New York, New York! This year (2017) Ian and I will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary and our honeymoon was my first and last time in the Big Apple. NYC has a very special place in our hearts as we had such an amazing experience of travelling between Manhattan and East Hampton at the start of one of our greatest adventures – marriage! So this trip was important and made even more special because we had Max with us. We love travelling as a family and showing MB the globe, exposing him to different cultures and ways of doing things. It wasn’t the Antarctic, (Obvs) it was ‘just’ America – but you catch my drift?
As always I got scared of the flight. I always worry that Max will either scream the entire time or narrate his feelings, his farts, his hopes, his worries etc. much to the annoyance of other passengers, who I will never see again. Weird, but as always – he was fine. Too occupied with the plane, the airport, the people, the other kids, the fact that we had our very own mini televisions and he got to wear headphones…so Max 1, my anxiety 0. Boom.
Here comes the jet lag, it was all going so easy…luckily we arrived in the afternoon so we just had to keep our eyeballs open for a few hours, until we could pass out and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to grab NYC by the tits. Oh and did we grab them! At precisely 5am every morning, sometimes 4.36am. Jet lag is balls. Routine is key and also naps. Naps are your BFF.
We stayed at the Double Tree Suites in Times Square and I do not know if you could be more central to the action or the tourists of NYC. We were met on arrival with free and warm cookies… now, I only mention these because we had a religious experience eating them. They even have their own hashtag on Instagram so you know ‘shit’ is serious. You could ask for more cookies and they arrived at your door and then face. New York is magic.
We tried to walk everywhere as it was just before the leaves were about to fall for Autumn, so it was warm and walking is such a great way to see New York. Because of the way Manhattan is set up with the grids and blocks of sky high TVs and buildings, walking is actually a great way to get your bearings in the city. We hopped in a cab when we wanted to get downtown or to visit the piers and especially when MB decided enough was enough, but for the most part we strolled.
Ian loves beaches and relaxing with a book and getting his version of head space from a trip, but I love cities, the buzz of the people, the noise of the traffic, I love seeing everyone going about their business and I just love watching my own version of a time-lapse. My head space? So I always wonder which side Max will choose? Of course it’s not actually about choosing sides and so far he enjoys both so everyone is happy. I prefer city trips with the toddler, because there is so much to see and do that they have no chance of getting bored – not for a minute. Visiting New York is basically like visiting a movie set, it is busy, you recognise places you’ve never been, there are films and series actually being shot in front of your eyes and the view of the city from either the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller is incredible and should definitely go to the top of your ‘to do’ list when visiting NYC.
On our honeymoon we went to the top floor of the Empire State building and it was the perfect day, fantastic weather, you could see Lady Liberty, we took some amazing photographs and we have some great memories from the iconic sky high scraper. However this time we decided to go Rockefeller, because firstly, we never got round to it previously and we had heard on the grapevine that it was less crowded so we figured that was ideal for the mini human. We went on a day where it poured with rain and it was empty, we still went up, because travelling with a toddler means that you have to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ so we hopped on the lift and about 12 ear pops later arrived to our destination and WOW. The views were incredible, you could see both Central Park and the Empire State Building. However, it was raining and we had limited visibility, but it was a great adventure and it did not hinder our experience. We had the top floor to ourselves, it felt like our own personal quiet oasis in one of the liveliest cities…it was bonkers. Max loved running everywhere without the chance of me yelling “careful of that person” and we tag teamed the epic views as Max refused to go out in the rain, but it worked out. If you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘have a great time’, you find the ebbs and flow are a happy medium of compromise and a “I am kind of getting what I want and not at the expense of the small dude” and it works. MB was happy and so were we. We were together in an infamous city taking it all in and that’s what mattered.
We walked around Central Park, we visited the Zoo, we ate ourselves around lower Manhattan, Chelsea and the village. We found incredible coffee everyday from small boutique coffee stalls and sellers, we found the Lego shop, which if you ask Max was actually his “favourite part of New York”. (Inserts monkey with head in hands emoji). We walked the High Line and even spotted President Obama and Michelle Obama….well, their cars, but they were in there and we were eating Tacos! I am expecting the green light on my green card any day now, because of that meeting with POTUS. Obviously this is how it happens.
This trip was different to our first as we had already done the sights and the shops, but by travelling with Max and visiting the city with no sense of urgency to spy Carrie Bradshaw’s steps, we took so much more of New York in and I think we got to experience what the greatest city in the world really had to offer as we looked past the surface and we got to live like New Yorkers. We stopped and spent hours in parks and chatted to the locals, granted we didn’t have rooftop cocktails this time, but we did take our time to enjoy New York. FYI there are epic playgrounds in Central Park and Greenwich Village.
