New York City!!

I’m writing this from SFO. I’m sitting with Ben Blair, Olive, Oscar, Betty and June. And we are about to board a flight to New York City!!!! This is our official summer trip and we’re super excited about it.

In April 2009, after living there for eight years, we said goodbye to New York, and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge one last time. It’s almost unbelievable to me, but in that whole decade, I’m the only one who has traveled back to New York. I end up going for work once or twice a year, but no one else in the family has had any reason to go back. So strange to think about. I mean, three of our kids were born there!

I love New York. It’s an important place to me personally, and it’s definitely my favorite city in the world. It feels so strange that I haven’t shared the city with my family for so many years. The kids were so young when we left that they don’t have many memories of our time there. (These photos were taken on the Brooklyn Bridge a few weeks before we moved away — the kids are so little!)

I made a list of all the things I want to show them — my favorite places in the city, and things I know they used to love. The list is much longer than we can actually manage, but that’s okay. We’ll do as much as can and call it good. I hope they fall in love with the city again this week, and I would be delighted if they all get a chance to move there someday.

When I say no one but me has been back, I suppose there is one exception — Maude went back for the first time in June when she moved to New York for summer internships. : ) She’s working this week, but we’ll get to see her in the evenings and I look forward to seeing the city through her eyes.

Oh! And Ralph is joining us too! He has been in France for 3 weeks, but he’s flying into New York from Paris today — so we’ll all be together in the city. (My heart! Knowing we’ll all be together makes me so happy. As the kids get older, these family times become more and more rare.)

Have you ever spent time in New York? Or had the chance to take your kids? If you were headed there this week, what would be at the top of your tourist wishlist? A Broadway show? A specific restaurant? Ground Zero? What are your don’t miss New York activities? I’d love to hear.

38 thoughts on “New York City!!”

    1. If you go to Governor’s Island, you can get one hour of free bike rental on weekday mornings at Blazing Saddles near Liggett Terrace. Also check out the big climbing structures, designed for older kids and adults, at the playground near Liggett Terrace.

  1. We live near DC but visit New York as often as we can with and without our two kids. We took our son last month for his 13th birthday and just did what he wanted. It was the trip of yes! Can I get ice cream at Ample Hill Creamery?
    Yes! Can I buy Harry Potter socks at the Strand? YES! We s
    aw the Harry Potter play, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island (recommend the audio tour of the immigrant experience,) had amazing pizza in DUMBO, bought books at the Strand, walked the high line… there is never enough time. We loved the High Line. What an incredible reuse of space. Enjoy!!

  2. Do the Circle Line cruise! NYC has a soft spot for me, my husband and his entire family. Like you, most of us have lived in the city but not in recent years. A few weeks ago, all of us were in the city for a family wedding and did the cruise together. It was a wonderful way to see how the skyline has changed and reminiscent. My kids enjoyed hearing our stories about living and working in different areas of the city. It’s also a nice way to see harder to get to places like the Statue of Liberty or the new Four Freedoms park on the East River.

  3. I started following your blog when you and I both lived in New York! I lived there for nearly 7 years and then about 7 years ago, we moved to the Philadelphia area. My daughter was 18 months old when we moved but I love telling her stories about how we traipsed around Manhattan with her strapped to me in an Ergo carrier. I still miss New York! Fortunately we live close enough to visit a couple times a year and I plan my visits around every.single.meal plus snacks! Ha! Warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies from Jaques Torres, a slice of strawberry shortcake from Lady M, brunch at Sarabeth’s, toasted onion bagel with scallion cream cheese from Ess-a-bagel (once brought a dozen onion bagels home on the train and they made the entire car quite fragrant!), Ciao Bella gingersnap gelato, tampiquena from Cafe Frida (my last meal before daughter was born!), roasted sugared almonds from a street cart, I could go on and on. . .

  4. Don’t miss the Tenement Museum! They have great tours that each focus on different aspects of immigrant life in New York–I’ve been on a lot of them, and each one is fascinating.

  5. My daughter lives in New York so we go often. One of my favorite trips was on my birthday a few years ago. We went to see a shocking show (though we didn’t know it prior). Shocking only because my 12 year old was embarrassed by some near nudity :) We went to Panna II for dinner which is a real spectacle – so much that my daughter takes almost everyone there when they visit. It is so heavily decorated with lights that you literally can’t see the walls or ceiling. It makes for amazing photos. Here is the link. I promise that it is more outrageous and tinier in person.

