The NYC Bucket List 30-Day Challenge

NYC Bucket List

This is a sponsored post written by us on behalf of the Kaiku® Visa Prepaid Card, part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program. All opinions came straight from our own noggins, not a robot’s.

When Johnny and I created our 2015 budget in January, we got to our Vacation category and both looked at each other and laughed maniacally… immediately followed by crying. We knew we had baby #2 arriving in April, but we had no idea how the adjustment would be. Spoiler alert: it’s been quite a ride. Last night Johnny said to me, “I thought we knew what we were doing.” I nodded like a zombie and then returned to cleaning spit up off the couch.

But back in January, we miraculously had the foresight to not plan any big summer vacations. Score one for us. *air five*

And now, here we are in July with summer upon us in all its humid, sticky glory. (Seriously though, we love the summer.) And while we’re still not feeling quite ready to take a big trip with the girls, we’ve gotten pretty darn comfortable navigating NYC with Sally and Winnie. So comfortable in fact that one day last week, the four of us logged 13.4 miles walking around Central Park — we don’t know what we were thinking either.

So here’s what we’ve decided: we’re staycationing the heck out of this city right now. There are few better “backyards” in the world and we’ll be darned if we don’t get out and knock off (almost) every item on our NYC bucket list. We’ve narrowed the list down to around 20 items, and in true budgeting spirit we’ve limited our budget to $150. It’s go time.

As far as logistics go, we’ve been teaming up with the VISA Clear Prepaid program the last few months, and we loaded our $150 budget on our “digital envelope” AKA Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card (which we talked about last month here). We gave the digital envelope approach a whirl on our grocery budget last month, and it did a surprisingly stand-up job of not letting us go over. Because guess what — it can’t! No overdrafts, no busted budget, no problem. We’ve already done some initial budgeting of what this list should cost, but if the card runs out with a few items to go, you might just hear about a family on the news that jumped the zoo’s fence and ended up in the gorilla cage. Cool.

We’re still compiling the last few items on our list, but we’re really excited with how it’s shaping up. Food, sights, more food, kid-friendly activities, photo-op locations, just a little more food — this list has got it all. Also, food! Here’s a sample of what we’ve started conquering and hope to conquer this month:

  • Visit the High Line
  • Splash around Washington Square Park’s splash pad
  • Take a ride to the Top of the Rock or Freedom Tower
  • Row a boat in Central Park
  • Wave to some “Georges” (Sally-speak for monkeys) at the Bronx Zoo
  • Take a ride on the carrousel in DUMBO
  • Visit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
  • Let Sally fly down the granite slide in the Billy Johnson Playground
  • Catch a baseball game
  • Let Sally devour her first, very own ice cream cone

So that’s a taste of what’s to come. We’ll do a follow-up at the end of our 30-day challenge to recap. And while we’d like to think we’re total locals at this point who know the best bagel and pizza joint on every block, we’re still fairly noob-ish. If you have any other suggestions to add to our list, especially more obscure activities or eats, help us out in the comments!

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  • Reply SketchingArtist July 21, 2015 at 9:58 am

    There’s often impromptu music playing in Central Park. Isn’t there some free museums that usually have Children’s activities.
    Check out

    • Reply Joanna July 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Ooh, great resource. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply JULIE July 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I just found your blog and I love it.

    • Reply Joanna July 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks, Julie! Glad to have ya 🙂

  • Reply Maddie July 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Oh please go to Governor’s Island!!! It is the perfect “day away” while staying in NYC. You take a free little ferry (right next to the big Staten Island ferry) and just walk around. You can also rent bikes, but definitely not necessary. There are always food trucks to get yummy food at and the center grassy area has a huge play fort and big art installations. They were updating the whole island last summer and there were other play areas too (a little more grown up, but still fun for kids). Check the calendar to see if there’s anything going on–the Jazz Age festival should be coming up in August. Don’t buy tickets, just hang around the edge of the fenced area on the lawns of the old houses and enjoy the music and all the people dressed up. A day at Governor’s Island was always my favorite NYC activity!

    • Reply Joanna July 21, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      That sounds dreamy! I would love to do something like that!! Thanks for the rec. We’ll see if we can do it!

  • Reply Maddie July 21, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Oh! And if you can handle going all the way out to Staten Island, we always loved going to see the Staten Island Yankee’s play. It’s a super minor team (all the boys are like 18/19 yo), but the stadium looks out over the water, the tickets are $10 or less and you just take the ferry over and the stadium is right next to the station. It’s so cheap and while it’s usually not the best baseball around–it’s fun being on the water (they do fireworks if you can handle a night game with the girls) and I didn’t care about leaving early if M got too tired.

    Okay, I’ll try and stop. Clearly I want live through one more NYC summer vicariously through you : ) (minus the humidity and lack of central air conditioning).

    • Reply Joanna July 21, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      Johnny would love that. And I would, too, although both girls are pretty crazy right now! NYC summers are so great!! But don’t sell yourself short on where you are… honestly, we’ve had some rather harrowing experiences with our apt and our neighborhood the last few weeks that I wish I’d never experienced! So enjoy San Diego for me! 🙂

  • Reply Molly July 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Definitely second Govorner’s Island, especially since at certain times the ferry is free! Also recommend checking out the Brooklyn Bridge Park programming (free kayaking and a pool! among other things), the Prospect Park Zoo (similarly sized to the Central Park zoo, but MUCH less crowded), The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum Family Days (it’s the oldest house in New York State!), taking the Metro North Train along the Hudson (doesn’t matter where you go, I just think kids really like to take trains and you get a great view of the river), The Queens Farm Museum (which is a legit farm in the middle of Queens! they have excellent programming, but it is much easier to get there by car. they especially have great programming around halloween/Christmas, so maybe save this idea for that time?), and taking a roller coaster ride on the Coney Island boardwalk! One more – check out Jacob Riis National Park in the Rockaways – it’s a beautiful, pristine beach (IMO, the nicest beach in NYC)!

    Love your blog, and love that you’re exploring NYC!

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