For Spring Break 2016, we decided to spend 3 days, 4 nights in New York City, and then continue to Washington, D.C. New York is an amazing city with many choices of activities. Since we knew that Washington, D.C., was going to be primarily museums, we decided to focus on other things for the New York City portion.
After some deliberation, the list of major sights we wanted to include on our itinerary were the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, and Central Park, filling in a few other sights as convenience allowed.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
This was mostly a transit day and we did not arrive to our hotel until early evening. It was a bit late for the boys, but with a 3 hour time change, the boys weren’t as exhausted as they could have been. Since we were staying close to Times Square, we thought it might be a perfect way to introduce the boys to New York City.
They loved all the lights, hustle, and bustle. The M&M store was also a big draw. Who knew that there could be an entire store devoted to M&M’s? Add in a gigantic Disney Store and other eye candy, and the boys were quite pleased with what they saw.
We thought about going up the Empire State Building, but the line was quite long, so we decided to wait until morning. Instead, we decided to walk towards Central Park. On the way, the boys enjoyed the Apple Store, and once we arrived, they enjoyed looking at the horses and carriages that were lined up and waiting for passengers.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Empire State Building
Our morning started with the Empire State Building. Observation decks usually aren’t my favorite, but the Empire State Building seemed to be on the bucket list. First thing in the morning, around 8:30am, we found the lines to be quite short. Much better than what would have happened the night before.
While you can climb the stairs, we opted to take the elevator to the 80th floor, see the exhibit there, then climb to the 86th floor for for the main observation deck. 6 flights of stairs were plenty! If we would have paid extra, we could have gone to the 102nd floor, but we really didn’t see the need for this.
The observation deck was a lot of fun. We wandered around and looked for some of the major landmarks.
A bit cloudy, rain was expected later in the day, but still fun.
Walk From the Empire State Building to the Rockefeller Center
At this point we decided to wander around the city. We walked towards the Public Library, to the Grand Central Terminal. On the way, we spotted a cute lion statue.
Then we saw a hotdog stand and John wanted a snack, so we went with it. While in New York! Then we continued on to the Rockefeller Center and admired the difference between New York ice-skaters and the California variety. Quite different…
Central Park and Evening Activities
Our wandering continued towards Central Park. It really is amazing that there can be this much park land in the center of a city of this size. More cities should have something like this. We spent some time exploring, but the part the kids really liked was the playground.
Everyone was thoroughly exhausted by this point, so we decided to take the subway back to the hotel. Having been up early, we ended up resting the rest of the afternoon.
Being Easter Sunday, we decided to see what types of evening church services were available and decided to visit Redeemer Presbyterian Church. It wasn’t in a big fancy building, but the quality of the service and preaching was nice.
On the way back to the hotel, we picked up some falafel to eat in our room.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Metropolitan Museum of Art
While we were purposely avoiding many of the amazing museums in New York City, mostly because of our coming visit to D.C., we decided that the one thing we really did want to see was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love art galleries, Jeremy enjoys them, and the boys are a bit more spotty. To help prepare the boys, we read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which takes place in this museum, and thought that it might be fun for the boys.
While I enjoyed the art, John was particularly fascinated by all the armor and ninja clothes. Something for everyone.
We enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to eat lunch at the cafeteria and stayed until about 2pm. It’s hard to expect much more than that out of little boys, so we left feeling very satisfied.
At this point, we decided it was time to rest and went back to the hotel for a while.
Afternoon naps can work quite nicely when traveling with kids. If you can get them to actually fall asleep, there is a good chance that they will be able to stay up quite a bit past their bedtime and everyone can enjoy some later evening activities. If you get them up at a reasonable hour in the morning, you can also expect them to be ready for another nap the following day.
Statue of Liberty
Feeling refreshed, we caught a train to downtown and wandered around Battery Park.
First, we got a distant view of the Statue of Liberty.
Next, we went to the 9/11 Memorial and tried to explain to the boys the horror of that day. The boys were baffled about all the details that we remembered. But given that we lived in the Northeast in 2001 and knew people living in New York City, we were able to give them some interesting stories about people that they were familiar with. We’re not sure they were old enough to truly understand the significance, but it was a start.
Jeremy and I had visited New York City shortly after 9/11, and it was really interesting to see the rebuild: the One World Trade Center. So beautiful! And completely the opposite of the rubble that was there the last time we were in town.
Our next stop was Wall Street. We tried to explain it to the boys, but not sure they completely got it. But they did really like the bull. Which led to more conversations on what a “bull market” is.
Everyone was quite tired, so we hopped on the train back to the hotel, picking up some McDonald’s food before retiring for the evening.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Our last full day in New York City started with a walk on Brooklyn Bridge. Beautiful!
Statue of Liberty
We nearly had to cancel this trip due to health issues in the preceding months. In dealing with the medical issues, we missed the window for reserving Statue of Liberty tickets. Still, we wanted to get a better look at the statue. We decided to hop on the Staton Island Ferry, to get a look as it sails by.
While the pictures weren’t great, it really was a lot of fun. And the boys felt like they could say that they really saw the Statue of Liberty.
From here, we decided to head to Chinatown for lunch. Then our long walk began. We wandered by Little Italy, NOLITA, and near NYU. The boys enjoyed out time spent in Washington Square Park.
Then we continued to Greenwich Village, Union Square Park, and the Flat Iron Building
Our very long walk ended in Times Square, which was quite close to our hotel. It really was an epic walk, and a great day! We picked up some more pizza, then went back to rest our tired bodies. Later, Jeremy and James went back to see Times Square at night, but John and I were exhausted.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
In the morning, we packed up, got a very healthy breakfast of Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, walked a few blocks to Penn Station, and caught our 3-4 hour train to Washington, D.C.
Thoughts on New York City
We could have seen many more museums, but intentionally chose not to do this since Washington, D.C. was going to be filled with museums. We were happy to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art though, and the boys found things they liked there (e.g. armor).
The kids really liked being in Times Square at night. The lights and atmosphere was something quite different for them. We didn’t end up seeing a Broadway show, but would have if we’d spent an entire week.
You do need a reservation to see the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t get reservations in time because of some medical issues in the months right before the trip. That said, our fallback to see it from the Stanton Island Ferry worked reasonably well.
During spring break time, the cold wind could really blow down the streets. Coming from California, we didn’t pack quite warm enough. Except for Jeremy, who packed a heavy jacket last-minute.
We definitely did a lot of walking, which helps to get a sense of the city. We probably should have substituted a few more cab hops in there too, or planned a full week for the trip. Our walk from Battery Park to Times Square was a bit much for the kids, though we saw quite a lot along the way.