We visit New York often. We moved away in 2003 but it will always be “home”. SJ’s first time was at six months. It was spring, and we were itching to get out of the house after one of the heaviest snowy winters in history. It was our first real “trip” since she was born so I was over-prepared, over-packed and overly-hyper.
A First for Everything
Leaving suburbs for the city brought about many firsts for her – first Korean restaurant, taxi, hotel, food hall, Magnolia bakery, museum, High Line. She was still napping twice a day and eating at regular intervals. Of course, the biggest first was for me – first time in New York with a baby.
This city that we could navigate with our eyes closed when it came to restaurants, shops, galleries, wine bars now became a city we had to discover. Playgrounds, bakeries, public restrooms, kid-friendly restaurants and stroller-friendly streets were new considerations.
Slow and Stroll
There’s no question a six month old will slow you down. We actually sat at a Bryant Park table watching the world whiz by instead of being one of the foot traffickers ourselves always on the go pushing our way through the crowds. We laid out a picnic blanket in the Great Lawn at Central Park with a Whole Foods feast, tactile toys and bubbles. We had Korean fried chicken take-out accompanied with a bottle of something red for dinner while SJ slept back at the hotel. The next four nights were more or less the same routine. It wasn’t the ideal NYC trip but we made it happen in our own way.
New York’s Finest
Fast forward to the present. SJ’s now three and a half. We just returned from her tenth trip to the city.
Since then many firsts have become routines. I’ve got a handle on the best playgrounds within various ‘hoods, best kid-friendly ‘grown-up’ restaurants, summer kid concerts, street festivals and museums. We’ve stayed in Midtown East and West, the Upper West Side and Tribeca. SJ’s a seasoned subway rider, struts the sidewalks, and knows Umma shops for all things Japanese while Daddy buys wine.
I love sharing my favorite places and things with her and seeing them through her eyes. She’s old enough to form her own opinions about certain things and freely expresses her dislike or humor at buildings, people, food and shops. Her own exuberant personality and fierce independence lends itself to being her own confident ‘lil New Yorker. She thrives off the energy and thrill like I do, and yes, I take some urban pride in seeing her city-side emerge.
New York State of Mind
For me, New York is like breathing in fresh air. As soon as I hit pavement, I know that I’m back in my comfort zone. If that sounds crazy to you, I respectfully agree to disagree. If you get it, then, cool. I often think I’m my best self when I’m traveling and discovering something new, but I’m at my most pure and honest self when I’m in New York. I like to think SJ feeds off that truth. Maybe it’s true what they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As long as my tree is the Big Apple, we’re all good.
If any of you want to learn more details on my picks for NYC family-friendly restaurants, playgrounds and activities, hit me up here!