I have several friends from college that are from and/or currently live in New York City. So, when I realized that we would be really close to the area while in Philadelphia it only made sense to me to loop up to the big city to see the sights and visit my friends. I’ve been to New York a handful of times, but I’ve never driven there and definitely never had small children with me. I had some nightmares that one of the kids was going to stolen or run over or lost. I’m just not used to that many people in a tight area. Pushing my anxiety aside, we headed toward the city.
Leaving the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey we simply put the address of our NYC hotel in the GPS to get us there. We were staying at a hotel on Times Square (on Broadway). The map looked right, so we took off. Eventually, we could see Manhattan ahead of us. We kept passing bridges and tunnels that would take us into the city. Instead, we were looping around on the east side of the Hudson River. As we looked up and saw all these men wearing silk suits and what looked like fur top hats (realized later that they were wearing spodiks because they were Hasidic Jews), our GPS cheerily announced that we had reached our destination. Obviously we weren’t in Times Square. Somehow, our GPS had routed us to 1568 Broadway in Hoboken, New Jersey instead of the 1568 Broadway in New York, New York. We turned around and (after paying another toll) we were crossing into Manhattan via some tunnel.
Driving in New York is nothing short of terrifying. We were in almost 12 accidents in a 2 mile stretch. People were honking at us, flipping us off, and cussing at us. I was hoping they could tell we were from out-of-town by the Missouri license plates and the white knuckles on the steering wheel. Taking a second to breathe at a stoplight, a black SUV was crossing the intersection and Shaquille O’Neal’s big head was hanging out of the window like a labrador puppy. It was our first and only celebrity sighting for the trip.
Eventually we made it Times Square and to our hotel. The plan was for Alex to work with the valet on what bags to grab while I got the kids and stood safely to one side. As I was holding Luke and had a death grip on Anna’s hand, I could see Alex opening the back hatch. I heard the valet ask, ‘So, how long are you guys planning on staying?’, as items literally toppled from the back of the car. Alex got everything figured out and we checked in to our room.
After quickly setting up our room, unpacking a bit, and changing clothes, we loaded up the double stroller and hit the streets. The lights and action were calling our name!
My college roommate, Mellie (although we called her Smellie – not because she smelled, but because it rhymes with Mellie and it just felt right), was off of work and met up with us on Times Square. We made our way through the crowds, which is not an easy feat with a gigantic double stroller, and decided to grab a bite to eat at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. The place is really fun (and loud – which is a bonus when you are dining with kids). The staff are all Broadway performers who aren’t currently in shows. They each take turns singing and dancing around the restaurant. It was pretty fun, and the kids loved all the music and commotion.
We said our goodbyes to Mellie for the evening. The plan was to see her the next day once she was done with work. We were going to have the entire day to ourselves, which meant that I had to come up with some things to fill the time. I’ve never been to NYC with little ones, so I had to figure out how to pack our day with kid-friendly activities. After grabbing breakfast at a little diner, we set off down 5th Avenue toward Central Park. We looked at all the shop windows, swung by Rockefeller Center, and kept agreeing with Anna when she said that the buildings were ‘reawy, reawy big’. Eventually we made it FAO Schwarz just as the doors were opening.
We immediately found the Big Piano so Anna could have some quality time tickling the ivories. Safe-to-say, she had a blast.
(check out this video – Anna re-enacts the scene from ‘Big’)
We moved on to check out the rest of the store. The kids played with the train table, and Anna decorated a cupcake to take with us. I was getting a little annoyed with all the comments we were getting about our stroller. Yes, it’s a big stroller. No, we obviously aren’t from here. Yes, this is what people use in the Midwest (no one would even look twice at the stroller at home). The store started filling up rather quickly, and Anna had a meltdown playing with some baby dolls. After some more snarky comments from people, I was ready to go. When we got to the ground floor on the elevator, a kid was blocking our way out. He made a comment about how big the stroller was. I was so flustered at this point, I yelled at him to move or I was going to run him over with my massive stroller. He moved. We made the long walk back to the hotel, dodging people the entire time. I was a bit annoyed. We grabbed a pizza and headed up to our room.
— To Be Continued —