This was the first year we struggled to decide what to get Liam for Christmas. Even he couldn’t think of anything he to tell Santa he wanted this year. Because we all had all of the “stuff” we needed, we decided to take Liam to New York City for a weekend. When Mike and I were down there last summer to see Hamilton, we purchased a small “I love NY” teddy bear to wrap up and give Liam.
When we gave him his gift on Christmas, the four months before the trip seemed like years. As life flies by, it arrived in a flash! We took the train, which was so much easier than trying to drive and equal in cost when factoring in the cost of parking a car for three days in the city. It was a comfortable, three-hour ride.
Liam was in awe as soon as we exited Penn Station and stepped foot in the city. He loved the buildings. Our first stop was McGee’s, the bar that inspired McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother. It was the only place Mike specifically mentioned wanting to visit, so we made sure to get there as soon we arrived, which worked out perfectly because we were starving and they hadn’t become too busy.
As we walked to the restaurant, Liam was able to see Times Square for the first time. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t too busy. After lunch, we walked by Rockefeller Center on our way towards the subway to check in at our hotel. After a small, panic-inducing mix-up at the first hotel, which was not the one we where we made a reservation, we arrived at the correct hotel and settled in for a little bit. There was nothing scarier than hearing they did not have a room for us. Because there are three Holiday Inns in a small area, they said it happens pretty frequently.
After our break, we headed towards Battery Park. I could not wait for Liam to ride the Seaglass Carousel. We walked around, making our way to the 9/11 Memorial.
9/11 is difficult to explain to a child. We told him about a little bit about it at the airport last year. He gets the gist of it but still has many questions. He was incredibly respectful as we walked through the memorial. We stopped for pizza, providing Liam his first New York pizza experience. Like the Seaglass Carousel, it lived up to the hype!
We continued walking along the water, stopping to look at boats and the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, we admitted defeat and headed back to the hotel to crash.
The following morning, we woke up early so we could eat breakfast and head to our reservation to visit the Statue of Liberty and climb to the crown. Our timing was perfect! We got there before it was too busy, being only the third group to reach the crown that day. As I wrote yesterday, Liam was scared but managed to do it anyway. He was so glad he did! The views were amazing! We visited Ellis Island, but, again, a lot of the significance went over Liam’s head.
After leaving Liberty Island, we raced to Times Square to make sure we were there in time to see The Lion King. Mike’s folks bought us the tickets for Christmas. It was such a great surprise! The subway system is much more efficient in New York than it is in Boston; we never waited more than a few minutes for a train, and they seemed to travel much faster. In Boston, we sometimes wait fifteen minutes for trains. The MTA is a nice improvement, which brought us to Times Square with a lot of time to explore!
Times Square on a Saturday was a beast! None of us enjoy crowds and were not overly excited to spend any more time there than we had to. Liam, who is eight, could not wait to eat at the huge McDonalds! While we rarely eat fast food, I was happy he was up for a quick, cheap meal. After lunch, we explored the M&M Store, which instantly made Mike and I queasy with claustrophobia. Liam was happy but eventually got tired of being pushed around.
We made our way to The Lion King, thankful for a chance to sit for a few hours. The show was amazing! It was as great as we hoped. I am eternally grateful for such a great gift!
Liam was such a good sport through our trekking through the city that we decided to make a stop just for him at the Nintendo Store. He was in heaven! Even though we told him we weren’t buying anything, we couldn’t resist buying him a T-shirt.
Done with the crowds, we head back towards our hotel in the financial district. We found a great old pub where we had dinner. By this point, we had been going for twelve hours, walking over ten miles. Liam was tired, but holding up. (Actually, we all felt that way.) Liam asked if we could walk back to the Seaglass Carousel and ride it at night. How often do we get here? When would we be here again? Knowing it was a gamble with an exhausted child, we took the risk.
It was one of my favorite moments of the trip! At night, the Seaglass Carousel was even more beautiful! We reached the sweet part of the day where the crowds had gone home. We didn’t have to wait to ride the carousel again. We walked along the water, admiring the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline illuminated. It was a beautiful way to end the evening, bringing our total daily distance walked to twelve miles.
By Sunday, we were exhausted. We went downstairs to eat breakfast, then went back to our room until checkout, watching The Discovery Channel and lounging. When it was time to leave, we headed one last time down to Battery Park and wandered around. We discovered a cookie spot that offers warm cookie delivery until 3am! I am a suburban girl at heart, but knowing I could have warm cookies brought to me at all hours of the night might make me rethink my position about cities. We tried our best to explain Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to Liam. While he didn’t fully comprehend the significance, he was happy to see the bull. We stopped to visit Hamilton’s grave.
A childhood friend lives in New York. I was delighted we had the chance to catch up Sunday afternoon. She suggested meeting at Chelsea Market and walking the High Line. These were two events we never would have known about on our own. Chelsea Market was interesting but crowded. Liam enjoyed some gelato while we waited. The High Line was beautiful! I am so glad that we explored it, giving us a chance to enjoy the city and catch up with Liz.
The weekend was better than I hoped! Liam was an absolute trooper! He walked and stayed with us and made all sorts of safe decisions, making it easier for Mike and me to relax a bit. We made a point of giving him time to be a kid, letting him chase pigeons in a park or burn some energy on a playground. While Liam is not exactly a traveler; he followed along with us great!
This weekend may begin a tradition of weekend trips in lieu Christmas gifts. Liam asked if we could do it again next year, choosing a different city to explore. When we began discussing Philadelphia as a possible destination, Liam asked us to stop talking because he wants it to be a surprise. I am thankful that we were able to travel together. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a great family tradition!