Summer in Manhattan is anything but chilly — but it is a fun (cool) destination for families. Especially when your destination is the St. James Theatre to see FROZEN live onstage.
We surprised the Bug with tickets to the new Broadway show for her 9th birthday last month (the show opened in March). Although she’s seen musicals in Baltimore and Chicago, FROZEN was her first theatre experience in “the Big Apple.” In true Disney fashion, they “let it go” and held nothing back. There was something magical about seeing the familiar tale come to life onstage. And as a kid who loves performing, her favorite part was analyzing how they told the tale. The special effects. The instant costume changes. The lighting. And oh my, THE dress.
While Anna and Elsa were clearly fan favorites with the audience, tap-dancing Olaf was the favorite with our crew.
Before leaving for New York, I had done a little research about the show. One thing that stood out was the consistent messaging that “FROZEN is intended for children at least 8 years old.” Why? My best guess is the beginning of the second act — a hilarious new number called “Hygge.” You’ve probably heard about the Scandinavian lifestyle trend, which aims to achieve “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” In the FROZEN world, the term is synonymous with sauna. So the musical number takes place with a predominately nude cast doing orchestrated choreography with fig leaves for, eh, modesty.
As the Bug pointed out to me after the performance, “Mom, I know they were all wearing nude bodysuits.”
Funny? Yes. Did it need to be in a kids’ show that’s strategically marketed to every three-year-old on the planet? Debatable.
Worth the trip? Definitely.
Here are some of our best tips for the ultimate girls’ getaway to NYC.
How to Get to NYC from Baltimore
While this is the most expensive way to travel from Baltimore to the Big Apple, it’s also one of the most convenient. New York Penn Station is mere blocks away from Time Square, so it’s an easy walk to Broadway or your midtown destination. You can save up to 25% if you purchase your tickets at least 14 days in advance. Children 2 through 12 years old ride half-price every day. Infants under 2 ride free.
Hunt Valley Motor Coach
The bus is another great way to travel to NYC and Hunt Valley Motor Coach’s Big Apple Express is easy on the wallet (especially if you nab one of their frequent Groupon deals). Tickets are $30 each way.
Big family? Car travel may be the way you want to go. Many hotels offer overnight and valet parking.
Where to Stay
There is no limit of places to stay in the Big Apple — but here are three of our favorite destinations:
Hilton Time Square
234 W 42nd St | 212-840-8222
Located right in the hustle and bustle, Hilton Time Square is a great choice for families (provided you can convince your kids that you only need to see Ripley’s Believe It or Not or Madame Tussauds once — both are located right next door). The lobby is located on the 22nd floor and rooms are bigger than average by New York standards.
Hyatt Centric Time Square
135 West 45th Street | 646-364 1234
Still centrally located but a bit out of the hustle is the Hyatt Centric Time Square. We’re big fans of the suites at this hotel, which are perfect for families. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in all of the light (whether it be sunlight or Time Square Glow), but you won’t hear the street traffic. Don’t miss the rooftop lounge.
250 West 77th Street | 212-362-7700
If you prefer staying out of Time Square and are looking for something with old school New York charm, make a reservation at Hotel Bellclaire. The Upper West Side hotel offers easy access to legendary attractions Beacon Theatre, Lincoln Center, Central Park, and is just a short subway ride from Times Square.
Where to Eat
Dylan’s Candy Cafe and Bar
1011 Third Ave | 646-735-0078
If you ever wanted to eat in a giant cupcake or drink a mocktail with pop rocks, this is your place! Located above Dylan’s Candy Bar (which may rival Hershey’s as the Sweetest Place on Earth), the Candy Cafe and Bar is a must-do destination for any candy aficionado. Don’t worry. It’s not all sugar. They have a variety of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, too. We recommend reservations.
The Blue Box Cafe
727 Fifth Avenue | 212-605 4270
Did you know you can now really have breakfast at Tiffany’s? Chanel your inner Holly Golightly and definitely make reservations at The Blue Box Cafe, located on the 4th floor of Tiffany’s New York Flagship store. Go for breakfast, lunch, or even tea. (Note – reservations must be made online through Resy and are available exactly 30 days in advance at 9 AM. This one will take some advance planning but it’s definitely worth it!) Even though our reservation was for 1:15 PM, we all ordered the two-course breakfast which included croissant, fruit, and one entree.
Bryant Park Grill
25 W 40th St | 212-840-6500
Another magical place in NYC to eat is the Bryant Park Grill, which offers Parisian-style dining overlooking Bryant Park. While the vine-covered dining room is gorgeous, opt to eat outside in the garden cafe. Highly recommend the Mediterranean breakfast. (But go hungry -it’s a lot of food!). Afterward, catch a ride on the Bryant Park Carousel or stop by the Art Cart or Bryant Park reading room for some free arts fun in the park.
What To Do
Ok, this is by no means an exhaustive list — but here are a few of the things we did and loved on our girls’ getaway!
Stop by the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
780 Lexington Avenue
Deliciousness + convenience! Stop by Sprinkles’ Cupcake ATM when you need a sweet pick-me-up. Sure, it’s not New York’s more iconic bakery but kids (and adults) will get a kick out of it.
Central Park Carriage Ride
Pick up location is 59th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, Opposite the Plaza Hotel
At the south end of Central Park, you can easily ‘hail’ a horse-drawn carriage ride. 20 minutes of leisurely exploring Central Park (plus a chance to rest your kiddos’ sure-to-be-tired feet). Drivers are well-versed in the history of the park, as well as well-known movie destinations. Everyone wants to see where the famous “Elf” snowball fight was filmed, right?
American Girl Store
75 Rockefeller Plaza | 77-247-5223
No trip to NYC is complete without a stop at the American Girl Store, which really is an amazing site to see. Explore the history of the doll collection, see the newest doll of the year, play in on the interactive exhibits or even design your own doll and clothes.
45 Rockefeller Plaza
As a national historic landmark, Rockefeller Center a must-see destination in NYC. Go to the Top of the Rock for stunning city views, grab a refreshing beverage at the fountainside bar, or wander through the channel gardens.
Sea Glass Carousel
Enter the Park from Pier A Plaza, at West Street & Battery Place
Located in The Battery, the Sea Glass Carousel was an unexpected delight on our trip! (Not to mention the amazing views of the Statue of Liberty from the park). Kids will love ‘floating’ in the school of fish, which is even more stunning at night. The rider sits within iridescent fish that glide through the sights and sounds of a 360° aquatic adventure. Rides are $5/person.