So like, forever ago we went to New York City. Adam had a work conference, which left me alone with my one-year-old to explore the streets of New York. I was a little terrified at first, especially to ride the metro with all our crap, the giant stroller, and Axton, but we made it work....we walked a lot, we ate a lot, and we saw a lot.
My top suggestions for NYC with kids:
1) Central Park - We could have spent all day here. There are huge water fountains that Axton got soaked in, playgrounds, paths, a Zoo, kids running around everywhere. It's the best.
2) NYC Public Library - it's practically a museum in there! They have art and other exhibits, as well as the original Pooh and friends and a baby story time every week.
3) American Museum of Natural History - we spent all day there, and there was tons of stuff for kids of all ages to see and do.
4) Empire State Building - depending on the age of your kids, they may or may not like this. Axton was kind of cranky while we were up there but we were still glad we did it.
5) Washington Square Park - It was fun to go to a different area of Manhattan. The park was filled with vendors and had a musical/festival feel to it. Plus, Axton loved getting wet once again in their fountains.
6) The High Line - We ran out of time and were not actually able to make it to this park, but I have heard great things about it and it sounds awesome.
The train ride up was about 3 hours long, and Axton did great. We kept him occupied with food, walks up and down the aisle, and babbling with strangers who would listen. There was that one time I had to change his diaper and since the tiny train bathroom didn't have anywhere to put him, I changed him standing up and he ended up peeing all over the floor and my foot....but that's just typical life with Axton.
Adam's work paid for the hotel and our train ride up. We stayed at the New Yorker, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants easy access to everything. It was directly across the street from the Penn Station and just a block away from the Empire State Building. Our room was tiny but it had a great view and a pretty good continental breakfast (though, no they do not have a pool and yes I did have the naivete to ask!)
We got to Penn Station around noon on a Monday, and it was pouring out. We dashed to the hotel, only to learn our room wasn't ready yet. Adam's conference was already starting, so I was thrust into single-parenthood-in-NYC fast. We waited in the lobby until a room was available for us.
After unloading our stuff in our room, I started out small with our adventures and we darted across the street for our first New Yorker Pizza. My favorite was the margarita pizza, with fresh tomatoes.
On Tuesday I met up with Sara, a friend of mine from BYUH. She had an internship with Random House Publishing (I know, soooo cool) and so has spent a lot of time in NYC. I was still too nervous to ride the metro by myself, so I ended up walking all the way from our hotel, through Central Park, and then to the Metropolitan Art Museum, where we were meeting Sara. Good thing we love Central Park so much - we walked past the skating rink that's in the movie Serendipity, we almost went to the Zoo but decided we didn't have enough time, and we found a large playground that we would come back to later.
Sara let us in on a little secret: The admission price at the museum is just a "suggested" amount; you can actually pay as little or as much as you want. I paid $5, Sara paid $1. We walked around the Met and mostly just chatted and tried to keep Axton occupied.
We decided that an art museum was not the best place to have my hooligan child, who wanted to run around and scream and touch everything (he got yelled at for touching the rope that was five feet away from a canvas) so we didn't stay too long. I would have loved to stay there longer, but it just wasn't happening with this kid. However, we did go to the roof and it was a must.
It was at this point that I realized I had not packed diapers with me (....wha da freak, dude? I've been doing this for over a year now and I still forget to pack diapers? Yep, that'd be me). Luckily there is a Duane Reade (a drugstore) on almost every street.
We hit up Steak & Shake for lunch. It was a lot like The Shake Shack, which Adam and I both loved the last time we were in NYC. It was cheaper and the burger was delicious, though I do prefer Shake Shack's shakes over Steak & Shake's. Sara had to leave a bit earlier than expected, so I followed her to the metro station and she helped me figure out where I needed to go. I still preferred walking but at least I felt capable of using the metro if necessary.
We met up with Adam and went to B&H Photo. I was in camera heaven. I wanted to touch everything. It was beautiful. I talked to a few employees and got some lens/equipment advice and slipped on my own drool on the way out. We walked the streets around our hotel that night, just looking for a place to eat and enjoying the atmosphere.
We ended up ate at BRGR....yet another burger joint. The food was good, but I was so grossed out by the end of that night that I didn't want to touch another hamburger for a very long time (and hey, I haven't since then thanks to my July month of Veganism!)
