nyc: master post/photo dump/how to plan a trip

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Oklahoma State Flag (far right) with 30 Rockefeller Center

I thought it might be nice to have one place to gather up all my tips and resources for planning a trip to New York City.


Prometheus Statue, Rockefeller Plaza

Three tools {Facebook, Pinterest and Google Maps} made the planning portion of my trip a cinch.  I’ll let you in on how I used them…

Facebook gives you the option to create an event and invite others.  You can make it as public or private as you wish then use it to correspond with other members of your group.  I was planning my trip with my mom and sister who live in Dallas, I’m in Salt Lake.  Facebook made it easy to post links, questions and information that were too long to text.  Facebook events are easy to edit as your plans change or details become final and your group is notified each time changes are made.


From the Empire State Building

Pinterest has the option to add contributors to any board you create.  I created a board for our trip, NYC: Fall 2012, then invited my mom and sister as contributors.  We then used the board to brainstorm.


Times Square at night

Google Maps lets you make custom maps.  I made a map of our trip that included our airports, hotel, our scheduled attractions, restaurants we knew we wanted to try, other attractions and restaurants we might want to visit, and metro stations close to where we were touring.  I didn’t use it once I was there because I don’t have a cool phone but I studied it a TON before I left and had a really solid understanding of Manhattan and where things were.


Times Square at night with fog

Other Helpful Links:

New York Pass (Another option is CityPASS- Save up to 40% on New York’s 6 best attractions with CityPASS. Shop Today!)


Brooklyn Bridge graffiti

Rad Mom Cool Kid NYC Posts:

nyc: day 1
nyc: day 2
nyc: day 3
nyc: day 4
nyc: day 5
nyc: day 6
nyc: restaurant reviews

And here are the rest of the photos that didn’t make the cut in my other posts.  I was kind of obsessed with texture on this trip…


Subway train arriving at Brooklyn Bridge station
Wall Street subway station roof detail
Central Park bridge
Carriage at Central Park
Pavers at Bethesda Terrace, Central Park
Steps at Bethesda Terrace, Central Park


Sidewalk, Central Park West
NYC side street off of Central Park West
Building detail on Central Park West

nyc: restaurant reviews

Here are my reviews of the places we ate while in New York City…

Read more about the trip at nyc: day 1

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Meal: Breakfast 
Price: $10-$15
Food: Not good, I ate half of mine, and only because I knew I needed energy for the day.
Atmosphere: Fun, 50’s Diner
Service: The waiters and waitresses sing.  If that makes you uncomfortable, this is not your kind of place.  Our waiter forgot about us for most of the meal and we could see him just chatting away with the others.

It was DEAD when we were there so the energy was low.  My guess is that the ‘show’ is much better later in the day.  We were there for everyone’s first song of the day and they were forgetting lyrics, wandering around aimlessly, stopping singing to talk to other waiters/waitresses.

The diner is located close to Times Square and we walked there in a few minutes.

I will NOT go again.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner
My sister got Challah French Toast
My mom and I ordered the Vie de France (sooooo much cheese. gag.)

Papaya King

Meal: Lunch
Price: $5
Food: I hate hot dogs BUT, I could tell these were pretty great!  I didn’t like the papaya drink but I’ve read reviews that say you either love it or hate it.  It was kind of creamy in a weird way for me!
Atmosphere: There isn’t anywhere to sit and barely anywhere to stand.  It was pouring rain so we squeezed at a counter.  If the weather is okay, just get out of there!
Service: They want you to know what you want when you get there and they aren’t mean but certainly not friendly and smiley.

My sister got a Chili Cheese Dog that looked GOOD.  My mom got a Jumbo Sausage topped with peppers and onions that also looked pretty tasty.

We went to Papaya King between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Guggenheim.  The walk is about 10 minutes east of the museums.

I will go again, to try something new!

Papaya King
I got The 1932
I got a frank with NY Onions…basically onions in maranara sauce.  They were kind of weird, if I’m honest.


Meal: Mom’s Birthday Dinner
Price: $35 Pre-Theater Prix Fixe Menu
Food: Great!
Atmosphere: Great!
Service: Great!

