There's just something magical about summer in the city. With a plethora of cultural opportunities like museums and theaters and an abundance of restaurants to please every palate (not to mention a coffee shop on every corner to fuel you, mama!), big cities often have something for everyone—making them ideal family vacation destinations.
Which isn't to say there can't be pitfalls. Busier sidewalks and longer days out can spell disaster for fussy infants and toddlers, but with a little prep, everyone can enjoy the best of what the city has to offer.
Whether you are staying for a day or a week, here are eight tips for making your urban family vacation a success.
1. Invest in a lightweight stroller.
We took the Joolz Hub stroller for a test drive in Miami with Ana Ortuño Aravena—a founder, stylist, and experienced urban mama—to track down some of the best new spots for families visiting the Magic City.
Cities often mean public transportation and crowded sidewalks. And whether you're schlepping your family up or down a staircase to the train or piling everyone in a cab, you need a stroller that can go the distance. A compact stroller, like new the Joolz Hub, is the perfect option.
The Hub, which stands for Hello Urban Beauty, also has plenty of undercarriage to store your daily necessities, meaning less for you to carry. Plus, with it's bigger back wheels, it will glide over uneven terrain and help you conquer your to-do list long after vacation ends. Learn more or shop the Joolz Hub here.
2. Embrace a sturdy baby carrier.
If baby wearing isn't a part of your every day, you might want to reconsider it for your next trip (especially if you're traveling with multiple children). Double strollers can often be too bulky for crowds, so pop the older child in your compact stroller and wear infants for maximum maneuverability.
Plus, strolling through a museum while wearing your baby can be a great way to soothe them into an afternoon nap even while on the go. For bigger kids, mini scooters or kickboards on the back of strollers can be a great way to keep everyone moving together.
3. Pack a sound machine for the hotel.
The better you can recreate your kids' sleeping environment while traveling, the more likely you all are to get a good night's sleep. Many hotels can provide cots and pack-n-plays for children to sleep on, but your best bet for stopping an early wakeup call in its tracks is to pack your sound machine. (Take that, neighbors who like to visit the ice machine at four in the morning!) And, fortunately, most hotel rooms already offer light-blocking drapes to keep the room as dark as possible.
4. Opt for side streets if your kids are getting overwhelmed.
Yes, the main drag is exciting, but when everything is already so new, it can sometimes be too much stimulation for those little eyes. When traveling in between tourist spots, take the opportunity to explore the path less taken by strolling down side streets and less heavily populated areas. It's also the best way to discover your favorite city's lesser known gems.
5. Plan your day around the parks.
Need coffee, mama? Caffeinate at the hip local coffee spot, Panther Coffee. We recommend their store in Wynwood.
Virtually every major city has an incredible park system for kids. As you plan your itinerary, check out your destination's parks and rec website for locations and offerings. That way, if (and when) your kids need a break, you'll know exactly where to go to let them burn off some steam.
6. Speaking of which...under-schedule your days.
An absolute must when coming to Miami? Visit Wynwood, the city's arts district known for it's brilliant murals. Stop at Wynwood Walls—a free outdoor museum that allows your kids to take in urban graffiti and street art art up close. Let your kids roam and work out their wiggles while you snap pictures.
Yes, it can be tempting to pack every hour of the day with activities (especially if the city you're visiting offers a lot to do!), but you will be much happier if you plan the day with your child in mind. Getting around a city is rarely as convenient as the suburbs, which means you need to factor in extra time for public transportation.
Plus, remember that just being in a new environment can be fascinating for little ones, so plan your day in a way that you'll be able to stop to take in surprises—like playing in a great water fountain at a park or simply watching the big machines work at a construction site.
7. Dress for your environment(s).
For health conscious parents, Dr. Smood is a beautiful shop with a very European feel, offering coffee, tea, juice and bites for the whole family.
Hoofing it through your favorite city? Wear (or at least pack) an awesome pair of comfortable walking shoes. Spending a summer week outdoors? Stash a change of clothes for your kids so you don't have to worry about letting them play in a fountain or getting dirty at the playground. City vacations often mean long days away from your hotel, so make sure everyone has what they need to stay comfortable all day.
8. Pack a phone charger or extra battery.
On hot, sunny days when kids need extra hydration, stop by 1-800-LUCKY to cool down with the unicorn dessert of their dreams. (Afternoon pit stops are the most family friendly time to visit.)
While you'll most likely be able to find a place to plug in when you stop for coffee or snacks, remember that you'll probably be using your phone more often to take pictures and navigate through your new environment. Start your day with a fully charged phone and pack a spare battery or travel charger to make sure you've got enough juice to get through the evening.
Here's to a memorable vacation and safe city travels, mama! You've got this!