Three Days in New York City with Your Tween

**Disclaimer – I am not ashamed to admit that this is a 100% straight up touristy trip and we loved every minute of it. It was our first trip to NYC and we wanted to see all the tourist hot spots. If you are looking for off the beaten path, this post might not be the one!

For as long as I can remember, New York City has been at the top of my bucket list. Every other year, I found myself close enough to NYC to visit but something always thwarted our trip. At the end of last year, I won a two night stay at the Library Hotel through Passports with Purpose. It was the perfect excuse to start planning my dream vacation.

Unfortunately, when I started exploring it looked like taking the whole family was out of the budget. After tossing around some ideas, my husband and I decided that it would be a great opportunity to take my tween son and get some one on one time.

Day One – Arrival and Times Square

We arrived at La Guardia on a Friday afternoon and took a shuttle to the hotel. Once we were all checked in, we immediately dropped our luggage and went out to explore.

The Library Hotel was in the perfect location for everything we wanted to do and see around NYC. When he found out that I was taking him to NYC, he had two requests. The first was to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty and the second was to see Times Square. We went to Times Square right away. We didn’t spend time visiting shops but we did wander around, watch the buskers, and take in the lights. After we had our fill, we decided to head back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep.

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Day Two – Statue of Liberty, 911 Memorial, Wall Street

When I asked my son what he wanted to do in NYC, climbing to the crown of the Statue of Liberty was at the top of his list. After reading about all of the different options to see Lady Liberty, I tried to convince him to skip the whole thing and just do a Circle Line cruise. He was having none of that. I bought our tickets six months before we went, even before I bought our plane tickets! We have a lot of advice about visiting the Statue of Liberty and that will be in an upcoming post. We also visited the 911 Memorial. The memorial was incredibly moving and I am glad that we took the time to go. The charging bull on Wall Street is right down the road from Battery Park. I assume you have to get there pretty early or be prepared to fight the crowds. We couldn’t get anywhere near it. If one wants pictures, they should plan accordingly.

On this day, we also decided to see a Broadway Musical. School of Rock was just the ticket for us. We were thrilled to get seats (half price but still over $200) for that night just a few hours before the show.

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Day Three – Central Park

By day three, we had enough of the city sounds and dodging people on the sidewalks. We wanted to spend the day at the American Museum of Natural History but we didn’t realize we would spend most of the day wandering Central Park. We spent hours meandering through the park. We sailed model boats, sat on benches and watched people. We finally made it to museum, where we spent the next few hours. At the end of our visit, we decided rather than taking a shorter route, we were going to walk back through the park. And wander we did.

Top of the Rock was our final stop on this trip. Oh, the views!

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Posts on each of our adventures to come!

 

Finding Peace in Central Park

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As we turned the corner, big billowy trees came into view in between concrete and glass skyscrapers. My 11 year old son exclaimed, “Mom, I think those are the first trees we have seen since we got here!”

We were on our third harried day in New York City. I have wanted to go to NYC for as long as I can remember but the city has always eluded me. We were often only a few hours away from the city but weren’t able to visit for one reason or another. Thanks to a gift certificate that I won from a Passports with Purpose raffle, I had an excuse to plan a trip. After much debate, I decided to bring my son with me so that we could spend some time together, just the two of us. The first two days were spent battling crowds, standing in lines, and just feeling overwhelmed.

On day 3, our plan was to cut through Central Park on our way to the American Museum of Natural History. My son had his heart set on seeing “Dum Dum Gimme Gum Gum,” or rather the moai statue in the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples.

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Turning the corner and seeing the trees come into view surprised us. We hadn’t realized that there were not many trees or bushes in sight in this concrete jungle until we saw the tree canopy from a block away. Walking into the park, we both took a deep breath. I could feel my shoulders loosen and my breathing slow. I could see my son perk up a little despite the heat and the fact that we had clocked thousands of steps over the past few days. With every step we took, I could feel the stress of the last few days fade away.

We wandered the walking paths, stopping to rest on a bench whenever we saw fit. We stopped at the model sailboats to inquire about renting one. We learned that the boats are powered by wind and since the wind wasn’t moving we decided to continue walking. We stopped at the Boathouse to check out the food offerings. They offer both a sit down restaurant and a counter service. We saw bridges, flowing water, birds, and bikes.

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Suddenly, we were at the front steps of the museum as cars honked through the lights and people pushed past. After viewing the museum exhibits, we decided to go back through Central Park rather than walk the quicker route along the outside of it.