I didn’t take any photos of my food…sorry :(

I had Split Pea Soup, Pan Seared Turbot, and Vanilla Cheesecake.  It was all really great!

If you’re going to a show or staying in the theater district, I recommend eating here.  It is right in the middle of it so you can walk!

I would eat here again…but probably won’t because there are SO many places to try :)

Happy 50th Birthday, Mom!

La Bonne Soupe

Meal: Lunch
Price: $12-$15
Food: Good
Atmosphere: Quaint
Service: They were busy, but did fine.

The house dressing here is REALLY delicious.  I might go back to buy a bottle if they sell it :)  It is close to Rockefeller Plaza.

With all the options in NYC, I won’t eat here again.

My Mom got the Cobb Salad

My sister and I ordered crepes L’Italienne

Bangkok House

Meal: Dinner
Price: $16 Prix Fix
Food: Hit or miss.
Atmosphere: SO DARK!  The music was a CD of covers of current pop songs…kind of strange!
Service: Good.

The restaurant was close to our hotel so we could walk, which was nice.

I would go again but only for a bowl of soup.

Sorry the photos are rough…it was really dark in there!

The soup had fresh mushrooms and scallions and a really nice lemony brightness.

Bangkok House Chicken Coconut Soup

The spring rolls and salad were boring but the peanut dressing was pretty good.

Spring Roll and Salad

The Chicken with Basil Sauce was good, not amazing, not disgusting.  I asked for a mild sauce but it was still VERY spicy.

Chicken with ‘Mild’ Basil Sauce

Dessert was a banana friend in a wonton wrapper and topped with chocolate sauce and sesame seeds.  It wasn’t good.

Fried Banana at Bangkok House

Meal: Lunch
Price: $12 for 2 people
Food: Good!
Atmosphere: Small but bright and clean.  It’s also right under the Brooklyn Bridge!
Service: They get the job done.  Not super friendly, they are busy.

I will definately go again!

Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn
It gets busy quickly so show up early and be prepared to share a table…
Just so you know, if you have a small party, you’ll share a table with strangers!  In the photo below my mom is on the left.  The person in the Vans shirt, on the right, was our new friend from California :)
This is a small regular (perfect for 2 people): Fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, and basil for $12
Grimaldi’s bubbly mozzarella goodness
Come prepared :)
$15.25 for a pizza and one soda :)  Gotta love that!

B. Smith’s

Meal: Dinner
Price: $35 Pre-Theater Prix Fixe
Food: Pretty but blah.  I had to salt everything.
Atmosphere: Great!
Service: Great!

I won’t go again.

Fried Green Tomatoes at B. Smith’s
Roasted Chicken
Key LIme Pie with Raspberry Coulis at B. Smith’s
Wafels and Dinges- Foodcart at Columbus Circle

Meal: Late Breakfast
Price: I spent about $10 for a wafel and drink
Food: Great!!
Atmosphere: We took ours to Central Park so it was AWESOME!
Service: One guy does it all.  He was nice.

I will TOTALLY go again!

My mom’s Wafel of Massive Deliciousness (WMD): Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Chocolate
My Hot Cocoa and WMD: Bananas, Whipped Cream, and Nutella
The wafel was REALLY GOOD.  The dough is really thick and cooks up into a thick, chewy wafel that is lightly crisp.
The cocoa was good.  Semisweet and not too watery but I prefer a thicker, milkier cocoa.  Also, it was 66 degrees F outside…too warm for cocoa :) 
Wafles and Dinges foodcart at Columbus Circle, NYC
Wafles and Dinges menu

Wafles and Dinges menu

Dinges menu…dinges means toppings

So, there you have it!  Feel free to add any places you’ve been in the city that are worth sharing!!

nyc: day 6

Friday 5 October 2012
On our last day in my new favorite city, we went to get breakfast at the Waffles and Dinges foodcart at Columbus Circle.  O. M. Waffles is all I will say at this point.  I promise to share pictures, in all their chewy, crispy, Nutellaliciousness at a later date… (click here for the review!)
Wafles and Dinges food cart
My mom had to catch her airport shuttle after breakfast so we went back to the hotel.  After she left I checked out of our room and left my bags with the bellman.  It only cost $0.50 per bag!  I didn’t need them until 4:00pm so it was great to ditch them and spend my last few hours in the city luggage-free.
I wasn’t really sure what to do all by myself so I figured I’d just start walking, you know, playing the Left, Right Or Straight? game at intersections.  I chose right out of the hotel and good thing because I found Mike from Jersey Shore.  He was pacing around, probably waiting for a car.
I swear that the man wearing the gray and white striped shirt is The Situation from Jersey Shore.  He kept moving and I never got a good picture!

