Lots of planning and preparing for our 2 night/3 day family trip to NYC during the Christmas season but in the end it was worth it all. We made some amazing memories that will last a lifetime!
We played around with dates and times to get the best flight times and price. We flew up on Saturday, December 8th and flew home on Monday, December 10th. We took the kids out of school on Monday and they were just fine with that. 🙂 We flew JetBlue and had a great experience. We found the best price through Google flights. It was a very smooth flight from Charlotte to JFK. We were served a snack and a drink free of charge. Each seat had it’s own tv (so glad we remembered to bring headphones). Our daughter’s first time flying and she loved it! They gave her a Jetblue wing sticker to remember her first flight.
Packing for a family of five can be challenging. I did a lot of research last spring before the 5 of us embarked on a Disney cruise. After scouring Pinterest and the internet I found these great packing cubes. They allow us to pack so much more in a smaller space. I bought 5 sets, each in a different color. That way we all have our own color coded bags and there’s no confusion. The set comes with a laundry bag but I have been using it for shoes. Each person gets their own color coded shoe bag. We all use the smallest bag for our toiletries. These packing cubes keep us more organized than ever before. They stack neatly inside a suitcase. We are not light packers so we did need 2 suitcases but that was all. Each person had one small carry on bag. The kids carried a small cinch sak for headphones and snacks.
We flew into JFK at lunch time. We grabbed lunch at the airport so we wouldn’t have to worry about hangry kids for a while 🙂 Yes, I said HANgry Haha! Our taxi ride was about an hour long into the city. That was the worst part of the whole trip. Four of us crammed in the backseat for an hour 🙁 Luckily we weren’t hungry on top of it.
We stayed at the Westin in Times Square. We saved money by booking through Hotwire.com. The hotel was very nice. Our room was spacious with a mini refrigerator and very comfortable beds. The concierge was very helpful. He recommended lots of good family friendly restaurants near by and offered to make reservations for us. The hotel had a restaurant so that was an option if we needed a quick meal without a long wait. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner. The location was wonderful! We could walk to almost everything, i.e. Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Central Park.
We left our bags with the bellman at the hotel since it was too early to check in and went exploring. We walked to Rockefeller Center and watched the ice skaters. We had our picture taken by the tree, outside Saks and outside Radio City Music Hall.
We headed back to the hotel to check in and get ready to go out. We grabbed a soft pretzel from a street cart on the way. We got settled in the hotel then headed back out. We had tickets to Blue Man Group at 8:00. We saved money by purchasing tickets through Groupon.com when planning our trip. Blue Man Group played at Astor Place Theatre which was 2 miles from our hotel. We did not plan on walking the whole way but we got caught up in all the sites and found ourselves almost there. We stopped along the way and watched the Macy’s window displays.
We watched a Salvation Army worker dance and sing to New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. It was fabulous! We did not have a dinner reservation the first night. We had planned on finding a place along the way to grab dinner but most places had a long wait so we found a Chipotle near Astor Place Theatre and grabbed a quick bite (not very exciting, I know, but at least it was healthy).
Blue Man Group was a great show! There was lots of family friendly humor and music. The group interacted with the audience and kept us engaged. We all laughed and really enjoyed it. There was an opportunity after the show to have our picture taken with one of the group members which we took advantage of.
We chose not to walk the two miles back to the hotel. It was late, cold and we were tired. Right outside the theatre were taxis and limos. My husband, being the negotiator he is, got us a good deal on a limo ride back to the hotel. It was quite an experience. The limo driver ran into the back of a taxi cab. The two drivers got out and yelled at each other with arms raised for a while then parted ways. Always an adventure in NYC 🙂 Luckily no one was hurt and we made it back to the hotel without any other problems.
Since we were up late we made plans to sleep in on Sunday morning. We had a 10:00 brunch reservation at Cafe Un Deux Trois which was only a block from the hotel. I had an egg crepe and it was so delicious! The atmosphere was very festive with all the decorations. We all enjoyed our meal.
