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Trip Report Gal's Long New York weekend--and Dad got stuck holding the bags!

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Just back from our graduation gift trip to our daughter, and thought I'd post a report. Once again, I am so thankful for the Fodors community. Reading alll the trip reports, and getting answers to my questions was so very helpful, I can't even put it into words!

My husband, 18 year old daughter, and our "adopted"- for- the -weekend, 18 year old daughter flew to NYC from Cleveland, Ohio, for a Weds. to Sun. stay, to celebrate graduation. We flew United into Laguardia with ease and NYC taxi cabbed it to the Doubletree Suites on Times Sguare. My husband, and our "AD" had never been to NYC, and my last trip was 35 years ago. My daughter had just returned from her first trip there, and loved it so much, she chose a return trip instead of a grad party. Since there were 4 of us on one tab, we didn't go to any places with celebrity chefs, so if you are a foodie, you might want to stop reading now!

We decided before we even left, that we would be taking taxis When you divide the cost in four, it just seemed sensible to go door to door instead of going by subway/bus. Our trip was during the near 100 degree heat wave also, so going down into the subway just didn't make sense to us. Certainly 35 years ago, the cabs didn't have the credit card scanners in the back. I really loved this feature, and found it quite a bit more convienient than cash! It also calculates tips in 20 25, and 30% quantities, which might be high for some, but I found actually cheaper and easier in the long run. Took us a ride or two to get the process down, but in short, at destination arrival, you let the driver know you want credit. The screen shows the charge, you click on the tip amt, or type in what you want, hit ok, slide the card in the scanner, which is a separate little device near the screen, and let him know if you want a receipt. A lot easier then fumbling with cash! Taxis were plentiful at the airport, and there were plenty of the larger size to accomodate luggage. ( I found many times during this trip, cause to remark: "Oh, I guess you guys have done this before!")

So here are my thoughts on the Doubletree Suites in Times Square:
It's right in the thick of it--so perfect for us with the young adults--they really liked all the excitement. Once you get in the door, they make you show your key card, so it is not crowded at all. The lobby is up on the 3rd floor, and then you take a separate elevator to your room. We had a times square view, which we loved, and thought was worth the extra expense. It was also close to many of our points of interest. I think because I was expecting the crowds, I wasn't bothered at all by the chaos!
If you are expecting luxury, you probably would want to stay elsewhere. I thought the hotel was pleasant, but some might not find it acceptable for a honeymoon for instance. I found the hotel to be clean, not rundown, and well staffed. I liked the fact that the qullts were covered in clean sheets, and there were plenty of pillows, and towels, more delivered promptly when needed. We had a small clog in the bar sink, which was fixed immediately, and asked for more toilletries, which were delivered within minutes. We didn't use the consierge at all, but that seemed well-staffed also. The restaurant seemed overpriced--we just looked at the breakfast prices. And when we peeked in, didn't really seem all that special-looking, so we passed on it. The one price I do remember was $17 for a 2 egg omelette. There is a bar in the lobby where we got Starbucks coffee each morning, and that was enough for us.

1st day:

We dropped our luggage with the bellman, and set off to explore the area. Our first stop was the NYC public library. This might seem strange for a first stop, but we all enjoy jaw-dropping architecture, so was a natural for us. Certainly was not disappointing. Beautiful inside and out, lots of picture opportunity, and very easy to navigate with the plentiful, helpful staff and signage.
Next up was Grand Central.....WOW...thank you Jackie O! Loved this place! Lots of camera space taken up here! We've all seen it so many times on TV, so fell in love before we even arrived! Loved it even more once we got there! Lots of places for a quick lunch. We chose to begin with dessert at Juniors. We all ordered wonderful cheesecake which took us three days to finish. Then pizza at Two Boots. I never heard of this place, so don't know if it is a chain. We saw another in Hell's kitchen. I loved the pizza, especially the Grandma Bess--San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh basil--(do I have to go on)? Missed the recommended Murray's cheese, unfortunately.
We being the 2 young (1 young- at- heart) women,who shamelessly love "Gossip Girl" and 1 poor guy, just had to go up to the Campbell apartment and check it out. They were not open, and we didn't meet the dress standard, so couln't indulge,--(too early anyhow!), but the kind staff let us take some pictures.

Now can I just pause here for an observation? I really cannot stress enough, how very kind, polite and helpful I found New Yorkers to be. Certainly a place overrun with tourists is going to cause some rude behavior, but even that was minimal, and in my limited experience here, confined to those who seemed to be travellers. Every place of business we visited was staffed with really nice people. I have to admit to expectations of what I call the "Pretty Woman" treatment.-- You know the scene where she tries to buy the dress, while she herself is still wearing the hooker clothes? Thanks to the 18 year old girls, we visited what felt like EVERY designer outpost in Manhatten, and without fail, enjoyed the impecable manners, and friendliness of everyone we encountered. I must say, I spent more than a little time in the chairs waiting for the girls, so had some good people watching opportunites, and was really impressed.

