Family Summer Trip to NYC!

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I can’t go too many months before I get the itch to get back to New York. Stevie is up there almost weekly for work so we talk a lot about NYC as a family - we have a bunch of great books (this one and this one are our faves), and it helps the boys understand where he spends time when he’s working. It also has helped us create a fun bucket list of places to visit and explore! Which is just what we did as a family a few weeks ago. We loved taking the boys up there for a few fun days in the city and I just I love sharing with them all the things I appreciate so darn much about that wondrous place. In case some of you are planning a trip or curious about what to explore with your kiddos, I wanted to share!

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A quick note: If you think traveling with kids in NYC is absolutely terrifying and insane - I promise you it’s neither. Like anything else with kids, it just requires some planning before the trip and some grace & flexibility during the trip. Believe me, our travel times aren’t without challenges and moments of frustration. But I truly love traveling with these boys - we have so much fun together and make such sweet memories as a family! It’s definitely worth the work and the sometimes frustrating moments that are inevitable. Definitely let me know if you have questions. Okay, on to the pictures and recs!

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Central Park and Washington Square Park were our jam this time around. We were in Central Park every single day - I don’t know how people live in the city without getting into some green space every day #suburbanthoughts. It’s so grounding and green and SO BEAUTIFUL. The trees are magnificently old and feel like they have endless stories to tell. I just love it. We also love Bryant and Riverside Parks but didn’t spend any time in those on this particular trip.

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Things to do in Central Park with kids:

  • bring a frisbee and run/play freely on Sheep’s Meadow

  • explore the 10+ playgrounds (some with splashpads - if you’re visiting in summer, bring a towel!) Our faves are the Diana Ross Playground (westside), the James Michael Levin Playground (eastside) and the Heckscher Playground (just north of Central Park South).

  • see a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Puppet Theater (seriously, these shows are SO incredible!) Puppetry feels like a lost art (kind of like tap dance?) and I love that this form of puppetry is still celebrated here.

  • grab lunch at Shake Shack at 77th & Columbus Ave. and walk your lunch into the park. We like to eat on the big rocks that overlook the lake :) Yum I want another Shackburger right now…

  • walk from the Bethesda Fountain down through the mall (a gorgeous tree-lined pathway)

  • play on the Alice and Wonderland statue on the eastside of the park at 75th street. It’s really fun for the kids to climb and it overlooks a pretty little pond and it’s just such a peaceful reprieve.

    We didn’t get to sail boats or do a horse carriage ride yet (two requests that we couldn’t make happen this time!), but those are still on our list!

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A tower of blondes.

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I wear my Blanqi supportwear every day - if you’re pregnant, you have to check them out! Made walking around the city so much more bearable, especially since I tend to carry big, heavy babies. My favorites are the maternity tanks - an absolute must for any pregnancy! I wear one everyday, either by itself or with layers.

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Juice Generation!! It’s become a family fave.

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^ The BOB Double Stroller that has endured a lot of abuse over the years traveling with us - it’s still rocking!!

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We took the boys to get cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery in SOHO! It was so much fun sharing a sweet treat there. I honestly have no idea how we were able to snag some because when we used to live here, the line was LONG and they would sell out first thing in the morning. But they were SO GOOD. I can’t remember what the flavor was - they change it monthly but whatever it was, it was GOOD. We also really like the DKA and Everett chose some kind of Nutella bread and he chose well. Haha I’m so proud.

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New buildings going up all the time!

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We explored two museums on this trip - first, the American Museum of Natural History (Daxton is REALLY into dinosaurs right now), which we have spent a lot of time in on multiple trips. They really loved it this time and the dinosaurs wowed them more than ever. Haha I love this age. And we also visited The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which was awesome! It literally has a space shuttle on the ship. Like, in every direction, this is a dream museum for boys.

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I forgot to mention that we found an EXCELLENT pizza place that is completely kid/family-friendly called Patsys Pizzeria - if you are looking for something on the upper west side, you will not be disappointed! I can still taste the goodness.

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“Cleaning fossils” at the American Museum of Natural History. They were cracking us up. We found the Discovery Room this time around and it is honestly such a perfect place for kids to get hands-on! So often, museums can be a bit boring because they can’t actually touch anything, but this is a dedicated space that is for kids to use their hands and discover! They dusted away at fossils (pretend ones), used those fossils to build the structure of a dinosaur, pet little live critters (I’ll admit I was grossed out), used a telescope and microscope, you name it! It was really fun to see their minds at work in a new way. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this room if you come to the museum.

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We got mildly addicted to Juice Generation a few years ago and now we basically go as much as possible whenever we’re in the city. “Get Ur Green On” is my favorite juice!

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The Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park! We had never been there before but they LOVED climbing it! It looks out over a beautiful pond - would be a great spot to bring a book and read for a bit. That wasn’t really the case for me, but if you were alone it would be splendid.

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Everett really wanted to visit “Town Square” (Times Square), and we didn’t have the heart to correct him because it was SO CUTE. So off to Town Square we went. Haha for like 10 minutes. Then we left again because oh, it’s so bright. It’s one of those places that you HAVE to go to see a show, but otherwise you don’t really want to be in that mess of lights and sounds.

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^ My dream is to one day see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular here!

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To make things easy, we usually stay at a hotel close to Central Park. Our favorites are The Warwick (where we stayed this time around) but if that one is sold out or if the prices are crazy, we like The Hilton NYC Midtown, which is located just across the street. Honestly, it’s just nice being able to walk the kids into the park everyday, so this location works well for us. Also there’s a Starbucks on the way from our hotel into the park #priorities. But there are SO many trendy, cool hotels everywhere - I’m always filling my bucket list with new ideas!

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There you have it! We had such an amazing trip. I loved watching the boys light up at so many new experiences this time around. They have been so much littler in the past when we’ve taken them to NYC that I have just made all the decisions about where we eat and what we do, but this time around they had opinions! They wanted to walk more, which I’ll be honest, terrified me at times, especially when we were close to lots of street traffic. But just like anything else, it took a little practice and learning and we were all finding our rhythm as a family exploring the city. And all their suggestions and ideas were so much fun to make happen. Except when Everett insisted we ride the subway and I watched Daxton basically lick one of the subway poles while we were riding. I felt like I was in slow motion yelling, “NOOOOOO”, but thankfully, somehow, he didn’t get sick after that. Ahhhh I don’t even want to think about it.

We had so much fun! I also put together a little IGTV episode about our trip, you can see it here. Do you have questions? Have you ever taken your kiddos on a city trip? Did you/they like it? Would love to hear from you!

"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 :)