Destination: New York City

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New York is all hustle and bustle: crowded sidewalks, horn-happy traffic and impatient office workers vying for attention at deli counters. So how do you enjoy this vibrantly crazy city with a toddler in tow? Is it possible to find a truly family-friendly hotel and keep a 22-month-old amused when they’re forced to spend most of their time in a stroller avoiding potholes in the rain (and boy, did it rain!)? And what about us adults? We deserve to have some fun too!CENTRAL PARK
As the hotel was a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Central Park, we planned most of our days around this vast open space. Strapped into a stroller all day isn’t my son’s idea of fun, so factoring in some running-off-steam-time was crucial to the trip’s success (and our well-being!). It’s well documented that Central Park has been regenerated in recent years so to wander around and enjoy the shaded walks, the lake, Strawberry Fields and the international melting pot of skaters, musicians, break-dancers, bikers, soccer players and tourists was truly fun. Central Park is full of surprises; snow leopards are the newest arrivals at the zoo, there are concerts throughout the year and on the East Side you can find Cleopatra’s Needle, the oldest public monument in North America. But topping my list of things to do was a romantic horse and carriage ride around the park. This is a must-do, even with a toddler, and my advice is that you splurge for the big ride but know that prices haven’t increased in 20 years, so please tip your driver well!

I had some of my fondest childhood memories of this place, Serendipity, but now that I’m a mom, I think it’s ick and probably one of the least family-friendly restaurants I’ve ever visited — unless of course, your family consists solely of eight-year-old girls. Our waiter seemed irked that our party contained children aged from toddler to ten, and there were no changing stations, no high chairs and I had to yell four times before someone would give me my son’s milk bottle. Other child-free diners looked at us with disgust every time our children made, um, children noises. Really, if they wanted to plan things better, they could easily separate families from everyone else as they have two floors. There was nowhere to store our strollers either and nearby, a huge glass vase balanced on a pillar: a heart-attack waiting to happen for every anxious parent. And if they don’t want to attract kids, why offer foot long hot dogs? Their Frozen Hot Chocolate was still delicious but frankly, we wished we’d gone to Mickey Mantle’s.

The trip was a huge success … yes, I’m still on the happy pills! A lot of that had to do with staying at the Hotel Beacon. It was such a pleasure to return there every day knowing we had all we needed close at hand to keep everyone happy. I was worried about bringing a toddler to New York City but the simplest things seem to please him – the train and bus rides were especially fun, probably because we live in Los Angeles and he only ever gets to ride in the car. My advice would be to plan your ‘toddler time’ each day — as long as Jett could run around somewhere for a couple of hours, he was happy. So what was the hardest part about traveling in New York City with a toddler? Having to explain to him every time we got into a cab that the TV in the backseat doesn’t play Elmo. Oh well. You can’t please ‘em all the time!


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