Our Spring Break trip this year involved a return visit to one of our favourite destinations, New York City and once again the city did not disappoint us! My husband and I had both been to New York multiple times in our 20’s and then went for two more visits together in our pre-children days. Just over two years ago we made our family return trip on our New York New Years adventure with a five and a three year old and had a blast in the snowy city with preschoolers. This latest trip was five days and four nights in late March with a five and seven year old. So how does this trip compare? It may have been the best yet!
We arrived in New York in style, gliding past the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of Manhattan on the Norwegian Breakaway, one week after we sailed out for the Bahamas. Well rested and a little sunburned from a week of warmth and sun we found the chilly wind blowing down the streets to be a bit of a shock, but the winter skies were clear and blue and the views were beautiful. We checked into the Hampton Inn Times Square on 51st, just down the street from the cruise terminal, dropped off our bags and headed out to explore the city.
We spent our first day just wandering around Midtown, stopping by the Lego store in Rockefeller Plaza and having lunch at S’Mac, an all macaroni and cheese restaurant we had visited on our last trip. After lunch we stopped in at the beautiful public library for some quiet reading time and took the kids for a carousel ride in Bryant Park. After a cold busy day of walking, we decided that a night of bonding over tv and cheap pizza in the hotel room was just what we needed.
That night I checked the next day’s weather forecast and then went online to book tickets to the observation deck of the brand new World Trade Center tower, which had just opened in 2015. I wasn’t sure how busy it would be, but since there was no fee to pre-book it seemed like a good option to avoid lines. In the morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel, included in the price, and then headed south. Our first stop was New York’s second Lego Store on 34th Street, where we participated in a Lego egg hunt and got some prizes. This location was larger and less crowded than the Times Square store and my Lego fanatics enjoyed hanging out for a while.
From there we continued south to a sweet children’s book store called Books of Wonder for another quick stop and then continued to Union Square where the kids found a playground to enjoy and the adults looked around a nice, but very expensive, farmer’s market. We picked up lunch to eat in the park and then made a quick stop at a store called Dylan’s Candy Bar, a Willy Wonka style candy store packed with treats of every shape and colour. The kids each got to pick out a small bag to keep them going on our trek.
By then it was 2pm and we had to get going if we wanted to get to the World Trade Center for our 4pm time slot to the top of the tower. I had considered catching the subway, or even taking a cab if we were getting too tired, but at that point we were already over halfway there and I was pretty sure we were up to the challenge. There was quite a bit of complaining as we went past street after street, but we forged on and ended up making it with time to spare. There’s something about seeing Manhattan on foot and crossing from one area to the next that you just can’t replicate any other way. At the end of the day I plugged our route into Google maps and was able to tell the kids they walked over six miles in one day!
When we got to the World Trade Center we were able to walk right in with our pre-printed tickets with almost no wait. Security was tight, about the equivalent of security at the airport, but I suppose that’s to be expected at such a significant sight. In no time we were on one of the world’s fastest elevators, being whisked to the 103rd floor for some spectacular views of the entire New York City area. The only downside was that the entire viewing area was enclosed, which makes the experience feel a little more sterile than the open platforms of the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center.
From the World Trade Center we sent a few blocks further south to the historic Trinity Church. It’s hard to imagine that this tiny looking church dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers was the largest building in Manhattan for the first hundred years of it’s existence. We took a quick look through the interior then headed out to the graveyard on a mission. You see, at the public library the day before my husband had read my kids a children’s book about Alexander Hamilton and his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. My son started asking where Hamilton ended up and a quick search found he was buried in the graveyard of Trinity church. So while we were there the kids insisted on searching the graves until he found the right one. I’ll never understand why certain things capture their interest at any given moment, but I’m always more that willing to indulge their curiosity.
From Trinity I did finally indulge their complaints of sore feet and led my family to the nearest subway station for a quick ride back to the hotel. Another gourmet dinner of dollar a slice pizza and overpriced salads in the hotel room was a perfect end to our second great day in New York.