NYC: The Playground Tour

highlineplaygroundPART TWO:

Day Three Saturday: One lesson from our trip. The city is crazy on the weekend. Had I to do it again, I would have flown in Sunday evening and returned on Saturday. Getting into our hotel from Brooklyn by car was madness. We stayed at the Westin Grand Central, which was a lovely and very clean. Our room on the 38th floor had incredible views on the Chrysler Building, the evening skyline was magical. We were a very short walk from Grand Central, but on Saturday it was packed with people. We hopped on our subway headed downtown to Chelsea, one stop in we realized we were on the wrong train going the wrong direction. I’m told this is easy to do, so I don’t feel like a total subway failure. We exited and started over. Once going to the correct direction we made our way into Chelsea, there we found another playground. Little Man was off and played until his face was red and his back sweaty. It was difficult tearing him away from his new best friends. We walked to the Chelsea Market, which I am sure is lovely, but was packed elbow to elbow, so I’ll have to try again next time on a weekday. Within the market we headed to my new favorite Mexican place (which is saying a lot being a California girl) Los Tacos. I’m swooning and salivating just thinking about these tacos. SO.AMAZING. After practically licking our plates clean we climbed up to the Highline. Again, so amazing. Walking through the city, weaving between buildings, not competing with traffic, and again tons of great areas for the kids to play. At the end we caught a bus, which took us through Times Square (in my opinion the best way to see Times Square), and headed back to the hotel.

Day Four Sunday: We started the day with brunch at Olio e Piu in The West Village. Their food was yummy, the atmosphere lovely and surprisingly kids friendly. One thing to note, restaurants do not serve alcohol on Sundays in NYC until 12pm, so mimosas were out. After our mimosa-free breakfast we took the subway to Union Station. We filled up bags of candy at Dylan’s Candy Bar. I bartered for super cute purse, which I scored for $15 much to the chagrin of its seller. There we unleashed the kids to play in Union Square Park until they were again sweaty and smiling. Almost the whole playground in made out of that rubbery mesh material, even the baby had a blast playing, until she ate sand…

By mid-day we made our way to the southern east side of Central Park. Little Man climbed rocks and the baby cooed at all the little dogs passing by. We ate ice cream from street carts and played until dirt filled out fingernails. Exhausted, we grabbed a bus down 5th ave toward the library. We got there right as it closed, as the website said they were open until 6pm, but in reality they closed at 5pm. A change in program wouldn’t stop us, so we walked behind the library to Bryant Park. There we enjoyed cocktails while the kids slept, when they awoke we walked down to the Shake Shack for burgers, which happened to be right behind our hotel.

Day Five Monday: We took an uptown train to the American Museum of Natural History. The museum is fantastic as they offer a suggested retail for entrance. You can pay the full amount or whatever you please. As out-of-town visitors we felt it reasonable to pay the full amount, but if traveling on a major budget you can pay much less. We spent the first half of our day inside the museum, once the kids got antsy we walked across the street to the westside of Central Park. We careened up the paths to Belvedere Castle and took in the views from its balconies. Afterward, we found the nearest playground, once more the kids played until we feared sunburn and forced them to seek shade. We walked to the southwest end of the park and took the subway back to Bryant Park. We briefly began walking through the library but left when the baby started screaming, no sooner did we begin walking home that she fell asleep in her ergo, so we tucked into a small restaurant for a beverage, an ode to the many “cocktail hours” I’d enjoyed with my grandparents and Aunt while touring Europe as a girl, they’d sip their wine while I ate berries and drank chilled mineral water over ice. The sun began to set as we returned to Brooklyn for our last night in New York.

Back home, we found ourselves struggling to adjust. We miss the walking, the public transportation, the plethora of playgrounds, and the hum of the city. Traveling with the kids didn’t stop us from doing anything we really wanted to do, in fact it only enhanced the trip. Seeing the world from our 5-year-olds eyes was enlightening. He sees things with a level of purity I don’t remember, he plays and makes friends with strangers, he laughs loudly and is silly. I loved watching him take in the city, sitting in the subway, rubbing elbows with strangers. I loved making eye contact with people in the subway and on the street. I’d catch them flirting with the baby and her flirting back. People in the city were kind and helpful, they offered up their seats, they held doors and gave directions. Never did we once feel like outsiders, but more like guests in this incredible city, which the natives shared with grace and warmth.

I realize that our trip would be very different without the kids, we’d take in a Broadway show and have dinners out late. We’d visit the Cloisters and art galleries, and maybe even spend some real time in the library. For this season, this time, the NYC playground tour was exactly as it should be.

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