Monday, January 6, 2020

Christmas Trip to New York City - Year Three

For our third annual Christmas trip to NYC, we brought the boys with us and made it a full family trip! We drove down to Rowayton the day after Christmas and did family Christmas in CT and stayed the night. The next morning (Friday), we took the train into the city around 10:45am, and got to our hotel around noon. We stayed at the Affinia Shelburne, the same hotel for a third year in a row - why mess with success? - and it was great as always. We reserved a suite and they provided a travel crib for Henry, so we had Erin and Ryan on the sofa bed in the living room, Nettie on a pillow nest on the floor next to them, and Henry in his travel bed in the kitchenette. They all had plenty of space and we had the bedroom/bathroom for ourselves.  We love the convenience of the Murray Hill location for getting in and out of Grand Central, and the rooms are so spacious, especially by NYC standards.  

Our Highlights:

Day 1: 
  • We dropped our bags at the hotel around noon. Check in was at 3pm so our room wasn’t ready, but they stored our stuff for us. Immediately hit Bagel Express (the girls’ favorite!) for lunch.
  • We walked from there to Central Park. This was a pretty long way, but we took our time and there was lots to look at along the way.  I once again regretted not bringing a stroller, but Henry did his best and supplemented with lots of shoulder rides from Daddy.
  • The kids climbed all over the giant rocks in the park, looked for Stuart Little (or “Short Little”, as Henry kept shouting for!), and watched the skaters on the rink. We found the Central Park Carousel and took a ride, which was fun for everyone. 
  • We got a couple of giant pretzels from a street cart when Henry informed us that he was “speeding hungry”. 
  • We rode the subway back to the hotel and checked into our room, where we all spent some time lounging at the hotel and resting our legs. 
  • After a little rest time, we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. 
  • On the way, we caught the light show at Saks.  We loved the Frozen theme, but did not love the crowds - never have we seen it so crazy packed!
  • We had planned to hop in a cab to dinner, but the traffic and crowds were so thick that we escaped into the subway instead.  The trains were really bad our whole trip - really long waits for almost every subway, which was super frustrating and slow.  That was a bummer because we had finally gotten comfortable with navigating the system, but we exercised our best patience and stuck it out.  We took the subway to the Meatpacking District for dinner at The Sugar Factory!  What an experience!  The service was terrible and we waited over an hour for our food (we were all “speeding hungry” by that point!) but everything was a hit when it finally arrived - the rainbow sliders were adorable and came with five or six burgers so the kids split one order.  The real treat was the crazy shakes and sundaes, any one of which could have fed our entire family!  We splurged and let everyone pick their own, and their jaws dropped when they saw them!  The restaurant comped them all because of the slow service, so we all left happy even after the wait.   
  • We grabbed a cab ride home to the hotel. Everyone had logged almost 30k steps and fell into bed, even after all the sugar!

Day 2:
  • We checked out of the hotel and left our bags in storage with them, when we set out for the day around 8:30am.
  • Another stop at Bagel Express for breakfast.
  • We took the subway to Soho for our 10:00 tickets at the Museum of Ice Cream.  This was fun!  We spent about 90 minutes there, and the experience was very interactive and filled with lots of ice cream tastes and fun things to see and do.  Nothing could top our awesome experience at the Color Factory the year before, but the Museum of Ice Cream was a very close second and we would recommend it. 
  • After the museum, we wandered around Little Italy and poked into some cute Italian groceries while we waited for the restaurants to open at noon. We didn’t expect to be hungry after so many ice cream samples, but we were all ready for some real food and had a lovely sit down lunch at Margherita’s.  We got there right when they opened at noon and by 12:05, all of the ten tables or so were filled with a line of other customers at the door.  We split some delicious pizzas and everyone was fueled up and reenergized.  
  • We poked around in a couple of cute shops in Soho, picking up some yarn for Gammy and some fun things in the tea shop for home.  
  • Our next destination was the Staten Island Ferry.  We’d like to do the full Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island experience when the kids are a little older and the weather is a little warmer, but the ferry ride was the perfect way to get some great views of Lady Liberty and a cool boat ride - for free!  The ferries run every half hour, so we had missed one by five minutes but got first in line for the next one.  The ride itself also takes about 30 minutes, so we positioned ourselves at the front of the exit line afterwards and did a crazy Amazing Race-style sprint to the return boat, which we made by the skin of our teeth.   
  • It was just about time to head back to Rowayton so we went back to Grand Central to grab a train around 5pm.  Zach ran back to the hotel to pick up our bags while the kids and I checked out the Grand Central Market and picked up some yummy train snacks.

We spent one more night in CT before driving home on Sunday.  It was a jam-packed 36-ish hours, with a good mix of walking, eating, and fun activities.  The vibe was a little different with the boys in tow, but it was a great family getaway and the boys enjoyed their first little taste of NYC!