    On the same day, we went to Bonnie Slotnick’s cook book store. It was so fun. I bought some old Gourmet magazines from the 40’s. We still talk about that particular day even though we have done so many other bigger things – like Ground Zero (impressive), Central Park, The Highline, The Met, etc, etc. Enjoy!

  6. I second Abbey’s recommendation of the Tenement Museum! Another good museum to do with kids is the NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

    I know you’re fans of gelato, so I’ll also mention Amorino–a fancy gelateria with a few locations around the city–and Screme, at Amsterdam and 94th, which is a more casual neighborhood place that specializes in unusual flavors such as Tiramisu and Snickers. Both also offer non-dairy sorbets.

  7. I went, for the first time, this year with my 15 year old daughter. We live in the UK. I absolutely loved it! We saw Wicked and Aladdin. We went to central park and the zoo. We went to Coney Island. We climbed the Statue of Liberty, right up to the crown. Ellis Island was incredible. We visited the UN. We walked the high line. We went to Ellen’s Stardust diner. We went on a free tour of the library and the central synagogue. Walked Brooklyn bridge. Rode the ferry from just by the UN and our hotel down to visit the Statue of Liberty….soooo fast :) We went to the New York historical society, Carnegie Hall’s little museum, which were both really interesting, and the natural history museum….which I wouldn’t go back to. It was a blast!

  8. We live 3 hours from NYC, but don’t go often. We took a short family trip there when I was young, and when I was in high school, I went once a year to see a Broadway show with all of the band/orchestra/chorus kids. I also went to a Bodies Exhibit there in high school, and took a couple of Girl Scout trips. My brother currently lives there and I visited him a couple of weeks ago for just a short 1-day/1-night trip. It was fun, but it’s a little too big and overwhelming for me. That said, I really want to go to Ellis Island sometime and visit the Statue of Liberty. My great-grandma went through Ellis Island in the early 1900s when her family returned from Hungary (her parents were immigrants- she was born in the United States but then they returned to Hungary for a couple of years as a very young child because her father was sick).

    1. Definitely not weird! We lived down the street from the diner in Columbia student housing, and so many people would stop for photos—it’s a popular tourist destination!

  9. I believe I started reading when you were still in nyc. Doesn’t feel that long ago.
    Our favorite family activities in nyc are the tenement museum and the Central Park zoo.

  10. I am pretty sure I started reading your blog RIGHT when you were leaving NYC. It made it even more appealing when we were able to move there for a year because I remembered your blog posts about it. NYC definitely has a special place in my heart…I always say I would love to move back, but this time I need more $! I don’t think I could put up with some of the inconveniences (strollers in the subway, walking with your groceries, 300 sf apartment, etc.) quite as well now that I’m older with two kids!

  11. I think Ft. Tryon Park and the Cloisters is one of the best keep secrets of Manhattan. Of course we used to live in Washington Heights, so this was in our hood, but everytime I’m there I’ve got to take a run through the city and I just marvel how beautiful it is up there.

    1. Agreed! It’s so lovely up there. I lived further north in Inwood and would walk through Fort Tryon Park in the summer to have dinner at The New Leaf. It was always a perfect night!

  12. Susan Magnolia

    I visited with my sisters and my mom. My favorites were Central Park, museums, street carts with knishes and chestnuts, the ferry, eating lox bagels every morning and walking all together in the rain. And I loved Fish’s Eddy!

    I want to visit with my little family but I don’t when we will make it. Obviously we want to travel everywhere but it’s expensive. Luckily we live in Oakland and we love living by Lake Merritt and visiting Golden Gate park, going to museums, taking the ferry and eat so much good food. I just have to figure out out how to get yummy knishes and chestnuts!

  13. Oh my goodness- go see To Kill a Mockingbird if you get a chance. I went to NY with my family over the summer and we did so much together. The performance was on the top of the list for us. Fabulous.