Okay, back to the itinerary...

Our grandious plans for the trip now called for a visit to the UN.........HAHAHAHAHA!.... Now keeping in mind the 18yo girls, you can guess what came next..........Shopping...........more shopping...........and still more shopping. We first started out on 5th Avenue @ 47th, walking toward down town, got to the Flat Iron building, and decided what we wanted was the other direction. So if you are newbies like us, and are looking for the iconic designer shop experience, what you want is to head toward Central Park. We paused in the middle to actually check in to our rooms, but just briefly! For me, most of these places where actually what I call "Museums to Fashion", because I looked at a lot of beautiful things, but didn't leave with anything! (Okay, I did buy some perfume, but I couldn't resist--they pump it throught the ventilation system or something, and I couldn't help myself.) We shopped so long, that by the time we got up near Central Park, some places were closed. No worries though, we managed to come back later in the trip!

So by this time, it was around 8pm. And we were getting hungry. I knew after getting advice from my Fodors friends, that Times Square would not be the choice for dinner. So we strolled over to 9th for some Hell's kitchen eating. "Five Napkin Burgers", thanks for ruining hamburgers for me forever. They were outstanding!-- 10 ounces of deliciousness! By now, it was probably around 9. They told us a 30 minute wait, and they delivered. Not bad for prime eating hours, I thought, and then I remembered this was WEDNESDAY! I don't think there is a slow day in this city! We waited at the bar, and I had some Brooklyn Ale, which I quite enjoyed. Being from Cleveland, which is a town where we appreciate a good beer, I always like to sample a local brew, and found this one more than met my beer-snob, high ale standards. We all ate the standard burger and fries. With a couple beers each, and cokes for the girls, the check was $120 including tip--pretty darn reasonable I thought.

Next up was the Empire State Building. Okay, I knew from reading many reports here, and getting some good advice, that this would not live up to the hype, but we had to do it. I deliberately planned it for night, because next morniing was TOR visit. For 2 of us this was the first visit to NYC, and you just gotta go. And so we did. I think we must have arrived around 11pm. But this was July, so prime tourist time. I think the total wait time for us was around 1, maybe 1.5 hours. (Which was probably not bad, I've heard 2 hours from many.) I really didn't check the watch, because frankly, I just didn't want to know. Why torture myself? It's not like I'm going to get half way there and say "Okay, let's just forget it" So my impression, is that it is a bit like a cattle drive. There are bellman uniform-wearing guides along the way. And once again they were pleasant. But when you get to the top, there are SO MANY people it really is not enjoyable. My daughter visited during the late winter, and had a completely different experience, went at night, and got right up to the top. So now we can all say: "Been there, done that, nuff said".

Okay, please indulge me in another pause so that I may offer some shoe advice. I am 54 years old, suffer from some knee problems, but still do my fair share of walking. I did buy good walking shoes for this trip, and broke them in, but must have completed my packing after a few glasses of my favorite Syrah, because I LEFT THEM AT HOME! I did however manage to bring a pair of Aerosols, which usually work out okay for me. Now mind you, I spent most of the day in Croc sandals (stop gasping, I can almost hear you from here--they're the nondescript plain black ones at least!), but changed and stepped it up to the Aerosols after the 18yo daughter commented on the Crocs one too many times. I'm estimating that we walked at least 8 miles on the first day, and I needed some bandaids. Now, I have no problem walking 6 miles in a day. I do it routinely. So if you are estimating how much walking you will do in NYC, triple that amount at least, and do some serious shoe research!

So, back to Times Square we went, at which point the girls let me know that the 5 story Forever 21 is open until 2am. Okay, are you KIDDING ME? I can't even crawl any more, and this is only Day 1. Now perhaps, you will nominate me at this point for worst mother of the year, but I decided that these girls are 18. It is broad daylight in Times square 24 hours a day, and there are more policemen there than change-of-shift in the Police station. So we let them shop for another hour while we went back to the room. And there ended Day 1!

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    The ceiling of Main Concourse at Grand Central is odd for two reasons. One, the constellations are backwards. That is because it was designed in the Beaux-Arts style, which is romantic view of the world. Thus, they used god's perspective rather than a humans's. Additionally the stars are out during the day.

    The clock in the middle of the Grand Concourse is also subject to legend. It is said that Christie's and Sotheby's estimate the value at between $10 and $20 million, but that could be apocryphal.

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    <<<Now perhaps, you will nominate me at this point for worst mother of the year, but I decided that these girls are 18.>>>

    I let my daughter stand in Times Square to watch TRL at the MTV studios when she was 13, and this was before cell phones! I waited 3 blocks away at a Starbucks, all the while wondering if I was out of my mind.

