Thursday, June 23, 2022

NYC - Part TWO

Before I get started with the details of Tuesday in NYC I thought I'd share about where we stayed.  

It can be a challenge being a family of five especially in a city where the rooms are notoriously small and especially when you'd prefer not to pay for two rooms since you really don't plan to be in it a lot, you know???  We didn't want to feel cramped, but also didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for a hotel that we were going to be in pretty much just for sleeping.  We ended up booking an executive suite at the New York Hilton in Midtown and couldn't have been more pleased.  If we were planning on going back I'd 1000% book again and would absolutely book the suite not just for the space but for the access to the executive lounge. I'm sure y'all are familiar - but in case you're not... it's essentially a private lounge for people booked into executive level rooms that is open all day long and stocked with drinks and coffee and snacks but also serves a continental breakfast in the morning and heavy hors d'oeuvres in the evening.  When I read "continental breakfast" I was like, "ok... sure, jan" (hahaha) but let me tell you what...

IT WAS LEGIT!  Now... I'll admit that on the first morning I got a little crabby-pants and I was like "we didn't come all the way to NYC to eat some quaker oatmeal and yogurt" (gosh, could I BE more bratty?!?!?!) but when we dubbed this "first breakfast" and then grabbed the good good bagels and cream cheese on the way to wherever we were going I quickly became a fan.  If you're traveling with teenagers and/or preteens I can't even begin to explain how awesome this was because KIDS EAT A TON and NYC ain't cheap ;). The evening hors d'oeuvres actually saved us on Wednesday night, too (more on that on the next post) and the service was just top notch.  One night we cruised in at like 9:55 to grab bottled water and hopefully score a cookie or two and they had already cleaned up the cookies but the SWEETEST employee ever goes, "you wait here" and he came out with the cookie jar and a to go box and it was just overwhelmingly kind and thoughtful.  So the moral of my VERY LONG STORY is that if you're traveling with kids I'd HIGHLY recommend this kind of room if only for the breakfast/snack options and quick place to crash if you need it. 

I snapped these when we were leaving so pardon the mess but here's what our room looked like when you walked in.  There was a coat closet on the left as well and that sectional folded out into a double bed...

this little bar area had a refrigerator...

And then the bedroom had these two beds...

... a super spacious closet...

... and bathroom.

These aren't taken with any sort of "zoom out" there was actually this much room which blew my mind for NYC.  The end.  

So onto the recap....

Tuesday morning we were up relatively early and after "first breakfast" ;) walked about 10 minutes from our hotel to Liberty Bagel on our way to Central Park.  

I had looked up recommended spots before going and kind of mapped them out based on our activities and it was super helpful to not be searching for places in the moment.  I LOVE a NYC bagel and cream cheese and these were awesome!  I'm a sucker for anything themed/colorful so you KNOW I had to try their "Liberty" red, white and blue ;)

We hung out at this little spot (right by the apple store across the street from the plaza hotel) and snacked a bit and then made our way the couple blocks to Central Park Zoo.


We had 9 a.m. tickets and were there right at 9 and it was SUPER quiet - and y'all... it was MAGICAL!  I'm not sure if it was the lack of crowds, the really beautiful enclosures, the gorgeous weather, the buildings in the background, the clock that played nursery rhymes to announce the time or WHAT but we all fell in LOVE with Central Park Zoo.  (Note: I bought these tickets online ahead of time so all I had to do was show my phone when we got there)

I mean - is there anything as cool as a pool of sea lions in the middle of Manhattan?!?!?!

We must have sat/stood here for a good 30 minutes watching the sea lions and pretty much had to bribe Mason away ;)  Who knew he was such a fan!

The zoo itself doesn't have a TON of exhibits but what they do have felt really special and well-done.  The enclosures were beautiful and, again, there's just something about seeing a group of grizzly bears and being like "uhhh... this is their view every day?!?!" ;) AWESOME!

Griffin is a HUGE fan of penguins (3rd grade at MCA has a penguin focus... they read Mr. Poppers Penguins, research penguin types, etc.) and she was OVER THE MOON in the penguin house. 

We checked out all the exhibits and then met the sweetest docents on our way out who had these little hands on tables set up.  This gentleman was absolutely precious with the kids and couldn't have been nicer.  We were glad we stopped by because he told us that we had to stay to watch the sea lion feeding so you KNOW we couldn't miss that ;)

After the zoo we hit up the gift shop in search of some sea lion merch ;) and then made our way to the carousel in the park.

Luke opted out of a ride but these two had a blast and it was a little extra cool when we realized how old some of the horses were and how the whole carousel used to be on Coney Island. 

We checked out the chess and checkers house and played some checkers with different colored leaves (if you want to actually play chess bring your own pieces!)... and hung out for a bit.

We made our way back down through the park...

(we saw Wollman Rink on the way which was being set up for a disco????)

... and ended up almost where we came in.  We grabbed a quick hot dog and pretzel lunch...

... and then headed out of the park and walked back to the hotel to drop off a couple of things the kids bought and waited for our Uber to take us to the Circle Line port for our harbor tour! 

Sidenote: We always had masks on when we got into Ubers but several if our drivers weren't wearing them so we'd follow suit.  If they kept theirs on so did we.  Just in case you were curious!

The landmarks 1.5 hour cruise was part of the City Pass I mentioned yesterday but for $5/each I upgraded our tickets to the Best of NYC cruise which was 2.5 hours and went around the whole island.  My kids loved it and I think were okay with the "rest" after a lot of walking that morning but if you're pressed for time or have younger kids I think the 1.5 hour tour would be great and you'd still get to see the main highlights.

