Too much to see and so much to say! This is the second installment of our trip to the Big Apple with our little entourage. Be sure to catch Part One: How To Do Manhattan in 4 Days With Your Little Entourage.
Day 3- Another Action Packed Day
- Another great resource besides the hotel concierge, are useful travel apps and websites. One of my favorites is Open Table. I was able to secure and make changes to a brunch reservation at the famed Sarabeth’s Kitchen, which was also walking distance from the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
- Delicious farm to table and homemade delights filled our bellies and prepared us for a one-hour ice skating escapade in Central Park. When I ask the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, the first thing out of their mouth is, “Ice Skating!” It was recommended by several New Yorker friends to ice skate at Central Park to avoid the crowds of Rockefeller Center. Great idea!
- Wollman Rink offers a surreal experience surrounded by skyscrapers on one side and the thick, beautiful green trees of Central Park on the other. The prices was quite reasonable- $75 for a family of 4 to skate and rentals of skates and a locker (with a $10 refund with return of locker key). Plus, there is a little snack bar with sweets and hot chocolate for later. At one point during our skating, the kids looked up at me and said, “This is so cool,” and they were right. It was so cool to be ice skating in Central Park.
- Today was the day we split into teams. The boys headed off to explore more of the park, which also included a trip to the Central Park Zoo and the Natural History Museum. While the girls got dressed for Broadway! Off to see Annie, dressed in our holiday finest and of course, toting our American Girl Dolls along for the show.
- Annie was a delightful show to see, especially during the Christmas season, when the story takes place. My daughter never took her eyes off the stage. It was a wonderful time for both of us!
- Following the show, we were to meet the boys at Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Unfortunately, the show ran a bit long, which let us out smack dab in the middle of Time Square during rush hour traffic. Not a good thing when you are trying to get a cab. The boys chose to stay in the comfort of the hotel room (in their cozy matching robes and slippers I’m sure!), as the girls bravely headed into the craziness of 5 o’clock life in upper Manhattan.
- Since we were so close to 5th Avenue, we wove our way in and out of the thousands of people on the street to catch a glimpse of the famously lit Rockefeller Center and Christmas tree. Snapped a few photos and then headed towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral where we saw the life sized Nativity Scene and lit candles for our loved ones. It was approaching 6pm at this point, and we needed to be in Little Italy by 6:30 to meet the boys for dinner. I started searching for a cab.
- As we walked down 5th Avenue, I pointed out all the holiday decorations to my daughter. The windows, the street lights, the snowflakes hung connecting both sides of the street. We stopped for a brief moment to watch the windows of Cartier magically display their exquisite diamonds with the wave of a hand. Fun as it was, we were still stuck on the wrong side of town, with no hopes in catching a cab or even a pedi-cab. I distracted my daughter long enough to walk several blocks off of 5th Avenue towards 34th Street, pointing out the Empire State Building as we passed. (Yes, we walked that far).
- Finally spotting a friendly NYC police officer (who I was much grateful to and so comforted to see so many perched at the top of almost every block), who taught me how to ride the subway, which was right across the street. Though nervous, ok, petrified, to go at it alone with my daughter, I took a deep breath, grabbed her hand tightly, and flew down the stairs to the Subway. With the help of some friendly strangers along the way, we made it to our destination, about 30 minutes late. We were quite relieved to see the boys sitting at the table with antipasto and red wine (for mommy). waiting for us. Il Cortile was a happy reprieve from the mother/daughter adventure we had just had!
- After that craziness, the only way my daughter was going back to the hotel was in a cab. Which Daddy hailed for us and into the night we went, back to the familiar space of our hotel room.
Day 4- Winding Down
- My husband had to leave on Day 4, which I was both nervous and excited about. I felt ready to explore this monster of a city on my own. After sending Daddy off, the kids and I headed out on our great adventure. Starting with the Subway, as my son was a bit jealous that he didn’t get to ride it; next stop, Rockefeller Center.
- The Subway station at Rockefeller Center is beautiful, and full of options for dining and shopping. We caught a glimpse of the ice skating rink, happy we had takend our friends’ advice. The station led us right to the American Girl Store, which was a top priority on my daughter’s list. We have a routine when we go there, which helps with the experience which can quite overwhelming for little girls. Once we wrapped our 1-hour shopping limit there, we headed back to show my son the Christmas tree. Even though it was day light, it was still pretty spectacular, and after our little excursion the night before, there was no way I was going back that night.
- Lunch was another hot dog from the street, as we made our way down the other end of 5th Avenue towards FAO Schwarz and The Plaza.
- FAO Schwarz, much different than the Toys R Us experience we had, but just as much fun. The kids were in awe of all the crazy cool toys and books available. My daughter loved the reading room, while my son was really torn on whether or not to use his Christmas money to make his own muppet. They waited their turn to play on the BIG Piano, watched a demo of flying little UFOs, picked out a special New York ornament to commemorate our trip for our Christmas tree, and picked out a book for each of their baby brothers at home.
