Katherine is back with another edition of her popular travel series – this time she headed to New York City for the weekend with her family and enjoyed a true Big Apple experience.
Taking two kids to the Big Apple, Not as crazy as you would think.
Living just north of New York State border has its perks – New York City is a mere 7.5 hour drive from the Toronto area. On Thanksgiving weekend our family was blessed with our FIFODad being home and we decided to make the most of it. It had been a few years since we were all together on Thanksgiving, so we quickly checked hotel rates and made sure there were tickets for Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway available and off we went!
Driving seemed a little daunting (especially in one of the biggest cities in the world) but we were up for the challenge. We picked a hotel that was close to Lincoln tunnel
because that is where we would be entering Manhattan. It also had a ton of parking, which is a feature not many hotels seems to have (PRO TIP – Lincoln tunnel is $15 CASH from NJ to NY but no charge from NY to NJ).
Driving in New York (the little we did) was pretty simple, and it is actually way worse driving in Toronto. Once we reached the hotel we parked the car for the weekend and took the subway everywhere. We bought a 7 day metro card
for my husband and I. They were $29.00 and we used them enough in 3 days to make it worth it (kids under 44 inches are free).
We arrived at about 3:30pm in New York, checked in to our hotel, and then hit the town. We ate an early dinner at small diner on the corner that we returned to each morning for breakfast. It was just like living in an episode of Seinfeld! We jumped on the subway to Times Square and took in the sights and snapped a few selfies.
Later it was Aladdin on broadway, which was breathtaking. It made me emotional that my kids first big stage show was actually a big broadway production. I remember seeing Beauty and the Beast in Toronto and that is how I fell in love with theatre.
My husband really wanted to see Ground Zero, I was a little unsure because our kids were only 6 and 8. Did I really want to show them so much hate? We exited the subway right at the St Paul’s Chapel which withstood all the devastation during 9/11. There were men selling books; I know they were just peddling them but when one stopped me and showed me that his book read like a textbook with no graphic photos and very age appropriate content for the kids, I purchased one. It was a better option than what I might pull up on my phone when googling the World Trade Centre. My husband took in the memorial/monument and I sat with the kids on a bench and explained why this was here and what happen with the help of the book.
Next we hit the Staten Island Ferry
, which was a quick subway ride. This is a free ferry that goes from New York to Staten Island, and it has great views of the Statue of Liberty. You need to exit the boat when you arrive at the island, but you can hop right back on and travel back to NYC. The views of the city from the water were amazing!
We grabbed an Uber
up to Madison Square Park, and we had to have some Shake Shack.
Best Thanksgiving dinner EVER! The kids blew off some steam in the playground before we travelled up to the American Girl Store.
I was a lucky girl and was treated to Tiffany’s, although it wasn’t the way I pictured. When I envisioned shopping at the 5th avenue Tiffany’s, I thought I would quietly peruse the selections and take my time trying on each piece, getting my husband’s opinion, then make small talk about my trip and maybe get a tip on a great place for lunch nearby. Instead, I was a sweaty mess and carrying my son’s doll while also trying to stop my kids from rubbing their faces on the display cases. I end up pulling up a photo on my phone to show the sales associate and left my husband behind to finish up the sale because my son had handed me a booger and I was all out of wet wipes. I’ve never felt so glamorous.
We felt like NYC pros by this point; we mastered the subway with the help of the transit app
and I spend my free time plotting places I want to see/shop/eat at on the Ulmon City Map app
, so the whole city was at our finger tips. On our way home we stopped at 30 rock and saw the ice rink. The kids got a huge kick of seeing so many places they had seen in movies.
We started off with breakfast at our own Seinfeld diner again, and then went to romp around the playgrounds at Central Park. We used this map to find and discover different playgrounds; it was like a treasure hunt! Every playground was better than the next! My kids seem to find new friends everywhere we go – hopefully a trait they keep into adulthood!
We got back on the subway and headed up the westside to the Museum of Natural History
. My husband and I always seem to have our travel plans inspired by movies, and it would seem that our kids are taking after us. This is high on the list of sights to see because of movies like A Night a the Museum
. You can even do a self guided tour
that takes in the spots featured in the movie!
Highlights include the Hall of Ocean Life (home of the Big Blue Whale), and the Hall of Biodiversity (where you find the Dzanga-Sangha Rain Forest), and of course all of the Dinosaurs!
We exited the museum into a powerful storm, so we took that as our cue to hit the road for home. I don’t know if it was the anticipation of getting to New York City, but the drive home seemed quicker. If you didn’t have a lot of time to shop while visiting I suggest hitting up The Crossing Premium Outlets. Its in Tannersville, Pennsylvania – so no sales tax!
What’s your favourite spot in The Big Apple? Any travel tips? Let us know in the comments below!