Discovering New York City at Christmastime with our Boys!

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I wanted to post this before it became absolutely irrelevant (you could argue that it's irrelevant now), but I wanted to share my NYC pictures from our family Christmas trip! So many of the things that we did are still on display until mid-January, so if you get the chance to visit NYC between now and then, DO IT! Our 8-day trip was 3 weeks ago, and since then a LOT has happened. I don't know how, but the holidays seem to absolutely devour the time. I am always astounded at how fast these few precious weeks pass by in December, but goodness gracious, they do. However, this trip was honestly magical. Maybe I just have rose-colored glasses when it comes to my favorite city (Stevie says I do), but being able to share my favorite place with my favorite people at the best time of year was just the most ecstatic thing for me.

Stevie's been working incessantly the past few months, and he's been in NYC almost every week. When he mentioned that he was going to work in NYC right before Christmas, my heart almost burst. Forget that, I decided to load up my billions of pounds of baby gear and take the boys up there with him! I made an insanely long list of Christmas-y things to do with the boys everyday, and I'm happy to say that we did most of those things! I wanted to share them in case you want to save this post for when you either visit with your kids, visit during the winter, or visit at Christmastime!

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1. Grand Central Station Holiday Train Show!
My pictures of this one are terrible because it was crazy crowded and there was bad lighting. But the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Station was AMAZING, especially for little boys who adore trains. Basically they built a train track that goes through a miniature NYC and the train choo choos through the set up and it's just really really cool. Go to there.

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Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before ( here  and  here  and a little bit  here ), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's  shared this photo on Instagram , which just made the proudest parent.

Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before (here and here and a little bit here), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's shared this photo on Instagram, which just made the proudest parent.

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2. Christmas Tree Crawl.
Every big building, store and apartment complex goes all out and decorates an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby. It's so fun to walk through the different buildings and get inspiration for your own Christmas tree. Or just gawk. They're beautiful. My absolute favorite this season was at The American Museum of Natural History - it was a tree entirely made of origami animals!

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3. The Tree at Rockefeller Center.
The tree at the Rockefeller Center is an American icon, which is why it gets its own bullet point here. It's insanely busy and crowded and I'll admit that I was kind of on a vigilant mom watch for terrorists while we visited this tree, but it is so beautiful. I'm so impressed with how many lights they manage to get all the way to the top. (Is it just me, or do the lights on your own Christmas tree seem to taper off up at the top?) Also, if you have older kids, you can take them down to the plaza below and go ice skating! I've never done it because this area makes me kind of claustrophobic, but if crowds this dense don't make your neck hot, you should totally give it a try!

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4. See the Christmas Displays on 5th Avenue.
The window displays in the big department stores along 5th Avenue are always spectacular. This year, Saks 5th Avenue did a series display showcasing elaborate scenes from the movie Snow White! It was completely gorgeous and so creative. But all the big stores do extra special displays - Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co. were also some of my favorites this year :)

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5. Visit Santa everywhere!
I made free appointment to meet Santa downtown at Macy's in their Santaland! It was a great experience and the boys' pictures are hilarious. Although, they were supposed to email me some digital copies and I have yet to receive them soooo.... I need to follow up! But Santa is ubiquitous across the city and there is an opportunity in every major section of the city. We also met the Santa at the Plaza (informally - we were just there to grab pizza in the basement) and he was super charming. However I've heard the best Santa is at ABC Carpet downtown. So I still have something for next year's bucket list!

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I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The boys stayed so warm in their  JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets . I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

The boys stayed so warm in their JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets. I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

6. Central Park in the SNOW!
This parkkkkkkk. You guys it's perfect in every season of the year - it's absolutely magic. MAGIC! Even in the freezing temperatures, this park is glorious, and when it's snow-covered, it makes me cry. It's so beautiful and dreamy to waltz, I mean walk through.

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of  Seamless  meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this  foldable travel high chair  like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of Seamless meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this foldable travel high chair like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

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These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

Note  The Plaza Hotel  in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

Note The Plaza Hotel in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

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7. Visit the Holiday Markets!
There are these splendid holiday markets that set up all over the city around Christmastime. The big ones are at Columbus Circle and Bryant Park and they have hundreds of vendors selling everything you've ever heard of (plus a lot of things you've never heard of). It's the perfect place to shop for gifts that no one else will have!

