She’s been here for 13 years.
All the cliches about time fit here. All of them, insert them right here: ___
We surprised our soon-to-be 13 year old with a trip to New York City in February. When the girls were little, and we were very poor, we dreamed about celebrating their official entrance into the teenage years with a surprise trip. It was a distant, far away dream, something we felt we had plenty of time to prepare for. A teenager? That is absurd.
But here we are and here she is; it wasn’t the future anymore. It was now. She was going to be a teenager.
So we booked a trip, grabbed Uncle Ricky, and took off for the Big Apple. When we dreamed about their birthday trips, we didn’t know specifics: where we would go, what we would do, what we would see. We’d let their future selves tell us.
For Ellie, her future self would be obsessed with Hamilton. So that meant we were headed to Broadway.
It was a three-day trip cut a little short due to a giant snowstorm that shut down the city and airport for 24+ hours. We landed in New York late Friday afternoon instead of early morning, but we managed to still cram in every single thing on our very full list. We went non-stop for three days, tumbling into bed each night after 16 hours of exploring and eating. Here’s what we did.
Before our trip, we bought 3-pass City Passes to do some of the touristy things at a discount. I highly recommend this pass, it was worth the price, and it was easy to make reservations online ahead of time for things we wanted to do. [They have these for many cities, and in larger increments, so if you’re traveling to a major city soon, it’s worth checking out.]
We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on West 36th Street. It was a convenient 12-15 minute walk to Broadway shows, Times Square, and tons of other stuff. We could get on the subway easily as well. The hotel had a really nice continental breakfast, it was clean, and I’d stay there again without hesitation.
Friday afternoon we ate a delicious meal at Junior’s Cheesecake and then wandered around Times Square while my brother went to a Broadway show. Times Square is super cheesy and bright and full of tourists, but Ellie loved it. It was 9:00 PM and we were tired from a long day of travel, but the city was alive and it was her first glimpse at how electric everything can be. She walked around giggling to herself all evening.
Saturday morning, we grabbed fresh coffee and bagels from Liberty Bagels then jumped on the subway to head to Central Park. We explored the freezing cold, frozen park (it never got above 25 degrees while we were in town—brrrr) until the American Museum of Natural History opened. Chris and the girls love all the Night at the Museum movies and have watched them many times. Ellie loved visiting the setting of a movie, and she got to meet Rexy! (The skeleton pictured above; he comes to life in the movie.)
Then we headed to Grand Central Station. Ellie is obsessed with baking and wants to run a bakery when she’s older, so part of our trip included stopping at any bakery we saw and sampling the offerings. She ate the best slice of chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery in the basement of Grand Central Station. After that, we rushed over to Rockefeller Center for a tour and visit to the top of the Rock. We watched people ice skating on the Plaza, shopped at FAO Schwartz, and marveled at the clear views from 70 stories up.
Afterward, we did some more shopping, visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and wandered around one of the New York City Public Library buildings. Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and Hamilton.
Ellie wanted sushi for her birthday dinner so Ricky made reservations at Sushiva before our 8 PM show. By the time we got seated at the theater, Ellie could not stop smiling. We were in the room where it happened, and she could not be more excited. The show was wonderful. I’m sure you didn’t expect that, but it was. I’m glad my brother—a fellow Broadway fan—was there to experience it with Ellie. It wouldn’t have been the same without him. After the show, we stayed by the stage door to meet the cast. This definitely put the night over the top for our girl. Best birthday ever.
Sunday morning, we headed to The High Line, got to see the Vessel at Hudson Yards, and visited Chelsea Market. We had 11:00 reservations for the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island tour so we headed down there. I imagine we’d have spent more time there if it wasn’t so cold. Ellie decided to skip the Ellis Island stop, and we made our way to Wall Street, the Fearless Girl statue, and Chinatown. We ate a late lunch, shopped, visited bakeries, and wandered the streets. Lunar New Year celebrations had been happening all weekend, so it was full of people and decorated beautifully.
To complete our NYC experience, we haggled with some local ladies over knock-off designer goods for some friends back home. We stopped in Little Italy for some cannolis to take home, then went back to the hotel to grab our bags.
We hopped on an 8 PM flight back to Indy and were home, snuggled in our beds, by midnight. Exhausted but so, so happy.