Christmas in New York City

I’m not entirely sure what reaction I was expecting from our young boys during their first visit to the Big Apple but their actual reaction exceeded my expectations. We had an amazing 36-hour trip in NYC and I wanted to highlight our four favorite family-friendly activities there (and an over-rated activity that we think you can skip):

Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center

I have never felt more like I was living in a Hallmark Christmas movie until Landon and I hit the ice in Rockefeller Center for the very first time. The tree wasn’t even yet in place but Christmas carols played, smiles were on skaters faces from ear to ear and I will never forget the feeling of looking up at the massive buildings and the excitement we felt. Landon may not have professional ice skating in his future, but this one-on-one memory for just the two of us is frozen in my hearts. 

A Meal at Papillion Bistro & Bar

We stumbled upon Papillion Bistro & Bar walking from Times Square to Central Park and I am so glad that we did. As I walked inside to check out the menu, I literally felt like I was walking into a real-life gingerbread house. Every square inch of the restaurant was decorated for Christmas and it was absolutely breath-taking. We were seated next to one of the several lit Christmas trees and we had the coziest, yummiest meal. We let being completely full, both literally and with Christmas cheer.

Rock Climbing in Central Park

I’m not sure that I ever saw the beauty of Central Park like I did on this visit with our young boys. They both were let loose to run and explore and were filled with immense joy to find a huge rock to climb in Central Park. Although it was a dirt-filled part of our trek there, having to chase our boys up the rock to keep them safe helped us score one of my favorite family pictures ever with amazingly scenic views of the city.

“Mom, it’s really her!” – Visiting the Statue of Liberty

Landon, who is in first grade, mentioned to me a month ago that he’d really like to visit the Statue of Liberty one day. And while it’s a ways out of the city itself, we decided to make the trek there. We chose the 9:00am tour time and with the help of a kind neighbor here in Florida scored tickets to climb to the Statue of Liberty‘s pedestal. It was a really cool educational experience and actually much easier to navigate to from the city than I expected. Aim to get on one of the first ferry rides to avoid crowds! Also, be sure to stop into the Visitor’s Center to bring home a Jr. Ranger booklet which can be mailed in to receive a child’s Statue of Liberty National Park badge!

While we could not find a Go and Do Good™ hotel to stay at in NYC, we would recommend Freehand New York due to the their bunk bed arrangements. Our boys always seem to sleep best when they’re not in the same bed and so we ended up well rest (albeit wound up and excited) and ready to trek around the city the following day.

Trip Tips:

Avoid Times Square. For us it was over commercialized, busy, unsatisfying and just too far removed from some of the real gems in NYC.

Carb load while you’re there! Bring on all of the soft pretzels and bagels that you can muster.

Skip the carriage ride at Central Park and hit the ground running on your feet. If you have time, consider allotting for an experience at the Central Park Zoo.

At Papillion Bistro & Bar, order off of their seasonal cocktail list. I tried the Pumpkin Spice Old-Fashioned and it lived up to its name!

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