Come November and the air is crisp, the lights have started sparkling, hot chocolates are a chocolatier, everybody is buying gifts and all is red and we are getting ready for our old man Mr Santa. Well in all this excitement we decided to visit in November and with our 5-year-old daughter who was visiting NYC for the first time. The sight of the fall season with its colourful trees was a perfect welcome we were looking forward too.
This trip was a completely new experience as this was my daughter’s first international trip and we were worried about meals, sleep, weather and of course jet lag.
Our trip started with a direct flight from Delhi to NYC on Air India, which lands early in the morning NYC time. You get a full day to reach your hotel and settle in for the crazy vacation ahead. It took us around 1.5 hrs to reach Manhattan from the airport.
As we were not travelling outside New York, so our base for the whole trip was Hotel Pennsylvania. The location is just perfect, it is 10 min from Time Square, 15 min from central park and 5th Avenue. With 24hr restaurants near the hotel, food is never a problem, especially when you are jet lagged. The most amazing Penn Station, which is across the street. Most of the Hop on Hop off tours are being sold outside the hotel gate, you can choose from a couple of operators.
First things first … you are going to walk a lot so a Stroller is a must. Either get one with you or you can buy it in NYC. We bought it from a Kmart store 5 min from our hotel. And I can’t tell you how useful and convenient it was. Next is a 7-day unlimited subway pass, which will save you loads of money and time. Ohanna used to sleep by 6 in the evening and we used to cover her with a blanket and take her everywhere we went. I came back super fit after the trip, with all the walking and pushing around the stroller. When visiting USA kids might take 2-4 days to get over Jet lag. So keep the first few days travel plans light keeping in mind the sleep patterns and the exhaustion.
The first day itself we went to Times Square in the evening. It was really sad to see that the Toy store had closed down, but none the less there was a lot to do. After clicking loads of pics we went into M&M store right around the corner. It is really huge and fun for both adults and kids. You can get all kinds of M&M toys, clothes, mugs and accessories. Don’t forget the free instant photo booth.
A Broadway with your kids is a must. You can buy last minute discounted tickets from TKT located at Times square for some the most amazing Broadway shows like Lion King, School of rock, etc. We saw Mary Poppins and it was in a very vintage looking theatre with beautiful balconies and interiors.
• It is by far the best and the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to. You can buy discounted tickets from their site or at the gate itself. In summers it is highly recommended that you do it online to save time standing in the queue, also it is free on Wednesdays. A very sturdy stroller can be hired at the entry gate for kids; I did and would really recommend it. Day is full of surprises, fun and lot’s of learning for kids and adults alike, with exhibits like sea lion feeding, birds of paradise, flamingos, polar bear, Siberian tiger, African lions, giraffes, penguins, African safari, train in summers, 3D show, bugs carousel and a huge canteen-cafe with good food and very nice coffee.
Staten Island Ferry
It is free and perfect for watching Statue of Liberty and later catching up with old friends. By evening we were exhausted and came back early, but not before spending time at Time square. You will go crazy with the 10000 plus eating joints in the city with a huge variety of cuisines to choose from. Try new places every day.
We were extremely lucky with a beautiful sunny day to spend in the central park. The bright sun, fall colours on trees and the fresh crisp air are all we needed to make it perfect. Grabbed a quick bite and we were at one end of the park. Your kids will love the play areas they have built; they are so safe and full of interesting swings and obstacles. Next was the ice skating rink, it was super tiring and so much fun, It’s a must. Soaked the sun and started our long walk in the park going over and under bridges, crossing ponds big and small, statues, various courts and much more. The place was brimming with people running, exercising, cycling, walking their dogs or generally chilling on the lovely green benches. It has a small zoo too if you don’t get time to visit the Bronx.
Being winters we had to give it a pass as luna park was closed and the aquarium was under renovation. But summers you definitely can’t miss it.
Shopping at 5th Avenue and exploring the village- Soho-
On one hand, 5th avenue has huge stores on both side and on the other hand in Village you can find small boutique and designer stores and few of the most interesting restaurants and cafes in Nyc. Check Out High Line park built on an abandoned raised metro line.
Disney on Ice Show:
We found out about the Disney on Ice show in the time out the magazine for kids and were lucky to get tickets for it. Had to take the train to Newark for the magic show with all of the Disney characters. Got late coming back that day and experienced flurries, as it was really cold that day. It was a very special experience
10 Things not be missed
• Museums – Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Egyptian Art space at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. Don’t forget to read up on all the free museum days throughout the week
• Indoor Amusement parks- Kidz Village, Funtime America
• Cycling tours- http://www.mustseecentralpark.com/,
• Toy Stores – The Lego Store, Disney Store, Dinosaur hill etc.
• Candy Stores – M&M, Dylan’s Candy Bar, economy candy, etc.
• Places to eat – Chipotle, Nathan’s, McDonald’s, Dunkin Doughnuts, Krispy Kreme, Deli’s for salads, breakfast, meals, pizza, Cheese Cake Factory
• Empire State Building and Rockefeller centre
• Macys Store– Their special shopping windows around Christmas and the famous Macy’s parade
• Photo Booths for those candid shots
Apps for just making it all easy
• Head out- for events, tours and entry tickets
• Uber – Taxi
• Yelp- Finding restaurants nearby
• Google maps
• Air BnB
• Trip advisor
• Time Out Magazine for stuff to do in the city with your kids