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    BigALeinstein, Your comments make me SO wish we would have taken the tour,thanks for the info, it enrich's my experience of the trip!

    SF7307, My daugher tells me that this is just about the safest she has felt anywhere in the world! But still made me pause a little when they walked away from us!

    Day 2;

    So, My wonderful husband and I began a daily practice of hitting up the lobby Starbucks station while we allowed the girls some time to get up and dressed. We managed to actually get out the door by around 9:30, which is tragically late for my $/HR vacation cost sensibilities, but this was not my gift trip, so I abided by the preference of the girls.

    Our first stop was to the observation deck at Rockefeller Center, aka TOR. Now this was quite a worthwhile visit in everyone's opinion. It is done really well, with timed tickets, which allow for plenty of space on the actual deck, which I suspect has more to do with weight limits etc. than planning. But whatever the reason, it makes for a really enjoyable experience. I liked the views much better than ESB, and the very limited waiting is wonderful. Even though it was hot, I did find myself busting out into a few songs--"I can see for miles and miles", you get the idea. (I try never to miss any opportunity for offspring embarrassment.)

    Next up was the NBC tour. That didn't seem to get many rave reviews, but if you remember my age, you know that I have lived long enough to be a fan of SNL from the beginning, so just being in that one studio was enough for me. Loved it! But good thing I did, because that was the only studio we got into. The pictures on the wall in the building make it seem that you might get into 5 or 6, and others'reports and comments on other forums led me to believe that I'd see the nightly news studio, but nope,did not. Oh well,all of us are fans, so we all enjoyed it. Once again the tickets are timed, so wait time was acceptable to us. Maybe about 10 minutes from the time we lined up. To get the tickets for the tour, we had to go to the 2nd floor in the NBC gift shop.

    After the tour we went out to the Rockefeller plaza to get the required picture in front of the gold statue of Prometheus. We were pleasantly surprised by a little outdoor restaurant tasting. We had a nice little lunch, hot outside of course, but still nice to sit and enjoy the plaza. It seems to me that I read somewhere that they do this maybe once a week on Thursdays. There is also an outdoor restaurant in the Plaza.

    At this point, we had planned to tour the Intrepid museum. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Okay, it really wasn't the girl's fault on this one. Dad and I kept saying, "Do you guys really want to go to this?", while I was simultaneously sending Dr. Spock "mind-meld" messages saying NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I can't imagine what the temperature inside the actual vessel was....I don't know if it is air-condtioned, but I also didn't really want to find out. So---MORE SHOPPING!

    We walked back up to 5th avenue near Central Park, to gaze at all the wares in the shops, the names of which unfortunately are more recognizable to us then most US senators, but hey, once again, I have to say these are 18 year old females, and how much longer do they have to be young and beautiful, and able to look good in all those clothes. So, I say enjoy while you can. Now, I have to say, I also enjoyed the shopping. I will say that I am not much of a designer label kind of consumer. It's not any sort of political statement. I, perhaps naively so, believe that the best help for the unfortunate is a good economy, so don't begrudge anyone their expensive purchases. I consider myself fairly well-dressed, I watch "What Not To Wear". I don't wear pajamas outside the house. And I actually appreciate the quality and beauty of the goods.They're just not my thing. I think it has to do with my tendency toward mistrust of authority, and I view the fashion world as somewhat of an authority.So since I don't like being told what to do, I don't like being told what's hip to buy either. I think if I was willing to spend a few thousand on a bag, I would prefer if it was hand-made by someone, maybe hand crafted by someone I actually met. So this next statement will surprise you..........


    I FELL IN LOVE WITH A MICHAEL KORS BAG!!!!

    Not a little wallet now.A big huge, grocery budget for 4 months, shoulder surgery needed if it was full, never seen anything like it, how many people could you feed for the price of this thing, DESIGNER BAG!!!!
    In the sea of expensive accessories available in this city, this certainly wasn't the most expensive bag one could buy, but I just couldn't bring myself to get it. I could only bring myself to visit it over and over again, each time we passed this and the other Michael Kors stores strategically placed around Manhatten. I suspect Michael Kors employees around the world are now circulating my picture with a warning about a crazy woman entering stores around NYC to caress a certain black bag. Anyhow.........moving on.....

