A family break in New York City

Hiking in New York, anyone? 

Our five-day stay in NYC turned out to be an epic hiking holiday. We clocked up 76km – more than 47 miles – on foot, with a four-and-a-half-year-old in tow. Woah! 

Granted, said four-and-a-half-year-old made use of daddy’s shoulders quite a lot of the time… who knows how many miles Gareth did with an extra 20kg around his neck.

BUT, it meant we could make the most of some of the city’s classic Italian eateries, guilt-free. Bonus! Oh, and the bagels… and the cheesecake…

We based ourselves in Brooklyn, in a teeny South Slope Airbnb. It had ‘two double bedrooms’, or ‘one-double-bedroom-split-into-two-with-not-really-enough-space-in-either’. We really felt like we were living the New York life. 

Just around the corner were beautiful tree-lined streets of traditional brownstone townhouses, where the sidewalks were sprinkled with pretty pink springtime blossom. We were above a nail salon on busy 5th Avenue. But it was convenient!

And not that it mattered, because the raison d’etre for this trip was just one thing – TO VISIT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY! (As dictated by the small person). 

Easily a half-day, and great value compared to some of the city’s other attractions, a Statue Cruise takes you from Battery Park to Liberty Island, and on again to Ellis Island before returning. We opted for pedestal access, which we picked up on the day. Unfortunately, kid A is not yet big enough to climb to the crown (and we were not organised enough to book it MONTHS in advance anyway).

Lady Liberty is, most definitely, colossal. And it’s surprising how much time you can spend just wandering around, looking at her from different angles. It’s a shame that there wasn’t a kid-friendly audio guide available, but there were souvenir crowns and torches, which were impossible to pass by. 

I’m sure Ellis Island is fascinating too… but it was a cursory stop for us before we got back on the boat for another view of the SoL.

Later that day we ticked off the Charging Bull in Bowling Green and found the Fearless Girl in her new home, staring down the New York Stock Exchange. 

On the way home, we hopped off the subway a few stops early to explore DeKalb Market, New York’s newest hipster food hall, in Downtown Brooklyn. The permanent, underground food fest has a ridiculous array of choices; perfect for when none of you can agree on where to eat, or you just need something RIGHT NOW.

With all the focus on Lady Liberty, I feared we may have peaked too soon. In comparison, the Empire State Building was a bit of a non-event. A poor substitute. I forgot that when you’re four, a tall building is just a tall building. We’d set the benchmark too high, and still had four days to fill…

Perhaps a five-day city break with a four-year-old seemed a bit ambitious; we needed fresh air and the wind in our hair to reset. Cue a day trip to Coney Island. 

We were the only tourists crazy enough to be there on a freezing-cold, mid-week day in late April. We ran on the boardwalk and ran on the beach, fuelled by the most disgusting cotton-candy flavoured ice cream. 

But it did the trick. 

As did the play areas of Central Park, when we were tired of trudging around Manhattan.

Runner-up to the stupendous Statue of Liberty was the T-Rex exhibition at the dinosaur-stuffed American Museum of Natural History. In particular, a real-life skeleton of the enormous but tiny-handed creature, with an animated shadow that sprung to life.   

Just as we were hitting total dinosaur fatigue at the Natural History Museum, along came a tiny brown mouse to entertain us; we watched it dart between the pairs of feet planted on the blue-grey carpet, while unsuspecting tourists watched a film, about dinosaurs of course. Now, THIS is the stuff of great memories;

Me: “Remember that time we saw ALL those dinosaurs at the Natural History Musem in New York?

A: “Yes! And remember the tiny brown mouse that was running on the carpet…”*

*actual conversation already repeated several times.

On the last day, the sun was shining and the good mood propelled us over Brooklyn Bridge, on foot. We’d ticked off most of the sights we wanted to see this week, so today was about mooching.

We clocked up more than 19km (around 12 miles) that day, a lot of it in Central Park, but were rewarded with copious quantities of pasta at an Italian we’d stumbled upon on our first day. La Villa in Park Slope was so good, we had to go back for more. 

More info on our trip…

If you want to visit Lady Liberty’s crown, you’ll need to book well in advance – https://www.statuecruises.com

We loved DeKalb Market Hall, as recommended by some friends who used to live nearby. It’s also conveniently placed right next to a Trader Joe’s – https://www.dekalbmarkethall.com

La Villa in Park Slope is a classic family-friendly American-Italian with woodfired pizzas big enough to feed a family of four – La Villa

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