We started going to NYC for the Holiday Season when our kids were about 5, we've made so many mistakes but from time to time it works out wonderfully! I just got back from NYC with our kids and we had to go it alone this time as Dad was at Art Miami (yes, I saw the story in the NYTimes and I am hoping it's just NOT true - ha!). I wasn't really convinced of the idea so I didn't really plan it or think about much. Being alone with the kids in NYC could go terribly wrong I know, but the kids were so excited I knew I just HAD to jump in and do it!
So my first rule was go on a Monday or Tuesday, so we drove down to NYC on Sunday afternoon, we got into town after dark so I took them through Times Square to see all the lights, great idea, not planned and the kids went crazy! They loved it!
We stayed at a friends apartment, the kids call it hotel, I suppose anything in NYC feels like a hotel. In the morning we had croissants and orange juice, breakfast of Champions! (and a bit of oatmeal thrown in there for good measure and to keep us warm). Since it was Monday, the streets were fairly quiet and we made our way uptown in a taxi (another exciting moment!). We got out at Radio City Music Hall, just as a crowd was entering (or is there always a crowd outside of RCMH?) - then we walked up 50th Street and we came upon Pylones (its a colorful French store with lots of great little toys for under $5) we stocked up on little trinkets for all the people we were going to see in NYC (light-up flower rings, race car pens, etc.) and some things for the kids to play with at down time (total $32--love that!).
Next we saw a sign that that said "Top of the Rock!" I had no idea that they had an observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center, no crowds, no lines, we went straight up in the elevator to the observation deck and it was beautiful! The view from the top is fantastic, Empire State Building, Central Park, and everything in between. It's a perfect way to get started, and the kids get an idea of the size of NYC from the top instead of the streets! There are both inside and outside observation decks so if it's too cold, no problem, you can see perfectly from inside.
Then it was back down to the bottom and a look at the tree and skating rink. We closed our eyes and then walked to the front of Rockefeller Center and then said "1-2-3" and opened our eyes to see the Christmas tree sparkling! It was great! We went to watch the skaters and somehow both of my kids didn't want to skate... (until the next day, Sander wanted to go and skate when we were down in Soho... urgh...).
Then across the street the Saks Fifth Avenue windows this year are beautiful, I have seen them before and wasn't so impressed, but this year they are dreamy and magical, really great for the kids! The theme is Snowflake and the Bubble and you can see it on youtube here. The show will take place every 15 minutes and it looks incredible at night. We saw it in the day, but I imagine at night it's incredible!
We had lunch and then it was a walk up 5th Avenue to FAO Schwartz, not too crowded and the kids had a play on the giant piano, then we met some friends and went for a carriage ride in Central Park, it was perfect and the kids needed some time to rest and sit down. It was getting dark so we ducked into The Plaza to keep warm and found that there was an Eloise corner downstairs where kids can have a tea party and play and relax a bit after the long day. We had dinner with friends (Kit & Emily from Lucky Wang) that night and the kids were running around and playing, it was good not to have to go to a restaurant.
The next morning we had a beautiful breakfast at Balthazar! (mommies favorite!) Somehow we ended up walking around Nolita after breakfast and looking in all the shops. Then off we went back to Rhode Island.
It was a perfect New York City trip with the kids, calm, fun and easy! Both the kids and I had a great time. I'm sure that we missed a bunch of things but it was the perfect amount of Holiday Cheer!