    One of the stores we wouldn't have missed was Tiffany's. Another place you just have to go. It's one of those places that is a standard against which, every jewelry store in the world is measured. And once again, I must say that the people who staff this store are delightful. A tip for Mom's doing a trip with your daughters is to go up to the 3rd floor, where the sterling silver is sold.One of the least expensive items in the store is a sterling silver charm which costs $75. The staff,who will don white gloves for the procedure, will place the charm in a little cloth Tiffany-colored bag, then inside the coveted tiffany blue box, and THEN in the bag. Whew! I could cry at the memory of it, and the girls acually did get teary, believe it or not! Of course you can get this charm cheaper elsewhere, and of course it was an indulgence. But it is also, something they will remember for ever, and a box they will never throw out! I got a little laugh when I asked the very gracious woman, if she could mark which was which. She said "I already have Ma'am" To which I replied: "This ain't your first Rodeo is it?" She was laughing too!

    After all the shopping, we went back for a drop-off, and mop-off--(the Heat) Then off to dinner.

    Bubba Gump Shrimp.

    Okay, not my idea of a great restaurant, but once again, not my gift-trip. So we went. Yes, it's mostly fried, but I actually liked it. My expectations were low, but I had a big huge salad, which was pretty darned good. We even got some souvenier glasses that came with the drinks, and some great people watching thrown in, so I gotta say, I would actually recommend it. Mom and Dad, 2 drinks each,two specialty drinks for the girls and dinner, $160.

    Please indulge me in another wardrobe recommendation. Our next stop was the theater. I wore a dress. I wore high wedges. I live in Cleveland, which is also a great theater town. I know it ain't New York, and I know people don't dress for the theater anymore,anywhere, but I just cannot bring myself to wear casual clothes to the theater. I didn't wear a ball gown for cryin-out-loud, just a dress. I must tell you that a dress is completely unneccessary for the theater. In fact, if you want to wear shorts, you will be safely unjudged for your clothing choice. Just wanted to pass this along.

    The show we saw was "Once"---WOW WOW WOW!!! Move over Wicked, I found my new favorite. Not only was the music phenomenal, and the actors talented, there is multi-tasking! The actors are the ones actually playing all of the music. There is no pit. Just incredible. I always admire the talent of quality perfomers.But to be so talented at not just acting, not just singing, not just dancing, but also instrumental performance boggles my mind. When the female lead
    started to sing, I actually started to cry. I don't know if I can ever bring myself to see this show again, because I am afraid it will never live up to the first experience of it. Truly wonderful, and I highly recommend it!

    After the show, back to Times square, just to observe all the activity. And now I must confess something. We ate around 5:30, because we were so paranoid about being late to the theater. So at this point we were hungry again. There is a Mcdonald's just outside the hotel.............So yes I ATE MCDONALD'S in NEW YORK! And this concludes the end of Day 2.

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    BigALeinstein, Your comments make me SO wish we would have taken the tour,thanks for the info, it enrich's my experience of the trip!

    SF7307, My daugher tells me that this is just about the safest she has felt anywhere in the world! But still made me pause a little when they walked away from us!

    Day 2;

    So, My wonderful husband and I began a daily practice of hitting up the lobby Starbucks station while we allowed the girls some time to get up and dressed. We managed to actually get out the door by around 9:30, which is tragically late for my $/HR vacation cost sensibilities, but this was not my gift trip, so I abided by the preference of the girls.

    Our first stop was to the observation deck at Rockefeller Center, aka TOR. Now this was quite a worthwhile visit in everyone's opinion. It is done really well, with timed tickets, which allow for plenty of space on the actual deck, which I suspect has more to do with weight limits etc. than planning. But whatever the reason, it makes for a really enjoyable experience. I liked the views much better than ESB, and the very limited waiting is wonderful. Even though it was hot, I did find myself busting out into a few songs--"I can see for miles and miles", you get the idea. (I try never to miss any opportunity for offspring embarrassment.)

    Next up was the NBC tour. That didn't seem to get many rave reviews, but if you remember my age, you know that I have lived long enough to be a fan of SNL from the beginning, so just being in that one studio was enough for me. Loved it! But good thing I did, because that was the only studio we got into. The pictures on the wall in the building make it seem that you might get into 5 or 6, and others'reports and comments on other forums led me to believe that I'd see the nightly news studio, but nope,did not. Oh well,all of us are fans, so we all enjoyed it. Once again the tickets are timed, so wait time was acceptable to us. Maybe about 10 minutes from the time we lined up. To get the tickets for the tour, we had to go to the 2nd floor in the NBC gift shop.

    After the tour we went out to the Rockefeller plaza to get the required picture in front of the gold statue of Prometheus. We were pleasantly surprised by a little outdoor restaurant tasting. We had a nice little lunch, hot outside of course, but still nice to sit and enjoy the plaza. It seems to me that I read somewhere that they do this maybe once a week on Thursdays. There is also an outdoor restaurant in the Plaza.

    At this point, we had planned to tour the Intrepid museum. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Okay, it really wasn't the girl's fault on this one. Dad and I kept saying, "Do you guys really want to go to this?", while I was simultaneously sending Dr. Spock "mind-meld" messages saying NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I can't imagine what the temperature inside the actual vessel was....I don't know if it is air-condtioned, but I also didn't really want to find out. So---MORE SHOPPING!

