Here is the long awaited NYC trip post. Honestly one of my favorite trips I’ve taken and experiencing it with Clara for her 10th birthday was just over the top amazing. AND with some of our very best friends. Clara’s best friend, Crew, was born a day after her! They have literally been friends their whole life AND we have been friends with her parents since before any kids were involved. I won’t lie this whole family friendship situation has been a dream!
10th birthday trip background: For our kids, when they turn 10 instead of a big party they get a special trip with Brian and I, wherever they choose. Although AK told us she wants to go to Paris so we will be making some adjustments to the whole “wherever you choose” thing. Ha! We took our oldest to Lego Land and Clara has been seriously planning on going to NYC since she was 5.
Let’s get started with NYC!
Our flight left Charlotte at 707am, yikes, but we were really trying to maximize time and get a full 2 days in. We flew into JFK. There are a few options to get into the city: train, uber/lift, or a taxi. We took a lift and managed to fit 6 people and our luggage in a freaking Toyota Highlander. Ha! Safety tip: ALWAYS make sure your driver is the one from the app you’re using. We tried to get swayed by some random person to get in their car. Not saying that he wasn’t a legit driver, but you never know these days.
We took our luggage to the hotel first and actually managed to get into our room super early. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Times Square North. The rooms were tinyyy, but I mean that’s NYC for you. The rooms were very clean and the hotel was really convenient to everything. We got two rooms with double beds and the girls slept in our room one night and Crew’s parents room the next night so they had a big sleepover weekend!
First stop was Serendipity! We had a reservation here! This movie has been one of my favorites and such a fun spot to hit with kids in NYC. Very kid friendly food and really fun vibe in the restaurant. Of course we had to end the meal with their speciality, frozen hot chocolate! SO GOOD. Definitely need to get one even though they’re $20.
Our next stop was a walk thru of The Plaza Hotel because Home Alone 2 was there duh. They let you walk through a little bit of the lobby and then there is this big fancy restaurant. Brian led us through this back hallway, which I’m not 100% sure we were allowed to be in, but it was fun to see all the art down the hallway.
Next stop was Central Park! I cannot believe that I have been to NYC a few times before this trip and never made it to the park! It’s BEAUTIFUL. It’s just so fun to go from like the city streets and then bam so much green and people and dogs. I would definitely suggest grabbing snacks and drinks and then like taking a break. The kids played on the rocks, which were insane. I mean these massive rocks in the middle of NYC is nuts. We walked down the mall which is where that pretty tree line with benches are- you see it in a lot of movies! There were so many pop up artist singing and playing instruments. It felt like a very NYC moment walking the path.
After the park we headed on down 5th avenue. Honestly so fun people watching and seeing all the fabulous women and their outfits. I mean the women of 5th avenue know how to make a statement. And if you’re wondering how can you tell if they are THE women of 5th ave, trust me, you’ll know. 😉
On 5th we hit up the American Girl store, which was 3 stories high. Wowzer. Clara was in heaven and like had her mind blown. We also stopped by FAO Schwarz, which was so fun. Hot tip: bring socks or have your kids wear socks if they want to walk the big piano!
Before dinner we stopped by Times Square to see it in the daylight. There are SO many people literally everywhere. Disney fireworks crowd. Times Square is a bucket list thing that you just have to experience and see. There’s no other place like it- and by place I mean an overcrowded center with overstimulating screens everywhere you look. 😉
Dinner was at Lillies Victorian Establishment and it was SO BEAUTIFUL. Flowers everywhere! Just a really fun vibe. They do not have a kids menu! If you have a picky kid, this isn’t the place, buttttt the food was amazing! LIKE SO GOOD. I wish we had one of these in Charlotte. (We had a reservation here)
After dinner we stopped by Juniors for dessert and it was also SO GOOD. The cheesecake was to die for and what they’re famous for! Brian and Clara got massive sundaes if cheesecake isn’t your jam.
Saturday morning we started with breakfast at the Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This place was so fun. All the serving staff are aspiring to be on broadway and they sing the whole time! They sing all different broadway songs and they’re so talented. The food was great- just normal breakfast food. There aren’t reservations here, you just have to stand in a line outside but it moves quick. We waited less than 10 min to get in and got there right at 8am.
After breakfast, we walked down to the piers at the Hudson river for our Statue of Liberty tour with Circle Line Tours. The tour started at 1030 and people were getting on at like 10, which we didn’t realize and wish we had because the seats filled up fast. There is a concession stand with lots of different foods and drinks. The tour was fun with lots of history and it was really cool to see the city line like that. The Statue of Liberty was amazing! The girls loved it. Hot tip: super clean bathroom. (had a reservation for this! )
Next we hit up Dylan’s Candy bar and each got massive bags of candy and spent stupid money, but it was fun and something we don’t usually do.
Then we walked the Highline which was an old railroad that they made this like walkway with lots of fun art and architecture. This was about a 30 min walk from start to finish. We met my cousin for the walk and it was so fun to see her and actually see where she works!
The Highline spits you right out in Chelsea and we walked about 10 minutes to the Chelsea Market for lunch. There are so many different little shops and restaurants. We found a pizza place to get us a slice of that NYC pizza and a big german beer. They have all these outdoor seating arrangements in the city now from Covid and they ended up keeping them out, and it’s so fun and pretty.
After lunch we braved our first subway experience. If you have an iphone, the apple wallet allows you to express pay for public transportation so it was super easy to get in the subway and figure out. I honestly didn’t lead the subway situation and figuring out the trains, but I think it’s super easy. And it was wayyyyy cheaper than getting an uber.
The subway ended right at the Occulus which is this really cool looking building. It was really cool. And right when you walked the door was the 9/11 memorial. We talked to the girls about it and it definitely an emotional moment, but something super important for us to see.
Next we walked to the Color Factory which was SO FUN. Each room was a different way to explore colors. We had a lot of fun in here and they had fun treats in almost all the rooms. Also so many fun photo ops. (We had a reservation and tickets for this!)
Yall we ended up taking up the subway back up to our hotel because it would have been an insane walk and it was definitely the right decision, BUT there was a man with no pants. I mean I can’t make this stuff up. I feel like you have to have one weird story from the subway before you leave the city.
Dinner was at the Broadway Lounge, which was really nice and right over Times Square. Lots of easy food options for everyone. We went back to the hotel after and CRASHED. We debated on seeing a show tonight, but honestly I don’t think any of us would have made it through one.
The last morning was full souvenir shopping. We did stop by the M&M factory which had lots of different fun flavors that you can’t buy in stores at home. Brian, of course, got more candy.
Last stop was Grand Central Station. The architecture was stunning. There is a food court there where we stopped for lunch. There is no seating for lunch though, just standing tables. I swear sitting in NYC is a luxury. Also note that Clara is screaming she loves NYC. Girlfriend was living her best life with her bestie and as the only child.
- Wear your most comfortable shoes. The pain of walking around NYC is real. Remember sitting is a luxury.
- Use a credit card. Ours got hacked while we were there- didn’t notice until we got home.
- Bring a light bag or jacket that you can keep a water bottle in.
- Wallets and bags always go in the front pockets or front of you.
- Food costs about $40-50 regardless of a kids menu.
- Download movies for the flight and bring some kind of candy for the kids to suck on while you are taking off and landing.
DM me if you have ANY questions!!