With its prime Upper East Side location, the Surrey is perfectly placed for exploring many of Manhattan’s top attractions, not the least of which is the storied Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue at Central Park. With an impressive collection of American art from throughout the country’s history, the iconic Whitney Museum of American Art is a can’t-miss on the museum rounds. It even has a dedicated Whitney Kids programme aimed at young artists aged 8–12. Under-18s get in free. One of the world’s premier art museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue houses an embarrassing number of important works, and has rotating exhibitions that bring in many more. Family maps and guides help kids get more out of the museum and interact with artworks. Regular events – mostly free – for children and teenagers are also built into the museum’s programming. A modern architectural marvel as impressive as the art it contains, which ranges from Impressionist pieces to contemporary works, the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum is a required stop along Museum Mile. Under-13s get in free, as do students with a valid ID.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the mid-19th century, 250-acre Central Park in the centre of Manhattan has long been one of the city’s favourite spots for everything from exercise to picnics and concerts. Rent bicycles and go for a ride, throw on your trainers and go for a run, rent rowboats on the lake, go ice-skating in winter, see Shakespeare in the Park in summer, explore the castle, or just enjoy the greenery in the midst of the City That Never Sleeps. There are also a handful of playgrounds around the park that are popular with young families.
One of New York City’s original luxury department stores, Barneys New York is all Upper East Side elegance – and first-class designer shopping. Don’t miss the winter window displays, and note the gorgeous architecture, too. Crowning Fifth Avenue’s designer shopping experience, Bergdorf Goodman has been an icon of luxury shopping since 1899. In addition to the finest in apparel, home and accessories, the elegant building is also home to the acclaimed John Barrett Salon.
The whole family can get their hands dirty in the myriad of craft activities at Make Meaning, which has locations on both the Upper East and Upper West Sides. From ceramics-painting or candle-making to cake-decorating, there’s something for everyone. Activities cost around $30, include all supplies, and are open to all ages. You'll need to book weekend activities ahead.
Upper East Side institution Serafina – officially ‘Serafina Fabulous Pizza’ – on 79th and Madison (around the corner from the Met) takes a refined, family-friendly approach to Northern Italian cuisine, with more than 20 wood-burning pizza options and plenty of pastas and insalates filled with farm-to-table ingredients (+1 212 734 2676). EAT, the cafe from the team behind the iconic Zabar’s gourmet grocery, serves fresh salads, sandwiches on fresh bread, soups, hot and cold entrees, pastries, coffee and anything else you could want. Best of all, it’s open from 7am to 10pm daily, which makes it perfect for the times your little Smiths will be hungry (+1 212 772 0022). Ease tired feet and shopping-laden shoulders by staking out a nook at Alice’s Tea Cup (+1 212 734 4832). Try the café’s afternoon tea if you need a boost; there’s even a ‘wee tea’ for little Smiths.
For date night, go celebrity spotting at Tao (+1 212 888 2288), a trendy restaurant on East 58th styled as an Asian temple. You can eat in the third-floor Skybox, and look out over the entire restaurant, have some sashimi in the sushi bar, or sample delicacies such as lobster wonton with ginger broth and crispy orange chicken in the main dining room.