Our First NYC Trip
For some bizarre reason, we decided we needed to make out first family trip to New York City over the Thanksgiving weekend. I mean, it sounds great in theory. We get to witness the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the holiday shopping season is just getting started, and The City is all decked out with Christmas decorations.
Now, just to be clear, neither of us enjoy big crowds, but like everyone else we had grown up watching the parade on TV every year and at this time we were just 6 hours or so from New York. Why not travel there on the one weekend when New York shoves a couple million MORE people into the city?
If you’ve never been to New York, let me just tell you that it is everything you think it’s going to be, and more. It’s big, it’s crowded, the traffic is insane, and the lines are long. That being said, the entire time we were in NYC, there was not one time we felt unsafe. All the people we met were generally friendly and most were downright helpful. Seeing this city should be on everyone’s bucket list!
On Thanksgiving morning, we were up at the unholy hour of 4 am to get to the parade route before everyone else—or so we thought. We actually arrived downtown while it was still dark to masses of thousands of people and blocked roads. It was freezing cold that morning; one of the coldest days of the year actually, but the anticipation and excitement from the crowds were palpable.
One of the first things we saw was the massive amount of police officers getting ready for the day:
People were everywhere, getting their prime viewing spots reserved for their families, milling about having coffee, eating, and generally having a grand time. We walked and stood around for nearly 3 hours before the parade even began!
Once the floats started coming through, it was almost enough to forget just how cold we were :).
We have made watching this parade an annual tradition since we’ve been married. We typically get the Thanksgiving turkey started then start putting out Christmas decorations as we watch the parade on TV. You don’t realize just how long that parade is until you’re standing there in the freezing temps but the time flies by.
After all that standing, we needed to walk! And walk we did….all over New York City! Of course what is a trip to NYC, without eating in the famous diner from Seinfeld.
Granted, it was only used for exterior shots but there it is an iconic place. In reality, there are very few places in Manhattan that have’t appeared on TV or in the movies at some point. It’s a TV/movie buff dream come true and there are even guided tours you can take that specialize in showing you these sites.
Right after the parade, we headed over to Central Park and the Central Park Zoo. It’s a small extension of the Bronx Zoo and was really cool. After that, we set out for a stroll through the park and gawking over the sites along the Upper West Side.
One interesting thing we discovered while strolling through the park were all the park benches.There are nearly 9000 benches throughout the park (yes, it is THAT big). Of those, over 4000 have been “adopted” and have interesting plaques on them. Adopting a park bench will set you back $10,000 but it’s an interesting way to memorialize someone or a special event.
The American Museum of Natural History is another worthwhile stop while in the city. Give yourself time to maneuver through the crowds and take time to explore the many dioramas. We could publish a separate post about the all the cool museums this city has to offer but we found this one to have the widest appeal for the whole family.
While we were in NYC, we had to go see the Statue of Liberty. After all, what is a trip to New York City without seeing Lady Liberty?
The statue sits on an island in New York harbor. The only way to get out there is via ferry service. The statue is managed by the National Park Service. They provide an excellent guide that you should check out before trying to get out there.
On a holiday weekend, the lines to get out to the Statue of Liberty can be quite long, but rest assured, those lines move fairly quickly. Being New York City, there’s a good possibility some street entertainers will show up to help you pass the time. Many of these folks survive by putting on impromptu shows.
While we were there, the lines were really long but the ferry service is very prompt and we were quickly ushered onto the ferry to the island. Once you are dropped off at the island, you can stay as long as you would like-as long as you don’t miss that last ferry back!
Once you are done, you can hop on another ferry which will take you over to Ellis Island to see the Immigration building and museum.