Our adventure in New York City continued on our first full day. Me and Adalyn woke up early and walked over to see The Today Show on the plaza. The show starts taping at 7:00am EST, but some people arrive earlier than that. You can make your own signs or even wear fun outfits if you want to have more of a chance of getting on camera, if you are interested in that. We just wanted to go hang out and it was a good excuse to get Adalyn out of the hotel so she didn’t wake up Charlotte. I also like getting out early when the city is quiet and there aren’t many people out.
We wandered over there around 7:45am. The entrance to the plaza is off of 48th Street between 5th and 6th Ave. You will have to go through a metal detector and they also xray your bags, but that only takes a minute or so. They provide signs that you can write on so don’t feel pressured to make your own if you don’t want to. Adalyn thought this was so cool and wrote “I Love You” on her own sign…it was so cute! Adalyn, who brings the party everywhere we go, ended up finding a sweet group of ladies celebrating a birthday and made friends with them…and worked her way right up to the front so she could see everything up close. I hung out at the back and just hoped she didn’t decide to crawl under the barricade and make her way on TV that way.) The anchors usually come out during the 8:00 hour, so be sure to grab your spot by then so you can see all of the fun!
After some fun at The Today Show, me and Adalyn headed back over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s only one block over and it is so gorgeous I could visit every day. They were preparing for a funeral while we were there, so it wasn’t very crowded and the main aisle was blocked out, which led to a photo opportunity without people in it. It was really peaceful there this morning and the sunlight coming in the stained glass windows was so gorgeous.
We went for a quick walk around Rockefeller Center and headed back to Times Square & our hotel.
We hung out in Times Square for a little while, to check out all of the action. It is such an exciting place to be and the morning is the least crowded time to visit, which is nice. There are these awesome red steps that you can sit on and just soak it all in. (The TKTS booth is located underneath these steps and you can get same-day theater tickets that are discounted up to 50%, so check it out if you want to take in a show while you’re in the city.)
After a fun morning, we headed back to the hotel since Charlotte and Jeff were up and about, packed everyone up and headed out for the day. (Another perk of this hotel location is that there is a McDonald’s just outside the front door as well as a couple of other non-healthy, but very convenient and kid friendly options like Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons. We usually just grabbed something from one of these before we started our adventures.)
We decided to head down to Chelsea to explore since there is so much to see and do. It is too far to walk and cabs can get really expensive (not to mention slow), so we took the subway (www.mta.info). They have payment kiosks in every station where you can purchase your metro card and if you have any questions, there is usually an information booth staffed by an MTA employee. You can purchase an individual ride pass, a day pass, a week pass, or more. We purchased a week pass for me, Jeff and Adalyn and it was around $32 each. ( *Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.–I couldn’t remember how tall Adalyn was, so we just paid for her.)
A couple of helpful tips for navigating the subway:
- Download the Google Maps app. It has a subway option for directions and will tell you the quickest route and which subway(s) to take to get to your destination.
- Download the NYC Subway/MTA app. This will allow you to view the subway system map, even if you do not have cell service while underground. I like to pull this up to keep up with what stop we need to get off at since not all subway cars are updated with this feature and it is very difficult to hear the train operator. Luckily the stations are very well marked when you arrive, so just be sure to pay attention. (The app allows you to check the map and plan without having a paper map out, making you look like a tourist.)
- Make sure you are at the platform that is going in the direction you need–uptown or downtown. (If you’re looking at a map of NYC, Uptown is going up, towards the top & downtown is going down, towards the bottom). If you find yourself on the wrong platform, just look for the signs that direct you to the appropriate one. You will usually have to go up or down stairs to get to it. If you find yourself on a train going in the opposite direction that you want, just get off on the next stop and find the platform going the other way.
- Make sure you get on the correct train. Multiple subway lines run on the same track, so pay close attention to the color and number/letter of the train you get on. If you find yourself on the wrong train, just get off at the next station and regroup.
- There are local and express trains. Local trains stop at every stop listed on the map. Express trains stop only at the stops with the white dots. If you find yourself on an express train and your stop isn’t one it will stop at, then just get off at the closest one and either walk or just get on the next local train that comes by.
- Don’t worry. You are on vacation. Allow yourself mistakes. I have been to NYC and still make mistakes when traveling on the subway, but it’s always because I’m not paying attention. Take your time and always read the signs.
Our first stop was Chelsea Market, an indoor shopping and food mall at the corner of 15th Street and 9th Ave. I will say that we didn’t really enjoy it because it was so crowded (we were accidentally there during lunchtime). This is probably not a great place when you are pushing a stroller, but it had some really cool shops and some yummy places to eat. I will definitely have check it out another time, maybe closer to when it opens or without the littles.
Our next stop was The Highline, a public park built on an elevated historic freight rail line. It is just steps away from Chelsea Market & runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. and gives you a great view of this part of the city and the Hudson River. There are several entry points (some with elevators), so it is kid friendly. It is such a beautiful and unique place to take a walk. The Whitney Museum of American Art is right next to it and has a great view overlooking the park if you choose to check it out. (We skipped it this time due to the age of our littles.)
