Remember this trip that I took with my son over the summer? Well, it was my daughters turn. And we did it BIG to celebrate her 10th birthday. (By the way, I still cannot fathom how I earth she is already ten!)
I am lucky enough to have been to New York several times over the years. The first time I ever went was actually when my husband proposed (sigh). And before my life with kids, I was a jewelry buyer and got to travel to NYC several times a year for work. That being said, the frequent trips to New York stopped when I left my corporate career to be a stay at home mom to this little girl. When she was just a few days old I knew that I had to stay home with her so I left my amazing job to become a full-time mom.
A lot of things changed for our family with that fateful decision (which is another blog post entirely) but one of the most missed changes was the decline in traveling. Anyways, I have missed NYC so much. I adore the city and the energy it gives. I adore the sights, sounds, nooks, crannies, shopping and food. Earlier this year when I announced that SGP was going to start traveling, I was completely thrilled that New York was one of the requested locations. And then it dawned on me that I should go in the fall and take my daughter for her big birthday. So, sessions were booked, airfare and hotel was booked. And I proceeded to keep an enormous secret for 5 months.
Y’all this secret was SOOOO hard to keep. So, I told everyone except the kids. Literally. All our family knew. All my friends knew. All my clients knew. Everyone knew. And by some glorious miracle, no one slipped and told my daughter the secret. On the morning of my daughters 10th birthday we gave her the surprise of her life… that I was taking her to New York AND that we were leaving the next day. She was so excited. And the more she thought about it the more excited she became. (The video of us telling her is down below!)
Our trip started off a little rough when our flight out of Dallas was delayed. And delayed again. And then delayed again. We ended up leaving 3.5 hours later than we planned. Which meant that we didn’t land in New York until after midnight. And arrived at the hotel at 1 am. And neither of us slept on the flight. My big girl thought this was amazingly fun. Staying up so late is completely unheard of in our house so she was beside herself. And I was praising Jesus that it was my 10-year old on the trip and not the 2-year old.
Arriving into Manhattan super late with the city all lit up was super cool. The great part about it is that there was zero traffic getting out of the airport or into the city. We made record time! We crashed that night and woke up super early the next morning to start our trip off with a Mommy/Daughter photo session of our own with the super talented Shannon Roddy Photography. Shannon was so nice to come all the way in from Brooklyn to capture the two of us exploring the city. We met in Chelsea and just wondered around together.
After our session we needed a treat so naturally we stopped in for cupcakes somewhere and then headed back to the hotel to change and start exploring. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Central Park, learning the subway system, having lunch at Sarah Beth’s, shopping and getting into bed relatively early (to make up for the night before). One of my favorite moment from the entire trip was early evening on Friday. We were walking around shopping and sight seeing when my daughter says to me, “Mom, I love the sound of the city.” My heart skipped a beat because I knew exactly what she meant and I felt the same way too.
Saturday morning we woke up early yet again but this time because I had a session of my own. We spent some time in Central Park with a delightful new client capturing her family just hanging out. My daughter made a great assistant and was so patient while I chased around 4-year old twins. After the “work” was done, we headed to Soho and spent the afternoon shopping, walking and eating a delicious lunch at The Grey Dog. Saturday evening we had tickets to go on the Circle Line Cruise Harbor Lights Tour. When I had planned the trip to New York, I knew that I wanted to take my daughter to see the Statue of Liberty but I also knew that since we only had 3 days to explore, I didn’t want a huge chunk of a day set aside for it either. The Harbor Lights tour was the perfect answer. The tour runs from 7-9pm so we could see Lady Liberty and not lose any daylight hours doing it. And it takes you around Manhattan at night which is a total bonus. While I have never seen her before I am totally confident in saying that seeing the Statue of Liberty at night is the way to go. She is so magnificent at night without all the distractions around her. Not to mention how stunning the city is on display at night. We both really enjoyed the tour even though it was chilly and windy.
