Greetings! You think it’s been a while since I blogged about travel? I couldn’t agree more. Which is why, in December, I booked a spontaneous trip to New York City with one of my best friends… and my 3 month old! Was I a tad nervous to attempt a short jaunt to another city? Actually yes. Sure I’ve traveled a large part of the globe, but never with a baby in tow! Hibernation however, finally pushed me to take the leap and just book it! Five days in the big apple, so three full days of touring the city, much of which, unfortunately, I was bed-ridden with a bug I’d picked up at a Rod Stewart concert the night before leaving. Yes, I’m a 50 year old trapped in a 29 year old body – all I have to say is that Rod rocked our socks off and, as my aunt rightfully pointed out, for a guy his age, he’s got a pretty cute butt.
Despite all my nervousness, the trip was a huge success! The preparation was labour intensive but once we had the necessary paperwork all in hand, and after I’d spent an entire evening making sure I’d packed everything we’d need on our first adventure across the border, we were ready to take on NYC (check out my post on passport applications, pre-departure and landing in NYC for more info on what to take care of before check-in). Needless to say, New York in December is cold, but if you dress for the weather and pad your baby with mountains of protection against the elements, it can definitely be done.
First stop: The New Yorker Hotel
We booked the New Yorker Hotel after finding a great deal online. I knew (especially after my hotel disaster in St.Petersburg) that I wasn’t about to settle for anything less than 4 stars when traveling with an infant, a decision which proved itself to be totally worth it. The pros? The hotel’s staff was some of the friendliest I’ve ever met (they adored Luna); we were able to call ahead and get a crib for the room; great location in Midtown; very clean; had a Keurig coffee maker that could boil water for bottles. The cons? No microwave; no breakfast included or available; older style means smaller rooms and older windows that aren’t as well sealed. Bring warm pajamas for baby! Suitable for travel with baby? Absolutely.
Given the fact that we had three whole days to wander around the city (I was pretty much bedridden for the other two), we decided to take it easy and sort of just went where the wind took us. Admittedly, had I been in better health, we would have added a museum to the tour (alas I have yet to discover the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim, however I did cover the American Museum of Natural History years ago, and totally recommend it) but since I felt like I had knives slicing through my throat, we decided to save that for another time. Instead, we had a wicked time discovering some holiday highlights of NYC in winter time, all of which were more than doable with a baby by our side:
Coffee at Dean and DeLuca
We started our day at Dean and DeLuca, a coffee chain that has become famous in my family and offers a wide variety of hot drinks and savoury options to start you off on the right foot. So appealing is the wide selection of food items that we ended up indulging in not-so-typical breakfast foods to kick-start each day. Dumplings for breakfast? Heck yes! From pumpkin cheesecake to delicious pastries and sandwiches that will make your mouth water, pausing for Dean and Deluca’s is never a bad decision.
Holiday lights at the Rockefeller Ice Rink
One of the easiest things to do with a baby in New York City, is stroll. Thankfully Luna loved falling asleep in her stroller as we thudded across the sidewalks of Midtown and made our way north towards Rockefeller, and beyond. At Christmas time, the Rockefeller Ice Rink and surrounding decor is a canvas of holiday glamour, built up with nutcrackers, Christmas trees and lights galore! Paying a trip to the Rockefeller Ice Rink and pausing to grab a Starbucks underground is a great way to warm up and enjoy a taste of the holiday season.
Christmas Market and ice rink at Bryant Park
One of the most memorable moments we had touring NYC was paying a visit to Bryant Park, tucked near the New York Public Library. At Christmas time the park is home to an ice rink that, unlike the rink at Rockefeller, is eye level and open for all to enjoy! Here you can also find a huge Christmas tree (my favourite in the city) decorated to the nines and a Christmas market filled with custom jewelry, unique gift items, art work, scarves and plenty of sweets. We, however, were on the hunt for a steaming glass of mulled wine and didn’t find it here! Onward and upward!
Dinner and Wine in Chelsea Markets
After a full day touring around Rockefeller Plaza and Bryant Park, we took a subway ride (Luna’s first ever) to the Chelsea Markets. This was top on the list for my friend who had kindly done most of the research prior to departure (I bought the book, but motherhood sort of cut into my reading time). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the market was actually a really cool shopping and dining centre with an underground feel! Shoppers can find stores like Anthropology nestled among bakeries and independent designers, an eclectic mix of offerings that would appeal to the fussiest of critics. Since we’d been strolling around all day, we were in the mood to kick off our socks (theoretically of course, lest we freeze to death) and unwind as as soon as my friend spotted a sign for $1 oysters, we were hooked.
Now, I hate seafood, but since some of the best wine is found at Oyster bars, I supported the decision to make a pause at the Cull & Pistol and was rewarded nicely with a big glass of Dr.Loosen, Blue Slate Riesling (2012, Mosel, Germany). I also decided to partake in the slurping back of oysters just to say I tried one – and it was every bit as disgusting as I thought it would be. A slimy, gruesome experience which made having a delicious vintage to wash it down with, even sweeter.
After enjoying a glass or two of vino whilst the baby slept, we decided it was time to indulge in something a little more substantial and ended up finding ourselves a seat at The Green Table. The Green Table specializes in offering the farm-to-table experience and is known for it’s shepherd pie of which my friend and I ordered 2 (mushroom – not meat). They were scrumptious! And just what the doctor ordered to close off a day of wandering outside in zero degree weather. Brrrr!
A visit to FAO Schwartz
If you have a child that is old enough to understand the word “toy” or “candy”, then a trip to FAO Schwartz is a must. Having never been to the famous toy store, we made a quick round of the baby friendly apparel, but realized half way through that most of the gear was targeted at an older crowd. Regardless, it was a sight to see; with chocolate bars as big as your head and a huge selection of toys available for kids of all ages, around the holiday season, it’s a great place to cross off a few little names of your list.
A stroll in Central Park
Finally, my absolutely favourite part of any trip to New York City: a stroll through central park. I have yet to run the park, but that is definitely on my list. All the same, there is no better way to get the true New York experience than to get lost in Central park. Surrounded by joggers, walkers, commuters and ponderers of everyday things, Central Park is a haven for just about everyone and the perfect way to spend an afternoon. A newspaper cone full of crackling sugared almonds completed the scene, as my friend and I followed our noses to a cup of mulled wine, putting an end to our day-long search. Unfortunately, it was non-alcoholic and mostly sugar, but hey, New York is known for it’s coffee – we should have known.