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While we stayed in downtown Manhattan on our first full day in New York City with kids, we travelled all over on our second and final day! Midtown to the Flatiron district to Brooklyn and back downtown, we covered New York City by bus, subway, and on foot, seeing many landmarks and giving the boys plenty of time to play.
The day began with a ride on the PATH train from Harrison, New Jersey to the World Trade Center and then catching the subway uptown to Grand Central Terminal. There, we walked around and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Mommy’s favorite building in the city. We tried the Whispering Gallery outside the Oyster Bar which is more difficult than it appears during busy times to get members of your party at opposite ends of the gallery at the same time with so many others jockeying for position!
The morning’s timing was dictated by the first available tour at the New York Public Library at 11:00 so after moseying around Grand Central, we walked a few blocks to the library. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the 42nd Street library is always stunning but is even more beautiful in the fall when colorful mums line the lawn.
The docent led our group from Astor Hall with its carved white marble beauty and grand staircases down several first floor hallways and private rooms. The tour continued up on the third floor in the Rose Main Reading Room – probably the most photographed room of countless gorgeous rooms in the building – and into the sophisticated McGraw Rotunda, paneled floor to ceiling with carved wood and paintings.
While Mom and Dad thoroughly enjoyed this tour and were in a constant state of awe by the beautiful and varying architecture from one room to the next, the boys were rather bored and growing impatient by the end. The docents could be difficult to hear at times and children can’t see much behind tall adults. Before leaving the library, however, we visited the Children’s Library where the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals are on display.
For lunch, we hopped on a bus down Fifth Avenue, past the Empire State Building, to Madison Square Park. We love Shake Shack but had never been to the OG location in the park. Yes, the line was long but the boys entertained themselves with dirt (of course!) and we eventually secured a table for a delicious meal on a gorgeous fall day in one of New York’s most beautiful parks surrounded by historic buildings.
From the park, we took the R train to Brooklyn and walked down quaint Brooklyn Heights streets to the waterfront for plenty of kid time at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6. The boys had an absolute blast on the rope and Tarzan swings in Swing Valley, two-story metal slides at Slide Mountain, and spherical rope climbing structures. We continued along the waterfront past piers 5, 4, and all the way to the bridge, enjoying the Manhattan view across the water and time with cool breezes away from the city crowds.
Beyond the piers, the walk led us to DUMBO – Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass – where the clock said it was dinnertime but our tummies wanted treats. We ordered an assortment of cookies from One Girl Cookies while Mommy ran to nearby Jacques Torres for a half dozen chocolate chunk cookies to go – the winners from our cookie tour during our previous trip to New York City.
As the sun was lowering in the sky, we went from down under to walking on the Manhattan Bridge back to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. We’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge on every previous trip to New York and it’s a favorite activity, but the Manhattan Bridge is far less busy and affords views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge with its elevated wooden walkway above the lanes of traffic in the center of the bridge, the walkways of the Manhattan Bridge flank the lanes at traffic level. This bridge also has a subway line in addition to vehicular traffic which makes for a significantly louder experience. Mommy loved this bridge. It’s not as touristy and has the best views of the city and above the streets of Chinatown on the Manhattan side, but the others were turned off by the noise.
Once in Manhattan, we took a J train back to the Westfield World Trade Center and another quick stop in Eataly to pick up dinner to bring “home” to cook in our room. The men in the family aren’t very tolerant of crowds so being able to return to the hotel at the end of every day and have a quiet meal together alone was the perfect way to end our New York City days. Fresh pasta with bolognese meat sauce was on the menu tonight … with Jacques Torres cookies for dessert!