CAST OF CHARACTERS
Me, DH and our 8yo DD: we travel quite a bit but have never been to NYC as a family (DH went in college and I went 16 years ago as DH and I were starting our relationship); DH’s father, who lives in Paris but grew up in Brooklyn, and his wife.
We have never traveled with my FIL and his wife and DH and I had some concerns, especially as my FIL was trying to plan ever last detail and kept pushing my buttons with some of his questions! We picked June as it worked best for everyone and we hoped it wouldn’t be too hot. We arrived on a Friday morning and departed on a Tuesday afternoon - the weather was decent, not too hot and not too much rain.
FLIGHTS / CAR SERVICE
We were able to use frequent flyer miles for our Delta tickets. We had a choice of which airport to fly in to but I didn’t put much thought into convenience when I picked Newark. We booked a car from Carmel (again based on recommendations from this forum) both directions; only complaint was that on the return trip, the driver didn’t know how much we had amassed in tolls and had to call someone after asking us if we knew how much.
I discovered a great deal on a two-bedroom suite at Affinia Hotel’s Eastgate Tower Hotel on this forum - $219 per night. http://www.affinia.com/New-York-City-Hotel.aspx?name=Eastgate-Tower FIL had suggested staying at the Herald Square Hotel but we prefer to have a little more room when we travel with DD. And if we could all stay in one suite at the Eastgate, we could both save some money. A little more than $100 per night for each couple at a Manhattan hotel room is almost unreal!
The Eastgate Tower Hotel worked out great for us. It was exactly as advertised - adequate, clean and large. We had a two-bedroom (and two bath - very important!) suite which had a large living room and full kitchen. Perfect for five people! The room was a bit dated - tube TVs in the bedrooms but a flat screen in the living room. Wi-fi was $14 a day which is highway robbery IMHO.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York City - great book with lots of detail and pull-out laminated city map.
Fodor’s Around New York City with Kids - another good book specifically tailored to visiting with kids.
We’re There! New York City - a scavenger hunt / scrapbook for DD to fill out while we were in NYC.
We bought $10 MetroCards for each of us, figuring that a seven day unlimited MetroCard for $27 was overkill for our four days. Each trip was $2.25 and we ended up spending close to $17 more to top up the cards!
We were surprised that there was no discount for DD; FIL and his wife neglected to take advantage of a senior citizen discount (half) on their 7 day MetroCards. FIL lost his card on the day before his departure and was able to buy two one-trip passes for the price of one - the second one was just a piece of paper and required him to ask the ticket agent to let him through the handicapped door. On all of our trips but one, I had to swipe the card multiple times as I never seemed to manage to get it exactly right - too fast, too slow, who knows!
We ate our first breakfast at a local diner on 3rd Avenue but on subsequent mornings we had the great New York bagels from Ess-A-Bagel and Daniel’s Bagels. Bummer that all we can get in Iowa are poor facsimiles!
For a couple of lunches we had New York style pizza or street food. One lunch was at the Galaxy Diner; all of us were disappointed with our meals but suspect it is better as a breakfast spot. DH and I went to Katz’s Deli - what an experience! Fantastic corned beef and pastrami! DD ate lunch at the Statue of Liberty and said the onion rings were great!
All of our dinners were excellent! For our first dinner, we picked Hudson Place on 3rd Avenue near our hotel as my FIL had walked by it earlier in the day and DD wanted Italian. She had spaghetti and was happy! www.hudsonplacenyc.com We made dinner reservations in advance for the National, Dafni and Balthazar. My FIL selected the National www.thenationalnyc.com and then Balthazar www.balthazarny.com for his birthday dinner - both had good reviews in the NYTimes (which is why I think he selected them!). FIL and wife live in Paris and did not stop raving about Balthazar and how spot on they felt it was as a French bistro. I picked Dafni www.dafnitaverna.com from some recommendations on here and we were looking for Greek food. The location was perfect after seeing Mary Poppins and the ambience and food were great!
We did lots and lots of walking every day! Friday we saw Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Bryant Park and visited the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. www.wondertechlab.sony.com Very interesting place that DD enjoyed. We spent about an hour exploring the fun activities. We made reservations in advance but arrived an hour early and they let us right in.
On Saturday we started the day walking the Highline www.thehighline.org - what a fun oasis in the city! We were all impressed with the thought that went into it - from the gardens to an avant-garde bird feeder to the benches. We were all disappointed when the Highline came to an end! We walked around Little Italy, Chinatown and came across a street fair in Soho. We had planned to go to the Guggenheim but the ramps were closed for a few weeks so we only walked into the lobby. Instead we went to the Cooper-Hewitt www.cooperhewitt.org and saw the Sonia Delaunay and Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels exhibits but were disappointed not to see anything from the permanent museum collection.
On Sunday we headed to the Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier. www.intrepidmuseum.org Great place to explore - both the decks of the aircraft carrier and the exhibits. We also went inside the Growler Submarine! They also have a Concorde which you can only go inside in the winter.
My FIL treated us all to a Broadway show and we picked a Sunday matinee of Mary Poppins. I found a deal on www.broadwaybox.com/ and booked through them. DH and I also bought tickets to Lombardi but they closed early so our money was refunded with no hassle - although the only way we knew about the cancellation was the refund on our credit card. Mary Poppins was fantastic! We exited the subway twenty minutes before the show started and were surprised to see a long line to get in - but it moved quickly. We were disappointed by the lack of courtesy shown by the audience - people were loudly opening bags and boxes of snacks/candy (the person behind me was loudly smacking their lips while sucking on something!) and people got up to go to the bathroom in the middle. Granted this was a matinee and there were a lot of children but we were really surprised by the behavior. The show itself was fantastic - the leads and kids were incredible!
On Monday we split up: DH and I went to Brooklyn and the Lower East Side and FIL took DD to the Statue of Liberty.
We took the subway to City Hall and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and then made our way to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade which DH remembered from when his aunt lived close by. Beautiful views back to the city. www.nyharborparks.org/visit/brhe.html We made our way to the Lower East Side and explored both that area and Soho.
FIL got advanced tickets to take DD to visit the pedestal at the Statue of Liberty. DD overheard someone say that the tickets were sold out until October! They really enjoyed their visit - DD learned a lot from the audio tour.
On Tuesday we had until about 3pm before we needed to leave for Newark. We had originally considered exploring Central Park but decided to go down to South Street Seaport instead. We wandered around there and took the free Downtown Connection bus www.downtownny.com/getting-around/downtown-connection over to the Staten Island Ferry. We just did a roundtrip on the ferry - I thought it might tip over with everyone on the Statue of Liberty side! www.siferry.com
All in all, a fantastic trip to the Big Apple!
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