My problem is that I am a big city girl living in a small town. I grew up in the hustle and bustle of London, and get antsy if I go for too long without being in a proper crowd, getting yelled at by a bum, or using public transport. I’m happy where I am, but when things start looking too clean and homogeneous, and I’m confronted with too much shiny hair and teeth, I start craving for the city again.
This August, I was feeling particularly disgruntled with small town living, so I dragged my small tribe off to my second favorite city in the world: New York, New York (so good they named it twice).
Aaaaah New York. Back in the 90s, my brother used to have an apartment in New Jersey, overlooking Manhattan. Of course, I took full advantage of that. As we drove into the city, memories flooded back of my twenty-something self wandering aimlessly around the village, no time limits, no money, cheeks sucked in, trying as hard as possible to look cool, and making new and amazing discoveries around every corner.
Of course, this trip would be different. For a start, we were on a serious time crunch, just two days in NYC??? With two little kids, that equates to around eight hours, factoring in bathroom stops, tantrums, and tiredness, but it would still be awesome. We picked our activities carefully, I wanted to visit the High Line, and Central Park, and cross the Brooklyn Bridge my husband wanted to spend as much time outdoors as possible and take a nap, the nine year old wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, and the five year old wanted pizza, ice cream and cookies.?? Clearly, art galleries, museums, and fine dining would have to wait for another trip.
Here are our favorites from this trip:
- The High Line
A great way to take a walk in NYC without having to deal with traffic. The High Line is a narrow park built on a disused elevated railroad. It is beautiful, and green and full of cool things to do for kids and adults, and a very good idea on trash day.
- Shakespeare’s Garden
I love Shakespeare’s garden, it is my favorite part of Central park. There are the beautiful flowers, the winding walk, the little castle at the top, where the nine year old can pretend to be Rapunzel, and the views across the park. What’s not to like?
- Union Square Pigeon Lady
Union Square has a great farmer’s market, and a really cool playground (more on that later), but the coolest thing by far on Union Square is the lady with the pigeon installation. She makes the pigeons and the pizza slices they are eating out of felt, it’s beautiful and a little surreal, and makes me smile.
- The Sky Line
However you approach New York city, it’s skyline makes you stop and gasp. In fact, it is impossible for me to enter the city without playing a musical backdrop. This time it was Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, but if I were entering via the Verrazano bridge, it would have to be the Soprano’s theme. The city is just so damn iconic.
- Being a tourist
I normally do things a little off the beaten track, and avoid big touristy attractions. However, my daughter reeeaaally wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, so we took a ferry there, and visited Ellis Island afterwards, and got a bit emotional about it all. She was majestic, it was a lot of fun; sometimes it’s good to be a tourist.
- The Playgrounds
Oh…my…god. The playgrounds in NYC are amazing, so much better than DC playgrounds. I consider myself a bit of a playground expert, a connoisseur if you will. If there was such a job as ‘Playground Expert’ I would apply for the post. My kids and I tested out a great many playgrounds in NYC (which is why we never got to see the Brooklyn Bridge in the end). NYC playgrounds don’t just consist of the usual swing set, formulaic play set with slide and bridge, and sand box (I’m looking at you, DC playgrounds). Each playground was totally different from the last, and they didn’t ‘suggest’ what kids should do. There were big domes, spirals, nets, wobbling sticks, and ropes that could be played with in multiple ways, presenting so many more creative possibilities to children. Even the public school playgrounds we saw were more open and non-linear than what my kids were used to, they were in heaven.
I can’t wait for my next trip. See you soon, Brooklyn Bridge!