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

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Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

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Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

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9. See a Christmas show at The Swedish Marionette Theater!
I walked the boys up through the park one day and we saw the Christmas puppet show at the Marionette Theater. It was the sweetest, most fun thing and I will always treasure that memory with my two sweethearts. Truly. If you have littles, make sure to check the schedule and catch a show! It's so special!

Things that are still on my NYC Christmas Bucket List:
- See the Rockettes Radio City Spectacular! I saw so many people in line for the show while we were in town because Radio City was right around the corner from our hotel, so I was having major jealousy. But I don't think my two wiggle worms would have been able to sit through that show. Next time!
- Ice Skate! There are so many outdoor rinks that look magical! Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park have ice skating and I would love to do this sometime in the future!
- Seeing The Nutcracker performed by The American Ballet Company at The Lincoln Center. It's my dream dream dream to see this show - I wish Stevie would just get on board! He's not a fan of ballet.
- Seeing Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim Museum - it's supposed to be an awesome show for kids but still a bit too mature for my boys' ages. But just gives me another reason to bring them back!


There you have it! Let me know if you have bucket list must-haves that I should add to this list! Christmas in NYC is so remarkable and MUST be experienced., if you like city sparkle. I hope this is helpful! xx

"I want to go to the Enchanted Garden"

"I want to go to the enchanted garden!" he said to me, as we snuggled on the couch and watched Daniel Tiger.

It was the episode where Daniel and his parents went to pick strawberries and all the flowers came to life, thus, were enchanted. Everett was absolutely enamored. And he has a bit of a penchant for gardening (I won't pretend to have nothing to do with that, it makes me kinda proud), because of our back yard vegetable patch and our weekly visits to Pike's Nursery where I browse and let him play in the water fountains. (We are lucky that he's so cute, otherwise they might hate me over there.) But the moment he expressed his wishes to go to an "enchanted garden", I was struck with the realization, I can bring him to the enchanted garden. I have the place!

I mean, it's not really enchanted, but it's really enchanting! This was all a few weeks ago, when we were up in New York, and the most beautiful botanical garden is just north of the city, The New York Botantical Garden in the Bronx. It's one of the oldest gardens in the United States, with one of the foremost rose gardens in the world. The last time we visited, I was also pregnant, so I've figured out the best way to meander around this garden is on the trolley - you can ride it around the entire garden and enjoy all the unique sections of the garden. Needless to say, this outing was a hit with my little gardener :)

Hydrangea goals.

Hydrangea goals.

Oh, he got verrrrry serious here. Because we showed him a frog in the pond and he had no idea about how frogs can live in water and land. He was so intrigued. It was awesome.

Oh, he got verrrrry serious here. Because we showed him a frog in the pond and he had no idea about how frogs can live in water and land. He was so intrigued. It was awesome.

They have a special section called "Everett's Children's Garden" - no lie! And it's the sweetest area, with musical instruments hidden in the woods and beautiful kids-sized outdoor furniture.

They have a special section called "Everett's Children's Garden" - no lie! And it's the sweetest area, with musical instruments hidden in the woods and beautiful kids-sized outdoor furniture.

This is my dream, you guys. Back yard dreams.

This is my dream, you guys. Back yard dreams.

I'm growing some cabbage this year, can you imagine if it ended up looking like this? Seriously, doesn't this look enchanted?!

I'm growing some cabbage this year, can you imagine if it ended up looking like this? Seriously, doesn't this look enchanted?!

I love this picture of him so much. He was just taking in all the wonder of the vegetable patch.

I love this picture of him so much. He was just taking in all the wonder of the vegetable patch.

They do this everywhere. Which I'm sure you're aware of because I have way too many tossing-in-the-air photos.

They do this everywhere. Which I'm sure you're aware of because I have way too many tossing-in-the-air photos.

Oh, and there was tap dancing! Such a lost art, you guys. I really wish this wasn't such a shrinking form of dance, it is absolutely energizing just to watch!

Oh, and there was tap dancing! Such a lost art, you guys. I really wish this wasn't such a shrinking form of dance, it is absolutely energizing just to watch!

And then the rose garden. Geez it was perfect.

And then the rose garden. Geez it was perfect.

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If you're ever in New York and have the chance to drive/subway/cab north to the Bronx, you absolutely have to check out this garden. It's a magical, no - enchanted - place.

