I recently took Sophie to NYC to celebrate her 12th birthday. A few years ago, my husband and I decided that we would take each of our kids on a special trip somewhere in the US (minus Hawaii and Alaska because $$$$$) to celebrate their 12th birthday. When Simon turned 12, Sam took him to NYC. Sophie wanted to do the same thing so we happily planned it and made it happen. It was an AWESOME, jam packed trip. I feel like we left no stone unturned and she really got to do and see everything she hoped to.
Sam and I moved to the city about 10 days after we got married back in 1998 and lived there for almost seven years. We have the best memories of living there; I am truly an East Coast and city girl at heart so whenever there is an opportunity to go back I jump at it.
We rented an apartment via Home Away in Hudson Yards (34th Street between 9th and 10th Ave) and it was a fantastic location. The apartment itself was super comfortable and we had far more space than if we had just gotten a hotel. Also, it was cheaper than a hotel. The new Hudson Yards subway station is the nicest and newest in the city and was half a block from our place so win-win. For Sophie’s birthday dinner we went to Carmines, always a tasty choice and fun environment. The penne a la vodka was the best I have had since…well, since we lived in New York!
We were happy to share dinner with one of my besties Kristy and two of her daughters. Kristy moved to NYC 14 years ago and we have been friends ever since. She is awesome.
The only unfortunate thing about our first night was ALL of the topless women in Times Square. We saw about 20. This is a new phenomenon since the new mayor took over and it is awful. Times Square has always had a seedy sheen to it but this is a new level of disgusting. “Welcome to New York, darling 12 year old daughter! Here are lots of nearly naked women!”. Actually, it was fascinating to see the way Sophie reacted to it. First she was shocked. Then appalled. Then, she felt a certain amount of respect for the women because they were “doing whatever they wanted without worrying what others may think”. She saw it as kind of liberating? Then she went back to being appalled and finally, extremely disappointed that THIS was the way women were being portrayed, especially in the middle of a bustling, “family friendly” tourist destination. She worked all of that out on her own and I was proud of her. It was a growing up experience I would have preferred her NOT to have but in the end, she was better for it. I promised her that Times Square is NOT New York and explained that the next day, Kristy and I would show her the fabulousness of NYC. Preferably without naked women :).
The next day we began our morning on the High Line, something that did not exist when we moved from the city back in 2004. We met up again with Kristy and walked and talked.
A video of us on the High Line is here on her YouTube channel.
We wandered over to the Chelsea Market, a place I have been wanting to explore. Sophie picked out NYC centric charms to make a necklace, we browsed through several stores and finished with soup and salad from Hale and Hearty (BEST cheddar tomato soup of all time).
After lunch we took some of my favorite snaps from the trip at a Collette Miller “Angel Wings” wall in Union Square and ended up at my favorite store on the entire planet, ABC Carpet and Home. It was just as good as I remembered.
There’s really no way for me to convey the sheer enormity and gorgeousness of ABC. Just go. You’ll thank me. I bought myself one exquisite thing there (because everything is very expensive); a beautiful hand embroidered tunic/blouse that stopped my heart. I adore it. Just go visit if you are ever in NYC. Don’t bring your wallet because you will not have any money left after you leave.
Sophie and I headed to Soho after ABC for an afternoon of cobblestone street wandering, Birchbox makeovers and window shopping. Birchbox was awesome as always. We both got our hair braided at their Braid Bar and felt fancy when we headed back out.
We met up again with Kristy and her girls for some more Soho wandering and then giant milkshakes at Blacktap. I found the service at Blacktap terrible and the milkshakes just OK. For $15 they had better be perfect (and they weren’t). In my opinion it wasn’t worth the hype, but we had a fun afternoon anyway.
At this point in trip something became seriously wrong with my ankle/tendon situation. The tendon kind of swelled up and it became unbelieveably painful to walk. Which is a PROBLEM in New York City. I iced it whenever I was at the apartment and took Motrin/Tylonal in heavy rotation but I could never get the pain below a 5 out of 10. Standing still and sitting were no problem. Walking was a BIG problem. I was determined not to let this weird inflamation thing (thank you Lupus for that) ruin our trip and affect our daily plans but it was tough. I ended up only taking a cab once and that was more of a time necessity than pain. We walked miles each day and took the subway everywhere. It took about three days after we got home for the pain to subside and now even weeks later the ankle and top of my foot are completely numb. If you can figure out what happened there let me know :).
And by the way, our apartment was so comfortable! HomeAway or Airbnb are the best way to really LIVE in a city when you are on vacation. We slept so so so good each night and Sophie got a taste of what it is like to be a New Yorker, not just a 12 year old staying at a hotel.
On Friday we headed over to midtown so that I could show Sophie around 5th Avenue. We started at the famed Plaza Hotel where she was appropriately blown away. I went to a pretty amazing Christmas party here back in the day when I worked for the Trump Organization…
Next we wandered over to my old office building, Trump Tower, where I worked for Donald Trump (two years as an assistant doing marketing). It has been many years since I walked through those doors. Full disclosure: I absolutely do NOT support Trump for President. Then we headed next door to Tiffany’s and then up through Central Park.
Sophie had talked about getting frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity so we headed there next. We spent the afternoon walking around the Upper East side, took the sky tram over to Roosevelt Island (which surprisingly, I never did while living in the city) and eventually made our way to the Upper West Side to meet up with Kristy and the girls again. We hit Levain where I truly had the most spectacular chocolate cookie on the planet, hung out with the ABC news crew and visited with some of New Yorks finest.
^^^WHHHHHYYYYYYY are you so far away from me, Levain?????
On our final full day in the city we trekked downtown to Ground Zero. My children know how important Ground Zero and the memorials to 9/11 are to me; it was important that we spend time there.
We also spent some time on the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park which Sophie LOVED (if you have kids you need to do this). Finally we ventured back up to Midtown to meet up with a dear friend of mine from high school who has lived in the city for many years. It was such a treat to spend some time with Salimah and have some deep discussions about race and religion while snacking in Bryant Park. Good stuff all around.
We rounded out our NYC experience with Sophie’s very first Broadway show, Wicked. It was fantastic and she practically floated through Times Square when it was over.
My favorite thing about this trip was experiencing the NYC I know and love through the eyes of my oldest daughter. We went on so many new adventures but the best thing was just spending time together. I truly love you, New York. Till next time 🙂