The forecast for Superintendent’s Day at my girls’ school called for 59 degrees and sunny during the second week of March in one of the snowiest winters we’ve seen – and I knew just where we were going: The Big Apple. Superintendent’s Day was the perfect day for such a trip because it is a school day-off particular to our New York district, but not the city – so while all the city kids were at school, my girls could take in all the fun of Gotham without the competing lines and chaos of other children.
As I devised our itinerary a few days leading up, I had a hard time deciding what to leave in and what to leave out – there was too much to show them in what I kept referring to as our “NYC whirlwind”. This was the first time I was going to take them in all day by myself, and walk around everywhere, as opposed to a shorter trip in to see a Broadway show, or a Christmas visit to see the tree and Saks windows. I wanted to give them the full tourist experience, and leave that day feeling in awe of the city, just as I felt as a little girl. There are many paths one can take in choosing what to see in one day, so I settled on a theme, and that theme was “Classic New York”.
First off, we hopped on a Metro North train in our Westchester town, because, after all, the train ride is just as much a part of the experience as anything else. Waiting on the platform for the train, and the anticipation of it all, was enough to get my girls’ hearts pumping. By the time we arrived to Grand Central, they were in full tourist mode. “Let’s go look at the ceiling”, they immediately said. And we did. For like them, the emerald green and gold ceiling enwraps me every time, its magic never lost. It’s one of my favorite places in the city, and a spectacular way to enter.
Next we headed for the subway, another train they couldn’t wait to catch. In fact, they were so giddy on it that many people remarked how happy and cheerful and well behaved they seemed. I couldn’t help but say, “they’re fun girls”, which they are, but I left it at that. Never mind all the fighting and hair pulling at home.
After a few stops we got off and were en route to our second classic landmark: the Empire State Building. This would be their first visit. Having a father for an architect, they’ve heard on and on about it, and have been dying to go. A good friend of mine’s office is in the building, so she was able to hook us up with a VIP pass. And did it work fast…it took us all of 10 minutes to get to the top. For most of you not going the VIP route though, make sure to get an Express pass, if your budget allows, on the website at http://www.esbnyc.com/buy-tickets, which works very quickly too.
Once at the top, the 360 degrees views were riveting, and almost unbelievable for two little girls. Like two feathers in the wind up there, the world was a whole new place for them. It’s always so amazing to see children experience something so grand for the first time, their facial expressions priceless. We spotted the Chrysler building, the Brooklyn Bridge (where we used to live), the Statue of Liberty, and of course, the golden arches of McDonald’s. Leave it to my older girl to spot those.
About 100 photos and 5 circles around later, the girls were hungry, so we started our descent, and then ascent – to the Upper East Side, home to Serendpity 3. Famous for their frozen hot chocolate and over the top sundaes, the girls – like the Empire State Building – had heard about it, but had never been. Lines start early, and we got there just in time to be one of the first people to put our names on the list.
The whimsical and kitschy décor, not to mention all the colorful goodies at the front of the restaurant, lured my girls in in no time. We sat upstairs at a big round table, big enough for all the food we were about to consume. Their hot dogs, which must have been foot longs, were enough for two people, but we unknowingly got two. My turkey and avocado sandwich with melted swiss was surprisingly delicious. I had figured it’s all about the desserts there, but lunch was good. Finally, my girls got what they had been talking about all day – the frozen hot chocolates. It had been so many years since I had one, I had forgotten how amazingly scrumptious they are – famous for a reason. We sat back slurping out of our straws, taking in the moment and delighting in this heavenly creation. When we were leaving, we saw a crowd of tourists approach, and I thought to myself, yes this is a tourist hot spot…but it is old school New York, and for that, it is a complete must for any family.
Next stop: The Plaza, home to every girl’s favorite character, Eloise. But of course, leaving 60th Street would not be complete – or fair to any child, as it is on the same block – without making a pit stop at Dylan’s Candy Bar, on the corner of 60th and 3rd. Completely unnecessary after those big desserts? Yes. Did mom maybe want some over the top fun too? Yes. With three floors of outrageous candy mania and colors, Dylan’s has pretty much been a classic since it first opened its doors in 2001. Girls went crazy, so did I, and we happily walked out chomping on some Dubble Bubble.
Back on track…the Plaza. We walked over on this perfectly sunny day, caught a glimpse of Central Park and the horse carriages, and made our way inside. Even though the hotel has gone through major transformations with condos and food courts galore, it is still The Plaza. There was lots of oooohhing and aaaahhing when we walked in, and we cruised around the pavilion and eventually made our way downstairs to the Eloise room. Note: this was a Wednesday. High Tea Time in the Eloise room is 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. But the room is nonetheless open to the public for viewing, playing, shopping and watching a movie in the playroom. It was the perfect break and way to re-gather ourselves in our “NYC whirlwind”. We watched a movie for a bit, bought some girlie nail polish and chapstick, and made our way to the outdoor red carpet for some must have pics.
I had one more place to take them before heading back to Grand Central: MoMA. The museum I worked at years ago, and will always think of fondly, and wish I took my girls to more often. It was nearing the end of the day and they were getting tired, but they wanted to see mommy’s old work, and besides, I just kept shoving Dylan’s m&m’s down their throats to give them energy.
We have been before, and to me, some of the best art rooms you can show your little ones are the classic Painting and Sculpture rooms. With Van Gough, Matisse, Monet, Pollock, Warhol and so many more, they are the rooms where the pieces become recognizable to them. Tomato soup cans always a hit. Jackson Pollock, just plain fun. Starry Night – love. You can spend a lot of time with kids in those collections.
But perhaps even more is just the whole experience – walking by the sculpture garden, going up and seeing the giant helicopter, crossing over the bridges and looking down at the massive museum from above, walking by the sculpture garden again, this time from a higher vantage point…it’s all so cool to them, and a ton of fun. We ended our visit with a Bjork video – demanded by them!
We had quite a day. One I will remember for a long time.