Talk about blog worthy moments. I got to go back to New York, I got to spend time with my mom and Kylie, and, awesome of all the awesomes, Scarlet got to come with me.
I was concerned about taking Scarlet, New York is a walking trip and you have to be up for a lot of going and doing. But Scarlet had such a great year. She was doing so well in school, she was keeping up with a load of after school activities, and she was really stepping it up at home. She is so helpful with her sister and there were multiple occasions when she would clean big rooms of the house just because she felt like helping. When she is in the right mood, she is so good with her brothers too. But that's a work in progress :)
My mom's annual trip aligned with Scarlet's school Fall Break so we bought plane tickets and headed across the country. Scarlet and I headed out early Saturday morning and spent two days with Marie Howick and her family before the rest of our group came into town. We had a fantastic time with the Howicks. Their oldest child is 6 years old but Scarlet took time to play with her and they had a great time. Marie and her husband are some of my favorite people to chat with. It was a great time all around.
Scarlet and Lyla enjoying some subway dancing
They took us to Emack and Bolios. Fantastic ice cream in fun dipped waffle cones.
See? Look how good of friends we are, we even took a picture together!
Actually, they took us to church with them. Poor Marie looks more like I do every Sunday while I'm chillin in the quiet that is kidless church. Glorious.
Here's the real picture.
Now I will separate this into the Three Main Categories of NYC, food, sights and shows. We did a plethora of all three.
We'll start with Shows:
Our first show of the trip was the fabulous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We won online lottery tickets for $40. We entered lotteries every day and this is the only online win of the whole trip.
The music was fun and the sets were awesome. The oompa loompas were hilarious. The scene with Mike Teevee was pure magic. We loved it.
The second show on the agenda was School of Rock. No pictures but a fantastic show. The kids in the cast are so amazingly talented! The first half was a little slow but the performances by the kids in the second half were phenomenal. Scarlet and I got Rush tickets at the box office that morning, also for $40. Total steal. Some of the language is a little much for a 10 year old but so was a lot of the language on the subway every day!
When everyone else got in town, we took a chance and went to see our first Broadway non musical play. It was called "The Play That Goes Wrong"
We got Rush tickets for this one too and they were in the front row. Sometimes the front row can be a bummer, but for this show it was perfect. Scarlet got a seat booster and she was looking pretty darn tall.
This show was HILARIOUS! It is about a college production where everything goes wrong. The timing was so perfect and the actors were so funny. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laugh a little just thinking about it. And it was ridiculously clean. So clean and so funny that if this ever comes to Las Vegas I am taking all of my boys because they will die. Please go see this show.
And then we made an appearance at the in-person Wicked lottery hoping to score some $30 tickets. You put your name in a drawing with whoever shows up and if you get picked, two tickets are yours. We had 6 people, my mom, Kylie, Lori Baker, Danielle Baker Andre, Scarlet and myself. We were hoping at least someone would get picked so Scarlet and I could see it, we were the only ones who had not seen it before. And lo and behold, the second name to be drawn was Scarlet! I was called two people later and Danielle was called a few people down. So we all got to see the show for $30 each!
Everyone knows Wicked is an amazing production. I have known the music for years but I have never known how the story ends. It was a fantastic night and our favorite show of the trip.
Sadly our show story ended on a low note. We didn't get any more lotteries, and though we really wanted to see Anastasia, the tickets were just a little too pricey. So we went to the half price ticket booth and got some decently priced tickets to a fun sounding Off-Broadway show called the Marvelous Wonderettes.
It was based on songs from the 50's and 60's. It could have been adorable. But sadly the script was painful, the singers, though talented, had major sound problems and nothing ever sounded together, and it was overall very disappointing. We had a good time rehashing its worst moments afterwards so that was fun... but skip this one. And somebody please get a hold of that script and get them a decent sound guy.
I wanted to see a lot of the city this trip and be a little more touristy so Scarlet could get the full experience. We ended up buying the explorers pass, which made some of the entry fees a little cheaper. Honestly I have not done the math to see how much money we saved, but it was extremely convenient and it seemed like we saved at least $10 on every site. The customer service people were awesome and super helpful. Overall, I would recommend the Explorers Pass.
Our first Pass stop was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour. Scarlet loved the ferry ride over and she had a fantastic kids audio tour around Liberty Island.
My tour was a little less interesting, but it had fun tidbits of info I didn't know. I feel pretty well informed now on our Lady Liberty. We then hopped the ferry to Ellis Island. This audio tour was not nearly as fun and Scarlet got bored almost immediately. We did not leave very well informed about Ellis Island, but I didn't push the issue because we had show tickets to get back for that night :)
Our second stop was the Museum of Natural History
If you are a museum person, then go to town in this place of wonder. If you like the "short and sweet" tour, I feel like I have this one down to an art. You start in their astronomy/space second and do the walk around the Hayden Sphere. It puts everything in the universe in perspective and is totally fascinating.