P.S. - The last time we visited the NY Botanical Garden, the time we biked through Callaway Garden (and I didn't know I was pregnant yet, but I kept falling off my bike because I was dizzy), more pregnant waddling at the Boston Public Garden (see, why am I always pregnant?!), and our recent jaunt at the Central Park Conservatory Garden.

Rooftop at the Met + Shake Shack Lunch in Central Park.

Ah, the Met. It's wondrous. Famous. Timeless. The Metropolitan Museum is one of the grandest in the world. It's so unbelievably huge, it would take weeks to get through all the wings and exhibits. My favorite spot in the museum is The Sackler Wing, where you can walk through the Egyptian Temple of Dendur. It's not even the exhibit itself that is alluring to me - it's actually just the room. I love the quiet waters that run the length of the hall, echoing up into the high ceilings. I love the slanted glass windows that usher in the willowy sunlight. I love this quiet space, centered within a city of maddening sound. And I also happen to be a sucker for Egyptian history. So on all fronts, this is the spot for me. But I also really love the impressionists located in the Lehman Collection - VanGogh or Monet, anyone?

For all those who were devout "Gossip Girl" watchers - these are the Met steps where Blair reigns as Queen B. For all those who weren't devout watchers - DON'T JUDGE.

For all those who were devout "Gossip Girl" watchers - these are the Met steps where Blair reigns as Queen B. For all those who weren't devout watchers - DON'T JUDGE.

His arm is fine. He just really, really likes bandaids.

His arm is fine. He just really, really likes bandaids.

I could have stared at this one all day.

I could have stared at this one all day.

Okay, so this is really fun. Every summer, the Met opens up an exhibit on the rooftop. It's cool because there are obviously gorgeous views of Central Park and Manhattan all around - and because there's a bar, so you can enjoy your wine and watch the sun go down over the city. This has been on my NYC bucket list for a long time, and I'm so glad we finally found our way up there on this particular visit. We enjoyed some mocktail/cocktails and marveled at the strange exhibit this year - a full-scale sculpture installation based on the Bates barn from the classic horror film, Psycho. Art is such a funny, subjective kind of thing. To us, the views of the city far outweighed the impact of this particular exhibit. We were all like, can we go back and see some more of Monet's waterlilies? Cheers.

And this little guy is getting way too theatrical these days when Stevie tosses him in the air. I'm pretty sure he was striking a pose in this one :)

And then it was time for lunch! We walked clear across the park, from the east to the westside, and grabbed lunch at Shake Shack on 77th, then took it into the park for a delicious, shady picnic. We might have overindulged in Shake Shack during this stint in the city. We ate it every Saturday for a month. But you guys - it's just so good. I know they have it in Atlanta now, but still. I rarely venture into my own city these days. When we are at home, we kind of hibernate. But when we're goofing off in New York, I love a regular old shack burger, fries, and of course a milkshake. And the concretes! Oh, and actually the lemonade is really, really good too :)

How cute are these two? I'm so grateful that these sweethearts came to visit and play in the city with me :) Friends forever.

How cute are these two? I'm so grateful that these sweethearts came to visit and play in the city with me :) Friends forever.

If a few of these photos look familiar to you, it's because I shared some from this particular day here. OXO Tot was kind enough to send me some travel toddler products to try out while we were on the road so much in New York, and having the right tools really makes a difference when you're on the go with a kiddo! I'm really grateful for this blog, because it allows me to collaborate with brands that we love and actually use in real life, and share them! I love the OXO brand not just for baby gear, but also for kitchen utensils. But Everett loves them for the snack cups.

Here's the Shake Shack lemonade I was telling you about! He downed it. I have to watch his lemonade intake because he lovvvvves it.

And there you have it, friends. A breezy, fun day exploring the museum and eating our body weight in french fries and milk shakes. The Upper West and Upper East sides of the city are so fun to explore, although I'm extremely biased and think the Upper West is the Upper Best, always.

A few other delicious spots to try in the Upper West Side, if you're visiting and looking for something: Juice Generation (for a seriously delicious and pricey nutritious juice), Alice's Tea Cup (totally girly teatime lunch spot!), Cafe Lalo (the cafe from You Got Mail, and yes, it's magical), Jacob's Pickles (omg the southern BLT will make you lose your mind, and the bloody mary, too), Pio Pio Salon (Peruvian food that is insane, come in a group and get the Matador combo and a pitcher of sangria to share), Levain (Jewish bakery with killer coffee and I-want-to-cry-they're-so-good cookies), Machiavelli (its a little fancy, but if you can sit outside and order any of the pizzas, you will be living your New York moment), and also, if you're here on the weekend, almost every restaurant does an amazing brunch with bottomless mimosas that lasts until like 2pm. There is a brunch culture in this city that I really, really love. So just walk south on Amsterdam or Columbus in the 70s and you will find limitless amazing options for omelets, french toast, the works. Whew. On that note, friends, I am hungry again!

