Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New York City Highlights Part I

We crammed a lot into our seven day trip. Considering everyone's different interests, I have to laugh as my husband is drawn to things that I consider 'tourist traps' like the NY Lobster boat cruise and myself who would like to go where real New Yorkers like to go, i.e the hidden spots. Add teen boys to this mix and you'll see we did a real variety of things.

 Here's the best of what we did...

Central Park was absolutely our very favorite.

The day we walked a large part of the park and got to FAO Schwarz was mainly for the guys.

 Laughing at the monster sizes stuffed animals and helping demo a new kind of hacky sack below.

The Marbles Brain Store in FAO was a hit with my guys.

 Guess there was no taking a pink dog home, but maybe it could fit in the overhead bin? Well at least I can believe someone would try! Don't get me started on those refusing to check things.

The guys loved the day they got Citi bikes and biked the park..

  Dylan's Candy Bar also made the 'list.'

We all thought Chelsea was also a cool area.


Chelsea Market,  is a huge warehouse filled with restaurants and unique shops focusing on artisanal food and goods.
  Very fun to wander through and a great place to eat. It's also adjacent to the High Line which is an almost 2 mile long linear park built on an old elevated train line. This is a fun walk and enjoy some great views of older parts of the city that are getting gentrified due to this walkway.
From the High Line.
 There's a little pub right off one of the stairs to the park and we chilled a bit there. Above us was someone's garden and we got watered a bit, but it felt great. Lol.
Great spot- The Half King. A hip bar inside and popular for dinner too.
via The Half King

 We also thought seeing  the 9/11 Memorial was something we all would never forget.
 It's much bigger than you expect. Beautifully done. Very solemn experience. I'm so glad we made time to do this.

 Right next door they are building the new Oculus transportation hub by architect Santiago Calatrava. It's like a massive bird skeleton and impressive. It's supposed to be the lightest, brightest subway station ever. I wish I took a photo, but it was hugely crowded and nearly impossible. (I suggest visiting early in the day and not on a weekend if you can..All bets are off in summer though.) Here's a photo from the web of it in progress. It's to be done the end of 2015. As you can see it's right by the memorial pool to right.

That same day we also did the highly recommended Tenement Museum.

Sounds strange, but it's a fascinating look into the true lives of the immigrants who inhabited this block in the 1860s, 1890s and 1930s.   Once inside you choose the tour you want. We did the Hard Times Tour and it was one hour. You go through the actual tenement which is in it's original state (no touching of the walls even), and a docent leads you through the story of each family in different rooms. You learn about how they got there and how they survived, and some amazing stories and some heartbreak. I learned so much I never knew about all the different eras of immigration and I'd love to go back and do another type of tour next time. The boys enjoyed it as well and were a good age to appreciate it.

You enter the museum through the very popular store which has been dubbed the best place to buy cool New York souvenirs. I agree and got an umbrella with the subway map on it. (I love it!) Also some fun stuff like cool socks...

 I know some people who fit these. Just saying.

They have bags, shirts, cool things made in New York and a fantastically curated New York book collection.
As the museum is in the Lower East Side, there's many spots to eat and a few blocks away is Little Italy.

 It's fun to walk Mulberry Street which was closed to traffic and feels like it's one big street party. There are blocks of outdoor restaurants and street vendors selling traditional cannoli and other goodies. Mulberry street was once home to the worst slums in New York apparently.

 Look at all the Cannoli here people!!
I began talking like a New Yorkah after a while- Cannoli is Cannoli!! 

A stand with torrone, roasted nuts and other Italian treats.

My guys trying deep fried oreos.

Another must see to me is Greenwich Village.
It's similar to Brooklyn with leafy streets and an old time charm. This little man with his suspenders fit perfect in front of this restaurant which almost looks like a movie set.
Washington Square Park is very famous for it's history of protests, free thinkers and musicians. The fountain was designed to cool your feet and get a spray of water. It was a super hot day and it felt refreshing. The arch was modeled after the Arc de Triomphe and has been here since 1892.
The park has chess and scrabble tables with guys looking for chess partners. When my boys entered the park the shouted out them to come play. These tables are part of the Chess district of the city which has multiple chess shops. This area is just steps from NYU, which borders the park.
Did you know that NYC has 1,900 public parks?! Impressive.

The West Village near Greenwich is charming and has even more cute streets and eateries.

Of course we also had to see Times Square! There is really nothing like it with billboards up to the moon. It's a terrific place to find out the latest Broadway shows. There were a few I wished I had time or tickets to see like the Carol King musical Beautiful, and The King and I. Truly though there is a show for everyone and you can queue here for same day tickets at a discount. 

