• Helen Walsh

New York, New York!

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

A look back at our family trip to New York December 2018

I wasn't really planning on writing a blog on our family trip to New York, but I had such a lovely response from my stories while we were away, I thought it may be nice to share the trip in a bit more detail, for anyone who's thinking of going, has been and wants to reminisce or is just a little bit nosey (lets face it we all are!).

We always take a family trip at Christmas time, it's become a bit of a tradition, but so far it's just been in the UK, we've stayed in York, London and Dublin. When Martin suggested New York for 2018 I had no doubt in replying, YES!! We had never taken the kids on a long haul flight, but they are now at a good age 4(&8) and NY is only 7 hours away so the perfect length for our first long haul journey.

Both me and Mart had been to NY before but separately, I went with my best friends straight after we had finished Uni in the summer before we all settled into the drudge of full time work! we'd had an amazing time. Mart travelled over for St Patrick's Day with his friends, and pretty much just saw the inside of the many Irish bars in the city. So to travel as a family, and at Christmas time was literally the most exciting thing I could imagine, and it didn't let us down.

The Flight

Both the flight there and back were straight forward and went really well, the children were so excited to have their own TV and on board meals and snacks. We flew from Manchester to Dublin, then direct from Dublin to New York on the outbound journey, with Aer Lingus. The flight was basic but comfortable and the staff were lovely. We all enjoyed the food, soft drinks were complimentary but alcohol was charged.

The return flight took us from JFK to Heathrow then up to Manchester with BA and was again very comfortable and this time alcohol was complimentary (every cloud hey!) To ensure a comfortable journey for the children I packed several 'essentials' for the flight.

* Headphones

* pencil case

* tablet

* colouring and activity books

* treats and snacks

* blankets and teddys

Day 1

We arrived in New York around lunch time and grabbed an Uber from JFK to the city, we were staying at the Riu Plaza on 46th street 8th avenue, just a block away from Times Square so very central. Of course 2pm NY time was 7pm back in the Uk and we had left the house at 4am that morning so the children were already wilting but we knew it would be the best thing for all of us to stay up and go to bed NY time.

So off we went, after checking in ,to explore, we visited the Fabulous Christmas tree outside the Rockefeller centre and gazed at the ice-skaters. We hustled through the throngs of shoppers at FAO Schwartz, the famous toy shop and had a go on the iconic giant floor piano (as seen in the movie Big). Then we went to the 'top of the rock' to witness the "big apple" at night time, it was stunning and a magical start to our trip. We finished the night by eating a slice of NY pizza and Lucy lost her fight with sleep bless her.

Day 2

After a VERY early start ( and I mean jet lag kind of early!) we made our way down to the hotel dining room for breakfast. Breakfast at the Riu Plaza was perfect for the busy day we had planned!First stop was Central park, one of the things I love about New York is the fact that nestled within this bustling city is this huge, amazing park, and once you are in it you almost forget where you are, until you look up and see the tall city landscape towering over the edges of the park. We only scratched the surface, you could spend the whole day exploring the park. You can take a bike carriage or horse and cart around the park but we opted to walk, that way we could take our time and the kids could let off steam. We walked past the icerink read the beautiful bench dedications along the paths and through the John Lenon memorial garden.

To the right of the park and a few blocks away is Dylans Candy bar, it was a must see for us as we are obsessed with sweets and we have a Dylan, it is the cutest sweet shop ever and we all treated ourselves to something tasty.

After a well needed sugar break we went back to the hotel because the kids were starting to flag, they never usually sleep in the day but we managed to convince them to try and it worked. Two hours later, refreshed from our nap we were ready to rock and roll on the streets of New York again.

Next stop was Ice skating at Bryant Park. When researching things to do in New York Ice skating was top of the list. As well as Bryant Park you can also Skate in Central Park and outside the Rockerfeller Centre. I opted for Bryant Park solely because its the only one which hire Skate aids, and with us all being novice skaters and Dylan only being 4 I wanted to make sure we all enjoyed the experience instead of being stressed out! The weather had taken a turn for the worse, it was unusually mild for NY however it had started to rain. The weather didn't put us off and we had a brilliant time. It was Lucy's favourite part of the trip!The location is amazing, an ice skating rink in the centre of all these tall skyscrapers is surreal but spectacular. There is also a Christmas Market surrounding the rink which was lovely to explore and the food in the Urbanspace was incredible, street food at its finest! we came back another evening just for the food!