Leave me a comment if you decide to visit any of these places and let me know what you think! Have an awesome day. XOX

Dim Sum in West Village + Dominique Ansel's Ice Cream + Sunset at Highline Park.

This post is a continuation of the longest NYC walking tour known to man. You can read the first part here, where we covered visiting our old apartment on the Upper Best Side :), gazing at the boats on the East River, inhaling pizza at Juliana's, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and resting/drinking/snacking over at Hudson Eats at Brookfield Plaza. Whew. That was only the first part of the day, and it was already epic-status.

We continued our journey being guided by the best and brightest part of ourselves - the appetite. We cabbed from Brookfield Place up to the West Village, where we ate Nui Noodles - New York's second best dim sum (literally - this award was advertised on the window), and I don't know who won first because this stuff was AMAZING. We ordered seconds. Everett had a stroller nap and then a meltdown while we were here, which was pretty understandable since he had been curiously perfect for the first part of the day. I held him outside for the longest time while he clawed my face and screamed bloody murder after waking up from his nap and not knowing where he was. All the trendy 20-somethings in the Village walked by me like, "Ugh, what a drag, I am never having children" and I couldn't really blame them. It wasn't a fun twenty minutes of parenthood. I have the claw marks to prove it. #motherhood #theneedforwineisreal

But then I offered him fruit snacks and the sun-shiniest smile poured out of his face an we were back in business.

We visited the cutest of all book stores in the Village called Three Lives & Company, and then wandered up toward Dominique Ansel's newest spot, his Kitchen where he concocts insane ice cream (amongst many other addictive pastries). It's soft serve ice cream decorated with basil, balsamic and marinated strawberry and it is killer. KILLER. Even the cone is thick and wafery and buttery and I kind of want to cry now that I'm really leaning into the memory. This guy is a legend, for real.

Quick Note: Other spots in the area that I love are Rosemary's (farm-to-table dining with a veggie garden on the roof!), Olio e Piu (authentic Italian, great wine list, and it's fun to sit outside), The Spotted Pig (a West Village must, where you're sure to spot a celebrity), Grom (gelato! But I actually really love the lemon ice here), Diptique (why do I love these stupidly expensive candles? I can't help it), and of course, the original Magnolia Bakery (I prefer the simple vanilla cupcake. And the banana pudding. And the red velvet cake. Ah!) This part of the city is perfect for wandering the little side streets and discovering bars and cafes tucked into the quiet alleys. Make sure to get a little bit lost around here, because there's always something magical to be found.

We let the sugar rush guide us up to the Highline Park in Chelsea, where the sun was beginning to set over the Hudson River. It was so fun, letting Everett loose to get out some wiggles. The sun was bouncing it's reflection off the water and the skyscrapers and the most delicious shade of pink was cast on everything and everyone. Our feet were tired, our eyes were heavy, but our souls were thrilled to be part of the hum of the city.

Once the sun plunged into the river, we made way for the subway and high tailed it back to our car on the Upper Best Side :) It was a weary ride back to White Plains, but we had seriously full hearts (and bellies!) to remind us of a day gone right.

I am so grateful for friends and family who have made the effort over the years to come visit us when we live in crazy places. This particular stint was a new one for me and Stevie - we don't usually just take off for a month, but I am so thankful for the opportunities we've had to dive deep and explore such mesmerizing places. It's even more special when you get to share it with family and friends - and these girls made it the best trip ever. There is nothing like ladies who know your heart so intimately and believe in you fully - it's such an empowering feeling, being surrounded by healthy, confident women. They truly bolstered my spirit, and boy, I didn't know how badly I would need to cling to their words and encouragement in the weeks that followed their visit. When life sends challenges, you really have to hold fast to the truths you know and encouragement of those around you.

So yeah, this NYC day trip pretty much rocked. Tomorrow I'm sharing more, about exploring The Met (including the rooftop exhibit + bar!) and enjoying the NYC standby of Shake Shack lunch in Central Park. Thanks for reading along, friends!

