them for a fee (around $5). The last time we saw Elmo, he appeared to be drunk, so I declined the photo opportunity. Don’t get sucked in to the pitches for discount tickets, photos, or bus tours.

Time Square Side Side Note: Bring Purell. Lots of it.

Mommm I’m Hungry

Do the kids (or the parents) need a break from traversing the city? If the hangry whining has begun, recharge with a tasty kid-friendly gluten-free lunch or dinner. New York City is the mecca of gluten-free dining!

Nizza

Oh how we love Nizza! Everything we’ve ordered from Nizza has been delicious — from the warm gluten-free bread to start (dipped in olive oil and ricotta cheese), gluten free pizza made with socca (chickpea) crust, and pasta in creamy alfredo sauce, Nizza does not disappoint. Located in the Theater District, it’s convenient and very kid friendly. Prices are reasonable and the staff is extremely attentive.

S’Mac

Mac n’ Cheese is a dinner staple in our house. Kids and adults alike will love S’Mac’s cheesy deliciousness! S’Mac, short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese, is where you can “Build Your Own” personal mac n’ cheese meal served up in a cast iron skillet. We’ve eaten at S’Mac several times and they don’t disappoint! There are four different serving sizes awesomely named Nosh, Major Munch, Mongo, and Partay. You can get creative and add anything from figs to fresh mozzarella, however S’Mac offers the good ol’ “All American” classic mac n’ cheese. Keep in mind, while this is “just mac n cheese”, this is New York City’s version of Mac n’ Cheese, so the bill will reflect it.

How does S’Mac do it? 

After a lot of testing and experimentation, we have modified some of our core ingredients in order to allow you to order anything from our menu, gluten-free. We are able to do this because now our bechamel does not contain any wheat flour, and our breadcrumbs are made from gluten-free cornflakes, and not actual bread. For gluten-free orders we use Brown Rice elbow macaroni.

Friedmans

With five locations throughout New York City (Theater District, Herald Square, Hell’s Kitchen, Columbia, and Chelsea), gluten-free eats are not far away! Friedmans’ original store in Chelsea Market opened back in 2009. Vanessa, one of Friedmans pioneers, had been diagnosed with celiac disease and pushed to create a restaurant that was safe for the gluten-free community (thank you Vanessa!). Just about EVERYTHING on the menu is gluten-free. Top menu item? Gluten-free fried chicken and waffles.

Save Room for Dessert

No, not a scoop of boring vanilla ice cream…real dessert! Dessert that makes unicorns come out of your mouth! Check out one of the many bakeries around the city for gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and cheesecakes (oh my!).

Baked By Melissa

As soon as we get off of the train, one of our first stops is Baked By Melissa. When in NYC, we always dessert before dinner! Baked By Melissa has the most adorable bite size gluten-free cupcakes and macarons that are baked in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. All of the ingredients they use are certified gluten-free or are manufactured in dedicated gluten-free facilities. Oh, did I mention they are freaking delicious?! Check out their gluten-free store at 526 7th Avenue between 38th & 39th.

Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery

Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery came to be after owner Tully Phillips was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2008. Her mission was to “create gluten-free baked goods that taste just as delicious as products containing wheat.” This 100% gluten-free bakery is a must visit — their Chocolate cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing is out of this world! Tu-Lu’s is located at 338 East 11th Street.

When traveling with kids to a big city, I always have them wear bright clothing. In winter, a hot pink or electric blue hat will definitely stand out in the crowd. We also use the “buddy system” — holding hands or linking arms while getting on or off the trains or subway. NYC is intense, but don’t let it intimidate you. New York City during the holidays is magical and an experience your kids will always remember!

From our gluten-free family to yours, wishing you very happy and healthy holiday!

Have you visited NYC? Share your fav destinations with the Hold The Gluten community in the comments below. 

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