    We walked back up to 5th avenue near Central Park, to gaze at all the wares in the shops, the names of which unfortunately are more recognizable to us then most US senators, but hey, once again, I have to say these are 18 year old females, and how much longer do they have to be young and beautiful, and able to look good in all those clothes. So, I say enjoy while you can. Now, I have to say, I also enjoyed the shopping. I will say that I am not much of a designer label kind of consumer. It's not any sort of political statement. I, perhaps naively so, believe that the best help for the unfortunate is a good economy, so don't begrudge anyone their expensive purchases. I consider myself fairly well-dressed, I watch "What Not To Wear". I don't wear pajamas outside the house. And I actually appreciate the quality and beauty of the goods.They're just not my thing. I think it has to do with my tendency toward mistrust of authority, and I view the fashion world as somewhat of an authority.So since I don't like being told what to do, I don't like being told what's hip to buy either. I think if I was willing to spend a few thousand on a bag, I would prefer if it was hand-made by someone, maybe hand crafted by someone I actually met. So this next statement will surprise you..........


    I FELL IN LOVE WITH A MICHAEL KORS BAG!!!!

    Not a little wallet now.A big huge, grocery budget for 4 months, shoulder surgery needed if it was full, never seen anything like it, how many people could you feed for the price of this thing, DESIGNER BAG!!!!
    In the sea of expensive accessories available in this city, this certainly wasn't the most expensive bag one could buy, but I just couldn't bring myself to get it. I could only bring myself to visit it over and over again, each time we passed this and the other Michael Kors stores strategically placed around Manhatten. I suspect Michael Kors employees around the world are now circulating my picture with a warning about a crazy woman entering stores around NYC to caress a certain black bag. Anyhow.........moving on.....

    One of the stores we wouldn't have missed was Tiffany's. Another place you just have to go. It's one of those places that is a standard against which, every jewelry store in the world is measured. And once again, I must say that the people who staff this store are delightful. A tip for Mom's doing a trip with your daughters is to go up to the 3rd floor, where the sterling silver is sold.One of the least expensive items in the store is a sterling silver charm which costs $75. The staff,who will don white gloves for the procedure, will place the charm in a little cloth Tiffany-colored bag, then inside the coveted tiffany blue box, and THEN in the bag. Whew! I could cry at the memory of it, and the girls acually did get teary, believe it or not! Of course you can get this charm cheaper elsewhere, and of course it was an indulgence. But it is also, something they will remember for ever, and a box they will never throw out! I got a little laugh when I asked the very gracious woman, if she could mark which was which. She said "I already have Ma'am" To which I replied: "This ain't your first Rodeo is it?" She was laughing too!

    After all the shopping, we went back for a drop-off, and mop-off--(the Heat) Then off to dinner.

    Bubba Gump Shrimp.

    Okay, not my idea of a great restaurant, but once again, not my gift-trip. So we went. Yes, it's mostly fried, but I actually liked it. My expectations were low, but I had a big huge salad, which was pretty darned good. We even got some souvenier glasses that came with the drinks, and some great people watching thrown in, so I gotta say, I would actually recommend it. Mom and Dad, 2 drinks each,two specialty drinks for the girls and dinner, $160.

    Please indulge me in another wardrobe recommendation. Our next stop was the theater. I wore a dress. I wore high wedges. I live in Cleveland, which is also a great theater town. I know it ain't New York, and I know people don't dress for the theater anymore,anywhere, but I just cannot bring myself to wear casual clothes to the theater. I didn't wear a ball gown for cryin-out-loud, just a dress. I must tell you that a dress is completely unneccessary for the theater. In fact, if you want to wear shorts, you will be safely unjudged for your clothing choice. Just wanted to pass this along.

    The show we saw was "Once"---WOW WOW WOW!!! Move over Wicked, I found my new favorite. Not only was the music phenomenal, and the actors talented, there is multi-tasking! The actors are the ones actually playing all of the music. There is no pit. Just incredible. I always admire the talent of quality perfomers.But to be so talented at not just acting, not just singing, not just dancing, but also instrumental performance boggles my mind. When the female lead
    started to sing, I actually started to cry. I don't know if I can ever bring myself to see this show again, because I am afraid it will never live up to the first experience of it. Truly wonderful, and I highly recommend it!

    After the show, back to Times square, just to observe all the activity. And now I must confess something. We ate around 5:30, because we were so paranoid about being late to the theater. So at this point we were hungry again. There is a Mcdonald's just outside the hotel.............So yes I ATE MCDONALD'S in NEW YORK! And this concludes the end of Day 2.