After my photo shoot with The Sitch I headed to Times Square for one last look.  It was a good thing I did because I found myself looking at myself on one of the huge screens.  Another check! on the old bucket list…
Ok, ok…I’m at the very bottom left of the crowd.  It was moving faster than I could get my camera ready!
After I had had enough of being totally famous, I decided to walk down 5th Avenue and window shop.  I found a cool new store and I would have gotten stuff if it weren’t for my already-bulging-had-to-stand-on-it-to-zip-it suitcase.  It’s called Uniqlo and it has U.S. locations in New York, New Jersey and California.  I sent them a message asking for a Utah location so they should make the announcement any day now.
I wanted to see more of the park so I kept walking 5th Ave. until I found a spot where I felt like heading in…
Central Park Zoo
Tree Endowment Paving Stones, Central Park
While I was wandering around, I found an artist, Edie Pijpers, that was selling some prints of her original works.  I bought two really sweet pictures of little kids in hot air balloons, flying over New York City.  I don’t know why I only got two…but no big deal, I just found this one on her Etsy sight so each of the kids can have one.
Central Park
Bethesda Fountain, Central Park
Me with Bethesda Terrace in Central Park
A building on Central Park West from Central Park
I got lost in Central Park.  There are all kinds of little side trails and the trees are so thick that I had NO IDEA where I was or how to get out!  So, I just kept walking and eventually came out near the Museum of Natural History.
Central Park
Central Park
After the park, I wandered around the streets a bit.
Manhattan LDS Temple
Manhattan LDS Temple
Like I said in the first post from the trip, I bought two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip because it was cheaper.  I flew into Newark but left from JFK.  The great thing about JFK is that you have the option of taking the Subway to the JFK AirTrain, which drops you at your terminal.  Other options include a shuttle or cab.  I ended up taking the Subway but here are the pro’s and con’s I weighed when deciding:
Subway and AirTrain
Pro- $5
Pro- No traffic
Con- Unfamiliar
Con- I had luggage
Con- I was a target for killers, rapists, scary people
Pro- No work for me
Pro- Luggage is easily managed
Pro- No stress about if I’m doing it right
Con- Expensive
Con- Traffic
Pro- No work for me
Pro- Luggage is easily managed
Con- Leave really early
Con- More than $5
Con- Traffic
So, I busted out my handy (actually not handy, it was enormous) map of the subway and figured out how to get to JFK.  I called my husband and had him double check the info online and then all I had to do was do it.  I almost chickened out a few times but I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money for something I could do for $5.  So, I hauled my suitcase through the crowds on the street and only ran over one person.  I was most nervous about how to get my suitcase over the turnstyle once I was down in the station but there was a worker that let me swipe my card then go through the emergency exit.  The ride was about 30 minutes then I got off and transfered to the JFK AirTrain for $5.  The AirTrain took me right to my terminal.  Easy.  I don’t know why I was so worried.  Oh, yes I do, killers.
Me and my Subway Map
JFK wasn’t very busy so I got through security quickly and grabbed a bite to eat and shopped a little before my flight left.
JFK Airport
Best vending machine ever

Luke picked me up and we got home around 11:00.  I went straight for my babies.  I smooched Isca a million times but she slept right through it, then I woke up Noa.  He looked confused for half a second before he gave me the tightest hug!  He said, “I missed you, Mom.  Thanks for waking me up.  Did you get me any weapons?”  I gave him tons of loves and promised to give him his gifts (no weapons) in the morning.  My last stop was Hollis.  She was dead asleep but I could not stop myself from waking her.  The poor thing was so confused, she just stared at me with her eyes all squinty from the hall light and she would smile then frown then smile again.  She never gets woken up so I think she was totally freaked out, and still really tired.  I gave her tons of hugs and kisses and made myself put her back in her bed!