On Wednesday, Axton and I did a lot of walking again. We hit up the NYC Library (FYI: There are two buildings labelled NYC Library on google maps. One of them is super lame and probably not the one you were thinking of....trust me, I went there first. But keep walking and you'll shortly find the one you want).
Axton really loved the giant Clifford and the original Pooh friends, but mostly he was running around being destructive again so we didn't stay too long. From there we walked to Grand Central Station (which wasn't very exciting, but I imagine I would have enjoyed it if I had a tour guide telling me cool things about it).
We also hit up the Rockefeller Center, the NBC store, and Magnolia's Bakery. I had seen the bakery featured on a tv show raving about their food but lemme tell ya, I was not impressed. Axton and I got their cheesecake and a cupcake, and neither one of them were that exciting. I much prefer Cheesecake Factory and DC Cupcakes.
That night with Adam we went to the Empire State Building, one of Adam's two requests for the trip. We went around 6pm, and the lines weren't too bad. We were up there before sunset and when we came out the lines were much longer.
For dinner, we had take-out from Lucy's, a Mexican restaurant across the street from our hotel. It was pretty tasty and decently priced.
The next day it was pouring outside, and since I wanted to go to the American Museum of Natural History, a mile-long walk, I decided I'd better brave the metro all by myself. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I was sitting on the train and watched my stop fly right past me. With each station passing by me, I started to get more and more nervous. When the crap was this train going to stop? I was at the very north end of Manhattan by the time the train stopped....I got off and realized I had gotten on an 'express' train that, though it was headed in the right direction, did not stop until its final destination. So I squared my shoulders and got right back on the next train heading back where I came from. This time it did stop when I needed it to.....but once I got off I realized I was stuck down in the dingy dark abyss that is the metro station. There was no elevators! Axton was asleep in the stroller, and the stroller was stuffed to the brim with snacks, diapers, water, and every other baby-related item you can possibly think of. So for the third time, I got on another metro, thinking I could just go one stop down and walk back to the museum. But alas, I was met with the same fate: no elevators, Axton still asleep. I sighed, knowing I couldn't just stay down there forever, and started to unbuckle Axton from the stroller. Then, a big burly guy walked past me. Without thinking, I called out to him. "Do you think you could help me?" I asked. He stopped, turned around, looked at my desperate face and sticky situation, and without hesitation said yes. I grabbed one side and he grabbed the other and together we walked up two flights of stairs - it was still pouring out and he got soaked just as I did, but he was kind and I was grateful. This was not the first nor the last time I had been treated with genuine kindness in New York. Another time, someone saw me walking with Axton in the rain and walked next to me with his umbrella until we got where we were going. Someone else walked me through the metro station until I found the train I needed. No one was rude or too busy to help.
Also, I learned that the Metro map that is posted all over the station and the trains has a list of all the stops and which ones are handicap-friendly. Just a heads up to anyone planning on going to NYC with a stroller....
Finally we made it to the Natural History Museum, and we spent all day there. Both Axton and I loved it. Again, I only paid $5 to get in - this only allowed me to see their permanent exhibits but that was plenty for us. My favorite exhibit was their Earth and Space Center, a giant globe in the center of the museum that showed a film inside.
In the late afternoon, the sun finally came out and it heated up quite a bit. Axton and I walked through Central Park again (since we weren't about to repeat our earlier incident in the metro station) and we found some kiddy water fountains - Axton got soaking wet and I ended up stripping him down to his diaper.
We met up with Adam and hit up his 2nd request for this trip: Washington Square Park. This is the archway from the movie August Rush.
The park had a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere and Axton just had to get soaking wet for the second time that day (and, once again, I had run out of diapers which meant he had to sit in a giant pad of water the whole ride back to the hotel. He was fairly decent about it, at least).
Next we hit up the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial didn't take much time, but we really enjoyed it. It really is a special tribute and I definitely teared up (no surprise there). I would recommend it to anyone.
Finally, we ended the evening at Angelo's Pizza, recommended to us by my friend Sara for the best New York pizza she's had. And good heavens was it delicious. I would have loved to have gone back the next day and ordered something else from them - maybe a giant bowl of pasta - but since we only had the one taste-test we went for a simple, pepperoni pizza. So. Good. So good. If you get the chance, go. Just do it.
Our last day in New York City was short - we were catching an afternoon train home. We went back to B&H Photo so I could trade in a lens, got some lunch to take on the way home, and headed out.