The one night we did get to Broadway to see Wicked it was terrific. Plan in advance if you can to get show tickets and you won't regret it! There's nothing like these shows. (Funny thing is one of the flying monkeys had an accident during our show and they had a brief break. Hopefully he was okay!) Our awesome doorman Rome said he had never heard of such a thing in all the years of getting hotel patrons to Broadway.

The Playbill site is a good place to start researching what is upcoming and also off Broadway shows with small and sometimes famous casts that are currently running. I didn't discover this site until I was in New York.
 Dressed up on the way to our show. As one of my favorite bloggers, Slim Paley talked about in one of her last posts, you should dress up! Wearing sloppy shorts is just bad form. Make it a night out and wear something nice! Yes, your children should too. It's called manners. Lucky Slim did get to see the revival of King and I with Ken Watanabe and more about it on the link to her blog!
Walking back from our show.
So much to love about New York! I highly recommend taking a week if you can. For kids growing up in suburbs this was something totally new and I'm glad they got to experience navigating the streets, subways and just enjoying the buzz of a very big city. 

There's no place like New York!

Do you love New York and do you have favorite hotels, restaurants or spots you love?

Please share here!!

Up next is some tips on planning your trip, Brooklyn and our fab hotel.

Happy vacations everyone.



  1. Kim what a great trip I really enjoyed your highlights!
    We too loved Central Park and combined it with FAO, the pictures from the store with my youngest playing the floor piano are my favourite. And guess what we also saw Wicked, it was a highlight to be sure.
    We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria which was a great experience and I would stay there again (our next trip will just be the two of us though). I'm very curious to hear about your hotel, was it family friendly? Better suited to a couple?
    Thanks for sharing love all your picks and I am definitely getting to the Tenement Museum when we go next, wish we'd brought our kids there! XO

    1. Dani, We wanted to play the piano, but the wait was too long. How funny you saw Wicked too! The Waldorf-Astoria was on the same block as our hotel the Affina Fifty. I thought that was a super location didn't you? Affina was nice for families as it has very spacious large rooms, but it also has a fun wine social in the afternoons and was stylish and modern.. I am sure the Waldorf was amazing. I'll publish the blog about the hotel next! Yes, Dani you would appreciate the Tenement Museum!! xo

  2. Simply awesome!! I haven't been back to NY in years! Now I want to go. Those Cannoli's make my mouth water. You just can't get good ones here in CA! And I think I need those socks:) It really looks like yiou all had an amazing time. Thanks for sharing your trip!

    1. Jennifer the cannoli on the street were sadly not as good as they looked..Better to go to a real bakery or good restaurant....There were so many places in NY! Yes dying over the socks!!! xo

  3. I appreciate all of your photos. The next trip to NY will include Brooklyn and the Village-I've never been to either. I adore Central Park and of course a Broadway show. BTW-Beautiful will be in SF as part of the SHN Best of Broadway. We saw the SF Preview and I like it-but I'm sure it's a lot better now that they worked out some obvious kinks. There are actually quite a few great shows coming to SF this season including If/Then w/ my most favorite - Idina. We saw here in Wicked and she was incredible. Yes, by all means get dressed up for the theater. It's such a special treat!

    1. Hi Julie, Thanks for the heads up about Beautiful!! I'm going to check it out. I had no idea! I need to see all that's coming to SF in Fall because I especially love going to a show at the holidays and staying up in the city. You are going to love Brooklyn and the Village- both so much charm and cool spots!!

  4. Kim, it looks like you all had a fabulous time. When we went in December, we also visited the 9/11 memorial which we had seen before, but this time the museum had just opened up, so we were able to see that. Our favorite part of our trip was when we took a private tour of Greenwich Village and some of the other areas. It was so wonderful and worth the extra money! Next time I would like to visit the Tenement Museum, thanks for the tip! Kelley

    1. Kelley would love to see NYC at the holidays. I have heard about these walking tours and I bet the Greenwich one was cool. I would do that next trip. I think it always makes visiting a place more interesting when you hear the history of it. You would like the Tenement Museum too. I wish we had time to do the new 9/11 Museum. Another reason to get back there. xo

  5. I loved living there so when I visit I tend to revisit old places so can you Believe I still haven't been to the high line? Next time I will but I also used to rollerblade the loop. Glad you fun xx

    1. Naomi, It's pretty neat and goes through one of the more interesting parts of town, Chelsea if I'm correct. Rollerblading it would be very cool!! xo

  6. This is a great post, Kim and your boys are growing so much. Loved your photos of Greenwich Village. Did you stay in Brooklyn the whole time? Can't wait to hear.

    1. Leigh thank you. Can you believe how big they are? Amazes me. We stayed in Midtown Manhattan and ventured to Brooklyn for a day. Will share it in my net post!

  7. Hi Kim! Fabulous post on New York! This made me want to go back immediately! It is such a fun place for a family trip--a litlle something for everyone! I haven't seen Wicked in years, but it's one of my favorites!