The trip was GREAT but I hated being away from Luke and the kids.  That part was so hard!  Luke and Noa are both so funny, Isca is sweet and girly and snuggly, and Hollis is so full of baby lovliness…I am blessed with a wonderful family.

So, there you have it.  6 days of my experiences in New York City.  I checked a few boxes on my bucket list, fell in love with another city, and am already planning return trips with Luke and the kids. 

Wanna start back at the beginning?

nyc: day 1

Want to hear about the food?

nyc: restaurant reviews

nyc: day 5

Thursday 4 October 2012

The first thing we did was head to Canal Street.  My sister really wanted to buy some knock-off purses.  She got a faux Louis Vuitton for $75 and a faux Tory Burch for $45.  My mom got a faux Coach for $45, as well.  Me?  I got 3 scarves, $5 each :)

After the bags were bought, my sister had to catch her airport shuttle back to Newark.  The hotel concierge gave her a few phone numbers and she found one that was $25.  My mom and I said good-bye then headed to Brooklyn for lunch.  We ate at a pizza place called Grimaldi’s.  I’ll save the details for a review post next week :)  (Click here for the review!)


After lunch, we took the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway to get back to Manhattan.  It was very overcast but still fun.  The view is much better if you take it from Brooklyn to Manhattan but if you must go from Manhattan to Brooklyn, at least turn around a lot to see the skyline!

Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway, Manhattan Skyline
Graffiti on the Brooklyn Bridge
Locks on the Brooklyn Bridge


After the bridge we went to Wall Street.  It was boring.  The Trinity Church was covered with scaffolding and that was the main thing I wanted to see there.

New York Stock Exchange
Wall Street


After Wall Street, we stopped off at Grand Central Terminal to have a look around.  It is big.

If you go, look up, the ceiling is amazing!

Grand Central Terminal ceiling

After our day of exploring we had dinner at B. Smith’s on Restaurant Row then went to Peter and the Starcatcher in the Brooks Atkinson Theater.  The theater was right by our hotel and dinner was very close, too.

I forgot to take a picture of us at the theater…but I have to say the show was awesome!  It got 5 Tony’s last year.  The story is of how Peter Pan got to Neverland and how the different characters in the story we all know and love came to be.  It is very creative, hilarious, engaging, and the costumes and sets are wonderful.  I would see it again and I’m quite critical of plays and musicals.

The Brooks Atkinson Theater is much smaller than the Gershwin, where we saw Wicked, but it is very charming and has so much character.  It was a treat to see a show there.

After the show, we packed and went to bed.  We walked a lot during the day and were glad to rest!

Tomorrow, I will tell you about stepping out of my comfort-zone…spoiler- I lived.

nyc: day 6

Start with the beginning of the trip:

nyc:day 1

Want to hear about the food?

nyc: restaurant reviews

nyc: day 4 or how to get jimmy fallon tickets

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Our day started off early.  We had to be at 30 Rockefeller Center by 8:30 to pick up our tickets for a 9:00 tour.


While we waited for our tour to start we got to watch some of the girls from Jersey Shore tape a segment.  The best part was  this poor girl that walked by.  She did a double take then freaked out.  Hands over her mouth, holding onto things for support, bending over, jazz hands, and tears.  The guy she was with was pretty embarrassed.  So was I, frankly.

This attraction is $25 unless you have a New York Pass.  You MUST call to make a reservation and they will charge your credit card if you don’t show up.  You cannot reschedule or cancel once you’ve made your reservation.  Also, if you need to use the restroom your tour is over.  They are pretty serious about the whole thing.
The tour takes about an hour and is kind of cool.  You get to peek into a few studios but you have no way of knowing which ones will be available when you go.  We saw Dr. Oz, Jimmy Fallon, and Football Night in America.  Pages conduct the tour and give you the history and fun facts about the studios.  You also get a brief history of NBC.


