Instead of crickets, horns. Instead of late-night revelers around a fire, late-night stumblers struggling to turn their key and escape into their box in the sky. Instead of hikes through lush woods or up mountains, walks on pavement through a canopy of skyscrapers. But the food and the friendships are so much easier to source here. After two weeks in Manhattan, I grew weary of the city life and was eager to spend much of September hiking through the early fall leaves of the Green Mountains. But I enjoyed every minute of being there (minus those ten minutes mistakenly walking through Times Square that I can’t get back), especially those spent with wonderful and dear friends. That those times were spent over delicious foods that are harder to find in other parts of this beautiful country made it even sweeter. I only had a few points on my agenda before we arrived – see several friends that I haven’t spent time with for way too long, visit the 9-11 Memorial, explore the High Line, listen to my favorite band in Central Park, and eat lots of ethnic food. Before long, our agenda filled up with all of that plus five live music shows in as many days, lots of time wandering the neighborhoods south of mid-town, watching the little guy get braver on the nearby playground, taking the boy on a boat, and using the gym like a normal person with a home and a routine.
As our two weeks drew to a close, I penned a few words of advice for those visiting Manhattan:
- Unless you’ve never been to Times Square before, skip it. I’m not a city person, but I absolutely love New York City. However, if all of the city was like the area around Times Square and Rockefeller Center, it would be one of my least favorite places in the world. Yuck! It’s worth seeing once (maybe – it’s debatable), but make it a quick trip and then start exploring the rest of this city. It can take lifetimes.
- Whatever you do, don’t skip the High Line – it’s magical. I spent much of my pregnancy taking long walks through Central Park to get my nature fix, but I really should have been up on the High Line. The beautiful (and distinctly not city) smells are reason enough to spend an afternoon.
- If you visit the 9-11 Memorial, don’t skip a visit to St. Paul’s Chapel. I’ve been half a dozen times in the last ten years and it never fails to make me cry. It is a personal and beautiful testament to the best in people.
- Spend time in the city’s living rooms (and dining rooms, but hopefully not bathrooms) by enjoying at least one full day in one or more of the city’s great parks. Central Park is an obvious choice, but there are so many. I made my first trip out to Governor’s Island on this visit and can’t recommend it enough. Especially with kids. We took an early boat out (the first couple of boats out are free!) and spent several hours exploring with my dad before Van was beyond ready for a long nap.
- Eat, eat, eat! But not boring food. Eat the kinds of food that are harder to find elsewhere. Eat the kinds of food that satiate you and your sense of adventure. After checking out many different eats around the city during our visit, Van proclaimed Korean food to be his favorite. And I will admit, that was an amazing meal. Thanks, Dad!
- Put on your walking shoes and just wander. I could write this advice for just about anywhere, but I think it’s particularly applicable to such a walkable and large city. There is no better way to experience the city (other than living there) than walking through its various neighborhoods. Though we didn’t conquer any epic walks (Alan’s longest pre-kid NYC walk in one day was about sixteen miles), we bypassed public transport a number of times and walked many, many miles to explore neighborhoods we hadn’t seen in a while.
I must mention that we lucked out when it came to the weather. I wouldn’t normally recommend that a NYC visitor plan a trip in the middle of August, but I really wanted to spend some time there before we settle somewhere new and the timing worked well for us. I could not believe how amazing the weather was – seventies with low humidity. Where was I again? It was bliss!