Friday, January 07, 2011

Our NYC Adventure by Robin Gorman Newman

                                                           (Rockefeller Center)

What a fabulous holiday week we had.

Originally, when I knew that Seth would be off from school for over a week, I cringed.  We didn't have any particular plans (many of his friends went away, so play dates weren't an option), and in light of the impending snow storm, getting around via car wasn't going to be easy.

So, I came up with the idea of spending two nights in NYC.  I spent days making calls and combing the web for room availability at a half way decent price.  Just when I thought things were not meant to be, I turned up a comfortable Jr. Suite at the hip and welcoming Roger Smith Hotel (a good choice.....would love to stay again one day) on 48th and Lexington, and our plans started falling into place.  That was until I came down with a bad cold, and NY got hit with one of the worst blizzards in years.  I debated what to do, but the room was non-refundable, and we were so psyched to be in Manhattan, that we went for it....and it turned out to be a great decision.

My sister, who lives in the city, met us upon arrival at the hotel, and we later hooked up with my good friend Alli who also spent the two nights with us....crashing on the queen pullout sofa bed with Seth.  Marc joined us for dinner and slept in the room, but was otherwise working.

I've stayed in the city before, though it has been some time.  Seth had not as yet stayed in the city.  And, Alli, used to live in the city years ago, but hadn't stayed recently.

It proved to be an adventure for all of us.  We covered a huge amount of territory, and thankfully had good boots that helped do the trick.  Manhattan was indeed a mess.  Mounds and mounds of snow.  Flooding on street corners covered in slush up to your ankles.  Crowds of people from all over who flocked there for both the holiday and new year. 

Despite the challenges, there was an energy that was contagious, and it felt good.

(Inside THE RIDE bus with host Jackie)

The first day, we headed over the Rockefeller Center to see the tree and ice skating.  Then took in the Nintendo and Lego stores, at Seth's request.  We had not bad fast food Indian for lunch in the area and wandered over to Bryant Park.  Had never seen their ice skating rink before (quite beautiful...and free), and the outdoor (heated) shops were still open from the holidays, and lots of fun to peruse.  Seth adored Times Square and all the touristy shops selling NYPD and FDNY merchandise...his favorite.  And, there were loads of fire trucks and police cars around in general, due to the messy and congested state of the city, and Seth got a kick out of all the commotion.  At 6PM, we took THE RIDE, and it was loads of interactive fun and a unique experience....chockful of jokes, singing, doing the wave, sightseeing and more.

THE RIDE’s specially-designed custom vehicles are the tallest allowed by federal law on city streets. The bus is fitted with stadium-style seating that orients riders sidways to look through massive windows, and two on-board hosts banter comedically as they travel through the streets of midtown Manhattan, commenting on New York’s history and its iconic sites and structures, and giving insider secrets about the city – all while incorporating actors and performers along the route who interact with the vehicle and its passengers. External speakers and exterior lighting allow the on-board hosts to make everyone on the street part of the experience. Surprises show up all along the route, featuring sites from the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal to Times Square and Columbus Circle.

A full schedule for THE RIDE is available at Tickets are on sale now, available three ways: online at; by phone at (866) 299-9682; and in person at THE RIDE Box office located at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, 1535 Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets. To save $5/ticket, use the code RCGD when ordering.

Our dinner spot after THE RIDE was the nearby Havana Central.  Good, well-priced Cuban food. 

(Seth outside Pee Herman on Broadway)

Day #2 - We ate at our new favorite local coffee shop/restaurant Raffles (the best grilled turkey/swiss), hit Daffy's for some quick discount shopping, popped into the campy Pop Tarts World store on 42nd Street and swung over to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre to see Pee Herman on Broadway.  Total fun!  Pee Wee is a hoot.  You either love him or find him annoying...but I get a kick out of do many, clearly.  He had tons of groupies, and the audience was just as many, if not more adults, than kids.  The set was detailed and vibrant, and the show was well put together.  It was Seth's first Broadway experience, and I was excited to share it with him.  We then paraded up Fifth Avenue to check out all the illuminated holiday store windows (Sak's was a standout) , swung down 57th Street (saw the huge hanging Swarovski crystal), hit Borders and Bloomingdale's, and met Marc for Greek food. at Avra (pricey, but good, if even just for appetizers).

        (Seth creating at Scribble Press)

Day #3 - Brunch again at Raffles, then the subway up to 86th Street.  Shopped around, and had lunch at the trendy Shake Shack.  Alli said the burger was very good.  I enjoyed something called Concrete.....dense blended frozen chocolate custard packed with brownie chunks.  And, Seth liked his chocolate shake.  Shopped briefly around upscale Madison Avenue, then hit Scribble Press, the "make-your-own-book" store on the upper east side.  Scribble Press is fun for adults and kids. There are two NYC locations and one in CA.  They host workshops, parties, and you can just drop in and create a book that gets printed/bound on the spot (allow 1/2 hour for that, and be conscious of closing time).  They also sell some unique, affordable gift items, including an at-home book creating kit.  Definitely worth a visit.

Hated to see our city sojourn come to an end.  It taught me that you don't have to travel far to have fun.  You can find it, or even create it, in your own backyard, if you take the time.  Folks have asked me how I knew what to do in the city.  It's not hard to find out.  One source I like a lot is the magazine TIME OUT NY KIDS. I'm an avid subscriber, and often their ads feature discount offers, so a good monthly publication to read.

I look forward to future stays in the city with Seth, and we're considering tackling downtown during his February school break.  There are more Manhattan adventures for the taking, and I'm grateful for the quality time we get to spend when he's off from school.

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