We went because my husband had a two day conference to attend and decided to have our family go along since the kids were on fall break. We had our three kids (ages 12, 10 and 8) with us and we all had a blast. We even met up with friends from Baltimore for 3 days of the trip and who also have kids the same ages as our kids.
I thought I'd share what we did while we were there in case you even find yourself planning a trip to NYC and would like some ideas on things to do. Of course, I'm not an expert on NYC, but thought it would be fun to share what we did.
Since we were there for 5 days, I thought I'd share a post for each day of the trip during the next month. So here's a look at what we did on day 1.
Red Eye Flight
Since we were traveling from the west side of the US, we decided to not waste daytime traveling and took a night flight. We departed Phoenix at 11:30 p.m. and we all tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to get some sleep. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. into JFK and took a taxi to our hotel in Manhattan. We dropped our bags off at our hotel in Union Square and then we were off on our adventure.
Walk, Walk, Walk
The kids thought they might not survive all of the walking we did on the trip, but they did! We were sure to pack good walking shoes for everyone plus a supply of band-aids. One of my favorite things about walking it that you get to see the city and find places you'd miss if ou were on the subway all of the time.
For example, on the walk from our hotel to the Empire State Building we stopped at a cute corner cafe for a delicious bagel breakfast. I was excited that our family all ate breakfast for a total of $9. Not bad for NYC.
You also get to see awesome city views while walking.
We ended up walking at least 40 miles during our time in NYC. Perfect for working off calories from all of the treats we sampled along the way.
Empire State Building
This is something that is fun to do once while in NYC and we hadn't done it as a family. There were people outside of the building trying to get us to buy upgraded tickets to the Empire State Building where we could skip the line, but that would have been a waste of money. The lines weren't bad and moved quickly.
It was a clear day and we had great city views. It was crowded, so we just took our time and waited for our turn to see the views from each side of the observation deck.
New York Public Library
We happened upon the New York Public Library while we were walking from the Empire State Building. I'm so happy we stopped for a look around.
It was a beautiful old building where you could easily spend a whole day exploring and relaxing. Not only do they (obviously) have books, they also had several museum style exhibits. We took some time checking out an exhibit titled "Lunch Hour" that documented the history of lunch in NYC. It was a cool exhibit that my husband, kids and I all enjoyed.
There are so many restaurants in NYC. We used Yelp to help us locate places to eat. On this day we wanted something quick and cheap and we found a pizza by the slice place really nearby. This isn't hard to do since there are pizza by the slice places all over town. It was a perfectly quick and tasty lunch.
We had reserved tickets for viewing the 9/11 Memorial at 1:30 in the afternoon. We took a subway down to the Memorial site. The tickets are free, but you need to reserve and print them at home. They do run out of tickets ahead of time, so if you are planning on going be sure to reserve your tickets as soon as possible.
This was a very peaceful and reflective Memorial that is beautiful and well done. There are two large square fountain structures with waterfalls that are on the site of the Twin Towers. The names of everyone who died on the site on 9/11 are engraved around the outside edge of the fountain.
This was a very reverent place and it was moving to be there.
Visiting this site gave us an excellent opportunity to talk to our kids about what happened that day while we were walking to the site.
There were nice views of the new Freedom Tower that is being built near the memorial site.
Carlo's Bake Shop
We took a PATH train from the World Trade Center site across the water to New Jersey so we could go to Carlo's Bake Shop which is featured on the TLC show Cake Boss. The ride was only 10 minutes and cost the same ($2.25 per person, per ride) as ride the subway in the city.
It was a 5 minute walk from the train station to get to the bakery.
There were cases filled with cakes, cookies, cheesecake, brownies and pastries. Heavenly! We selected a few things to share and then sat out in front of the bakery to enjoy our treats and the beautiful weather. We decided that the cannoli was our top pick our of the treats.
After the bakery, we made our way to Central Park via the train and subway. This is one of our favorite places in the city. We visited Central park 4 out of the 5 days that we were in NYC. The kids LOVED playing on the playground here. It's a perfect place to relax and enjoy the city. There are vendors all around the park selling pretzels, nuts and other small snacks. Since Max's favorite snack is a soft pretzel, he was pretty happy to enjoy a pretzel at the park.
At this point in the day (around 5:30 p.m.) we were all VERY tired since we really hadn't slept much on the plane the night before and had been going hard all day. Everyone was begging me to go to the hotel to take a little nap. I knew we would probably not wake up for hours from the "little nap", so we decided to push through the tiredness and get some dinner before turing in for the night.
We decided on Max Brenner for dinner because they have the most amazing chocolate drinks and it was close to our hotel. This is a chocolate lovers paradise. They have a huge assortment of chocolate drinks (an entire menu for them) plus the food is quite good. They even dust their fries in cocoa powder.
We called from Central Park and made a reservation so that we would have to wait for a table.
By 8:00 p.m we were officially exhausted, so we headed back to our hotel and went to sleep. We slept until 8:00 the next morning and then we were ready to go again. The red eye flight not only is great because you don't use up a travel day flying, it is also a nice option because you are so tired that first night you are adjusted to the new time zone. Since is was only 5:00 p.m. at home, if we had flown during the day, I'm sure the kids wouldn't have wanted to go to bed until hours later.
Thanks for joining me on day 1 of our NYC adventure! Day 2 will be posted soon.