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    <<<Of course you can get this charm cheaper elsewhere>>>

    Where? Everything at Tiffany's is Tiffany's. The only place I know to get things cheaper is ebay, and those are known to be knockoffs.

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    Good lord - 2 18 year old women - presumably on their way to college in the fall and you give a second through to them shopping by themselves. My friends and I from the suburbs visited the city for shopping and movies from the time we were 12 - but did have to be home by dark (taking bus to subway each way).

    They are probably safer in Times Square than in the local mall parking lot.

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    <<<My friends and I from the suburbs visited the city for shopping and movies from the time we were 12>>>

    I was 13 the first time my friends and I went to the city alone -- and it wasn't nearly as safe a place then as it is now!

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    Patti,
    So sorry about the NBC Tour only taking you to the SNL studio even though that is great experience. I took two groups of grankids a couple of years ago, one tour was NBC Nighly News with Brian Williams studio, SNL and Dr.Oz whose filming is done there. The other tour differed only in seeing Jimmy Fallon's set instead of Dr. OZ. Both included a visit to make up area, masks etc and a mock weather studio where tour participants were chosen as "weathermen/women". I even went on tne NBC tour in elementary school, a class trip!
    I still remember all the help I received from your Portugal trip report. HT

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    SF7307, Sorry to have said "this" charm, I didn't mean a "Tiffany's" charm, I meant a plain silver charm.

    Nytraveler, I agree with you, but it was 1 am, and I am a mother! But we really did feel safe in times square. I was there myself when I was 18, and it has certainly changed!

    Day 3:

    Another hot day this day. We started the day at the September 11 memorial. I know there are people who are dismayed that this has become a stop on an itinerary for tourists. But I really left with the feeling that people were visiting as a way to pay their respects. Certainly no souvenirs available, and most people were taking pictures of the water and not themselves. The water is very loud, so there isn't much crowd sound. The tickets are timed, and contrary to my quide book, were available at the site. The wait was not long, and there is security to go through. It was really moving for all of us, and we spent a lot of the rest of our trip talking about that day.

    We next walked down to Battery Park to catch the ferry to Liberty Island. The statue opened again on July 4th, but Ellis Island is still closed. We elected to not try for the 3000 daily available tickets to the museum, so I did my best quidebook rendition of history and statue facts during the visit. Just a little tip--Statue Cruises is the only ferry company that actually docks at the island, although we were approached rather aggressively by other companies, and witnessed other tourists getting tickets to ferries that they thought would dock there. I'm sure that I don't have to say this, but I will anyway. There is such a take-your-breath away feeling about seeing her!--Was the first time, and was this time too! We met some tourists from France on the ferry, and thanked them for the gift! (They commented on the kindness of New Yorkers also.)

    Next up was our major fail of the trip, and I gotta admit to my own callous forgetfulness. We read in the guide book, and had a couple people suggest going to South Street Seaport. I wasn't really interested in Pier 17, because it looked like a small shopping mall to me. The Schermerhorn was more what I wanted to visit. But this is all being renovated due to hurricane damage. We were embarrassed to realize we had completely forgotten about the extreme flooding during the hurricane until reminded by the cabbie on the way back. Anyhow,there were some interesting-looking food stalls,but we wanted to get out of the heat. We looked at the restaurant just inside Pier 17, whose name escapes me, but thought it to be very over priced and underwhelming. We checked out another place on the street, but it smelled like lysol. So even though I REALLY at this point needed some food to go with the aspirin I REALLY needed due to the knee acting up, we got into the cab to go back to midtown.

    Here again, I have to thank all my Fodors friends, because after all of the walking we had already done, and all the grumbling our stomachs were doing, it was nice to be able to give an address to a restaurant I knew would be acceptable. I know there are a multitude or restaurants in NYC, and everyone says you will happen by something with no problem,but at this point, I wasn't happening by anything and was happy to have a plan B in place! We had a little bit of a trial getting a cab back. I wondered if this was because we looked like tourists. We asked a driver later in the trip if they get to pick their area, and he said they do. So, I'm wondering if they didn't want to leave the financial district.

    Lunch was at Westbank Cafe. I think I got more than one or two recommendations for this, and I have to agree, it was very good. 2 cocktails, 2 cokes, 4 prix fixe meals,--$110. Also of note, is available food service between lunch and dinner. It was 4pm, when we arrived.

    Next up was Central Park. We phoned park information and found out that it was most likely too hot for the horses, so the planned carriage ride was probably not happening, but we thought we'd go to the suggested entrance anyway, just in case it cooled off enough as the day wore on. When we got there we were immediately hit up by the bike tour guides. So now we had a dilemma.....It's too hot for the horses, but we're going to pay humans to cart our sorry butts around? No we don't feel right, we gotta walk it....okay, so we're sure these guys don't get paid to stand around not working....so is it better to not work, and not be able to pay your rent....we'll take the tour, but tip REALLY well. And we were off. Great tour, great guys powering the bikes, and they said the breeze actually helps, they drink a lot of water, and they REALLY appreciated the tips. I'm really glad we took this tour. Got some fun, informative info, and enjoyed the guides. We had them drop us off at the Boathouse for dinner.