Life with kids can be chaotic, busy and messy and you can be fooled into thinking travelling with them will be the same and or worse. That can be the case – I have been that person in a 5 star hotel in Thai paradise crying and not sleeping. On that trip I even found the 12 steps to the sea my own version of the book and film (incase you are playing Charades) ‘Wild’ . 12 steps is accurate actually, it was like a 12 step programme getting me to leave our room due to sleep deprivation and the newborn struggle was real. BUT as Max is getting older, life is getting easier and we are a lot further into our parenting journey than the Thai trip, so we are far better equipped to deal with issues now, than we would have been when Max was a newborn.
You know your kids and you will know what is right for you and your family. Travel with caution, but know when to throw caution to the wind for the chance to really create memories that will last and shape your kids for years to come.
Best Coffee in New York
We ended up visiting Simon and his crew every day and we even got a “here come the bailies” chant as we walked through the door. Incredible service, the kid got spoilt rotten and the coffee is perfection.
On more than one occasion we waited outside for these guys to open, caffeine needy, pressed faces to glass. We resembled zombies, desperate for some flat white action. We visited the coffee shop at Rockefeller Plaza which had limited seating, unless you wanted to sit on the concourse outside the coffee house. Bluebottle provided us excellent coffee, they are in a fab location and have a great history, so really you want your coffee and definitely ‘to go’, so you can see the sights, which were on the doorstep!
Bluestone Lane Coffee
Incredible locations, coffee and breakfasts, think bircher muesli or smashed avocado – Bluestone Lane is the Instagram dream. Lots of fresh juices and pastries were available for the mini man and we visited the Bryant Park kiosk, which is adjacent to the park in midtown Manhattan. Cannot recommend enough.
Best Playgrounds & Parks in New York
aka the Hudson River Park
Great if you want a park by the High Line and or the Whitney Museum of American Art. Park included water, sand and climbing frames. Epic slides and the view is amazing if and when you get chance to look up.
Bleecker Street Playground
Cool playground, the kind of playground where you feel like you might bump into Carrie Bradshaw on her way home from the night before and I like it. Lovely slides, great swings and sand area with a kitchen. Water fountains and toilets are also located within this gated park.
There are a lot of playgrounds within Central Park, because CP is mahoosive so this is great, but our favourite was the Billy Johnson Park. It had a crazy slide that kids were lining up to ride down, some had even bought their own cardboard to speed up their descent, which was wicked, but also confusing as they had waited so patiently, it was sad that it was all over so soon. Max loved this slide. We lost an hour of our lives most days, but the joy on that kids face was epic.
Where we ate in NYC
There are a few of these joints around as it is a chain restaurant, but the one we kept going back to was the Rockefeller restaurant. Great service, quick and good food for both adults and kids. Kids get a cute twirly straw to use with their drink and crayons. It really is the little things like this which can make your ‘eating out’ with a toddler issue not an issue.
Do not eat here, I repeat do not eat here – not because the food is awful, but the prices are crazy! However nip in for a Prosecco and watch how the other half live on the Upper East Side. As you enter the restaurant you’re faced with a huge selection of photographs, I assume the common denominator is… “Nello” with every famous face you can think of, the board of photographs hang like a shrine to celebrity and gives the place a vibe of “you might bump into…”, but I only bumped into a boy peeling potatoes on my way to the toilet. I think we got lucky on stumbling on this place when it was quiet – probably the only reason Max was allowed in, that or they thought he was the Milky Bar Kid and famous?
After walking the High Line we found Santina Restaurant, which was a welcome relief after walking the old track. The place was packed and had a very cool Miami vibe, it was bright and tropical and the food was delicious and quick. Max ate a sausage and had one of the most monumental jet lag tantrums in here and the staff didn’t blink an eye. Sad when that is the measure of a kid friendly place, but seriously what else? Great food, gorgeous cocktails and cool vibes.
Once again we stumbled onto this glorious restaurant after a lazy afternoon mooching around Central Park. Situated within the park the Tavern on the Green restaurant is an oasis of fresh and bright colours mixed with history and legacy. The staff were incredible with Max and spoilt him rotten. Fantastic food and you can even see your dish being prepared in the open kitchen. Tavern on the Green also had a lovely outside area with views of the park. A must pit stop in Central Park.