The gang was very hungry after all of our morning adventures, so I noticed that one of the places I had previously saved in my “NYC To Do” list on Google Maps was nearby, The Meatball Shop. They have six locations in the city and we visited their West Village location near Greenwich & 7th Ave. Their menu is really cool…you select which kind of meatballs you want (i.e. classic, pork, chicken, etc), type of sauce, style and sides. It was really reasonably priced for the amount of food you got. Jeff got classic meatballs with spicy meat sauce on a white hero bun with a salad, I got chicken meatballs with Parmesan cream sauce on a wheat hero bun with a salad. Adalyn got classic meatballs with tomato sauce over rigatoni & Charlotte had some bites off of everyone’s plates. Everyone LOVED it! I wish they had these back home because it was delicious! (Although we could’ve all used a nap afterwards!
After lunch, we stopped by Washington Market Park so Adalyn could run and play. This park just happened to be along the way we were walking, so it was a nice detour for her. I would not recommend going after school lets out however, because it was SO CROWDED! There had to be hundreds of children running around. Adalyn didn’t care one bit and still had a great time.
After we left the park, we walked down Chambers Street to the path (Battery Park City Esplanade) along the Hudson River. There is a beautiful park right on the water called Rockefeller Park that is perfect for a picnic lunch or just letting kids run and play. As you walk down the path going downtown, you will have an amazing view of New Jersey and even the Statue of Liberty. We were so busy taking it all in that I forgot to take any photos! Oops! Luckily there are some if you check out their website by clicking the link above.
The Battery Park City Esplanade leads you right to the Irish Hunger Memorial. Not necessarily something most people are aware of, but it appeared in a scene in the movie P.S. I Love You and it is a unique place to visit with a great view. The Memorial represents a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands. It is both a metaphor for the Great Irish Famine and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of lack of access to land.
It contains stones from each of Ireland’s 32 counties and is elevated on a limestone path. Along the base are bands of texts separated by layers of imported Kilkenny limestone. The text, which combines the history of the Great Famine with contemporary reports on world hunger, is cast as shadow onto illuminated frosted glass panels. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend you checking it out.
After visiting the Irish Hunger Memorial, we walked over to the National September 11 Memorial. In this area is the memorial itself as well as the museum. We did not visit the museum due to the age of our girls, but spoke with people who have visited it and they said it was worth visiting, especially with older children. Adalyn is aware that bad men flew two airplanes into the buildings and they fell down and a lot of people were killed. She had seen it on TV before our trip and actually being there in person gave us the opportunity to explain it a little better.
You can also check out the One World Observatory on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center. This would give you amazing views of the lower part of Manhattan. We haven’t gone to this yet, but will definitely check it out another time.
Right next to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the World Trade Center transportation hub known as “The Oculus”. It’s unique and impressive architectural design makes it hard to miss. The concourse connects visitors to 11 different subway lines; the PATH rail system; the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum; World Trade Center Towers 1, 2, 3, and 4; and Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center), which houses the Winter Garden. It represents the most integrated network of underground pedestrian connections in New York City.
The “Oculus” serves as the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, incorporating 78,000 square feet of multi level state-of-the-art retail and dining. The concourses emanating from the Oculus link the entirety of the site above and below grade. With an additional 290,000 square feet of exciting, multi-level retail and dining space, the World Trade Center site is the focal point of Lower Manhattan.
I will say that it was pretty challenging to navigate around inside since we had a stroller and had to use the elevators. You have to take multiple elevators to get from the street level to the lower levels and some of them were not working. I don’t know that we would’ve explored it as much as we did if we would’ve known that, but it made for an adventure for sure. It is definitely a cool place to check out and a great photo spot.
After our unexpected adventures navigating The Oculus, we took the subway back uptown and ended up in Grand Central Terminal, one of my favorite places to just soak it all in (and people watch). The main concourse is always bustling with commuters and tourists. The ceiling is gorgeous and features the 12 constellations of the zodiac. I recommend just taking the time to walk around and explore. There are so many things to see and even if you visit multiple times you will always find something new. There are places to shop, restaurants, bars and The Dining Concourse on the lower level offers 20 different dining options in more of a food court set-up. We did eat there during our trip and the options were great and the food was good. We did see many homeless people in this area while we were eating and some of them started yelling obscenities at each other. This was really unsettling since we were sitting close by with our girls. I would recommend skipping this and finding another place to grab a bite to eat.
A relatively unknown feature inside Grand Central Terminal is the Whispering Gallery. If you stand in one corner (facing the wall) and someone else stands in the opposing corner (facing the wall), you can actually talk to each other! Adalyn thought it was so cool to be able to hear Jeff’s voice from so far away, even with many people walking around. (See them talking to each other in the bottom right photo below)
Since Grand Central Terminal wasn’t too far from our hotel and it was a beautiful night, we decided to walk back. On the way we stopped by the New York Public Library to take a few pictures since it was already closed & there weren’t many people around.
After putting Charlotte to bed, me and Adalyn went downstairs to walk around Times Square for some people watching and mommy-Adalyn bonding. It is a crazy, energetic and crowded place, but is so much fun. I love that it’s right outside of the front door of our hotel so we can just go down and take a quick walk around. Seeing people from all over the world in one spot is a cool thing and Adalyn loved all of the lights.
After a VERY full day, we headed back to our room for some much needed sleep to get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Stay tuned for my next post! I still have a lot more NYC tips to share with you!
Check out more of our adventures to The Big Apple:
(*Thank you to Globe Totters for sending me their NYC and Brooklyn blocks for free in return for my posts.)