After spending the morning at NBC, we went to the MoMA.  It is also included on the pass or $25 without.  I really liked this museum.  It had lots of great pieces and had a cool, fresh vibe…not as stuffy as the Met.


View of the MoMA from the Sculpture Garden

Here are some of my favorite pieces…

Sprawl 1 and Wall Sprawl (Next to Las Vegas Bay), Andrea Zittel
Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh
1984, Edward Ruscha
Gold Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol
Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates, Allan McCollum
Untitled, Christopher Wool
We had lunch at a little place called La Bonne Soup  (review here!) then headed back to Rockefeller Center to pick up our Jimmy Fallon tickets.  Once we had them we had about an hour to kill so we people watched and headed to the Lego store.


This place is a Lego lover’s dream.  My mom got Christmas presents for my big kids and I had to stop myself from buying things for me! 

They have Lego replicas of the statues at Rockefeller Center :)


Getting tickets to see Jimmy is a long process with lots of steps and lots of waiting in lines.  I’ll break it down for you.

1. Call the ticket office over and over and over, waiting for the dates of your trip to open up.  They don’t film every night (Tuesdays are dark) so make sure you are flexible.  Here’s the number  (212) 664-3056.

2. Once you get through and the page takes all your information, you’ll get an email.  PRINT THE EMAIL and take it with you.

3.  On the day of the show you have to go to the second floor of the NBC Experience Store at 3:00.  It DOES NOT matter where you are in line.  I’m pretty sure it all has something to do with how old your group is and how you are dressed.  If you are a 20-something hipster, you will get better seats.  If you are a 60-something hooker, you will sit in the back.

You will all be put into two groups and then pages will take your email print out and give you tickets and wrist bands that are numbered.  This number means nothing.  Some tickets are purple, some are green.  Some are numbered, some are lettered.  We had purple tickets with number 1 on them.  We didn’t have great seats.

4.  You will be instructed to line up at a specific elevator at 4:15.  If you show up at 4:14 a snotty page will tell you to come back at 4:15.  Seriously.  Once it is actually 4:15 you are all herded up the escalator and then put into 3 lines according to your number/letter.  As you wait around pages and interns come and pick people to participate on the show.  This is all about looks, people, so look cool.  Unless they want drunk, or tool-like, or flirty, or whatever they have pre-written into the show.  Look that way if you want to get on.  Good luck.

5.  At about 5ish they start seating everyone.  Our line was the LAST to go in.  All the hipsters were sitting in the front middle section.  Then they were filling in the sides according to how many people you had in your party and what you were wearing.  Bright colors get the aisle so I lucked out since I wore a bright red sweater.  We were on the side and a few rows down from the top.

And that, my friends, is how our Jimmy Fallon ticket getting experience went.  The show went by really fast.  Our guests were Martin Short, Logan Lerman, and Morrisey.  While we were waiting for the show to start, they had a comedian ‘warm up’ the audience.  He was really funny.  It was hard to hear over everyone laughing and I much prefer watching the show on t.v.

One thing lots of people have wondered about are the commercial breaks.  Jimmy films several hours earlier than his show airs but they do take a few minutes during the commercial breaks.  This gives them time to retouch make-up, set up activities, clean up the activities, set up the band, and film little personalized promos for different stations.

The reason they film so early is for The Roots.  They travel from Philadelphia every day for the show.  Every day.  This way they can get back home at a reasonable hour.

At the end of Morrisey’s song, Jimmy ran up one aisle and down the other high-fiving audience members.  We all got one :)  I made Luke DVR the show and watch it but they only showed the audience once and it was to zoom in on two older ladies they had wear silly t-shirts.  (We did make it on the Today show by accident though, we walked behind where they were filming on the plaza on our way to the NBC Studio Tour!)

After filming we went straight to dinner at a place called Bangkok House.  We walked around Times Square for a little while, then called it a night.

Come back tomorrow for our venture off the island!

nyc: day 5

Wanna start back at the beginning?

nyc: day 1

Want to hear about the food?

nyc: restaurant reviews

nyc: day 3

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


We started the day (mom’s actual birthday!) off with breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, then a quick trip to the Met.  We saw a door at the far left of the main stairs so we went in.  We didn’t wait in line.  The main entrance was FULL of people so we felt pretty sneaky/awesome.  It is part of the New York Pass or $25 without.