After skating we walked back towards the hotel and stopped at Juniors restaurant for dinner. Juniors is a very busy place so be prepared to wait a while for a table but it was definitely worth it. The food was delicious and typically American, the perfect end to our second day in New York city.

Day 3

The children slept so much better than the previous night so we all woke up feeling refreshed. Again we had breakfast at the hotel to set us up for the day, before heading off to Grand Central Station, which in itself is worth a visit for its spectacular décor. We caught the subway down to Battery park, grabbed a coffee and took the free Staton Island ferry, which takes you within a mile of the statue of liberty. The weather was awful, heavy rain from start to finish, so we felt this was the perfect way for us to see the statue without getting drenched. Even though it was a bit misty we had fantastic view, and it was well worth it.We took the return ferry straight back to Battery park where we disembarked and then had a lovely ride on the glass carousel which resides in the park. Its a unique carousel, so relaxing and the children loved it, you sit on giant fish which swim around under a surround of glass and lights with ambient music, so peaceful and relaxing.

From Battery park we made our way to the 911 memorial, I would have loved to go into the museum as well but felt it may not be something for the Kids. Visiting the memorial tho was so moving and wonderful. The memorials have been designed so well and really are the perfect tribute to commemorate all those that lost their lives.

By the time we had walked around however we were pretty soaked and instead trying to find the 'ghost busters station' which had been on my list, we headed back to the subway and took the train back to Grand central station, where we had a late lunch

That evening we had tickets to see The Grinch Broadway show at Madison square gardens. We bought the tickets through an app called Today Tix which offers last minute deals. The show was amazing and a real experience for us all, even if the kids managed to sleep through a quarter of it.

Day 4

On day 4 we had planned to explore Chelsea, a cosmopolitan and very cool area of New York with a noticeably slower pace than what we had been used to in the other places in the city. Instead of having breakfast at the hotel we saved ourselves and went for a brunch at the American diner Malibu Diner, the food was incredible.

Fuelled to the max, we explored the High line, a disused train line above the city which is now a pedestrianised walkway. It was amazing, perfect for the kids, great views and different from anywhere else in NY. We also went to Chelsea market which I loved, it was full of cool shops, food stall,s restaurants and bars, it was very busy because it was a Saturday and so close to Christmas but we managed to find a bar to have a cheeky drink in and recharge.

For dinner that evening we decided to head back to the Ubanspace food hall at Bryant park, there was everything from burgers, mac 'n' cheese (Dylans favourite), flat breads and currys, something for everyone.

That evening, we braved the Christmas shoppers to walk down 5th Avenue to see St Patricks Catherdral, and the Plaza hotel ( think Home alone). The city at night comes alive, its hard to describe NYC but it's so vibrant and alive, there is a harshness to the City but also the warmest of hearts, I love it!

Day 5 (coming home)

As we werent flying home until the evening we still had the morning and early afternoon to explore, so after checking out and leaving our bags with the concierge we decided to go and explore the Natural history museum. We had pretty much explored most of the city by foot, the kids did so well because over the holiday we must have racked up miles of walking, but in my opinion its the best way to explore and not miss anything. However I must admit walking the 30 blocks from our hotel to the museum was a stretch! I underestimated it a tad but still it was well worth it, if only we had a few more hours, because there is so much to see in the museum, we just didn't have enough time!

After the museum it was straight back to the hotel (via the subway this time) and into our taxi and to the airport. We gave ourselves plenty of time because we were conscious that it was was so close to Christmas and the roads and airport might be chocker, but it wasn't bad at all. A relaxing experience apart from realising we had left a bag in the concierge depot :( (but that's another story) Our flight home was a night flight, so I got the kids into their PJ's and after dinner was served they went straight to sleep.

From start to finish our New York trip was incredible, it lived up to our expectations and will stay in our hearts forever. I would really recommend visiting the city if you can. I would love to go back, there are so many areas and places to visit and I feel like we only scratched the surface of the city that never sleeps.

Helen xx

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