New York City. There is just no other place like it.
Here’s a little piece of trivia:
On our first trip to NYC, Ryan took the FDNY firefighter test. One year before, the fire service in the city was devastated by the events of 9/11. He was at the early stages of testing for a firefighting position and we thought, why not?! So my sister and brother-in-law joined flew across the country with us for a couple of days in the big city.
Ryan did pass the test but we decided not to pursue it any further and he was hired in the Seattle area shortly after. Even still, we look back on that trip as one of our very best memories.
We could not wait to spend some more time in New York City and introduce our kids to this big, energetic place.
As I mentioned in the Philadelphia post, my parents joined us and we took the train from Philly to NYC. We popped up from the underground Penn Station for the kids’ first look at the city.
Also? What is with the shirtless dude with backpack?! Only in New York :)
Ryan booked us a room nearby at a hotel with a beautiful lobby.
We ventured out right away and walked a few blocks for lunch at the famed Shake Shack,
and then continued on to The Empire State Building.
The tour to the top of the building is totally worth it. You ride up 86 floors to an open-air balcony that circles the tower. The views from every angle are breathtaking!
It was a great introduction to the city for the kids and for us to get our bearings on where everything is located (and just how HUGE Manhattan is!).
We finished day one with a stop into the biggest Macy’s store in the world for new shoes for the kids (growing like weeds + walking miles = the need for comfortable replacements!) and then had a delicious meal with the most delightful waitress at Friedman’s.
The next morning, we had a scheduled tour at the Statue of Liberty.
A friend suggested that we book a Crown tour several months ahead of time and I didn’t reserve quite soon enough to get up to the crown, but we did get in for a Pedestal tour. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant until we visited and it was totally worth it, too!
You can barely see us, but there we are up on the platform. It was so cool to climb up the inner stairs and stand just under Lady Liberty.
The ferry boat that takes you to the Statue of Liberty also travels to nearby Ellis Island where from 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States.
We could have spent hours learning, joining Ranger talks and wandering the building and grounds, but with our limited time and full itinerary, we chose to do it fairly quickly.
The main building is beautiful with its curved tiled ceiling, big windows and views out every window. It’s pretty powerful to stand in the place where so many of our relatives first came before entering their new country.
From the dock back at Battery Park we walked a few blocks to Wall Street.
And then continued on a few more blocks to the World Trade Tower and 9/11 Memorial.
When we were in NYC in 2002, the site of the World Trade Towers was still just piles of rubble. There are now two pools (about an acre each) where the towers once stood with the names of every person who perished engraved around them. The memorial area is hushed and a little bit somber and a beautiful place to remember the events of that day and the lives that were lost as a result.
Ryan was particularly taken with a fire house that we remember seeing on our first visit. Five of the crew members were killed on 9/11 and the building was nearly destroyed from the falling debris. It was used as the command post on Ground Zero and vital to the rescue operations. To now see it rebuilt with a full crew was a redeeming moment.
Whew! That was a full day with lots of walking. We made our way back towards our hotel and ate at a surprisingly wonderful little italian restaurant with such a charming atmosphere.
A reader named Meagan reached out to me during the trip and invited is to visit her amazing workplace, the Museum of Modern Art. She was so kind to meet us and visit for a few minutes, bringing bags for the kids filled with art supplies so they could create art of their own as we walked through the art museum.
We didn’t get to meet many blog readers on the trip, but the ones we did meet were so great. I love saying hi in real life and getting to know just a little bit about who is enjoying the blog from the other side of the screen. Meagan was a wealth of knowledge and gave us perfect instructions for which floor to start on and how to move through the museum with kids (and not use an entire day for it).
The exhibits are absolutely amazing and it was really fun to wander through the galleries taking in all of the art. This painting was my favorite:
The real Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh! It actually made me tear up standing there looking at it.
We loved the art museum, but had just as much fun wandering through the MOMA store.
After the shushed morning indoors, we ventured out into the city to see Rockefeller Center, The Plaza Hotel, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the fancy shops on 5th Avenue.