We only had a few hours to spend but you could spend weeks here.  It is HUGE.  We saw a great Andy Warhol exhibit (no photos allowed) and pieces by some greats like van Gogh, Polluck, Degas, Monet, etc.

I will definately go again the next time I’m in New York, but I’m a big art/art history nerd :)

Photo coutesy Aryn Call
Looking down the steps to the Great Hall

Here are a few of my favorites from the Met…

Untitled, Clyfford Still
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Jackson Pollock
Wheat Field with Cypresses, Vincent van Gogh
The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, Edgar Degas

We had lunch at Papaya King, located a few blocks east of the Museums.  Review here!


After lunch, we went to the Guggenheim.  Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect of this iconic building.

The day we went was super rainy but we had our pass which zoomed us in front of all these suckers.  Plus they had to pay $18.

Line for The Guggenheim Museum

We couldn’t take pictures inside.  Also, we went on a day when they were installing a Picasso exhibit on all levels of the rotunda.  Admission was discounted and we were limited to what we could see and where we could go.  Kinda lame, but we could sort of see a few Picasso pieces that were already installed.

It’shard to look cool standing in the same photo as Poncho Guy, but I tried.

We were pretty beat after walking around all day so we headed back to our hotel for a rest and to get ready for dinner.  We ate at a place close to our hotel called Thalia.  Review here!

Birthday dinner at Thalia

After dinner, we went to our first Broadway play, Wicked!  I just saw the tour when it came to Salt Lake in August but it was my mom’s first choice and Aryn hadn’t seen it either. 

Happy 50th, Mom!

Wicked is at the Gershwin Theatre.  It is a large theatre and the show was great.  I’m more of a Les Mis kind of girl but Wicked is still a very good show.  Everyone should see it once.

The set of Wicked

Make sure you come back for Day 4…maybe more famous people will be involved ;)

nyc: day 4

Did you miss the first two days? Start from the beginning!

nyc: day 1

Want to hear about the food?

nyc: restaurant reviews

nyc: day 2

This post is going to be picture-heavy, just to warn you.  We got 3-day New York Passes and started them on our first full day.  The passes are about $150 each and get you into TONS of attractions.

Monday, 1 October 2012


The first thing we did was a full island boat tour of Manhattan.  This is part of the New York Pass or is $40 alone.  I’m glad I did it once but it was pretty long and COLD.  The best place to see everything is at the very front of the boat.  It is also where the wind whips right through you.  If you go, think about taking a jacket and gloves.  It was cool to see the city from the outside, at the same level, and we went by the Statue of Liberty.

I forgot my camera (duh!) so the photos from the tour are courtesy of my sister, Aryn Call.  Thanks, sis!

This is my younger sister and I, waiting for the tour to begin…

The best view…notice how I’m already feeling like a popsicle?  I had to go in and get a hot cocoa to warm up.  The boat has concessions but they are expensive.  Nachos were $7.50, for example.  My cocoa set me back $2.50, not too shabby.  It was gross, really watery, but hot.

View of One World Trade Center from the boat
This fire boat was out because some military or foreign special person boat was coming into the harbor.  Maybe I should have taken notes.
I can’t remember where this is…but I want to say at the north end of Manhattan.


We were planning to just head straight to Top of the Rock, to check out the view but a guide talked us into taking an art and architecture tour of Rockefeller Center.  My mom is an artist and was excited to learn about all the Art Deco pieces that Abby Rockefeller commissioned for the buildings.  Our guide, Brooks, took us into several buildings and told us the stories behind the works in them. 

I’m glad we did it.  It was about an hour and afterward he took us straight to the top, whithout having to wait in any lines (awesome!).  The tour is regularly $15 but free with the New York Pass.

While we were waiting for the tour to start, Jay Pharoah walked by.  I have watched Saturday Night Live for my whole entire life so it was awesome to see a cast member!  Another cast member walked by after we got a picture with Jay but she was already past us when the security guard told us.