The wind had picked up so we ambled back to the boats where we rented a controller for 30 minutes at the cost of $11. When my son’s time was up, we continued through the park. Both of us slowed our pace and I realized that we were trying to avoid having to step back into the shadow of the skyscrapers. We grudgingly arrived at the park exit where we were going to continue to Serendipity 3 to grab a frozen hot chocolate.

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As we were enjoying our frozen hot chocolate, I realized that we had spent more time in Central Park then we have anywhere else in New York. We would have spent all week there if we could have. My son declared it the best part of New York. It is a gem in the middle of concrete rocks. 

Travel in My Town – Saratoga Springs, New York

Please welcome Colleen Pierre from Saratoga Mama.  She is sharing some of her favorite family friendly things to do in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Be sure to follow the links to Colleen’s blog if you are planning a trip to the area.  She lists calendar events, things to do in the area, good places to eat and more.

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Saratoga Springs, NY is located about 30 minutes North of our capital city, Albany and about 3 hours north of New York City. Situated near the stunning Adirondack mountain range, near gorgeous lakes and rivers, and home to many cultural events and activities all year, Saratoga Springs is a wonderful spot to take a vacation! It was very hard to pick and choose what to tell you about, but here’s a good overview of just some of what our city has to offer!

Broadway – Downtown Saratoga Springs centers around Broadway, our “main street”. Broadway is home to amazing boutiques and shops, fabulous restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, beautiful art galleries, hotel’s and some of the best independent coffee shops I’ve ever been to. A few Broadway kid-friendly standouts include: Bettie’s Cakes, a 50’s-themed cupcake café, G. Willikers, an independent toy store, Circus Café, a restaurant with a fun décor, yummy food and huge plates of cotton candy for dessert, and Plum Dandy, a frozen yogurt place with more toppings than you could ever need. A stroll up and down Broadway is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Saratoga.

Congress Park in Saratoga Springs

Congress Park/Carousel – In the spring and summer months, Saratoga Springs downtown comes alive! Our “central park” is located just off of Broadway and is called Congress Park. With duck ponds, grassy meadows, historic landmarks and a wooden carousel, Congress Park is a great meeting place, picnic spot, or people-watching destination. In July and August, Congress Park is home to live music concerts, arts and crafts festivals, and other special events.

Childrens Museum at Saratoga

Museums – A trip to Saratoga would not be complete without visiting one of our many museums. Horse lovers will enjoy the National Museum of Racing, dance fans adore the National Museum of Dance, car enthusiasts rejoice at the Saratoga Automobile Museum, artsy folks like Skidmore College’s Tang Museum and Art Gallery, and kids go wild for The Children’s Museum at Saratoga.

SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) – I grew up attending concerts at SPAC from Journey to Phish, Dave Matthews Band, to the ballet, opera and orchestra. The thing about SPAC is that it’s an amphitheater, which means there’s partial seating inside and a huge sloped lawn area for outdoor seating. Lawn tickets are much cheaper and on a nice evening, you can bring a picnic dinner, lawn chairs, a bottle of wine and enjoy the New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra! I took the kids to the ballet this past year and we all sat on the lawn- a unique and cultural experience.

Saratoga Farmers' MarketSaratoga Farmers’ Market – Our year-round farmers market is both a social place as well as a place of business. With products including vegetables, fruits, honey, baked goods, meat, cheese yogurt, milk as well as crafters and on-site prepared food, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market is another must-do activity! The market is held on Wednesdays and Saturday from May through October and indoors on Saturdays from November to April. Just about every week there is live music, chef demonstrations, and other community-based special events. We appreciate your support of OUR local farmers too!Saratoga Race Course

Saratoga PoloHorse Fever! Saratoga Springs is probably best known as a horse racing destination because of the Saratoga Race Course, a 350-acre horse racetrack. With 40 days of horse racing starting at the end of July and ending around Labor Day, Saratoga really comes alive in the summer. Tourists (and locals) love attending “the track” to watch and bet on the horses, and Saratoga Polo for the unique experience of attending polo matches.
Here’s a post about enjoying Saratoga Race Course with the kids and another Mama Guide to Saratoga Polo.

Saratoga Springs NY offers so much to do and see, I hope you have the chance to visit us soon!

-Colleen Pierre, SaratogaMama

Colleen Pierre is a mother of two wonderful children, Robby (3) and Angie (1) and owns SaratogaMama an online resource for families. The site provides Saratoga County families and visitors with an easy way to find events and activities, information about area schools, daycare options, community news, recreation options, and lots more.

Let’s Connect!  Email me at colleen@saratogamama.com.  You can also follow Colleen on Twitter and Facebook.