TimesSquare7A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to visit New York City with my two older daughters (ages 9-1/2 and almost 8) for 3 days. Much of that time was filled with travel and scheduled events, but on Saturday night we had some free time from about 8:00 pm onward. Given that we were staying right in the middle of Times Square, and that my girls had never been to New York before – it was an easy decision to take them out shopping to experience everything that is Times Square at night on a weekend.

Oh it’s crowded, yes – but there’s an amazing energy that fills the air, just as much as the oversized screens and glaring lights fill the sky to the point where it’s almost as light as day outside. I knew I would be keeping the girls up way past their usual bedtimes, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience such as this, it was well worth it.

With only a few hours, we needed a game plan in order to make the most of our time. Toys R Us was a given, since I’d been wanting to take my kids on the ferris wheel there ever since I saw it for the first time this past summer, and that’s the first thing the girls asked to do when I told them we’d be going to New York City. A visit to the M&M World store was also in order, especially since our hotel room had a direct view of one of their giant screens, which my girls had been watching as if it were television since we’d arrived. To round out our trip, I chose the one kid-oriented store which I hadn’t seen yet (since it opened after my two trips to NYC earlier this year) – the new Disney Store. If you are traveling to New York City with kids, I would absolutely recommend any of these as a must-see. And here’s why…

Toys R Us – Times Square: The heart and soul of this store is, of course, the 4-story ferris wheel which fills the center of the space and offers the opportunity to ride in cars themed around My Little Pony, Scooby Doo, ET, Fisher Price Little People, and more. Even beyond the ferris wheel, however – it’s amazing to watch your Barbie fans gush over the giant pink ‘house’ where all of the Barbie dolls and toys are displayed. Or the huge T-Rex that moves and growls menacingly at the crowds below. My girls were so impressed by the Lego replicas of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and more. And they loved visiting all of the plush animals along ‘Animal Alley’ with a birds-eye view of the floors below. We had a limited budget, so only purchased a few small souvenirs at this stop – there is plenty of NY-themed merchandise to fit any budget. And watching the toy demonstrations throughout the store is a lot of fun too. On this trip we didn’t have time to stop for a treat at Scoops R Us, to my girls’ disappointment – but I can say from previous experience that their chocolate shakes are absolutely delicious.  🙂

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The Disney Store – Times Square: Now while every Disney Store is a magical place to begin with (except for our local one, which closed earlier this year, sigh), I had a feeling that the Times Square Disney experience would be something worth seeing for sure. And I was right – this two-story Disney extravaganza provides plenty of shopping, along with some fun for the kids as well. For girls, there’s the princess-themed castle, where it’s all about the glitz – including the giant sparkling chandelier hanging from the ceiling. And for boys, there’s a large Toy Story and Cars-themed area as well. In between is an indoor gazebo that offers weary parents and kids a place to rest their feet – complete with giant screen playing the usual Disney fare of music videos and movie snippets, and coloring sheets and crayons for the kids. My favorite part of this store however, were the Disney quotes painted on the walls up near the ceiling, adding a touch of whimsy to the shopping craziness below.

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M&M World – Times Square: This store is a treat in more ways than one, especially since there aren’t very many of them in existence. There are 3 stories filled with the sweet colorful goodness that are M&M candies – along with every kind of merchandise you can imagine (and probably a few you never even thought of). Actually purchasing candy here is not cheap – the giant fill-them-yourself stations where you can create your own one-of-a-kind mix are a lot of fun, but at $12.99 per pound, it’s more about the experience than the actual candy itself, which you can buy for less than a dollar at most grocery checkout lanes of course. The M&M characters are a lot of fun though and you can buy plush versions, along with everything from t-shirts to cups, or jewelry emblazoned with them too. You can even find out what your M&M color mood is – both of my girls turned out to be ‘Gold’. Which is an M&M color I’d never thought much about since it only usually appears in the fall-themed mix. But here at M&M World, you can find pretty much any color of M&M. My girls’ favorite purchase here were the headbands with M&M characters bobbing like antenna on top. These turned out to be a useful purchase too – they wore them the entire way home, making my kids very easy to spot and keep track of in crowded airports. The girls loved the attention they got too, of course.

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There are so many other places I wish I could have taken my girls while we were in New York City too – from the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock to the Statue of Liberty or even just for a ride on the subway or in a taxi – transportation methods they’ve only heard, seen or read about before but never experienced for themselves. I would have loved to have visited the New York Public Library or seen a Broadway show. But the experiences that we had while we were there – including a carriage ride through Central Park, a short guided tour through some of the popular art exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, decorating their own cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, seeing the huge Christmas tree being decorated in Rockefeller Center while people ice skated below, these were memories that my girls will never forget. And neither will I.

You can read more about our trip to New York at momstakeonthings.com. The trip was courtesy of Crayola and Coyne PR, who invited us to the event, covered all of our travel accommodations, and provided gift cards for shopping and incidentals, as well as samples of products to try. All opinions given here are solely my own or those of my family.