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The New York Water Taxi may just be our new favorite thing to do in New York City. Let me start by saying it is such a fabulous way to see the Big Apple, and loads of fun! I ran into a friend recently who told me she had just taken the tour with her family and visitors from out of town, and highly recommended it. I went onto the website to read more about it (see here), and all I could think of was – how have we not done this before? With 6 different “hop on/hop off” stops throughout the city, and a tour through New York Harbor, it is a sure-fire way to see as much of New York as you can in one day, with spectacular skyline views along the way. Read More

Nantucket: Top Family Beaches

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Nantucket, MA has long been a summer colony for New Englanders, especially those in the Boston and New York areas. The small island, located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod, may not be big in size, but it’s rich in its coastal beauty and plentiful beaches. It’s all about going to the beach in Nantucket. Sure you go for bike rides and peruse the cobblestone streets downtown and check out the harbor, but the beach is where you’ll always end up. With miles of white sand and dunes to protect, how could you not – they’re some of the most sublime beaches on the East Coast. People take their beach life seriously here, and there are a variety of beaches for all types and ages. We’ve taken our girls to Nantucket a few times, when they were toddlers and babies, and now older at ages 6 and 8. Some of the beaches we used to go to were perfect back then, but now that they’re boogie boarding and want some waves, we’ve migrated to new territory. The North Shore, for example, being on the Nantucket Sound, is much calmer, while the South Shore, on the Atlantic, is obviously rougher, with bigger waves. Whatever your speed, there’s plenty of options. Here are our picks for best family beaches: Read More

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My family and I recently went to Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, NY at the suggestion of my husband, an architect. How I have not visited this spectacular outdoor space just 20 minutes away from my home in Westchester, and just north of the city, I’m not sure. But for anyone living in or visiting the New York area, I strongly urge you to pay a visit, and soon! (and actually, I should’t say pay, as it’s free). It is one of the most exquisite gardens you will ever see. Known as “Eden on the Hudson”, this Persian-Indo garden was designed and based on the Garden of Eden; and, upon entering, indeed it’s like walking into paradise and going back in time. A City of Yonkers public park, it was once the home of Samuel Untermyer, a prominent corporate lawyer (as well as leader of the anti-Nazi movement), who in 1899 purchased the estate, named Greystone, from Samuel Tilden, former Governor of New York. Untermyer expanded the land to over 150 acres, with the intention of building the “finest garden in the world”, set atop and sloping down the Hudson River. Read More

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Cape Cod: lazy summer days on the beach, sand grass blowing in the dunes, the Nantucket Sound illuminating under the sun, a bike ride into town for a lobster roll or ice cream at some old-fashioned New England outpost. That’s what people think of when they think of the Cape. There is a slowness to this Massachusetts summer haven, and a low-key vibe that makes it so popular to visit. Especially with city dwellers in Boston and New York, it’s the ultimate seaside retreat – it’s the very definition of rest and relaxation amidst beauty and tranquility. Read More

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When people think of visiting or vacationing in New York City, usually the term New York is synonymous with Manhattan. That’s where Times Square and Broadway are after all, not to mention the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. So many of the city’s big attractions are located in Manhattan, and indeed it is a fascinating place to visit (see my post on Top 10 Family Destinations in Manhattan). But Manhattan is one of five boroughs, and just a part of the puzzle that makes up New York City. There are four other wonderful boroughs that deserve exploring as well. One of our favorites is the Bronx. Home to the Bronx Zoo of course – one of NYC’s most visited attractions – but there are also some other really great gems in this part of the city. Here are fifi + hop’s Top 5 Family Destinations in the Bronx: Read More

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When people think of New York City, kids is not the first thing that comes to mind. This busy metropolis conjures images of tall buildings, business suits, a buzzing nightlife, people on the move, a sophistication unto itself. Yet New York has become increasingly more child-friendly, with more attractions for families than ever before. The city’s sheer size and density can make the prospect of visiting with kids both exciting and overwhelming. On the one hand there is so much to see and do, yet on the other, the crowds and general fast-pace way of life can seem daunting. Where do you begin, what should you leave in, and what should you leave out? Below are fifi + hop’s top picks to help guide the way. Some are obvious choices, while others are a little more off the beaten path. There will be 5 different posts for each borough, and to start off we’ll cover Manhattan. From museums to parks to shows to cultural sites to the best views of the city, Manhattan has it all. Here are fifi + hop’s Top 10 Family Destinations in Manhattan: Read More

Grace Farms

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For Father’s Day my family and I decided to take a trip to Grace Farms in New Canaan, CT for our architect dad. A former 80 acres horse farm, Grace Farms was transformed into essentially a community center – but one like no other. Built by the renowned Japanese architecture firm SANAA, the five circular buildings that make up the center are referred to as the “River”. Meant to integrate into the land and its natural surroundings, the buildings are all interconnected by walkways and courtyards and weave in and around the landscape, like a river. With large glass-wrapped windows in each of the buildings, one can see through to the outside, and the beauty of the country setting, at any given point. The buildings, with their roofed walkways leading to one another, almost seem part of the landscape, which is the premise of the project. Read More

Newport Harbor

Newport, Rhode Island is one of those New England cities that if you have visited, you’ll find a way to visit again. Located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, this seaside resort is popular for so many reasons. Apart from its views of the bay and Atlantic Ocean, it has an incredibly charming and historical downtown, filled with cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, a picturesque harbor, and a plethora of shops, restaurants and bars. It’s very lively and bustling, making you want to stroll around for hours. Newport is also home to the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, and for years it hosted America’s Cup; there is a lot going on in this “city-by-the sea”. And then of course there are the famous Gilded Age Newport mansions on Bellevue Avenue, the Cliff Walk and the beaches, and more. Newport breathes history and allure, and transports you back to an era long ago, all the while feeling modern and happening at the same time. It’s this combination that makes you want to go back and visit again and again. There simply is no other place like Newport.

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Photo credit: Rimonthly.com

Living in the New York area, people always think of the Hamptons as the place to go during the summertime. Sure it’s beautiful and fun and has great beaches, but it’s not the only retreat around for busy New Yorkers. Of course there’s the Jersey Shore, the Connecticut countryside, the Adirondacks, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the list goes on…and there’s also the state of Rhode Island. A 3-4 hour drive from New York City, Rhode Island offers historical seaside towns, long sandy beaches, and a low-key vibe, all without the heavy traffic of Long Island. That’s perhaps what I love about Rhode Island the most- just how easy it is to get there. A straight shot up north on I 95 (or the leafy Merrit Parkway for part of it) and before you know it you’ve crossed the Connecticut border and are in the land of some of New England’s most beautiful summer vacation destinations. Read More

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I lived in New York City for 12 years, and somehow I never made it to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in Upper Manhattan. Funny since I almost got married in Fort Tryon Park, a beautiful 8 mile park set majestically atop the Hudson River, and home to the Cloisters. But I suppose that’s the wonderful thing about New York City – you can never discover too much, as there is always more. So when my family and I had about a four hour block of time this past weekend, I said let’s go to the Cloisters, once and for all. Read More

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