One must-do for us was to see a Broadway show and so we made it to Times Square shortly after the TKTS booth opened.
Do you know about this TKTS thing? You stand in a crazy long line and all the broadway shows with available tickets for that evening are available at half price. This is not the best option if there is a specific show you have to see, or for ones that typically sell out every day, but if you are not picky it is a great way to get slightly more affordable tickets to a wide range of shows.
We had a few family-friendly choices and ultimately decided to see Matilda The Musical.
You guys. It was the most magical, special, entertaining show ever. The kids were enthralled! The grownups had permanent smiles on our faces (except at the end when both my mom and I couldn’t help but cry!). The music, acting, sets, and children are just the best. It was the perfect show to see with the kids and I can’t wait to see it again.
The music is super cute. We downloaded the soundtrack right away (it’s free on Amazon for Prime members).
Our final full day in NYC started with a subway ride where we found our name on the wall (Lex).
And then a nice couple of hours walking through Central Park.
It was uncomfortably hot and sticky that day so while I say it was a ‘nice couple of hours’ what I really mean is that we were super sweaty and tired with sore feet from our miles upon miles of walking but we did our best to enjoy the park and take advantage of the shade trees and park benches and the man selling cold water bottles.
14 years ago, my sister took a picture of me and Ryan on this bridge. It’s one of our all-time favorites and now it is fun to have a new version.
My parents had to fly out that afternoon, so after the park we took the subway to Chelsea Market for a last meal together.
The market has several shops and restaurants to choose from all in one big warehouse building.
And then we had to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa. There were tears all around. What a special thing to have them travel with us!
New York City was at the top of Ryan’s must-visit list and it did not disappoint. We walked at least 6 miles each day. We saw as much as we possibly could. We ate really, really good food. We took in the most delightful Broadway show. Ryan and I snuck in a date at a restaurant I would move in to and in the spirit of NYC, we introduced the kids to Jimmy Fallon one night in the hotel.
Our five whirlwind days went so quickly. We can’t wait to visit again!
I’ll be in NYC in October and can’t wait! Thank you so much for such great info :-) Which The Smith location did you go to?
We went to the one in Midtown. It was fantastic.
I’ve loved following your trip on your blog! I have to ask–in your Ellis Island pictures, how did you take such clear back-lit photos from inside the building? I always struggle with that!
Loved this NYC post! I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in CT and I currently live in New Canaan, CT, your tour of NYC was such a great sampling of such an amazing city. Well done on the planning!!
Your entire trip was such a pleasure to follow, thanks for taking us (readers) on your journey.
P.S. So sad to admit, but I have never visited the Statue of Liberty.
How about those escalators in the Macy’s building! Awesome, right?
They are awesome! Wooden sides and steps!
Don’t you love that seeing a famous painting in person is so emotional? I had the same reaction to seeing one of Van Gogh’s self portraits.
It was such a pleasure to meet you all and so fun to read about what you did before and after MoMA – come back again anytime! xo
WOW! Your photos and description remind me of my first trip to NYC with my spouse in 2014 — it’s as if you followed our itinerary to the letter :-) We are eagerly planning another visit in a year or so. Could you share the name of the hotel you stayed in? Being from Canada, the hotel cost was the biggest limiting factor in how many days we could afford to stay, so, we are always on the lookout for hotels that offer good value. We stayed a block and half from Penn Station last time. Really enjoying your road trip blogs! Cannot wait to read more.
your kids are seriously SO CUTE.
How did you explain 9/11 to the kids? Especially the younger ones? I imagine it would be difficult to explain the somberness of the site.
What a fun trip that I’m sure your kids will remember for a long time!
Liz @ ShoppingMyCloset.com
Have thoroughly enjoyed your travel updates on this wonderful trip your family has taken. I must say, you have the most beautiful children. You are truly blessed!
I absolutely love all of these vacation updates you’ve shared while on your trip! This is something that my family would like to do one day and it’s nice to get a view into the different places before we make out our itinerary. It looks like this has been so much fun for y’all. Thanks for including your readers!