NYC Favorite Things - A Few More Things

There are so many things to love about New York! There are so many things that we want to share! As I wrap up this blog series, here are a few more things that we love and will miss in New York City:

     Cultural Diversity – this is the biggest thing that we will miss! In our brownstone alone we lived with families from Vermont, Boston and France. Throughout every day we interacted with people from so many different cultures. I liked to interview my Uber drivers and my first 10 were from different countries all outside of the United States. The cultural diversity in the city of New York is like nowhere else in the world and is such a beautiful thing!

     Subway/Mass Transit – the subway system can feel overwhelming at first, but once you adjust it becomes such a natural way to get around the city. I loved the people watching and not having to drive in the city. It also makes your commute time much more predictable as train traffic doesn’t really compare to car traffic. The biggest question is really how crowded the train will be rather than how long it will take. If you have personal space issues, the subway system is probably not for you.

     Unique Neighborhoods – every neighborhood in New York is unique! We loved finding an excuse to check out different neighborhoods and unique spots in each. From SOHO to Williamsburg to Hells Kitchen, we enjoyed the uniqueness of each!

     Parks – a park in New York is not just a park. The creativity of space is so unique in every park. Every square inch of Central Park and Prospect Park is so optimally used. Experiencing a park like the High Line that was an above ground rail line that was converted to a park. The parks in New York City are just so energizing!

     Delivery Everything – we thought living in New York might be inconvenient with groceries, transportation, etc. We quickly found Fresh Direct who delivered our groceries not just to our door, but up 4 flights of stairs and directly into our kitchen. We also found the Seamless app which delivered take out food to us from 300 different restaurants in our area. Oh yeah, and Amazon Prime added 1 hour deliver shortly after we got there.

     Accents – we absolutely love the native New York accent! There’s nothing like a well said “Forget About It!” We had hoped our girls might pick up a little bit while here. Time will tell on that one.

 

We will sure miss New York City! This experience has been indescribable and we’re so grateful to have had this opportunity. There are so many things that we have loved, but we are excited to see all that God has ahead for us. This season has only fueled the desire for more family adventures in our future. We cannot wait to get to Texas and see all that is ahead. While we will no longer live in New York, we will be back often and cannot wait for the adventures ahead!

NYC Favorite Things - CoWorking Locations

One of my best finds in New York was Croissant. This is an app that allowed for me to utilize various co-working spaces around the city. I loved having both this convenience and the excuse to visit various areas around the city. I also loved picking up differing creative and productivity vibes created by each of the co-working spaces I was able to visit. Here were 5 of my favorite co-working spots on the city:

     LMHQ - this was my go to place to get things done. Their location in Lower Manhattan was ideal for me and I loved the creative energy in this place with the create paint (dry erase on all walls) and layout of the space. They also always had a great playlist on in the collaborative area.

     Joynture - this was my second go to location right off of Wall Street. They have a high class and creative space with dedicated call booths (very important to me). They also have a stocked fridge, abundant snacks and an espresso machine. Oh yeah, and they have an oversized Jenga game in the back.

     Workville - location, location, location. This incredible spot right in Times Square is fantastic with a wrap around outdoor balcony with a beautiful view of the Empire State Building and most of Midtown. They also have great call rooms and good coffee. I would have been more of a regular here if it weren’t a longer commute from our apartment in Brooklyn.

     Rise - I loved the energy in this space and the overall creative energy. They have a great location right next to the Flatiron building and some cool elements like a Recording Studio and 3D Printer. They only had 1 call booth, which was often occupied making this location challenging for me with all of the calls that I have every day.

     Rough Draft - this spot in Williamsburg fits the vibe of that area perfectly. Honestly, I’m not nearly cool enough to work here regularly. I loved being here and so dug the vibe. I highly recommend others check it out, especially if you are doing creative work.

 

Co-working is a trend that is not just growing in New York City, but all over the world. I expect to see more places continuing to pop up around New York and throughout cities everywhere. Not every co-working location is for everyone. I would love to hear your thoughts on co-working and any experiences you have had through venues like this.

NYC Kids Favorite Things

Most people assume that New York City is not a good place for kids, but we have found the city to be very kid friendly with so many great things to do. We asked our kids for their Top 5 favorite things in the city that they would recommend to other kids. Here’s the list they came up with:

1.     Carousels- the girls were quick to say: “Carousels!” Every park in New York seems to have a unique carousel. Highlighted by the Sea Glass Carousel giving a more modern experience and Prospect Park giving a really unique historic experience. Here are their favorites:

a.     Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park

b.     Prospect Park Carousel

c.     Central Park Carousel

d.     Prospect Park Carousel

2.     Times Square: Disney and M&M stores – for the girls Times Square never got old. They loved going upstairs at the M&M store and filling a bag of M&Ms as well as going upstairs at the Disney Store and hanging out in what they called the “Clubhouse”.

3.     Staten Island Children's Museum – there are so many great museums including children’s museums around New York in all boroughs. Our girls fell in love with the Staten Island Children’s Museum and said this is the most fun.

4.     Transit Museum – this is a fun experience for both kids and adults in Brooklyn. It’s fascinating for adults to learn the history behind the subway system and bridges throughout the city. The kids love playing on the old subway cars and turnstiles. This is a really unique experience that you can’t experience anywhere else.

5.     Sledding Prospect Park – this is the best free entertainment in the city. If it snows while you’re in New York, the best sledding spot we found was not far from our apartment in Park Slope. You can get a plastic disk for $5 at a local hardware store and have hours of fun in the snow sliding down the hills. Build a snowman while you’re at it!

