Baby Takes On New York City: Weekend Exploration
If you are just joining us, you are in the middle of an exciting adventure. My sister Lauren took her husband Will and daughter up to NYC last weekend for a little city exploration while she attended a conference. Lauren was kind enough to give me a recap of her trip.
In my last post I covered their journey up on the Philadelphia to New York BoltBus, a cheap alternative to driving or taking the train. In this post my Q&A with Lauren continues, covering where they stayed, sights they visited, great eats along the way and a few lessons they learned about traveling with their 1-year-old daughter Lilou. Feel free to hop into the journey now or start at the beginning. Either way there is lots to share. I’ll leave you now as Lauren continues to tell her tale. Please note that I pop in with a few comments that I have italicized.
Where to Stay: The Sheraton NY Hotel and Towers was way out of our price range, but was paid for by my job so we had the luxury of staying in the heart of the museum district and just a few blocks away from Central Park. The hotel staff was delightful. Every single person we ran into, from the door guys to the women who cleaned our room, was friendly and eager to engage Lilou in some quick chatter. The hotel offered a free crib (which we stashed in our closet), which was a HUGE help to us. We were also lucky enough to get 2 beds in our hotel room. Lilou had a little more room to wonder around, but really, most of our time was spent outside of the hotel.
Navigating the City with a Baby: We walked around the city for the most part, but we did ride the subway a few times and take a taxi when necessary. A stroller was all we needed. Lilou is not a huge fan of her baby carrier, which is due more to us not using it enough in the past. I think at times it would have been more practical than a stroller though. My husband Will mentioned multiple times that when he went into a store or café he felt like he was taking up too much space. He ended up carrying Lilou a lot. At night we left the stroller at the hotel and just carried her wherever we went. We were lucky to be meeting up with friends who were happy to hold Lilou when our arms got tired. No matter what you use, stroller or wearable carrier, I think it’s all a bit of a gamble and really depends on what your agenda is day to day.
Where to eat: We ate all of our breakfasts in the hotel room with food that we packed, but allowed ourselves to get coffee as our morning treat. We budgeted for each of us to have $10 for lunch, and I have to say we easily did that every day. I looked up favorite street carts and cafes on Yelp and we did just fine.
- Check out the Halal Guys , they got over 3,500 hits on Yelp with a 4.5 star rating. Only $6 for lunch!
We did allow ourselves to splurge on dinner. NYC is known for its amazing restaurants and we wanted our budget to go there. We didn’t eat anywhere outrageously priced, but they were all definitely in the $20/entree range, which is above our normal night out budget.
- The Mermaid Inn had delicious seafood. I was a little worried since it was so small and I wasn’t sure about the “kid friendly” status. Our server was very kind and we were quickly brought a high chair. The evening was delightful.
- Le Pain Quitidien is a cute cafe just off of Central Park. Great chai and cheese plate!
- Bubby’s Brooklyn in DUMBO (aka Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) was my very favorite spot. The space, inside and out, was huge, very kid friendly with amazing comfort food and a wonderful staff. The view? The view was amazing! We were right on the water overlooking the beautiful skyline of NYC. Right now they have a deal that if you check in on 4 Square you can get your second draft beer for free or a free slice of pie for dessert.
- Check out Hither and Thither for more amazing eats that you might not think of trying with a baby in tow.
Stuff to Do with a Baby in NYC: While Lauren was at a conference most of the time, she was able to sneak off with her husband Will and daughter to check out some of the Manhattan sights.
- Saint Thomas Church. This church is just one block away from MoMA on 5th Avenue. It was a great place for us to stop while we waited for MoMA to open. We were welcomed by the very friendly rector and were able to hear the organ being tuned; a highlight of the visit for sure. There is a suggested donation if you want to take photographs, but it is not mandatory. Just deposit whatever you want into a little black box within the church.
- MoMA. Going to the MoMA was by far my favorite thing to do with Lilou. As a new walker she loved stretching her legs while we checked out the art. I’m so used to walking around with a serious face in museums. Bringing Lilou along made it more fun, and I think made it fun for others. They also had a few special exhibits for kids, so that Lilou could get a little creative break.
- My sister Lauren sent me a video of Lilou entertaining a crowd of MoMA visitors by rolling on the floor; her own version of performance art. It was priceless and definitely only a moment you could have when your child is traveling with you.
- Central Park Playground. The playground in Central Park was also a highlight of the trip. Lots of families there, and it felt like this kid utopia amongst the bustling city. You have to slow down when you have kids, and I think having that playground there really forced us to stop and talk to people a bit. They also have these really neat squishy ground coverings, which were especially helpful for our new toddler. She could walk around all she wanted without fear of bashing against the concrete.
Lessons Learned: Lilou makes traveling better and taking the risk is worth it. Instead of staying home with our list of reasons why it seems impossible, we threw caution to the wind and it ended up opening up all kinds of new ideas for what we want to do next as a family. Lilou is fun and makes our life more exciting. Why wouldn’t that apply to our trips as a family?
Will and I decided before we left that we would try to stick to Lilou’s schedule as best we could, but that we wouldn’t let it prevent us from really experiencing NYC. In the end that meant that Lilou did get her usual nap every day, but that often we kept her out pretty late at night. I was blown away by how little this affected Lilou. Often it simply meant that we all got to sleep in a little later, which is never a bad thing.
Do It Again? I am eager to head out on our next adventure! We have friends in Boston and in Baltimore. Buses from Philly go to both cities and beyond. No concrete plans, but I think this trip has made traveling by bus much more possible and has opened doors to places we may not have financially considered before.