New York: Thanksgiving 2017.
This was a completely last minute trip. It was never in the plans. I'd never thought to go to NYC for Thanksgiving. Peak season can be overwhelming when there are crowds everywhere. Thanksgiving in NYC = Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Black Friday. The parade is something we'd never done before.. something to check off the list.
We Hotwired a 5 star hotel in the Rockefeller area and got The Peninsula. The location was perfect. It was right on 5th Ave. It was within walking distance of things to do. The staff was super friendly. The room was very charming and the bathroom was huge. Come Thanksgiving, all we had to do was walk west on 55th St. to get a good spot for the parade.
It wasn't as crowded and jam-packed as I expected. Because you're watching balloons, it was hard to not have a good spot from any distance on 55th St. Olivia loved all the Disney themed ones. Bubba liked the Pikachu one. Bubs and Livi really enjoyed themselves. Before it began, they didn't really care for the idea, but when we were about to leave, they wanted to stay to see more.
We saw the tree at Rockefeller, but this is the first time we saw it before it was lighted. We checked out the holiday windows. Saks had a Snow White themed one to celebrate her 80 years. We walked around the city and also stopped into Chelsea Market (they're open on Thanksgiving day, but not every shop is open.. like The Lobster Place).
We skipped Black Friday shopping, but did make it to some other shops while in town. Mansur Gavriel just opened a location on Madison, which was a few blocks from where we were staying, so it was my must-go.
During the winter, it's nice to have an indoor place to walk around. While we love the museums in NYC, the kids didn't feel like going this time. Olivia really wanted to ice skate so we always head to Brookfield Place because it's kid friendly. Brookfield Place has shops, a nice food court, and the design of the place in itself is beautiful. The steps at the center is my favorite part. The rink is smaller than Rockefeller or Central Park, which I prefer for a mini skater like Liv. They also have cute bear or seal skating aids that kids can sit on or hold on to. It's not super crowded and the view back there is fantastic.
Liv spotted Santa and wanted to say hi. Their set up is nice. You can reserve a time to see Santa online or you can stand in a "walk-in" line. The line wasn't that short so we waited. Upon entering, they have tables set up for kids to decorate their own ornament while they wait to see Santa. Liv was very proud of her ornament. She showed it off to Santa and it's now on our Christmas tree. When leaving, Liv witnessed the making of an epic "Bad Santa" photo aka a kid was having a melt down.
We skipped the turkey this year. My kids don't really love it. Nathaniel requested to go to Gyu Kaku instead. Liv LOVES marshmallows so she tried her very first s'more there and now she's hooked.
We usually stop into Khe-yo in Tribeca because I love their dipping sauces and their duck salad. Unfortunately, they don't have a full menu at lunch (when we went). Their eggplant sauce with sticky rice is my favorite. Their lunch steak was cooked to perfection. No matter what steak house I'm at, I always wish that they had fish sauce + fresh chili peppers (again.. we Asian). Khe-yo has their bang-bang sauce.
We had milkshakes at Chelsea Market + took take-out seafood from The Lobster Place to eat back at the hotel.
There was a Xi'an Famous Foods right by our hotel so we gave that a try too. Bubba and Olivia both enjoy noodle soups. They also love dumplings; we could've skipped the green one. I think we ordered the spicy oxtail noodle soup. It was good, but the oxtail was too chewy (oxtail takes HOURS to become tender enough to fall off the bone). The line moves fast in here, but the seating is first come, first serve.
We spent our last night trying to catch the last water taxi. We missed it. We walked around Battery Park instead and watched a beautiful sunset.
We're glad we got to experience the parade, but I'm not sure we'll be back in NYC for awhile during the winter season. As much as we love NYC, I prefer it when the kids are able to run around the parks without feeling too cold (Floridians). We also have a lot of plans for 2018 + a few family events.