While we were waiting for our tour to start we saw Jay Pharoah from SNL.  He was obviously wicked excited to be in a picture with us.  We mostly felt like it was stupid and lame and we hated it.

30 Rock was filming a scene in the plaza during our tour and Tina Fey was in it!  Famous Person Overload.

We saw Tina Fey and Howard Stern and probably a few others…

Okay, okay, back to the tour:

This is where they put the Christmas Tree :)
Entrance of 30 Rockefeller Center


This attraction is also part of the pass.  It is $25 without it, and you have to wait in a long line.  You get a great view of Central Park to the north and of the Empire State Building to the south.  We didn’t spend a ton of time up there.  It was crowded and once you’ve seen the view, why stay?

Looking south from 30 Rockefeller Center.  The Chrysler Building is is peeking out from behind the MetLife Bldg. at the far left, the Empire State Bldg. is the tallest, at the right, and the next tallest, in the far background is the new One World Trade Center.
Looking north from 30 Rockefeller Center
See me and mom?

Next, we walked through the very southern end of Central Park.  It is crazy to be surrounded by so much nature and still hear all the traffic and see the skyscrapers peeking through the trees. 

Wester corner of Central Park, across from Columbus Circle


Our last attraction of the day was the Empire State Building.  I originally had planned this for a different day but the weather forecast had me switching things last minute to avoid rain.  We went on the best night, totally clear!  Every other night we were there was foggy.  This is part of the pass, or $25 without.

I’m so glad we did this at night.  The city lights were so beautiful and we were up much higher than Top of the Rock.  The park is obstructed by 30 Rockefeller Center but I didn’t miss it.

View of the Hudson (I think!) River from the Empire State Building
Looking at the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building
The building was lit up pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Looking up at the Empire State Building
Looking north from the Empire State Building

Looking southeast from the Empire State Building
Looking southwest from the Empire State Building

On our way back to the hotel we passed the New York Public Library. 

For dinner we were supposed to eat at a food truck called Waffles and Dinges.  They have savory waffles that sounded really good.  Well, the map showing where the truck was located lied.  We found their cart but the truck had the dinner.  So, we had Chipotle.  CHIPOTLE, people.  Negative points to us for NYC food street cred.  Sad face.

Our next day in New York was mom’s BIRTHDAY!!!  Stick around for it!

nyc: day 3

Did you read about the first day in New York?

nyc: day 1

Here’s where we ate…

nyc: restaurant reviews

nyc: day 1

I recently went to New York with my mom and sister to celebrate mom’s 50th birthday.  Here’s a look at our trip!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

1:00am Go to bed.
3:45am Wake up.  For real.  That sucked.  I took a shuttle from my house to the airport since I had an early flight (7am).  We have church at 9:30 and if the kids had gotten up super early, church would have been a nightmare!  My husband was conducting the meeting so the kids sat with some friends of ours.  I was kind of nervous since it was so early but the driver was neither a rapist or a killer, so that was nice.

I flew with Southwest (they don’t open their ticket counter until 6am.  Good thing I got there at 5.)  As of now, you can check 2 bags with them at no cost.  TSA was cracking down in SLC on the rule that you can only have ONE 1 quart bag for any liquids and gels in your carry-on.  I had to say good-bye to 5-6 things, lame.  I ended up buying a one-way ticket from SLC to Newark and then another one-way, on a different airline, from JFK to SLC.  It was cheaper and I could spend more time in the city that way.  Next time, I’ll try to fly into JFK because you can take the AirTrain and then the subway to Midtown.  It only costs $5 for the AirTrain and then you just use your MetroCard to ride the subway.  This isn’t a great idea if you have a ton of luggage or if your hotel is really far from a subway stop.


We flew into Newark, New Jersey.  It’s super close to Manhattan.  We shared a cab.  I chose a cab over a shuttle because I read lots of mixed reviews about the shuttles.  Like, they don’t show up, they leave with your bags still on board, drivers are MEAN, etc.  Everything I read said to just cough up the few extra bucks for a cab.  It cost us $95 total ($61 for the ride, $5 credit card fee, $17 tolls, $12 tip).  Cabs can only take 3 people max and fit about 3 suitcases.  It’s not so pricey if you share but I wouldn’t do it alone.