From there, do a quick walk through the people and animal exhibits and head to the minerals and gems collection. Who doesn't like sparkles?
And then, make your way up to the 4th floor for some crazy dinosaurs and call it a day. Trust me. Speed Museuming is my speciality.
We also did a little tandem bike ride around Cental Park! At first I was frustrated with this because you can only circle the outside of the park on bike, you can't ride bikes in the middle. But in the past I have only ever done the park on foot. And even though we only stopped a few times, I still saw so many things I had never seen before because it was too far to walk. The bike ride was a little challenging, especially because the gears on our bike didn't work and "someone" sometimes forgot to pedal in the back. But a few hard hills and plenty of downhill. We saw some beautiful sites and really enjoyed ourselves.
We went to Central Park later with the whole crew and my mom had signed up for a City Scavenger Hunt. It was silly and kind of pointless but Scarlet LOVED it. And as you can see, we killed it. We were the cookie monsters. Obviously.
Lotta water in that park.
It's a lot more impressive to mimic a statue in a photo when you can see the statue in the photo... nailed it ladies.
The main walkway, about a million movies were filmed here.
Famous bridge, also a lot of movies involved.
When our whole crew was here, we took the tour of Radio City Music Hall. I thought this would be interesting, but it was even better than I was expecting. I loved the history, seeing all of the art and decor, learning about the Rockettes and just seeing inside the main hall itself was fantastic.
We went to the 9/11 tribute museum and got on a tour with a guide. All of the guides are people who were a part of the tragedy in one way or another. They take you on a walk through some of the different smaller memorials in the city and then take you to the main memorial. Then they share their story. Our tour guide was a firefighter and he was a little long winded and rambly, but that really didn't take away from the experience. In fact, not having a trained hired guide added a very real factor to it. As we looked at the memorial and he pointed out friends of his whose names were written on the wall, it was a really touching experience. The memorials are just beautiful, such a work of art. I'm sure Scarlet was a little less than entertained with the experience, but she was quiet and respectful the whole time and I think she got a glimpse of what a horrible experience that really was for New York. I am really glad we did this. But reward yourself with a cookie after.
We did two views from the top, the Top of the Rock and One World Observatory.
Top of the Rock is in Rockefeller Center. The gardens are beautiful and they had a lot of fun little events going on while we were there.
I know. I'm so talented.
The One World Observatory has a really cool entrance and elevator movie. It was my favorite of the two for great view and great experience. But we were able to see Top of the Rock at night so both felt a little different. It is just always so amazing to see Manhattan from the top. It is crazy how much they have built on one small spit of land.
We only did one other museum and it was a new one for me, the Cloisters museum. This one is wwaayy up on the top of the island, a section most tourists don't get to. But this is where I lived when I was an intern and close to where Marie lives. This part of the island is straight beautiful. They have so much greenery and parks. The buildings aren't all skyscrapers and it has a much more quiet feel. I am really glad we made it up there.
The Cloisters is a beautiful building filled with Medieval art. Yes there are a lot of gruesome biblical images, but there are a lot of really amazing pieces. Tiny hand lettered gilded Bibles, beautiful tapestries, hand carved scenes from Bible stories, it is really cool. And you can be in and out in an hour. My kind of museum.
We also did the Highline Park walk. Highline Park is some old over ground train tracks they have turned into a park. It is pretty, easy, and takes you to different parts of the city than you may go otherwise. But my favorite part of the tour is the bird's eye peek into some of NY's hottest real estate. I wonder if I could keep my house clean if I knew hundreds of tourists were going to see through my windows daily?
I have seen a few show tapings during my NY time, obviously the Late show with Letterman but I also saw Colbair last time I was in town and I've seen the Meredith Vieira show and a few others. They are usually pretty fun. You wait around a lot and there are a lot of long break between segments. I've never won anything for being an audience member :( But still, fun. So I was excited when I saw on the Live with Kelly and Ryan show that they still had tickets available for their Thursday afternoon show. Most of the shows tape two shows on Thursday so they don't have to work on Friday. I know, hard life.
So we had tickets and didn't have to wait in standby! Oh but don't worry, there was still a whole lot of waiting in line. We waited and stood and waited and stood and then finally sat in the studio and waited and waited. Kelly and Ryan finally came out and did their starting spiel. Then we got to see the largest pumpkin grown this year. Pretty impressive gourd. And then, it was over. I guess they had filmed their guest star interviews earlier in the day so we got to see about 10 minutes of air time. It was pretty lame. So, go see a show filming... but don't catch the second show on Thursday.