    The Boathouse came recommended. Really a beautiful setting. The water view was immediately recognizable. The food was just okay. We had 4 dinners,2 cocktails, 2 non-alcoholic drinks, dessert--$285. I wouldn't choose to eat there a second time, but if I had it to do it over again, would go at least once for the ambiance.

    Next stop--The Met. It's open until 9 on friday. We arrived around 7:30, which allowed plenty of time for our limited-art-awareness selves to be satisfied. There was lovely live music, and the very kind cashier suggested paying less than the posted suggested price since there was only an hour left.

    After the Met, we parted ways with the girls in Times Square,who, you guessed it shopped some more, and stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe for some cocktails. This was really fun! We met a couple from Canada, and had some really interesting discussion with them. All of us got a big kick out of the bartender, who played the drums using knives on the glasses and water buckets. Great stop for parents with tired legs who don't have the same energy as young adults! The girls met up with us when they were done, and that was the end of Day 3!

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    Hi HappyTrvlr, So glad that report was of help to you! Thanks you for your kind remarks! I just reread it a little while ago, and it brought back some fond memories. One of the benefits of posting a trip report!

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    Day 4:

    Today we planned a relaxed itinerary, go wherever-we-end up day. We started with Soho, at the Balthazar for breakfast. We didn't get there until about 10,(do I have to say it?--not my gift trip). At that time of day, they serve breakfast and lunch. I got the goat cheese, onion tart--loved it. The rest of the crew got Breakfast.If memory serves, the hubs added in a few items, one of which was the onion soup, which he raved about. We shared a bread basket. With coffees, and juices-$175. We didn't have reservations, and in fact were told when we called that there was not an opening until 2pm, but they said they take walkins, and walk right in was what we did.

    We walked around Soho, and into quite a few shops. It was pretty much what we were told to expect. The only disappointment was the lack of street vendors. My quidebook said the area would be clogged with shoppers,and street vendors, some selling artwork. No and no. There were a few street vendors, but not many.This was still relatively early in the day, so don't know if that was the reason.One of the things I enjoyed was going in and out of the older buildings, and admiring the older fixtures, doorways etc.

    I would have liked to go to Chinatown next, but my daughter had already been on her trip, and didn't want to go again.We mulled over a few other areas to visit, and decided on the Upper East Side.

    We really enjoyed just walking around, and of course there was plenty of shopping available! More relaxed, not very crowded. A little bit easier here to look up and enjoy the architecture!

    After this we got back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and theater.

    Dinner was at Balkanikas on 9th. i thought the food was great, and the prices low. We ordered the the large appetizer that includes all 15 spreads. I LOVED this. I didn't pay enough attention when I read the menu to remember what they were as I was sampling, but that actually made it more fun. This restaurant is not just Greek, but has also other Mediterranean dishes as well. In Cleveland one of our favorite things to do is visit the many Greek festivals put on by churches in the summer. So I was assuming that there would be lemon chicken at this restaurant, which would appeal to most kids. There was not, so might be a challenging menu for families. A lot of the food choices reminded me of Croatian menus. 4 dinners, 3 cocktails each, and softdrinks for the girls $194.

    Next we walked over to the Winter Garden theater for Mama Mia. I learned from the first show, that if we arrived more than 1/2 hour early, we would be standing for quite awhile, so wore the flat sandals this time! Great show, lots of energy. This was the girl's favorite.

    Afterward, we went back to Times Square for the usual people watching, walking around, and then back up to the room to catch a little bit of a SNL rerun, so that we could watch the show while in NY.

    Day 5:

    Not much to report here, as this was the day we left. We went just down 47th to the Evergreen diner for breakfast. I'm not much of a breakfast person, but seemed like the family enjoyed it. The check was around $35.

    We went back to the room to pack up, at which time my husband noticed some noise coming from the street. Our room was actually pretty quiet. Easy to get to sleep, so the noise was something new. Turns out there was a little street fair happening. So since we're are always early for everything, we had some time to go to it. Was a nice little last stop. I usually get myself a scarf as a souvenir when we travel. (Packs flat, and reminds me of a trip when I wear it.--Seems to me that most big cities have vendors selling cheap ones on the street.)So was able to get this here, and some other little things. The food looked really good,but we had just eaten breakfast so just tried a smoothie from one of the many stands making them. Really good looking fruit, made for a great smoothie!