If you are easily car sick, the ride will get you.  I was already a little off from the airplane and the cab almost made me lose it a few times.  The driver was weaving, cutting people off, speeding, etc.  I never felt like I was in danger, just like I might puke.

The nice thing about a cab is that the driver deals with your luggage and drops you off right at your hotel.  Some shuttles drop off at bus terminals so you have to drag your luggage through the crowds of people for a few blocks or through the subway.

In the taxi, heading to Manhattan!
Entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Inside the Lincoln Tunnel.


We purchased 7-day MetroCards for $30 which got us everywhere we wanted to go :)  The first two days were a little rough with figuring out where we were and where we were going and how to do it but once I figured it out, I had it down!  Eventually, I didn’t have to pull the map out every 20 seconds.

So, we were supposed to go to Lombardi’s Pizza for dinner.  Due to a delayed flight, carsickness, and me not exactly having the subway/map of New York totally figured out, we ran out of time :(  So we went to Sbarro in Times Square.  (I’m going to go get me a New York slice!  Any Office fans out there?)

Mama Sbarro’s


The Hotel Edison
228 West 47th Street (Between 8th and Broadway)
New York, NY

Okay, keep in mind I’m a bit of a hotel snob.  The Edison is listed as a 3 star hotel and I would agree but on the very low end of 3.  It is currently undergoing renovations (we were never bothered) and we stayed in an unrenovated room.  It was tired.  It really needed new carpet, tile, linens, drapes, wall paper, etc.  The decor is Art Deco (think Empire State Building).

The staff was very kind and helpful.  If you arrive before check-in (3:00pm) or if you leave after check-out (12:00pm) the bellmen will store your luggage for $0.50 per bag.  I used this service when I checked out so I could explore without the burden of dragging a suitcase around.

I called ahead to ask about laundry services and was told they had coin-operated machines.  I planned to do a load half-way into the trip to save room in my suitcase.  They don’t have coin op machines so I got to wear dirty clothes and extra deodorant and perfume a few days.  They will send your laundry out to be washed, if you want, but I didn’t feel like I had enough to make it worth it.

There were three reasons I chose this hotel.
1. BUDGET- Our budget was pretty small and this was the cheapest place I found that was still close to the touristy action.  They don’t charge for extra people, unless you need a roll-away bed.  We paid $332.21 per night.  I booked it through
2.  LOCATION- We were literally steps from Times Square, theatres, and restaurants.  We were about 7 minutes from the subway and Rockefeller Center.  The location was perfect.
3.  SIZE- I went with my mom and sister which meant there would be bed sharing.  We are grown-ups and Queen-sized beds were a must.  Most hotels had 1 King or Queen or 2 Full-sized beds.  This was one of the only hotels that offered 2 Queens.

This is the view of the hotel from Broadway/Times Square.
View of the room.  This is at the end of the trip, sorry for the mess!
View of the hall from the room.  The bathroom is on the left, small closet on the right.

Welcome to the bathroom.  The shower was an adventure.  It would switch between a normal temperature and scalding hot with no sort of warning or pattern.  Also, there was no fan.  When I showered, the steam would collect all over the ceiling and then it would ‘rain’ on anyone who needed to be in there.

The bathroom was itty bitty!
Sink view of the bathroom.
This is the larger closet, in the room.
This is the smaller closet, in the hall, near the door.

We took the subway to Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries.  This was one thing that didn’t really work out.  In trying to be budget friendly, I figured we could just buy a few things for quick breakfasts and lunches.  We didn’t have a fridge and New York is humid.  The produce had seen better days.  We decided to just eat out some of the days and some of our groceries went to waste.  Next time, I’ll get a room with a fridge!

By the end of the day we were EXHAUSTED!  I had no problem falling right to sleep.  I never woke up because of noise, either outside or from the hall.

Stay tuned for our second day…I saw FAMOUS PEOPLE!!!

nyc: day 2
nyc: restaurant reviews

Rad Mom Cool Kid

Rad Mom Cool Kid