After brunch we headed to Central Park for some ice skating. Ice skating in Central Park was half the cost of ice skating at Rockefeller Center. The line was long but moved very quickly. We had a very enjoyable day! The kids and I had so much fun ice skating! Bob watched, took pictures and enjoyed some hot chocolate. There was a tent set up giving away free stuff so he had fun with that as well. When we got tired we took a hot chocolate break. After our session ended we took a walk through central park visiting Tavern on the Green.
Bob’s aunt, who has lived in NY for a long time, recommended we eat at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. A very fun atmosphere for kids. They do not take reservations so we wanted to be there by 4:00 to wait in line. We started heading that way. We found a gorgeous church along the way and had to stop for some pictures.
We got to Ellen’s Stardust Diner and there was a long line. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait very long. They came out looking for a party of 5 and pulled us out of line. At Stardust the wait staff all sing and dance on tables while you eat. You get dinner and a show. The food was good. It was diner food so nothing fancy but perfect for the kids. Bob and I split a delicious salad with goat cheese and a yummy blue cheese burger. We all shared a few milkshakes as well.
After dinner we went back to the hotel to change clothes and get ready for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at 8:00. We purchased these tickets ahead of time through Groupon.com as well.
On the way to the show we stopped for a night time picture with the tree.
Then headed to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. What an amazing show it was! I highly recommend it for all ages. It is such a special Christmas show. If you are not in the Christmas spirit before you walk through their doors you certainly will be when you leave. Our seats were pretty good, orchestra level in the middle. Groupon really came through for us on this trip. Cameras were not aloud during the show so I got a couple of pictures outside and one before the show started. Santa stuck around after the show for pictures but we were exhausted by then and I knew it would be a very long line.
That completed our second day in NYC. We passed the Tonight Show and walked through Times Square on our way back to the hotel. I snapped a couple of pictures of the new years eve ball. It is much smaller than it looks on TV.
The boys all wanted to go to The Today Show the next morning. After staying up late I knew our daughter would not enjoy getting up super early so us girls decided to sleep in and let the boys go.
They made it onto the plaza and made a sign. They saw several celebrities that morning. They saw lots of the Today Show cast and even Dr. Oz. He had a segment on the show that morning and they ran into him when he was leaving.
After the show they grabbed some pastries from a bakery near our hotel and brought them back to the room to share. I called the front desk and was able to get a late check out at 1:00 pm at no additional charge. We went out to explore NYC one more time. We took some pictures in Times Square.
We walked back over to 5th Avenue and Rockefeller Center to get in line for FAO Schwarz. Since the iconic toy store reopened it’s doors in November after 3 years the line to get in has been wrapped around the building. While waiting in line a few of us walked across the street to the Today Show. We tried to get on TV one more time 🙂
We finally got in FAO Schwarz and really enjoyed walking around. We stood in line to walk across the big piano and the line attendant took our picture.
The kids asked to stop in the Nintendo store next.
Then it was time to say goodbye to New York City. 🙁 We started to walk back to our hotel and got a big surprise! Walking right beside us was Hoda Kotb!!! I was so super excited to see her. I asked Bob to take a picture of her and she overheard me. She offered to take a selfie with us. She could not have been nicer! What a sweet lady she is! I was so happy even my daughter said she has never seen me that excited 🙂
It was a fabulous way to end our trip! We crammed as much as we could into our short stay in Manhattan but it was an amazing vacation! There is always something fun to do in New York City. We will definitely be back!!!
A couple of things I highly recommend are: Pack some hand warmers like these.
I meant to put some in our suitcase but completely forgot. It would have been nice to have one in each of our coat pockets. Also, carry a backpack or cinch sak with snacks and drinks for the little ones (and big ones too). We did a whole lot of walking in the city and it was nice to have a snack on hand when hunger striked.
To see everything I wore while visiting NYC you can read my blog post here.
I would love to hear your tips and recommendations for visiting NYC and/or tips for vacationing with a family. Please share below and thanks for stopping by!