This summer we did New York City again! It was part of a larger East Coast vacation. Since we did the Big Apple with our children twice before (you can read about those trips here), many of the standard tourists spots had been covered. Plus, our girls are 12 and 15 now, so they are ready for more touring. But we also had our baby with us, so that meant not so much time spent soaking up Broadway. So this time we focused a bit more on the other boroughs.
Since we stayed with a cousin in Brooklyn we decided to explore some of its picturesque offerings. We enjoyed the Brooklyn Super Hero Store our first afternoon. It is a cute gift shop for a good cause. They have an assortment of capes and a huge fan for superhero photo posing. We had a good time trying it out. You will spend half an hour here at most. Not too far away is Mr. Wish Fruit Tea at 86 5th Avenue, for a refreshing take on bubble tea. It is packed with fresh fruit and perfect for a refreshment break.
We love Free Tours By Foot and look for them wherever we vacation. They did not disappoint in Brooklyn. We took the Brooklyn Heights Food Tour with samples from kosher kugel to magical rainbow bagels, We walked through several ethnic pockets and enjoyed just the right sized bites of culinary delights.
The second tour we took was the Brooklyn Heights tour. I knew this would be a favorite for Vintage Doll, my history buff, because it showcases a stop from the Underground Railroad. We covered quite a bit of ground and it ended in a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline near DUMBO, one of New York’s trendiest spots.
Junior’s Restaurant, in Park Slope, has delicious cheesecake (Rainbow Baby had a slice for her first birthday), and there is a Vanessa’s Dumpling House (yum!) in Brooklyn, if you do not want to seek out the one in Manhattan.
We also made the trek across the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. The stroller had to be carried up a few steps at the end, but otherwise it was not a strenuous walk and the views were thrilling. Walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Walking the other way puts the amazing skyline behind you. Of course, no visit to New York City is complete without the obligatory stop at Grimaldi’s for pizza. It really is excellent, if you don’t mind the wait. The best pizza is actually in Brooklyn, not Manhattan.
We had Governor’s Island and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on the itinerary, but did not make it this time. Gotta save something for next time.
We took the subway into Queens only because that is where the Dolls’ dad grew up. Anytime a parent gets to reminisce and show the kids around the old stomping grounds, it’s sure to be a good time for both. We saw where Dad ate pizza every weekend and played wiffle ball after school, where he walked to grandma’s house and the basement entrance he ran by as fast as he could because he was afraid the Moonies were going to get him. The kids loved that it triggered memories and stories and I loved getting a visual on the backdrop of his childhood escapades. Like the street where he got hit by a car and never told anyone. Oops, his mom reads this blog. I hope he is not in trouble now!
Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for – what we did in Manhattan! Our previous trips had been in winter. But now that we were traveling in June, it was time to take the girls to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Tickets to go into the statue MUST be purchased at LEAST 3 months in advance from https://www.statuecruises.com. Even at 3 months advance notice, our choices were limited. We opted to tour around the island and spend the bulk of our day at Ellis Island. Plus, the many steps were not appealing to parents of a baby.
The ferry stops first at Liberty Island, so if you choose a late tour you will have little to no time at the real treat – Ellis Island. The included audio tour was perfect at both islands. We learned so much more than if we had just walked around by ourselves. We brought sandwiches and had a little picnic there. There are lots of limitations on what you can bring to the islands and the bag search line is long and slow, so be sure to check out the restrictions beforehand. No food or drink of any kind are permitted in the statue. In New York City generally, I found my Maya Wrap (baby sling) very helpful to stuff into the bottom of the stroller and have handy. It is a crowded city and strollers do not fit everywhere you want to be. There are not always elevators at some subway stops, and tiny dumpling restaurants in Chinatown barely have elbow room.
The most fun at Ellis Island was paying the small (I think $4) fee and searching the Island’s Immigration records for my husband’s family. We saw his 7 year-old dad’s name and 2 year-old mother’s, plus all sorts of other relatives we knew and a few we did not. Ranger tours are great, because they offer a glimpse into what it would be like to be a frightened immigrant under such scrutiny. It was a long day for the little one, but worth the trek.
Another fun Manhattan stop was the birthplace of Teddy Roosevelt. My daughters have favorite presidents. I don’t know if your children argue over with their friends over which president is most awesome, but Teddy’s story is well known in our home. So a (free) stop at his house, now a museum, taught us even more than we knew before. Time your visit to coincide with the guided tour, or you will only be able to view the bottom floor.
We tried to take the baby on the beautiful, new Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park. She fell asleep on the way. Same thing when we tried to take her on the classical carousel in Bryant Park. Surprisingly, what she really enjoyed was MoMA. I posted some fun things about that tour in Babies Love Art. It was also lots of fun for the big kids. Sunshine Doll had recently studied art history in our co-op and enjoyed it the most.
The girls’ saw a Broadway matinée of Frozen while we took baby for a walk in Central Park. We spent an afternoon wandering around Greenwich Village, which was the most fun for me. We shopped for tea at Port Rico Importing Co. and had dinner at The Meatball Shop. Then we searched for the best cannoli we could find in Little Italy. Ferrera Bakery was the winner. Let’s be honest: Eating is what New York City is really all about. Eating is what vacation is really all about, right?
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