NYC:A Little Girl’s Guide
For years, my oldest daughter has been fascinated by NYC… She got it from her mama! I was in love with that city from the moment I laid eyes on it… Even though I never lived there like I dreamed, but I have a feeling I may one day live vicariously through one of my girls… She was a New Yorker the second she stepped out of the car!
For Olivia’s 8th Birthday, we decided a trip to NYC was the perfect present! I am a planner and didn’t want to spend absurd amounts of money on a weekend trip for one daughter.
Everyone gave Olivia money, Rockettes tickets, American Girl gift cards, boots to wear and so on… We gave her hotel reservations (aka cashed in Marriott points).
In her mind this was her trip and she was THRILLED!!!!
We decided to drive because we had to drop her 4 year old sister at her grandma’s and I wanted Olivia to drive into the city the way I did as a child! It’s exactlynot ideal because the 9 hours it takes surpasses my personal 6 hour threshold for car trip tolerance, but we broke it up, 3 hotels in 4 days was quite an adventure! We chose a perfect window of time, before Christmas madness and after the heat! Central park was beautiful with the leaves changing colors and there were already signs of Christmas!
The road trip was part of the experience… Getting lost in DC in the middle of the night (I’ve still never successfully driven thru DC even though I lived there) and stopping in Philadelphia for lunch. A trip to Philadelphia wouldn’t be complete with out seeing the Liberty Bell and eating a Philly Cheesesteak!
Our road trip specialty is taking a detour…
We took the long way around so we could come in over the Brooklyn Bridge (bless Chad, he just does what the women in his life tell him) but it was so worth it!
Chad missed the photo op because we were pretty sure we were getting a parking ticket!
Park Lane Hotel
Quick review: Great hotel for the money… Not as up to date and swanky as some hotels, but you really can’t beat the location for the money! We weren’t in NYC for the social sceneAttentive to details that make a trip special and very quick service. Booked a last minute deal and can’t imagine there was a lower price anywhere in Manhattan. It was a good surprise for all of us!
We didn’t plan to stay in a hotel, the first night. We were supposed to stay with friends but I knew I would never get Olivia out of the city once she got there! About an hour before the city, I booked a last minute deal at The Park Lane Hotel… at $149 I was sure it was too good to be true. I was wrong… It was perfect!!! They we so nice at check in and I mentioned it was Olivia’s birthday (always drop hints… It can’t hurt) Yes, it was small, like really small but who cares we just needed somewhere to sleep and shower! When we got to our room we were looking into the windows of the Ritz and all I could think was “suckas” I got this little place for cheap and you are paying over $1000 per night (don’t get me wrong, I would choose the Ritz if I wasn’t paying)!!I would totally recommend The Park Lane to anyone looking for an inexpensive yet well located hotel in Manhatten… It’s right on Central Park S and the subway station is so close. They even sent up a personalized chocolate cake for Olivia’s birthday (they may have wooed me with the cake) and strategically placed a little card reminding me to rate them on TripAdvisor… Sure, for free cake, I’ll do anything! But really in New York with an 8 year old, do you need more than a shoe box for your luggage? This will be where we stay on Julia’s birthday trip to NYC!
We checked the room out and hit the ground running.
Out and About:
First stop… Our favorite New Yorker’s home!
After checking out the area (you know toy stores and such), we were off on the Subway to visit a friend who works on the Bank of America Building(how cool)!!! This is directly across from Bryant Park… What a cool park on a Friday night?? There were all kinds of vendors (French fry stands, artisan chocolate, accessories) and ice skating and an amazing view of the Empire State Building!
After a crazy night of trying to find a Shake Shack that was apparently under renovation, we ended up in a hole in the wall pizza joint… Kid friendly places to eat on a Friday night in NYC can be somewhat hard to come by… If it’s decent, its like a 2 hour wait or is closed.
We headed back uptown and Olivia wanted Serendipity after so many people had told her how amazing it is… After we decided to get off the subway and walk, Olivia started melting down. I stopped to ask a bellman for a cab because Olivia was so cold and it was so late… He had the hotel BMW pulled around and we headed off in style… To you, bellman at the St. Regis, I am forever grateful for the car and letting us the overhead heater!
Karma was on our side… the wait was over an hour at 10pm. A lady in line saw how disappointed Olivia was and gave us her spot because she had to leave… We sat down in less than 5 minutes!
I am usually hesitant to recommend Serendipity because the line is so so bad but the food is oh so good!!! They actually have real food as well(I thought it was a dessert place)… I thought we were going for the Frozen Hot Chocolate… But even though we had eaten pizza, my husband still had to order a meal… He can’t help it!
Morning at the Met: From the Park Lane is a great place to wander Central park… We explored our way up to the Met!
After FINALLY getting Shake Shack (not very close to the Met)… We changed hotels…
We moved to the Renaissance New York Times Square, I hotel I originally booked with points… Well technically, I paid for one night booking the American Girl package but used points for the other nights. (always make sure you are using points wisely, the rates were under points value for one of the nights and jumped to over $500 another night so I paid for the room with 40,000 points. To us, points are like cash!!)
Renaissance New York Times Square
Quick Review: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION… If the heart of times square is your goal, this is hard to beat! The lobby was a bit small and a little oddly laid out… the décor was cool and the R Lounge was AWESOME.
This hotel was in a great location… It was like another experience with in NYC… So much action! Probably more than I prefer but not more than an 8 year old would prefer! They immediately gave us a really large corner room with a Nasdaq ticker flying by the window… It was so cool!
This hotel was perfect. We are Marriott Gold level (nothing too crazy hard to accomplish) and it gives you access to a great lounge on the second level with snacks and free breakfast… Such great crash spot! (open at times for everyone with great cocktails and food)
We loved it… It overlooks Times Square. To be honest, I just wanted to stay there and not get out into the madness (Times Square is not my thing)!!! I would never plan two hotels but we really did get two different experiences out of New York!
It was such a great location for shows and getting around town. We opted out of a Broadway show because we want to wait until Jules is old enough…, the Rockettes were perfect for Olivia!!
No trip to NYC with an 8 year old would be complete without a visit to the American Girl Store… As far as I am concerned, these overpriced dolls are not something you get just because you want one… Olivia had saved her money and people had given her gift card and she was ready to shop! We had brunch, went to the salon and shopped… I mostly watched the moms in the store going more overboard than the girls… Olivia walked the store a million times to ve sure she was using her $150 as best she could and then we had to see the other moms spending $1000’s… I swear, it was the craziest thing! It was such a cute experience and as far as I am concerned, Olivia doesn’t need to know there are other American Girl Stores!
**My recommendation on the American Girls Store is… Wait until they are at least 7 or 8, they seem to get the full experience and it’s not a just a meltdown of things they want. the dolls have an 8 year old age suggestions for a reason.
Empire State Building:
This was probably one of our favorite experiences.
None of us had been and it was spectacular… Our timing was perfect! We made it just in time for sunset and watch the city light up at night! We bought the tickets from a guy on the street selling them with a little credit card reader…. I’m sure there are cheaper easier ways but the tickets were legit and we skipped some lines that way!
This trip was a blast… Now, Jules wants to go!
I can’t wait to take her when she is old enough!
Now the questions is… Will she let Olivia go on her trip??