Monday, December 15, 2014

Surviving The City, Holiday Edition

For the past three years we've headed to NYC for the winter break, staying at the very budget friendly Hotel Grandparents. They have the best cocktail bar in town and the most charming silver haired bartender. Mr. C&G definitely inherited his skills from his father (along with a full head of thick hair) and Papa C&G makes the best vodka martinis.

We just spent a week in Aruba with the C&G Grandparents and I think we'll give them a break this year. But I've learned a lot by visiting the city at the busiest time of the year and I'm going to share some tips and ideas for fun activities all while keeping your sanity. And finding cocktails.

High on your list of sights might be the Museum of Natural History, but with the Night At The Museum sequel coming out I would save this for another time. We had membership admission a few years ago and were able to skip the line that snaked down the stairs, up Central Park West and over West 81st Street (no exaggeration). Once inside the crowds made it impossible to see anything so we beelined for the Columbus Avenue exit and made it to Sarabeth's (Amsterdam between 80th & 81st) for food and Bloody Marys.

If you're up for braving the Metropolitan Museum of Art read my review from our visit last spring, the museum is so big (and admission price is only a suggestion, a little known fact) that it's easy to pick out a few things and then head out for snacks. The Temple of Dendur is a favorite and with the light streaming in from the wall of windows it never feels overwhelming. Plus there's plenty of spots to rest tired little legs (or yours) after some hieroglyphics deciphering.

Overlooking Madison Square Park (and convenient to Eataly) is the incredibly interactive Museum of Mathematics. Check out the past posts here and here for reasons why you need to spend a day amongst the polygons and tessellations (plus you'll sound extra smart). The boys love MoMath and with so many stations to check out it never really feels claustrophobic. Eataly can get just as crowded as the Natural History Museum so either stop there first and carb up or go after the lunch crowd for pizza and a glass or two of vino. La Pizza & La Pasta (a kid favorite) opens at 11:00 and it's at the opposite end from the 5th Avenue entrance. (fyi Shake Shack in the park is closed for renovations)

If your brood insists on checking out the lights and insanity of Times Square know that some calm and cocktails are only an elevator ride away. Just maybe not on December 31st. The Renaissance Hotel (48th St. at 7th Ave) has a 2nd floor lounge with cozy couches and floor to ceiling windows. Yes the cocktails start at $15, but I promise you ten minutes in Times Square and you'll be ready to pay double that for a quiet place to sit down. Order some pretzels and chips for the kiddos and everybody will be happy.

No trip to the city is complete (according to Big & Little C&G) without a trip to FAO Schwartz. I'm not sure why because the boys rarely buy anything (I guess it's the equivalent of my window shopping along Madison Avenue) but I don't argue because the bar at the Four Seasons is only two blocks away.

The line in front of FAO Schwartz moves fast and soon you'll be surrounded by life-sized stuffed animals. Lego fans should head right for the escalator to the 2nd floor and keep walking to the north eastern most corner. I always give the kiddos a 15 minute limit and a $10 budget before we escape to the bar at the Four Seasons. They'll stay occupied in the cushy banquets (sneak in the 58th St. entrance) with whatever cheap trinket they've bought while you enjoy the free snacks and overpriced (but always delicious and they leave you the shaker) cocktails.

Stay tuned for part two of Surviving The City, with four great adventures just a train ride away.

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