This fall, my teen daughter and I took a trip to NYC to take in all the sights and spend some quality time together. The result? The best time I could have asked for, and three days of mother daughter time that I will never forget!
Let’s talk about this daughter of mine for a moment. She hates the spotlight, so sometimes, I just have to shine the light on her for just a bit. She is a great traveling partner. Seriously! If you want to take a trip and need someone with you that can navigate the subway, figure out NY city streets without ever having been there before and negotiate the best price in Chinatown? You definitely need someone like her. Not only that, but she kept me laughing for the ENTIRE trip. If she didn’t hate being the center of attention so much I would think she would be in New York one day doing comedy. But tell her that and she will give you a look. If you have a teenage daughter, you know the look I am referring to. It can stop this mom in her tracks from continuing to compliment her. That being said, I will finish it off by saying that she was a pure delight! Funny, smart, engaging and so much fun to hang around with in this wonderful city. I mean look at her. I just love her so much.
Ok, enough about her, because if I say anymore, she might kill me. Let’s get to that trip!
We decided mid October would be a lovely time to visit and we were extremely lucky with the weather and crowds. We only had three days there, so we knew that we had to pack it in, and pack it in we did! We probably walked over thirty miles over those three days and saw everything that we could. We flew out of Chicago early in the morning on a Wednesday so we could get a good start in NY. We used Expedia to make our travel arrangements and we were very pleased. Everything we booked was very smooth, and very affordable. I would definitely use them again.
We arrived at our hotel by car service at about 11:45am. We looked at several hotels and locations in Manhattan, but decided on a reasonably priced hotel in the center of it all. You see, New York is easy to navigate, but there is a lot to see. We decided being in the middle of it all so we could go in either direction was our best bet. The Midtown/Times Square area is very touristy, very crowded and slightly dirty (the NY trash thing in the front of buildings was so different from Chicago and hard to understand!) but it really was the best location to be near it all. Plus, being able to walk to Times Square at night and see it lit up and filled with people was a moment I, or my daughter, will never forget!
We stayed at the Hampton Inn Times Square North. It was a moderate, reasonably priced hotel with very comfortable rooms and super friendly staff. The hotel was clean and the room was spacious. The hotel even offered a free breakfast which is a rarity. Overall, we could not have asked for a better hotel in such a great location. Since we arrived so early, our room wasn’t ready, but the concierge checked our bags and off we went to start our adventures! We were so lucky to be traveling with a great friend and her daughter who is like a sister to my daughter and we couldn’t wait to get started!
Our first stop was a NYC tourist must see! Ellen’s Stardust Diner. If you visit, you have to make time to come here. The food is diner style, but the entertainment is top notch. Super talented singers belt out Broadway tunes NON-STOP and it is awesome. They are good…and I mean, REALLY good and you just cannot stop watching and listening! We arrived there around 12:30 and the line was moderately long. We waited outside for about 30 minutes. The weather was mild, so it wasn’t bad at all, but if it was cold, we might not have been as happy. Keep that in mind when you are visiting. When we left around 1:30 or so, there was barely a line, so I am thinking going at off times might be a good idea. I had a Ceasar salad with chicken that was good and my daughter had a BLT wrap. Both meals were perfect to just get us started. And, like I said, you are not going for the food, you are going for the experience.
TIP: Ask to be seated on the main floor if possible. The view is great and the performers come up to your table often.
The next thing on our agenda was fitting in all of the touristy things we possibly could in the shortest amount of time! We had Theater tickets that evening, so we were sort of on a schedule. We headed to Rockefeller Center and to our surprise, they already had the ice rink up and running. It was pretty to watch to the Ice Skaters for awhile spin around the rink. We really wanted to go to the Top of The Rock which is supposed to give you an incredible view of the city, but to our dismay, when we got there to buy tickets, they were sold out until later that evening. Traveler mistake #1…we should have bought them ahead. If you want to do this, try logging on to their website and find some tickets so you don’t miss out.
We headed out to St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was an amazing sight to see. Entering in the church is free, but there are several spots to make a donation. It is one of the most breathtaking sights you will see. I took several pictures of both the inside and outside, but I don’t even want to ruin it for you by posting them all because it is so lovely you will want to see it for yourself. It is a great way to quiet your mind from all the hustle and bustle of the city and take a few minutes for yourself.
We headed off to see some iconic sights like Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, and Times Square. We visited the M&M Store which is so cheesy and touristy but I will not lie…I loved it! There is just so much to look at and see, your eyes can barely take it all in. Just walking around the city blocks around the mid-town/Times Square area is a great way to start the trip because you will see all of those things you have always only seen in the movies and on TV.
We headed back to the hotel, exhausted already, but energized by the fact that we had a fun night ahead planned. After getting ready, we met our friends down in the lobby and headed off to dinner. It was so fun for the girls to be dressed up and heading out for a night of fun in New York City, and it was fun for the moms too!
We headed out to a really good, cozy restaurant near the hotel called The Distillery. We made reservations ahead of time, knowing that we had theater tickets and not a lot of time to wait, and we were happy we did since at only 5:30, the restaurant was already buzzing. The menu was small, but looked really good and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. The staff was friendly and we were all really happy with our meals. My daughter got a Bruschetta Pasta dish that she loved, and I had this lemon chicken skillet dinner that was really amazing. I would definitely go back to visit this restaurant again, and it was really close to our hotel so it was only a quick walk.
We were excited to head over to The Gershwin Theater next for the highlight of our first day in New York. Tickets to see Wicked! We surprised the girls with this by buying tickets from home ahead of time. They had both wanted to see this play for a really long time. It did not disappoint! Not only was it a great play, but there were two actors from Disney shows that they both used to watch starring in the show, so it contributed to even more excitement! The show was amazing and we were so happy we were able to see it on Broadway!
TIP: If possible get tickets on the Balcony level in front…we had the most amazing view of the play and the tickets were much cheaper than on the main floor!
We were ready to drop into bed at this point, but we were so excited to go to Times Square at night that we had to head over. It was absolutely amazing. Seeing it all lit up in all its glory with people bustling everywhere even though it was close to 11pm on a Wednesday night was more than we could have ever dreamed. We definitely finished the night off right, and made our way back to the hotel to get some sleep before we started our next adventure in the morning.
Check out Part Two for more fun ideas for a Mother Daughter Trip to NYC!