What happens when your daughter has watched you travel to New York City for work, repeatedly, for the last two years? She begs you to take her along and meet the famous city, of course!
Last week, my oldest daughter turned 10. That means, that I’ve been a mother for a decade! I cannot believe it. Besides a few more wrinkles and grey hairs, I’ve gained parental wisdom and life perspective; something that I never understood what it meant until I became a parent. It all sounds so de-ja-vu, considering this is a phrase my mother told me often. You know, the “when you become a parent, you’ll understand.” And I did.
Instead of a party, or gifts, or a celebration of any kind, I offered my daughter a trip to New York City for her birthday. Without hesitation, she jumped at the opportunity, and I am so glad that she did. As you can imagine, and will soon see, this trip was much more than touristing around New York; it was an opportunity to spend time one-on-one with my daughter, something we don’t get to do much -you know, with other kids, activities, being a full-time working mom, and life!
What I loved about this trip is how we were able to explore New York City as tourists and as locals. We stayed at the Hilton New York Midtown location, the hotel I have stayed at for the last two years; since in my humble opinion, it has the best location for everything I wanted to do. Since I’ve stayed at that hotel over 30 nights in the last two years, the place seems very welcoming to me.
The same staff greets me at check-in (Andrew and one of the hotel managers know me by name) and the same goes to the staff in the restaurant, where I sit in my favorite corner and they anticipate my requests for two pieces of gluten-free toast. And, when they found out it was her birthday, they sent us chocolate covered strawberries to our room! She loved that.
Having my daughter watch how I experienced our stay like one of those people who live at a hotel and knows the staff was quite interesting. She understood how the familiarity of the hotel and the staff made me feel like a local and being at a home away from home.
To explore the city, I used two New York CityPASSes, which allowed us to skip the ticket lines and save around 40% on the attractions we wanted to see. Our first stop was the World Trade Center Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. I usually try go visit the Memorial every couple of times I am in New York for work, mostly to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the event and to those that continue to fight for our freedom every day.
It was quite an interesting experience this time, as I had to step into my 10-year-old’s innocent shoes while I re-told the events and explained how the event changed the world so many of us lived in. As she began to understand the gravity of the situation, she hugged me tight and prayed with me at the memorial.
Shortly thereafter, we rode the subway back to midtown and changed into our finest tea time attire for our Eloise Tea Party at the Plaza Hotel. It was everything a young girl can imagine a tea party to be, filled with tea sandwiches, tea cookies and cupcakes, pink lemonade, and tea! It’s been years since my girl and I have sat and sipped fabulous tea in fancy teacups together. It used to be one of our favorite pastimes when she was younger while her brother napped.
On our way back to the hotel, we shopped a little more. We enjoyed ice cream cones from the ice-cream truck around the block, went to the American Girl store to fix her doll’s hair, and shopped -some more.
That same evening, we headed back out to Rockefeller Center to see the city at night from Top of the Rock. There is something very magical about looking at New York City at night, almost like a Christmas village lit up and seen from above.
Spent, after walking miles in one day, we walked back to the hotel recapping our day and excitedly talking about the activities we were going to do the very next day.
One of the things I loved about this particular trip is that I kept the itinerary a secret from my daughter until that very morning. This, as you can imagine, added to the excitement of the trip. Next on our list was either the Statue of Liberty or a Sightseeing Cruise. Since it was Memorial Day weekend and some celebrations were going on in Ellis Island and around the Statue of Liberty, we opted for the cruise. I’m so glad we did! The cruise offers the most incredible views of the city, the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan is breath-taking, and of course, you cruise under the Brooklyn Bridge.
On the way back, we walked through Times Square and took the iconic photo. The only place I noticed my small town girl feel at a little unease was while at Times Square. The area is flooded with tourists, regardless the time you hit it, and it can feel a little overwhelming. Thankfully, that was not a problem for this mom at all. We quickly detoured and headed to the Empire State Building.
The Empire State Building offers my favorite view from above, since I prefer the unrestricted view of lower Manhattan and the other burrows to Central Park and upper Manhattan. This is another place I’m glad I had pre-purchased tickets (through our passes) since it saved our already tired feet 20-30minutes of waiting in line.
With our poor little souls tired from our endless explorations, we ordered pizza to go and brought it to our hotel room, where we ate pizza in bed and watched television (something we’d never do at home -ever!).
The next morning, we continued our adventure by meeting up with my daughter’s online friends Tristin and Tyler (also my Attorney’s sons) where we went to the park, played, and ate lunch.
What is there not to love about this magical adventure when you get to spend time with your daughter one-on-one hanging out, like girls do, and celebrating our decade together?
Have you ever taken a vacation with one of your kids for the opportunity to get to know them better?