Trip Diary: NYC in Winter with Teens

Trip Diary: NYC in Winter with Teens

We made our third family trip to NYC this winter.  It was our first time visiting in the winter, and was a much different than our previous warmer visits. Unfortunately, my cell phone disappeared from my pocket at La Guardia for our return trip, and with it went all of the photos I took.

How we got there:

We flew from DFW to La Guardia, and used Uber to get from the airport to our hotel. It was snowing when we arrived and we had lots of luggage to hold all the extra layers we needed for cold weather–I did not want to deal with all of that and the subway!

Once we stashed everything in our hotel, we got a 7-day subway pass for the rest of the week.

Where we stayed:

Home2 Suites, Long Island City, Queens

This is our second time staying at this hotel. It is a short block from the nearest subway station and only a couple of subway stops from Manhattan and about a 15-minute ride to Times Square and the Theatre District.

We stayed here because it is one of the few hotels in NYC with rooms for 5 people.  It also has a kitchenette and enough room that we didn’t feel stacked on top of each other.

Pros:

Reasonable cost

Room for 5

Newer, nice mid-range hotel

Close to midtown

Cons:

Few food and entertainment options within walking distance

Service was a little disappointing on this trip, we had a better experience on an earlier visit

What we did:

Because of the bitterly cold weather in NYC, we felt a lot more limited than we were on our summer visits.  We kept most of our activities indoors and tried to stick to the subway stops. I have to say I prefer New York when its warmer and you can wander the city.

Shopping:

On our first day (New Year’s Eve) we hit the Brooklyn Flea Winter Market in Industry City and Chelsea Market. These are very different vibes.

Brooklyn Flea is a flea market and mostly vintage/recycled/used goods and very hipster.  The neighborhood is a little sketchy and its about 1/3 mi. walk from the subway. This is the indoor version of the much-larger outdoor market that’s availabile in the warmer months. Brooklyn Flea includes Smorgasburg, which is the place to find all of the instagram-worthy new and trendy foods like the ramen-burger. The indoor, winter version only has a handful of food vendors, but we still managed to find plenty to sample, including the ramen burger, lamb skewers, a savory asian-inspired crepe, and a nutella pizelle.

food

Chelsea Market is more upscale/preppy in both food and shopping options.  There are more new and handcrafted items versus the vintage and recycled items at Brooklyn Flea.

Both had plenty of ready-to eat restaurants and kiosks and shops to browse.  We enjoyed both even though very different. When the weather is warm, Chelsea market is adjacent to the Highline, a lovely park built on elevated train tracks that are out of service.

Christmas Decorations and Windows:

One of the things I most looked forward two with our holiday season visit was viewing the Christmas decorations and 5th Avenue shop windows.  They did not disappoint.  Saks Fifth Avenue is right across the street from Rockefeller Center and the storefront is covered in lights set to music that ran on repeat. It was a beautiful light show, and the Snow White-themed windows were enthralling.

rockefeller center

Of course, we also stopped by the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, and Kenny and Christine went ice skating there while the rest of us were at a show.

Theatre:

The main purpose of this trip was to see Broadway shows because the twins had received tickets to Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen for their 16th birthday.  Of course, both those shows were excellent, although the girls thought some of the Hamilton cast was a little low energy.

I saw Dear Evan Hansen with them, but went to  Hello Dolly! with Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce while they were at Hamilton.  I loved both of these shows, and I still can’t stop singing Hello Dolly! Both leads were just so good.

We all saw The Play That Goes Wrong, which is a Broadway play within a play about everything that could possibly go wrong on a set.  It is fun, slapstick humor and we all enjoyed it.

We also saw the off-Broadway production Puffs, which is a Harry Potter spoof from the Hufflepuff’s perspective.  We’re all huge Harry Potter fans, and the show was entertaining enough, but I really felt like the tickets were overpriced for the production value.  It felt like the college-production that it started as.

Another highlight was the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  It’s completely touristy and cheesy, but we got a great price on tickets, and I’ve always wanted to see the Rockettes and the interior of Radio City Music Hall. The teenagers weren’t interested in this one, but younger kids would enjoy it.

Museums:

This trip we visited the Met and the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens (only a mile or so from our hotel.)

Big Bird

The Met is as amazing as you’ve heard.  It was also very, very busy and we barely scratched the surface of this enormous museum (the largest in the world.) Toward the end, we had to split up, so everyone could find their must-see pieces.

But–and I don’t know what this says about how sophisticated I am–my favorite was the Museum of the Moving Image.  They have a huge Jim Henson special exhibit and it is so much fun. Kenny and I grew up on the muppets–in the era of The Muppet Show and the Muppet movies, and it was like we just went back in time to our childhood.

The rest of the museum is good, too, although it only takes a couple of hours to get through.  We highly recommend this museum that is a little off the beaten path.

***

Overall this was a good trip. For a first trip to New York, I would definitely recommend visiting during the warmer months so that you can explore the city.

I am a 40-something lawyer and mom of 3 teenage girls. I love exploring new places, and when I can't be on the road, I'm planning my next trip. Over the years, I've learned a lot about how to travel in a pack of five. Our trips range from budget-friendly road trips with the family, to more luxurious trips for work, either solo or with my husband, Kenny.

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