Instead of Christmas gifts under the tree this year, we took a family trip to New York! This was a bucket list item for me (I’d never been) and something about turning 40 this year sparked me to take action on it. I knew the trip would be fun around the holidays, even if it’s crazy crowded.
My kids (ages 11 and 9) LOVED this trip and are already talking about how much they want to go back (chill, kids, we’ve been home for 2 days).
We stayed in Midtown at the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse. The location was great, easy walk to Times Square/Rockefeller/etc, and we loved the view of the Empire State Building out of our window.
If NYC is on your list, here’s what we did + what we especially loved! You can also watch a video recap of the trip over on Instagram!
Day 1 (travel day)
- The Macy’s Christmas decorations were stunning. The kids loved the candy shop on the second floor and the Toys R Us on the 7th floor.
- Times Square was insanity on a Saturday night, but we made our way to McCarthy’s Irish Pub for dinner. Loved all their Christmas lights inside!
- We started the day with breakfast at The Harold (near our hotel). It was a great spot.
- We did a double decker bus city tour (with Big Bus Tours) but unfortunately it was really rainy so we couldn’t go on the top level of the bus and we couldn’t see out of the foggy windows. The tour was pretty much a waste of money on a rainy day, but we used it to get around the city a bit.
- We got off the bus at the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across it in the rain. It was a long walk, but my son said this was his favorite part of the entire trip (surprising since it was kind of miserable in the rain).
- Next we went to Central Park where we met my cousin and his family for drinks at Tavern on the Green. The Christmas decorations in there were beautiful! I’d love to spend more time in Central Park if we come back again.
- We finished the day with dinner at Reichenbach Hall (German food). It was nothing special, but it was super close to the hotel.
- We took the subway to the World Trade Center. We walked around the 9/11 memorial and then took the elevator up to the Observation Deck. The 360 views were stunning- so glad we got to see the Statue of Liberty. (We initially were going to go up to the top of the Empire State Building instead because it was close to our hotel, but it was quite a bit more expensive and this way we got to see the 9/11 memorial too).
- In the evening we went to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. We LOVED it so much!
- After the show we had a fancy dinner at Benoit and took a pedi cab back to the hotel. Pedi cabs were all over and the kids had been begging to ride one, but we did NOT realize how expensive this would be (rookie mistake).
- We started the day with early reservations to go skating at Rockefeller Center, under the tree. Getting an early reservation was key (we did 8:30)- not only was it slightly less expensive, but it was WAY less crowded that time of day.
- After skating we walked to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. There was a bit of a wait (no reservations) but totally worth it. All the servers are aspiring Broadway singers and they sang live the entire meal!
- Next we visited the Nintendo Store and the American Girl Doll Store. Grandma sent $$ as the kids’ Christmas gifts and they loved their shopping sprees.
- We did an early dinner at Carmine’s (very good family style Italian food, but even several weeks out 3:30 was the only reservation time I could get). And then walked to the M&M store in Times Square (so fun!) and Junior’s to grab dessert (their famous cheesecake) before show time.
- The Lion King on Broadway was absolutely magical. The costumes!!!! This was my personal favorite thing we did.
Day 5 (travel day)
- We walked to Liberty Bagel to get breakfast sandwiches and the kids loved their famous red/white/blue bagel.
- When we asked the kids what else they wanted to see/do, they said they wanted to ride the subway again. So we spent our last little bit of time just riding the subway with no destination in mind. We were determined to see a rat on the subway tracks to complete our New York experience and we did manage to find one (hah, lucky us).
Our Favorites: The Rockettes, The Lion King on Broadway, skating at Rockefeller Center, the observation deck at the World Trade Center, Nintendo Store, M&M World in Times Square, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Carmine’s, and Liberty Bagel!
I can’t believe it took me 40 years to visit New York, but I will DEFINITELY be back! This was such a fun trip! ❤️