We left the pier and headed downtown - it was HOT in the sun and we were dummies and forgot sunscreen.  So if you're planning on doing this don't forget the SPF!  We could have moved inside but that's no fun so we stuck it out and I was the only one who really got fried. Whoops.

The views from the water are pretty awesome and the guide gave lots of great info on things as you passed by.

The highlight FOR SURE was cruising right on past the Statue of Liberty!  HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! 

We considered doing the ferry to Ellis Island but with time being tight (is it ever not tight in NYC?!?!) we thought the kids would rather see several different sights including the Statue vs just gong to Ellis Island (I've been and it's super impactful and special to see... especially as the granddaughter of Dutch immigrants but we'll save it for next time) ;)

The captain opened up the bow of the boat which is where we spent the majority of the rest of the trip because my kids are down for any opportunity to get a little bit wet and it was a blast.

Would HIGHLY recommend getting out on the water if you can - it was a fun way to see a LOT in a relatively short amount of time and seeing it from the water was really unique.  

We got off right around 6:00 and got to see enough of the Intrepid. Museum from the dock to know it's something my boys WISH we had had time to do (note for next time!)...

I wasn't sure how busy things were going to be and we also like to have somewhat of a plan so I had made reservations for us at 7:00 at The Meatball Shop in Hells Kitchen so we started walking ;). The kids saw this park and asked to stop in so we did!

Cute cute and not sure how they had energy to burn but somehow they did ;) hahaha. We powered on and saw this happening...

... stopped and watched for a few minutes and found out it was Thalia filming some sort of promo?  Still don't know who she is but she was super pretty and it was fun to watch the whole production of things going on.

Made it to the Meatball Shop in the nick of time because we were all starting to get a little hangry ;)

Thankfully it lived up to the online hype and we all enjoyed a really great meal.  I had this pesto pasta with broccoli and chicken meatball extravaganza and dare I say it was the best meal of the trip?!?! Seriously so good.

Dave had their spicy shrimp pasta and had nothing but great things to say.

Fun was had ;)

There was a cookie shop next door (Insomniac Cookies) so of course we had to stop in (actually we had to wait outside for a bit while doordash drivers fought it out inside with the employees which was honestly kind of entertaining and felt very New York - hahahaha).  We grabbed this monstrosity to share and OH MY WORD so good!

We kept walking until we hit Times Square...

... which was so cool to see all lit up at night.  I think this was exactly what the kids had been picturing when we told them we were going to NYC so it was fun to see them take it all in.  

We checked out the M&Ms store...

... got photobombed...

... watched some street performers jump over people (y'all know what I'm talking about!), breathed in about a years worth of second hand week smoke (OH MY GOSH, Y'ALL! Times Square was like weed central) and then saw the Hamilton theater on our way back to the hotel.  

Note: It's been a few years since I've been to NYC and I mentioned on IG that, honestly, it felt VERY similar to past times I've been.  We never felt unsafe, it felt very much the same BUT the weed in Times Square was pretty intense.  That was really the biggest difference I noticed.

By the time we got back to midtown it had been a SUPER full and busy day so it was pretty much all any of us had in us to shower and snuggle into bed.

SUCH a fun day and I almost said by favorite day but then I remembered what we did on the other days and I had to refrain :) hahaha 

SORRY this was crazy long but there was a lot of ground to cover, literally and figuratively!  HAPPY Thursday, friends!!!


  1. I'm loving the recaps! As I said yesterday, NYC is possibly my favorite city. I'd love for my boys to see it someday! Did you run into any naked people in Times Square? We did, but their bodies were painted in a way that made it not be obvious they were naked. Yikes!

  2. I loved this crazy long post!! I can't get enough of the NYC content!!

  3. This is making me want to book a trip to NY immediately!

  4. Great post! And I'm SUPER IMPRESSED with your planning and organizational skills. I mean, I know I should expect nothing less, but I'm still impressed. And I want your meal from the meatball place for breakfast.

    1. I guess it wouldn't surprise you that I had everything written out on a google doc either ;) hahahaha

  5. Sign me up!!! This is a dream trip, and your posts are so helpful for a mom like me that's never been. I appreciate you taking the time to share the details and pics. So glad you guys had such a good time.

    1. I'm so glad you're finding them helpful! I'm always torn about exactly how much detail people want so I love hearing you're enjoying the posts!

  6. I have never wanted to go to NYC, until now! Great recap! G carrying her koala through NYC is precious.

    1. Not sure how long she'll want to take little animals along with her so I'm treasuring it!

  7. How long were you at the zoo? We will be there next week!

    1. About 2 hours (maybe 2.5). We got there at 9 and were about to leave when they started feeding the sea lions so whatever time that is. HAve the best time!

  8. I am loving these posts! We have never been to NYC and it is one place on my list to visit.

  9. How did you book the attractions with the City Pass? I bought them and, for the life of me, can't find a way to reserve times. For example, the Empire State Building doesn't seem to have a City Pass option, but I saw that you were able to book your visit for sunset, so I'm probably just not going to the correct menu item.

    1. I got an email with the subject "Your Tickets & Important Next Steps" and the clicked the "visit the travel guide" link and I was able to select options and times from there. Hope that helps!

  10. Sounds like such a wonderful trip!!

  11. Pot isn't legal in Georgia yet either. We've traveled to eight other states this summer and WOOF. The smell is EVERYWHERE.


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