  14. I live in France and lived for 6 years in Paris, then I moved to another region following my French husband. In the end of the month I am taking our 5 year old for 4 days in Paris and I am feeling just like you: there is so much I want to show and not enough time!
    I am mixing “serious tourism” with kid things. We will visit the Toutankhamon exposition (for it’s a once in a life chance for me and she loved the movies “A night in the museum” , so she wants to see the real objects) and then the Eiffel Tower. The other day we are going to musée d’Orsay Museum because some years ago, we photoshopped her big teddy bear visiting cities while we left on vacation and one of his pictures is at that museum. So she is willing to visit and she loves the impressionists and Van Gogh , so she will be able to see some of that.
    Even though I know she will not be able to spend a long time at the museum or exposition and they are quite expensive if you cannot take the time it requires, I find it’s important for her to have the experience of discovering great museums and expositions.
    Then we will go to an Opera for kids with some magic in a very small theater, but critics have been saying great things about this show.
    The next day we sill go to the Cité des enfants so she can experiment with lots of things and later on to the Sacré Coeur and maybe to a park afterwards.
    The last day, we will walk around lazily and then go to a Smurf exposition, because, come on, she is only five…

    I am hoping you and your kids will have the best time in NY! And any other parents out there taking their kids to cities they love, hopefully it will be great and your kids will fall in love with those towns….

  15. I am saving this post & all these suggestions! You could not possibly go wrong, whatever you do on your trip! I will say, I have loved the Met more every.single.time. I’ve gone. It’s become a special place “we always go.” Though I had been before having kids, what made it so very special was going with my oldest daughter, right after she had read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” She wanted to be Claudia, in that space. Our tour included lots of examinations and considerations of bathrooms. :) Whatever you do, I am excited to read about it soon! Have a great trip!

    1. I love that you explored the practical side of the book! <3

      My favorite NY museum is the Frick – it's fairly tiny, and crammed chock-a-block full of major major works.

  16. My sister lived in New York for ten years and I have such vivid memories of all my visits to see her that I sort of feel like it’s my city, too. I’ve been enough times to recognize areas and find my way around!

    Top of my list from ten years of touristing, but never living:
    – Central Park (especially up north by Harlem)
    – Little Frankie’s for late night dinner (my first experience of burrata!!)
    – Bergdorf’s Christmas windows (which obviously won’t be up now but were always THE highlight of our winter trips)
    – Top of the Rock is super touristy but I did always love it
    – Cloisters

    Have a wonderful time!

  17. If you can go see What the Constitution Means to me. Also a MUST see is BEYOND THE STREETS, the premier exhibition of graffiti and street art 25 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY. Our whole family really enjoyed it. I love my city and glad to hear you love it too!!

  18. I definitely don’t have anything excellent to add to this, but I can’t WAIT to come back here before my next trip to NYC for ideas!

  19. We love New York and try to go once a year. Seconding (thirding?) the recs for Governors Island and eating at Panna II. We also loved the hip hop history tour we did (google Hush Hip Hop Tours) — would be really fun to do with teens! Hope you’ll share your picks!

  20. We just got back from NYC yesterday! We were visiting family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. But it was cheaper and more direct to fly in and out of New York from Kansas City. We had one day to spend in the city. We went to Mercado Little Spain after reading this article. We also walked on the High Line and went to Central Park. It was quick but fun!

  21. It’s so refreshing to see posts like this (that are not political). It brings me back to when I fall in love with your blog.

  22. We also LOVE NYC & we are headed back so that I can run the NYC marathon again this fall. Our 9 year old fell in love with Bubba Gump’s resto in Times Square.

  23. I love NYC so much! We live near Boston and go to NYC at least 2-3 times a year with and without our kids (now teens). We were just there last week & saw Hadestown on Broadway – such an amazing production & cast if you can get tickets. Also the play “What the Constitution Means to Me” has gotten rave reviews & runs thru 8/24.

    Some of the favorite activities we’re done over the years include:
    – The Met (and/or The Met Cloisters—branch with art and architecture of medieval Europe)
    – Tenement Museum
    – Free tour of NY Public Library (one of my favs)
    – Free tour of Grand Central Station
    – Guided Tour of the United Nations (and eat lunch in the Delagates dining room)
    – Central Park Zoo
    – the underground food hall – The Plaza Food Hall – under the Plaza Hotel
    – tour by boat (to see Statue of Liberty- but lots of options available)
    – free tickets to a TV show (we’ve done The Daily Show and Kelly & Ryan)

    Have a great trip!

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