Last week we made a last-minute decision to visit New York for a couple of days while my brother and his family were in town. It was right at the end of the school year for my kids (like the day that school got out) we pulled them out of school, loaded the car and headed up. It was so low stress and one of the best trips that we have taken. Of course there were snags but any trip whether planned or spontaneous is going to have things go wrong. You just have to go with the flow.

We only had 36 hours total but we wanted to hit some of the hot spots. Here is how we do NYC in one day.

New York City In A Day

We left on Thursday around 11 am and drove up to New Jersey to stay at a hotel just outside the city. Lewis looked online and found a Marriott that sits at the very end of a bus transit line going into NYC from NJ. The Marriott had complementary breakfast (bonus! especially when you are with 11 people), and FREE parking! If you try to find that in the city, you are going to be driving in circles forever. That first night we took the kids to Medieval Times dinner show. You can read about that here.

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Bus Ride

The bus picked us up right out in front of the hotel in the morning. The bus was full. We wanted to head into the city early to get a full day but we should have waited a little for locals to get to work first. We had to stand which was not that bad but the kids were less than pleased. It took about 20 minutes because we got stuck in traffic in the tunnel but we had fun teasing the kids about all of the water above them and watching them squirm 🙂 The ride home was fine, we all had double seats to ourselves. It ran from about 5 am until 1:30 am every 5-10 minutes all day long. Overall the bus was great and I would do it again in an instant. I would wait until about 9 to go into the city next time though to miss the busiest traffic.

Statue of Liberty

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The bus dropped us off close to Penn Station so we walked to the subway and took it to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We got off of the subway a little early and had at walk through the rain. Some of the kids were getting cranky until we got on the ferry. Once we got to the island the sun came out, and the rain stopped. we spent about an hour walking around taking pictures and photo bombing each other. We hit up the souvenir shop and got a couple of things and then got back on the ferry and went back to shore. We skipped Ellis Island because the line there to get back on the ferry was an hour-long and we weren’t willing to use that much time waiting. We might go when we go back to NYC in July.

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911 Memorial

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Once back we decided to head up to the 911 Memorial. It was walking distance and it was a nice walk. Even with kids ages 9 to 16 with us (some of which never get up from the computer) the walk was really easy for everyone. It is through the Financial District so there was plenty to look at and to keep the kids busy talking about while we walked. Once we got the memorial we reminded the kids about the importance of being respectful and behaved in the memorial area. Everyone was quiet while asking questions and just sort of stood and looked around. It was not crowded and we were able to get right up front and see everything. For a movement my chest got tight thinking about the events of that day and the feelings that I had and have dealt with since. Then we were ready to move on.

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The next stop was lunch at a great little pizza place just down the street from the 911 Memorial. They had plenty of seats for everyone and plugs for our phones 🙂 If I tell you one thing that you NEED to know anything about the city, it is that your phone will drain quickly. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, GPS all takes tons of battery so finding a place to plug-in while you rest or eat is a necessity (or carrying a portable power source). Best part? Total lunch bill for 11 people was only $50 including drinks, a bunch of pizzas and garlic knots. Plus we got to sit and watch a World Cup game.

Central Park

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After lunch we headed to Central Park. Another necessity when in the city. On our way into the park we saw some street dancers and a couple of our kids were brought into the circle for part of the show. The guys were funny and the kids had a great time.

Once in the park we went to the playground and rock for the kids to run around and for the adults to sit in the sun and chat. We let them play for a while and then walked to the carousel for the little kids to take a ride.

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Rockefeller Plaza

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After the carousel we walked through the park and headed to 30 Rock. We stopped for ice cream for the kids that happened to be next to a Starbucks for the big kids. Iced Chai was just what I needed to get me through the rest of the day. Once we got to Rockefeller Center we headed right into the Lego store, or Heaven as I call it.

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We walked around the plaza, went into a few places and took a ton of pictures.

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We started walking towards Time Square and went into Crumbs for some cupcakes to take back to the hotel. And then into a sporting good store where we spent way too much time because we ended up getting new shoes for a couple of the kids. they were also having an AMAZING deal on shorts so all of the boys wanted to do a little shopping.

 Time Square

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By the time we were done and headed to Time Square the rain came back in droves. All of our phones started going off with emergency flood warnings for the city. Luckily we had umbrellas with us from the morning when there was some rain on the way to the Statue of Liberty. By this time it was about 7 pm and we started walking toward Time Square (only 2 blocks away) and we were stopped by the rain. As we huddled under the awning at Hard Rock with 200 of our new closest friends it was decided that we needed to head back to the hotel and find a local restaurant for dinner. If we had stayed we would have walked Time Square and let the kids go into all of the stores. They were able to see it but it was a drenching downpour so they couldn’t appreciate it.

Like I said, all trips have snags and ours was the rain. We ended up having a great day and if it hadn’t rained we would have been able to see everything on our list. You really can hit a lot of the attractions in one day if you don’t have much time. We didn’t feel rushed at all during the day, in fact we were lounging at lunch watching the World Cup game for about an hour.

I can’t wait to take the kids next month for another day trip while we were staying in Connecticut during a family reunion. We still need to make a list of what we want to do and see. I will keep you updated!