Back in July last year we were in Mexico for two weeks on our Summer holiday and after our first week there we decided to not fly home as planned and decided to book flights to America instead. The day we were due to fly home we flew to Washington DC instead. Whilst in Mexico it was really easy to complete our ESTA forms (they are around $20 per person), book the flights and book our hotels and the hotel concierge kindly printed everything off for me.
It was a three hour flight from Cancun to Washington DC and then I booked my very first Uber ever and couldn’t believe how quick our car arrived. I had booked The Mayflower Hotel in Washington through Booking.com and we arrived there and dumped our cases and went out to dinner. After dinner we walked over to The White House which was all lit up. We then walked back to the hotel and I had booked a family room but on arrival they had messed our booking up and we only had one extra bed in the room. Luckily our bed was huge and Archie slept between us and the hotel kindly refunded the whole cost of our stay for the one night. In the morning I had googled the best places for breakfast in DC and we went to Founding Farmers which had amazing reviews. Normally you have to book but they kindly managed to fit us in. The breakfast was absolutely amazing. I had pancakes and Greg and the boys had cooked breakfast’s. It was quite pricey but we were really pleased we choose to go there.
We walked over to The White House to see it in the light, Oscar couldn’t believe the amount of security everywhere and the police and Secret Service agents were really kind and had photos with the boys. We jumped in an Uber and went to the Spy Museum which I had prebooked using Viator. This is somewhere Greg and Oscar really wanted to visit as they love James Bond and anything to do with MI5 and gadgets. Oscar loved looking at all of the spy gadgets and learning about spy training. It’s a great museum and we spent a couple of hours there. It was around $60 for the four of us.
We then went to pick up our hire car that I hired online through AVIS and then picked our cases up from the hotel. Our car was absolutely huge, a proper American …….. We grabbed a drive thru McDonald’s then started our drive to New York. Oscar and Archie love the Rocky film’s so we decided to stop off in Philidelphia on the way but kept it a surprise. The drive from Washington DC to New York is roughly 5 hours and a really straightforward and easy drive with loads to see along the way.
We parked up in Philidelphia and took the boys over to the Rocky Statue to have a photo, I was surprised how many people were there and we had to queue for about 15 minutes. Afterwards Greg and the boys ran up in the famous Rocky Steps whilst I filmed them. I opted out as it was 100 degrees as there was a heat wave!
We grabbed some dinner and then drove the rest of the way to New York to drop off the car as we had to be back by 11pm. We literally arrived at 10.50pm then jumped in a cab to our hotel which again I had booked on booking.com. Our friend’s had recommended the New York Lotte Palace Hotel to us and the photos online looked amazing. When we arrived I was blown away, the hotel was beautiful and our family room was amazing! The boys were shattered so we showered and went straight to bed.
We woke up to our first day in New York City and the view from our room was amazing, we couldn’t wait to explore. We got an Uber to Ihop for breakfast as when Greg and I had been in San Francisco in 2007 I loved their pancakes. To be honest this time around I thought it was over priced and the food wasn’t that great. I had booked quite a few things to do on this day on Viator so we headed off first to the One World observatory as it was recommended to us as one of the best viewing towers.
The Freedom Tower is the new World Trade Centre and is situated next to the 9/11 memorial fountains and the 9/11 museum. We went up in the lift and then you are 102 floors up in the air, which is 541m to be precise. The views were amazing, it was a heat wave outside so there was clear skies and you could see the whole of the city. For the four of us it cost £100.
We came back down and then walked around the 9/11 memorial fountains. I found it so emotional and when we realised we were coming to New York we had explained to Oscar all about the events of 9/11. Obviously he knew nothing about it as naturally you keep your children in a bubble and I didn’t know how he would react. He is almost 10 and I was so proud of him at his reaction to being told what happened, he asked lots of questions and was really grown up about it. We then went into the 9/11 museum where he listened to all the facts, watched all the films and learnt so much. I am so pleased we went into the museum. The museum cost £57 for the four of us and it is advised to prebook your tickets online beforehand as it is so busy!
We grabbed some lunch and then walked to The Battery Park where I had prebooked tickets to go on the ferry across to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. For the four of us it cost $80. Like I said before we arrived in a 100 degree heatwave and the ferries are not air conditioned and the 10 minute journey was sweltering. We brought the boys a Statue Of Liberty crown each which was only $3 on the ferry and when we got off we had a walk around the Island and had photos by the statue. If you have booked your New York trip more in advance you can purchase tickets to go up to the base or up in the crown. We took the ferry back to Battery Park. Greg wanted to explore some old Mob hangouts to we ordered an Uber and drove across to Brooklyn to the various addresses we had found online.
We then went back to the hotel and got ready to go out to dinner. We walked towards Times Square and tried to get into Ella’s Stardust Diner which is a 50s-themed diner with singing waiters and waitresses but as you can’t prebook the queues were already down the street. We then decided to go to Bobby Van’s steakhouse which was amazing. We walked to Times Square to see it all lit up at night but it was SO busy and actually I was a bit like, “Is that it.”
On Day 2 we had arranged to meet our friend Lauren who lives in the city so knew all the best places to visit and the quickest routes to get there. As we had booked so last minute I couldn’t get a reservation for breakfast at Tiffany’s so we booked Sarabeth’s instead which is right next to Central Park and offered the same sort of breakfast as Tiffany’s. Afterwards we went to the Plaza Hotel from Home Alone and then walked around Central Park. We couldn’t take a horse and carriage ride as it was to hot. We then walked to the Dakota where John Lennon was shot and then took an Uber to FAO Schwarz toy store. I have never seen a toy shop like it, Oscar and Archie couldn’t believe their eyes and chose some toys. I then went into Bloomingdale’s to purchase a ‘brown bag’, I mean you can’t really come to New York and not go home with one!
We headed across the Brooklyn Bridge to the One Hotel for lunch as Lauren had said how fantastic it was. I would recommend booking as it is so popular and we had to wait about 40 minutes for a table. Lunch was delicious and then we walked across in infamous bridge itself, (we only went half way as it was to hot to be out in the sun to long.)
We went back to the hotel and got ready then went to Little Italy to a pizza restaurant for dinner.
On Day 3 we had breakfast (more pancakes for me 🙂 ) and then walked to The Empire State building. On my list of places to visit was the Friend’s Apartment building so we headed over there in an Uber. Archie fell asleep so Oscar, Greg and I went and had a foot massage and Archie then woke up and had a massage too. It was amazing after all the walking we had done over the last few days. We finally found the Friend’s apartment building then headed off to find some lunch.
We found the most amazing Italian restaurant La Lanterna di Vittorio and the lady who ran it was the nicest lady, spoiling the boys with pizza and homemade cakes. Greg found her fascinating as she knew one of the Mafia bosses years ago and they spent ages talking about that. During our time in New York we booked numerous Uber’s and hunted out all the old Mafia clubs and boss houses as that is the one thing Greg wanted to do, it was actually really interesting!
We then headed to Saks Fifth Avenue which is the biggest department store I think I have ever seen and also walked down to Trump Tower as well.
We headed back to our hotel and packed everything and then headed to the airport. I absolutely loved New York and would love to go back during the Christmas Season to see the tree outside the Rockefeller Centre, skate on the lake in Central Park and do some Christmas shopping. It is by far my favourite city I have ever visited with so much to do and see.