 

Not Favorite: Ice Skating – the girls were quick to say that ice-skating was not their favorite. Before actually ice-skating this was something they were really excited about so we signed them up for lessons. After the first week of lessons they decided that ice-skating is the “worst”. On week 2 of ice skating lessons I even laced up with them and I have to agree: ice-skating is the worst! Ice-skating is just not for our family; if it’s for yours, have fun!

NYC Favorite Things - Tourist Recommendations

After living in New York City people are always asking us what they should see when they visit the city. Many people think they want to see the non-tourist spots, but the truth is there’s a reason why everyone wants to visit the same spots: they’re really cool. Here are our top 5 recommendations to tourists:

1.     911 Museum - this is worth a half-day and a trip to the top of One World Trade. While this is a heavy emotional experience, it speaks so much to the core of America and New York City. It’s well worth taking the time. I would do it on the front end of your trip rather than finish with this.

2.     Top of the Rock - best view in the city hands down. There’s so much to do in and around Rockefeller Center like the NBC Studio Tour and watching the ice skaters, but the best part of Rockefeller Center is the view from the top. It’s worth the ticket and long wait in line.

3.     Staten Island Ferry - this is the best free show in New York City. Jumping on this 30 minute ferry ride gives you an incredible view of the statue of liberty and a nice look at Lower Manhattan as you come back into Manhattan.

4.     Ellen’s Diner - this is the most unique dining experience in the world! If you enjoy Broadway tunes this is the place for you as the wait staff goes above and beyond serving you food, providing live music non-stop. They’re all incredible performers!

5.     Chelsea Market/High Line - this spot is becoming more popular with great shopping and even better food. Stop in for a treat and then spend some time walking up and down the High Line Park just a block away.

 

Additional recommendation:
     Double Decker Bus Tour - we’ve taken many tours before moving here and the best one we took about a year ago on a double decker bus. It’s worth paying for one day in the city as you can see so much more by taking advantage of these bus systems. Beyond the ride, the tour guides are all great and can point out details about the city that are always fascinating!

NYC Favorite Things - Adventures Beyond

One of our favorite things about living in New York City was not just the adventures that we had in the city, but also the adventures beyond the city. We got to experience some incredible places beyond New York City over the past 2 years as well. Here were some of our favorites:

     Cooperstown - I had a blast driving up to Cooperstown with my Dad (Greg Smith) and best friend (Chris Tripputi) to see Craig Biggio get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This had been a bucket list for some time and to get to do it during this season of life with my Dad and Chris made it extra sweet.

     Washington DC - one Saturday morning we woke up and asked what we should do today. We decided Washington DC was the answer, so in less than an hour we booked a hotel room, packed a couple bags and loaded up the family to DC. While it was a quick trip, it was so cool to get to spend a couple of days in the country’s capital and experience this together as a family. Thanks also to the Cunningham’s for hooking us up with a sweet hotel room!

     Boston - while I wish I could have spent more time here to see family, it was very cool to spend a half day in Boston seeing some historic spots, passing by Fenway Park, and eating some clam chowder. I definitely hope to make it back to Boston again soon!

     Maine - we had a blast with my in laws renting a cabin on a lake in Maine and simply relaxing and taking in the beauty of Maine. I also ate a bunch of Lobster!

     Philadelphia - noticing how close Philadelphia is to New York we decided to take a day trip. We saw the Liberty Bell, walked around downtown, ran up the Rocky steps and ate some Philly Cheesesteak (wit wiz)!

     Toronto - one of our last trips we took was with my Mom and explored beyond the United States into Canada. We found an incredible AirBnB 20 floors up with floor to ceiling glass windows in downtown Toronto. We got to explore a castle, go to a Blue Jays game, eat some Tim Horton’s, walk along the beach and really take in the beauty of Toronto. Very cool city!

     Niagara Falls - while I had been before, this is one of those sights that a picture (or video) cannot fully capture. We explored the falls on both sides and still blown away by the power and beauty of the falls!

     Snow Tubing in Poconos - if you ask my kids what the highlight beyond the city was, they would tell you Snow Tubing! We explored out one Saturday and found snow tubing in the Poconos. It really was so cool and something I hope we get to do again before too much longer! We’re not patient enough for ski lessons and snow tubing gave us the thrill of going down the mountain without all of the work.

     The Jersey Shore - we had low expectations for the Jersey Shore (based on the TV Show) and were blown away. Pete Scazzero tipped us off to a more family friendly beach and we loved it! The sand was great, water was beautiful and the weather was perfect. Other than some sunburn the next day, this was our favorite beach trip in the Northeast!

     Maritime Aquarium in Connecticut - this was another favorite of the kids. Katie found this aquarium and we went back as a family. It was a full day and the kids continue to talk about the shark tank and touching the stingrays. This is a really unique experience if you have kids.

     Hershey Park - while adventuring out to Canada and Niagara Falls, we also squeezed in a day and a half at Hershey Park. The amusement park was great, but the experience within the chocolate factory was tremendous getting to design your own bar, learning about the history and even doing a chocolate tasting. This was a really unique experience that the whole family enjoyed.

I feel like we could still do so much more, but grateful to have been able to so easily adventure beyond the city to these unique places. Also grateful for our little Mazda 3 that we bought when we first got married (almost 12 years ago) and continues to take us on so many of these great adventures.