And just when you thought, Kacey what else could there possibly be to do in New York? I haven't even gotten to Scarlet's favorite activity yet.
On the last night, Grammy took Scarlet on The Ride. The Ride is a bus tour around Time Square and similar popular locations but they have this big computer screen that lights up and sings songs. They have hosts that do trivia and karaoke and other fun things while you are driving around. And when you reach certain locations around town, street performers are there to watch. It is cheesy but cute. Unfortunately, riding sideways does not agree with me so I opted out of this but these two had a fabulous time.
Oh, the food. I actually reached a point where sweet things did not sound good to me. It may have been a first in my life. We ate and we ate well. Some of the highlights:
As previously mentioned, Emack & Bolios had awesome flavors and really fun dipped waffle cones. I think my favorite flavors were the Toasted Smores, the Coconut Almond, and Scarlet's Cookie Monster flavor. We went twice. Yum
Ample Hills Dairy: Delicious ice cream. The Oatmeal Cookie was by far my favorite. It was a beast to get to this place, lots of road construction. But fantastic ice cream
Momofuku Milk Bar: We made a quick stop here after already being too full for another bite so we grabbed some birthday cake truffles and crack pie to go. The crack pie was a little soggy by the time I ate it but it was still delicious. I kept wanting to make it back to try their full dessert sampler but didn't get there. Luckily they just built one in Vegas!
Totto Ramen: I love ramen. And Scarlet, my eater extraordinaire, also loves ramen. Totto Ramen is a small strip of a place that accepts cash only and only has room to seat about 20 people at a time. But oh my goodness it was good.
Scarlet and I at the bar (the rest of our crew went to get burgers :( )
They were cooking everything in these enormous vats right in front of us. I watched them hand torch the pork belly that went in our soup. Amazing.
When your daughter insists you get a side of Kimchi, you know you've picked the right eating traveling companion.
We ate and ate and ate and ate and when we could not handle one more bite, our bowl still looked full. I will dream of this ramen.
The last time I was in town, we did a fancy pre fixe lunch at Bouley. It was such an experience! They go all out to make it feel like an occasion. This time, we did the pre fixe at Nougatine. It was a little less of a production than Bouley but it was a little more affordable and the food was divine! There was something for every palate. My tuna appetizer was perfect and Scarlet's tomato soup was divine.
There are a million places in the city to go get pizza, but if you happen to find yourself headed to the Cloisters museum or anywhere in the Inwood area, head over to Frescos and treat yourself to a Vodka Sauce Pizza. You will not regret one second of that decision.
But that wasn't enough cookies so we also tried a box full of the Jacque Torres cookie collection. They are all divine. I loved them all.
But did I love them more than Levain Bakery? That is a good question. The chocolate chip walnut and the all chocolate cookie were some of the best cookies ever. The texture is just so wonderful. And when you add on a house made baguette with bread and jam? Levain was an experience I could have every day. If I wanted to be a much larger person.
Scarlet and I grabbed some big macarons at Bouchon bakery. The cookies and cream and the vanilla were delectable. The chocolate and caramel I could have done without.
We caught a selection of food trucks one day. Scarlet enjoyed a very simple plate of fries (that were delicious) and I had some Vietnamese lemongrass pork with veggies and rice that made my day.
We did make a stop at Stardust Diner. I really shouldn't put this under food because they don't make one single good thing there. But sitting at a booth with a waffle enjoying some truly awesome karaoke... well this 10 year old loved it. And I loved it with her. But seriously, don't order much. Blech.
Funny food story: We took a stop at the donut plant and ordered 4 donuts for the two of us. They called out that the bag of 4 donuts was ready so we took it to go. We hopped on the subway to our next location and opened the bag... only to find 4 donuts we did not order. And not only were they not our donut, but they really were not ones we would have ever ordered. So we got off at the next station, walked back to the store, and the store people were nice enough to refill our order.
Our rose strawberry donut pictured below was delicious along with our pecan praline and coconut. The red velvet was not delicious. Seriously, red velvet needs to stop looking so pretty and just go away. It's just not good.
This is more blogging than I've done in probably the last 2 years combined but I have to end with one more note. Scarlet was the best 10 year old travel companion on the planet. She was fun, happy, adventurous, and a marathon walker. She didn't complain or whine and she was up for anything. Everyone on our trip was blown away by how much fun she was to be around. I am so proud of this girl and I could not be more grateful that we got to have this adventure together. I can't wait to have many more adventures with this girl.