Family Trip to NYC, February 2016

Two years ago (2014), we stayed home as usual for February break. It turned out to be a recipe for cabin fever, stir craziness, and frowns that lasted for weeks afterward. So last year (2015) we escaped New England to stay in Manhattan for 2 nights, taking in the Central Park Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History. It successfully distracted us from an endless Vermont vacation, so we did it again this year—staying 3 nights this time.

Sights Seen

At Rockefeller Center I was amazed to see people turning their backs on the scene... so they could take a selfie that included their big smiling head along with the fountain.

Outside Rockefeller Center. I failed to get a photo of the Radio City marquee showing New Order (playing there March 10!!).

A big gorgeous tree in Washington Square park

Things Accomplished

We attended a classic movie at the Film Forum (Jean Cocteau's Beauty & the Beast, 1946, black-and-white, in French with subtitles). We visited 4 different parks: Central, Bryant, Washington Square, and Union Square. Collectively we visited three mega-groceries/markets: Westerly Natural Market (several times), Whole Foods, and Eataly. Collectively we visited 9 restaurants/bars (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, drinks, other drinks, dinner). We saw about 30 canines, most of whom wore sweaters or jackets and sometimes shoes.

We went to the Lego store in Rockefeller Center.

We went to the Central Park Zoo where a bevy of tropical birds bedazzle the moist, warm "Tropic Zone" building. The birds here are crowned pigeons; we later saw them sauntering around the walkways amongst the onlookers.

We have a big penguin-lover in the family so made a point to see the Central Park Zoo penguins at feeding time. There are King, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins. After a lovely, leisurely morning at the main part of the zoo, we also took in the small, charming Tisch Children's Zoo next door.

Grand Central Terminal, home of a Shake Shack and much more (read Mommy Poppinsc for family friendly tips)

Food Consumed (my favorite!!!)

Meat & cheese plate with pickled vegetables (and rosé) catching up with two of my Main Peeps at Eataly

Tonkatsu Ramen at Ramen Thukpa on 7th avenue (near the Film Forum). This tiny spot was a super-savory and reasonably priced relief after a lot of tourist-trappy options.

3 eggs with grilled bacon and homefries at the Carnegie Deli. Across from our hotel, we kept seeing a line outside this place at all times of day. At 8:30 one morning we noticed there was no line so we ran in to get the total deli experience.

The Carnegie deli has a ton of signed headshots on the walls. Check out Brooke Shields at the bottom of the back corner.

John's Pizzeria in the village, famous for its carved graffiti booths

I thought it was hilarious that John's wine offerings are "red or white." I picked red--see half-full glass. We had a pepperoni pizza with chopped garlic added to half.

John's also has famous people up on the walls--I have no idea who is flanking Al Pacino. Do you?

On another day we went to Angelo's Pizzeria on 57th street (near our hotel) and had another pepperoni pie. I actually liked this one better than John's. It was SO good. We also got an order of Linguine alla Vongole (clams & white wine sauce) and a salad--great meal for a family of 4.

Day 1 lunch we visited Schnippers Quality Kitchen for comfort food—burgers, fries, chicken tenders, hot dog, Coke. Their Classic burger was really good! On another day we got burgers at Shake Shack in Grand Central Terminal, because our smallest member is a huge fan. Do add a chocolate malted shake to your Shake Shack burger order, don't bother getting fries.

We found a delicious Indian dinner at Benares on our first night there. They were super accommodating to our party that included CHILDREN, and seemed totally charmed by us by the end. We ordered Chicken Dansak (chicken morsels with vegetables and sauce with an amazingly tasty slow burn), Lamb Vindaloo, and Dal Makhani, plus a Basmati rice and a ton of naan.

Trends Noted

A lot of Canada Goose brand parkas and jackets (thanks, Drake!).

Bars and restaurants have covered entryways that jut out onto the sidewalk and include doors. One never just opens a door from outside to inside, but opens an outer door into a middle zone. This is a new development since I last lived in a city about 20 years ago.

The usefulness of Yelp: how would I ever know where to eat or what to do without the Yelp app on my smartphone? I can either choose the kind of food I want and do a search in my area, or just search an area and even move the area around to change the search geography. It's thanks to Yelp that we discovered Benares, Ramen Thukpa as well as Angelo's Pizzeria on 57th street.

People walking briskly while appearing to talk to themselves (but are actually talking into the small mic attached to their earbuds).


We stayed at the Wellington Hotel on 7th avenue just south of Central Park & Carnegie Hall. Modest, clean, efficient, centrally located--if you have AAA membership try booking through that site or check the hotel site for deals. This time our double bed was a full rather than a luxurious king like last time, but it'll do.

How is your February going?


Anonymous said...

Did you ever worry about bed bugs? Those things freak me out and keep me from wanting to stay in Manhattan.

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Yes, I do worry about bed bugs! I check Yelp reviews for things like that, if there's ANY mention of bedbugs for a hotel, ever, then I skip it. In my former job I had to write a Bedbug Awareness pamphlet and I learned a lot about what to look for (and how to deal with them if encountered, which has not happened to me--touch wood).