New York State of Mind - Special Moments for First Time Visitors

New York has been defined in so many ways that it often becomes a different city for each experience: The Big Apple. The city that doesn’t sleep. The toast of Broadway. The epicenter of food, fashion, and nightlife.  For the locals, there is a cohesive and inherent pride in being a New Yawker. For myself and my family, it became a special place where my two youngest kids (Ages 12 and 5) celebrated many “firsts” in their lives. This trip was their first visit to New York. That means it was also their first time to visit Time Square, see a Broadway Play, see the Statue of Liberty, see the Atlantic Ocean, and all of the wonderful experiences that encompass and define New York City. We were stopping through for a few days before we embarked on a cruise to Bermuda from New York. This was also their first cruise and their first time out of the country. They aren’t so much sheltered, I just wanted them to be old enough to remember it all. I also dragged my parents on the trip so they could witness the glee of such special moments as only Grandparents could.






New York is home to some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. The Roosevelt Hotel has been the Grand Dame of Madison Avenue since 1924. Whisked by friendly porters through the traditional revolving doors, guests are immediately transported to the grandeur of old New York. Ideally situated in the heart of midtown, this historic entity is conveniently located near all the major hot spots.





New York is one of the easiest cities to navigate. It’s set up like a grid, so it’s virtually impossible to get lost. As a tourist, no other city can give you the sense of belonging like NYC. After a few days of visiting the corner bagel store, local coffee shop, and walking the city – anyone can feel like a local. As a tourist, it’s easier to use the subway or a taxi vs driving yourself. Parking is a nightmare anywhere in the city. We enjoyed taking trips on the subway as the boys had never been on one before. They enjoyed the sights, (even the smells) and the live musicians along the way. Another highlight for me was to capture the special smile my parents shared after 52 years of marriage as they rode the subway with their grandkids.



Because my boys had never been to New York before, we had to hit all of the obvious places: first time at Times Square, first time to visit the Empire State Building, and their first time to see the Statue of Liberty. If you are visiting any of these sites, choose the VIP option so you can skip the lines. It is worth the few extra bucks for the time you save not waiting in line, especially during the Summer and busy seasons.





Tips for Buying Last-Minute Broadway Tickets:

The most exciting “first” was when the boys got to see their first Broadway Play. We chose to see Matilda since it was one of the more kid-friendly plays. I will never forget the look of awe on my 5-year-old’s face as he watched the play, completely enthralled, moving his hands and “conducting” the entire time.



We didn’t really plan ahead, so we discovered a few stealth secrets:

1) If you go to the ticket resale locations on Broadway and 47th, you might find some tickets, while others will be sold out.

2) If you buy from a ticket brokers on the street, the licensed brokers can sell the day of the event for better discounts.

3) Check the seats on the ticket and face value. They charge broker prices and add a surcharge that is not available to the public.

4) Look for tickets with a ripped edge, those are the legitimate ones.

5) Pull up the theater map on your phone to confirm where your seats are before you buy.



There is a plethora of award-winning restaurants concentrated within NYC, so it’s virtually impossible to have a bad meal.  Chef Ben Pollinger earned every Michelin star for Oceana, the popular Midtown Manhattan seafood restaurant near Rockefeller Center.





I’m still haunted by their fresh seafood tower with enough crab, shrimp, and oysters to feed a village. Their menu is seasonal, but you can almost always find signature favorites like truffle gnocci and the General Tsao’s Lobster. Both received thumbs up from our table, even with finicky eaters. The sea bass with watermelon salsa was the best I’ve ever eaten.




Oceana is well known for their lunch and dinner in their elegant, yet intimate locale. They recently added breakfast, plus new pastry chef, Colleen Grapes. Their ambitious wine list consists of 1,050 choices from 130 regions of the world.


You can’t visit New York with kids and avoid ice cream. One of the most well-known is Big Gay Ice Cream. Starting out from an ice cream truck, they now have two “colorful” stores in East Village and West Village. With names like Salty Pimp and the Bea Arthur, they reinvented ice cream and how people enjoy it. They start with fresh vanilla ice cream, include “injections” of caramel (or other ingredients), or a hand-dipped cone in melted chocolate, and add selected toppings like sea salt, cayenne pepper, crushed Nilla Wafers, and more.




It would be nearly impossible to include all of the things about New York City that make it an amazing place. Although this was the kids’ first visit to New York, it certainly won’t be their last.

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