- It was hard to get them out of there, but fortunately, I had planned a 3pm reservation for Tea at The Plaza, located right across the street.
- Years ago, on my way to study in France, my parents flew with me to NYC, and we stayed at The Plaza. Just as gorgeous as I remembered, and full of high-society history and moments in time. We took our reservation in The Palm Court, and the children were offered the Eloise Menu. Yes, as in the cartoon character, Eloise. Another one of my favorite memories; sitting with my son on one side, who enjoys doing tea, and my daughter across from me with her American Girl Dolls lined up next to her in the booth.
- It is worth mentioning The Plaza has a newer area downstairs called, The Shops at The Plaza. I you have ever been to Harrods in London, you will picture it right away. Otherwise, it is filled with gourmet teas and treats, interesting and rare trinkets and gifts, and a sweet little Eloise themed shop, along with a barber and other amenities, it is definitely worth a visit.
- A quick trip into Bergdorf Goodman to buy a gift for Nonnie back home watching the twins, and the hotel was a quick walk away.
- At this point, the kids were exhausted, but I still had one more trip in mind before we left. Santa Land at Macy’s.
- It took two hours and bribing of McDonalds for dinner to get them to take one more Subway trip over to Herald Square. My intention was two-fold. I wanted to show them Macy’s, and the wooden escalators and of course, Santa Land, but I also wanted to show them where Mommy performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My daughter insisted in riding the Subway in her jammies, but I didn’t care. This was the final destination that would make our NYC trip complete!
- At 8pm, we headed to the Columbus Circle Subway entrance, which was literally outside the door of the Trump. Ten minutes later we were standing in Herald Square with Macy’s on one side of us and the Empire State Building on the other. As we made our way through the street, I pointed out the spot with the huge star indicating the place where the performers stop during the parade and do their thing in front of millions of viewers as well as those fortunate enough to have seats on the bleachers behind them.
- There was also a magnificent display in the windows outlining the story of Miracle on 34th Street, and my kids were very intrigued by the whole thing. We made our way through the department store, which was more like a mall to them, and up the 9-floors using the wooden escalators. Dropped off outside Santa Land, at 9pm, my children refused to wait in the line. At that point, I couldn’t blame them. They were tired and hungry and just spent. I hugged and thanked them for letting me show them that special place, then we found McDonalds.
- At 9:30 at night, sitting in the McDonalds not too far from Herald Square, my daughter was extremely satisfied. Even though I had taken her all through the very best spots in New York City to see the very best Holiday decorations, she announced that the prettiest ones she had seen this whole trip were right there in the dining area of the McDonalds.
- 10pm found us back at our hotel, in the comfortable pillows and blankets, with the sounds of the city lulling us to sleep for the last time that week.
RSMLV Tips and Tricks:
- Big trips can often be overwhelming for little tykes, especially if they are not used to walking or riding in public transportation. Have a plan, but also be flexible and willing to change it up if the kids are tired or bored. At the time of this trip, my kids were 8 and 6. My son had no problem and no complaints with the walking, while my daughter struggled a little bit.
- Be prepared to take various means of transportation. Though I wasn’t fond of riding the Subway alone with my kids, it ended up being the most direct route and easiest way to get around the city. Download an app of the public transportation system in the city you are going to, and ask friends or family familiar with the city for their tips and tricks. We also took the horse carriage and pedi cabs, which are great, but always know the end price before agreeing to ride.
- Before we leave on a trip, I have my kids research the city. This may be through the internet, but also their favorite books or TV shows and movies where the city is referenced is a great resource as well.
- From their research, I have them pick the top 3 places they really want to see while we are there, and make those items a priority. For example, my son’s Top 3: Central Park Zoo, Natural History Museum, and Statue of Liberty. My daughter’s: American Girl Store, Christmas decorations, and Rockefeller Center. They both wanted to do things like ice skating and eating hot dogs from the street carts, so we were to easily plan that into our itinerary. Trying to fit in more than what they are interested may create a stressful time for all.
- NYC is full of so many places to go, things to do, and let’s face it, unless you can stay for a month, you are not going to see everything in one trip. Plan out the areas that are important, and find a spot that is centrally located for your family. The Trump International Hotel and Tower was amazing for us. We were literally no more than 30 minutes away by cab from our farthest destination. We also had the ability to walk to many places nearby or the option of the Subway with the Columbus Circle station right outside the front door. Being in a spot like this will save you time, energy and money.
- We had great success with the concierge services at the Trump International Hotel and Tower. The staff was very friendly and knowledgable about the city, the best times and ways to get around, and the best places to go with kids. Before arriving, check with your front desk to see if there is any type of guest profile to fill out, advanced grocery shopping you can do, or special amenities available for the kids or families. Also, touch base with the concierge on your itinerary and see if there are things they would recommend or suggest in addition to or in lieu of what you have planned already. Yes, in some cases, concierges work with local companies to earn rewards, etc., however, if you know what types of things you are looking to do and communicate that to the hotel concierge, I would bet you will find great luck with them, and plenty of valuable information to make your experience even better.