Teenagers - it's hard to get them to settle down. Our family was going in so many different directions this summer, that we didn't have time to do a formal vacation, so we did a "Staycation" in our own back yard (not literally -- we don't have a back yard.) We decided to play New York City Tourist and we booked a hotel room a few blocks from our apartment, at the Sheraton in Times Square. Here's a bit about our adventure.
We had to set some parameters: 1) Kate is on crutches, so we have to be able to take a cab wherever we need to go, or just stay close. 2) What do tourists do? That was the question we asked ourselves. We vetoed wearing "I love NY" t-shirts (way too touristy) and riding the double-decker tour bus (not enough time) 3) We only had 3-days/2-nights to explore and 4) Everyone gets to do at least one thing they want, and the rest of us have to go along.
It turns out that you can do a lot in a couple of days in and around time square.
We split up for the first couple of hours -- Glen and Kate headed over to Saks Fifth Avenue to do some window shopping, and Dash and I went over to Toys R Us in Times square to reminisce about the scary dinosaur, and vote on our favorite car to ride in ferris wheel.
We met back at the hotel to plan dinner. Dash got to choose our meal for the evening, and he opted for Halal food. We read a couple of reviews, and scouted out the competing Halal Guys on 6th Avenue and 53rd street, and finally settled on the food cart on the east side of 5th. We were not disappointed. What could be better than rice and hot chicken in a pita, topped with lettuce and white garlic sauce? Yum!
Our big splurge was on tickets to Pippin. The show was near and dear to our hearts because Dash played the part of the fairy godfather in the 1st grade musical, and he sang a solo of "Magic to Do" from Pippin. The show is incredibly inventive -- the combination of Broadway performers and Cirque de Soleil acrobats made this an incredibly lively evening.
The next morning, Dash and I got up at 5:30 am to head down to Dominque Ansel Bakery to stand on line for a Cronut and some other pastries. (See our post on the Cronut.) Glen got up at 6:30 to go stand on the rush line to get tickets for Once the Musical for Kate and Dash. We had already seen it, and thought the kids would love it. We let Kate sleep in -- hobbling around the city on crutches is pretty tiring! While Dash and I chatted with the people on the Cronut line, Glen made friends with three young men behind him -- they were art students who had recently graduated from BYU Idaho. What are the odds? I dropped Dash back at the hotel so he and Kate could eat breakfast, and I took Glen his Cronut. Across the street from the Once rush line was the Pippin rush ticket line. The guys behind Glen were interested in seeing Pippin, so I walked across the street and spoke to the first person on line for tickets and asked him what time he got there -- 4:30 am, and this was his 30th time! Ok, that's a die-hard fan!
Back to the hotel, and we all showered and got ready for the day. We watched Iron Man 3 on TV while we took turns getting ready. By the time we were all dressed for the day, it was time to take the subway uptown to Harlem to Red Rooster restaurant. It was a little bit of a rainy/overcast day, so american comfort food was perfect. I opted for several appetizers instead of a main course -- cornbread, deviled eggs, and chili soy glazed wings, which I shared. The deviled eggs and the cornbread were both a big hit! Kate had Steak Frites with parmesan fries (yum!), Dash had the Red Line Burger, and Glen opted for the Tandoori Salmon. None of us went for Helga's meatballs with lingonberries -- it seemed a little too out of place with the rest of the food, but represents the Swedish cuisine of the chef's adoptive mother.
During the afternoon, Kate had a massage at the hotel spa, while Glen and Dash went over to Rock Center to scope out the Nintendo Store (and buy a Mario t-shirt for Dash!) For dinner, we picked up a couple of salads from a local deli and ate them in our hotel. I dropped Kate and Dash at the Once theater, and met Glen back in the hotel room where we rented The Internship movie. We had quite a few laughs together, then we went back to the theater to pick up the kids.
We slept in late the next morning and did some window shopping in the hotel, and decided to split up for lunch. Dash and I went to DBGB (stands for Daniel Boulud Good Burger) and Dash had, guess what? a burger! He went traditional, with the Yankee Burger, and I couldn't talk him into the Piggie Burger or Frenchie Burger. I went for the summer squash soup and a chop-chop salad with ginger-sesame dressing. Dash is a big fan of anything with apples, so he want for the apple tart, and I got to taste it.
Glen and Kate dressed up and went to Le Bernardin for lunch. Here's a secret - the Lounge area of the restaurant is more casual, and has a Prix-Fixe lunch that is amazing! And if you want to feel really good about eating out, you should be aware that $5 of every lunch menu in the Lounge is donated to City Harvest to help provide emergency food services to those in need in NYC. The restaurant is famous for it's amazing fish dishes -- Glen and Kate were not disappointed! The "barely cooked" salmon was a highlight of the lunch menu, but the summer sorbets were also big hit.
We all met up at the hotel again so we could pack up and check out, then we headed home (Glen walked, I took Dash, Kate and the crutches home in a cab.)
We laughed about our short "trip" -- 3 days/2 nights -- but we all felt like we had some great bonding time as a family. We realized in these few days that there were still many things to do and see in our own backyard, and we liked doing them together. I think there may be some more "staycations" in our future!