    So back to the room to collect our bags, and begin our trip home. The cabs again, lined up, and plenty large enough for luggage. The trip bag to the airport was $50. Not much traffic, so I think it was a little less then the trip in.

    Just a few other highlights that I remember fondly, but forgot to mention.

    Loved seeing St. Patrick's Cathedral, even with the scaffolding. There is a large sign outside that says something like "welcome to a place to stop to pray in the city". Nice touch, thank you NYC, I really did enjoy a prayer break!

    The American Girl doll store was really cute. Liked seeing the girls going in and out with their dolls. Our girls actually wanted to go in and visit their dolls they still have from when they were kids!

    Loved the various musicians singing and playing especially in Cental Park. And speaking of Central Park, I really appreciated the cleanliness of it, and the breath of fresh air in the middle of the city!Loved seeing the couples in their wedding attire too!

    Loved the doormen in the shops. Got to talk to more than my fairshare of them! Liked getting their perspective!

    Loved the encounters with so many travellers from other countries. Part of what I love about travel in general.

    Loved my little bit of time in New York. I'll try not to wait another 35 years to revisit.

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    Lol re the MK bag!

    MK bags do go on sale. Watch Macy's.com, and their stores if you have one near you. I bought my daughter a MK bag at Macy's, 435 retail, and I got it for 149. She uses it every day.

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    $175 for breakfast? Come over to my apartment, I will make eggs just the way you like them for a mere $150 plus toast. OJ extra, of course.

    Balthazar is good not great. The bakery is excellent, however. There are better bistros but they are not as well known. Lucien and Raoul's are superior but you will not see tourists staring at tourists hoping they are celebrities.

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    BigAl,I find it impossible to say "your secret is safe with me"!Loved talking to all the great people we met! And hey!...where was this breakfast invite BEFORE my trip? When I plan my return trip, I will be stalking you for advice, because you have a lot of great info.

    And just a little clarification on the Balthazar tab....I probably should have been more clear when I said that the hubs added in a few items. Since I am pretty confident he will never read this, I can tell you that he was probably eating for three! So after tax, tip, and division of the tab in pretty much 6 ways instead of 4, it really wasn't that bad! Don't want anyone to avoid it because of me! I would do it again, I really enjoyed the place. I don't think anyone should go there hoping to see celebrities though, don't think they'd be caught dead in there!

    sf7307, If I could have gotten that bag for $175, I might have done it! But I would have tried to find a way to take off the MK, or change my name to Mary King......can't get over that weird aversion to wearing logos and words. Although "levis" has never seemed to bother me! :)

    emd3, Thanks for the tip! If I see that same one, I might just make an exception!

    tchoiniere, I'm sorry about the double post. I looked around on the site to see if there was a way to delete one. If anyone knows, please help a girl out!

    Sandy, Thank you for your kind words! You sound like quite a lovely person yourself!

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    No reason to apologize for the double post. I was just laughing about it as Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies and immediately thought about it when I saw the doubelpost. There is no way to edit it.

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    <<<can't get over that weird aversion to wearing logos and words>>>

    One bit of "advice" I got from my late mother -- "why would you want to wear clothes advertising someone else's business?". I hate sporting those logo/tags etc!

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    I go to NYC a lot, and I am always looking for new things to do. Thank you for your post! I, too, have a teenage daughter who shops, shops, shops. I believe I have been in every H&M and Forever 21 in NYC multiple times!

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    It was lovely to read your trip report. Reminded me of our trip to NYC last year and how wonderfully exhausted you get by the end of the day after seeing so much.

    I related to your bag obsession. I couldn't decide between four bags in Macy's and thought I would have security stalking me as I went back and forth between the four different bags trying to make a choice.

    I bought a couple of scarves and whenever I wear them I am reminded of that particular area of NYC.

    We are off to Hong Kong in November but I have to say I baulked when I had to press the submit button to book the flights. Part of me was wanting to go back to New York instead.

    Thank you for a great read.

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    Thanks all, for the kind remarks!
    taconic traveller, that was nice of you to say!
    October fun, hope you have a wonderful time in Hong Kong!
    KL467, At least we get good exercise following them around!
    sf6307, Sounds like your Mom was a very wise woman!
    tchoiniere, Groundhog Day--true classic! I could watch that again and again. Appropriate reference for the day-do-over!



    Just a little trip report addendum: A few days after this trip we were at what we Clevelanders call "the islands"-- a fun area which is about 1 hour from Cleveland. It's a little get-away,Jimmy Buffet atmosphere, kind of place. It was Christmas in July, so we were looking for some Great Lakes Christmas Ale,which if you've ever been to Cleveland at Christmas time, you've either had yourself, or heard about. But alas it was all gone. But guess what I did find.......Brooklyn Ale!---Thanks again NYC!--reminded me of our trip!

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