We spent so much of Saturday shopping and walking around that we had to rush over to the Harbor Tour and never had time to eat dinner. Oops- mom fail. Luckily my daughter is old enough to roll with it so we had pretzels on the cruise and then picked up takeout back near the hotel afterwards. That night we ate dinner at 10:30pm. It was hilarious to both of us.
Sunday was cold and rainy but luckily, that is the day that we had indoor activities planned anyways. We had a casual breakfast in the hotel and then caught an uber to The Met. We spent a few hours on Sunday morning exploring the stunning museum. Both of us love art museums. We go on Mommy/Daughter dates to art museums at home a few times a year. So taking her to the world famous museum was only natural. But I had no idea y’all. Even the building itself is a work of art. The galleries are magnificent and so unique. Each space is breathtaking in its own right.
The first 20-30 minutes of our museum trip, we were totally alone in a few galleries. Not because The Met wasn’t packed though. We must have just gone the opposite way of the crowds by happy chance. Anyways, we were in one of the galleries filled with ancient stone artifacts and I almost lost my breathe. I could feel my beloved grandmother so clearly in that space. She loved art so much and had such an appreciate for all types of it. Her home was filled with it. I grew up admiring much of it. I had always wanted to come to New Work with her and explore The Met one day. It was one trip that we never got to take. In that gallery with my daugher, my eyes started to well with tears and my she caught me, “Are you crying Mom?” “Yes, honey. I just miss Mimi so much and she would have loved this place.”
The morning we spent at The Met was lovely. Looking at and discussing art with my art-loving daughter and also feeling my grandmother’s presence so strongly. It was a definite highlight of the trip for me. Something I won’t ever forget. We had time to grab a quick, but seriously overpriced, lunch in The Met cafeteria before hoping an uber over to Broadway to see the Lion King.
One of the things I was most excited about this trip was exposing my daughter to Broadway. She loves the theater but Broadway is a league of its own, obviously. There were so many child-friendly shows to choose from but I saw the Lion King years ago and remember how magical it was and I knew she would love it. And boy, did she ever. From the jaw dropping opening scene to the last curtain, she was practically on the edge of her seat the entire time. She loved every second of it.
After the Lion King, we headed to Macy’s Herald Square simply because I wanted her to see how massive it was and I knew she would get a kick out of the old wooden escalators. At this point in our trip, we are both really exhausted. We were running on fumes at this point and we started to get a little short with each other. It was still cold and raining out and we were leaving the next morning so I made the decision to end with a really early dinner and chilling at the hotel to pack. So, we literally went in to Macy’s, rode the escalators up and down, and then got on the subway to go back to the hotel.
In our three short days, we were able to see a lot. But we also missed a lot too. New York City is like that though. There is so much to see packed into such a small area. It always seems do-able and then it just isn’t because times flies while you explore. I do think that we had just the right balance of “planned activities” and free time so that we were allowed to get distracted and wander around. It truly was the perfect trip.
If you are thinking about taking a child to NYC on a trip like this, in my opinion, 10 is the perfect age. She was amazing the entire time. And I really am not exaggerating. She stayed up super late and got up early every day. We walked a ton. We ate at regular restaurants- no fast food kids meals here. She appreciated the city and all the “famous” sites. She enjoyed simple things like riding the subway and in a taxi. On the other hand she is still so innocent. She held my hand everywhere and I never had to worry about her running off. She was polite and kind. She was in awe of the magnificence of everything. She didn’t have the gimme’s about anything at all despite all the shopping we did. And she did not complain once. About anything. We just hung out and talked for 3 days and 4 nights. It was truly like traveling with a girlfriend.
So, here are just a few pictures from our trip. I didn’t take nearly as many as I had hoped, but that is something I am learning about myself. As much as I want to have amazing images of our travels, I also want to be present during them too and find myself just being there in the moment. Anyways, towards the end you will see just a sampling of some iphone shots we took and also the iphone video of her finding out about the trip.
And of course I can’t leave out a few of our many, MANY iphone snaps:)
And here is the (iphone) video of how we surprised her with the trip:)