P.S. - Other NYC travel spots to hit here and ideas for touring NYC with a baby here.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge + Eating the Juliana's Pizza + Views from Battery City Park.

While we were staying in New York for the month, I lucked out because my friends came to visit :) It felt like a little piece of home, having those girls come and stay for a few days. I love New York so much and I rarely get to share it with friends and family back home, so I was a little giddy to share all my favorite spots with them. And they brought ideas for places they wanted to visit, too, so we went all out and explored and ate everything. It was so much fun (and to be honest, in retrospect I probably walked too much), but at the time the adrenaline was running mile-high and I was just going with it. There's something radical about the second trimester of pregnancy. It really makes you feel like you can fly. We did so much over the course of our few days together that I'm going to have to break it up into a few posts, because otherwise, it's like picture/restaurant recommendation overload. But if you're gathering ideas for an upcoming NYC trip, then make sure to check back here every day this week, because it's going to be New York-centric!

We started this day by driving into the city and parking right next to our old building on the Upper West Side. We showed Everett where we used to live (when I was pregnant with him!) and then hopped on the subway and took the quickest route to Brooklyn, our starting point for the day's events.

Showing Everett our old apartment building.

Showing Everett our old apartment building.

I know this is a dweeby picture but I don't care. We lived here! We loved it!

I know this is a dweeby picture but I don't care. We lived here! We loved it!

I instagrammed  this photo  last week because these boys were so into the boat watching. It was adorable.

I instagrammed this photo last week because these boys were so into the boat watching. It was adorable.

We lost this cute little hat on this particular day :(

We lost this cute little hat on this particular day :(

I promise he's not as close to the edge as it seems in the photo.

I promise he's not as close to the edge as it seems in the photo.

So I've shared before about walking the Brooklyn Bridge here and about eating the AMAZING Juliana's Pizza here, so I won't tell those kinds of stories twice. But all I can say is - do both of these! Get to Juliana's when they open, because then you won't have to wait too long (the line is way out the door for hours), and make sure to get any of the pizzas with scarmorza cheese. You won't be able to forgive yourself for missing it. Everett scarfed so hard and ate more than anyone. He's so my Italian baby.

After our carb-loading we trekked across the Bridge. I'll admit that it's a little annoying on Saturday to walk the bridge because it's so crowded, but the views are really special and not to be missed. Where else do you get to see that particular skyline of Manhattan? It's a stunner.

Vanessa brought one of those trendy Instax-polaroid cameras (I don't know what they're called actually) and Everett went nuts for it. He really likes getting his picture taken these days, but to have the immediate gratification of seeing the photo develop really did something for him. She was sweet to spend so much of her film on him during the trip. He showed everyone that we met his pictures, and would clutch them while we walked him in the stroller. Also, he called her "My Nessa". I almost died.

After walking across the bridge we wandered even further south to the waterfront, through Battery Park, and then wound our way up to Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place. We needed to rest our feet, so we grabbed some drinks and stretched out on the lawn for a bit. This is the perfect spot to take in views of the Statue of Liberty, although if you really want to get up close and personal, you can jump on a free ferry ride down to Staten Island to get a bit closer to Lady Liberty (we did that here).

Note: If you're going to Hudson Eats to really eat, I recommend the brisket at Mighty Quinn's Barbeque, the 5-spice pork belly sandwich at Num Pang, literally anything on the menu at Black Seed Bagel, and the citrus squeeze juice at the Tartinery. Whew, I'm glad I got all that off my chest.

What I love most about this city is that it is a thousand cities in one. It can mean anything to anyone - frenzied, fantastic, mesmerizing, shocking, comforting, challenging, intoxicating, inviting. I've been to a lot of big cities but there is nowhere quite like New York. I think it takes a long time to get the feel for the city - for first-timers it can feel overwhelming, too fast-paced and too crowded. But it grows on you in this sneaky, alluring kind of way. The food is best here. The skyline is exotic. The energy is addictive. The possibilities are infinite. It's truly a dreamer's city and I can't help but get re-bitten by the bug every time I set foot on this maddening island. Isn't it strange to feel most at home in a place that you don't actually call home? That's the magic of New York. It's the greatest city on Earth.

This was not the end of our day but I will split this post in two since we did so much. More tomorrow on wandering through West Village and up into Chelsea :)

P.S. - If you can't hardly wait, check out other NYC shenanigans and recommendations here :)