Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coney Island

After our adventure in New York City, it just made sense to run by Coney Island. That's how my brain works everything humanly possible because who knows when we'll be back!!! A lot of stuff wasn't open for the season yet, but it was neat to see everything. Check out this roller coaster that goes straight up and pretty much straight back down on the other side. No. Thank. You.

 We got to see the ocean, but it was way too cold to get in the water.

 We all shared a hotdog from the Original Nathan's.

Coney Island was a fun little side trip on the way from NYC to Philadelphia. We were glad we made the effort!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New York City

After three days in Washington, D.C., we paid approximately three zillion dollars in tolls (seriously, what's with all the tolls) and drove into NYC.Yep, you heard me right...we DROVE into NEW YORK CITY! I tried to figure out lots of ways to keep that from happening. I researched trains from Washington, flights, driving most of the way and parking just outside the city, hiring us each a private unicorn to take us there, teleporting, etc, etc, etc. In the end, driving our own car in just made the most sense for lots of reasons. We were very pleasantly surprised to find our hotel quickly and avoid a whole lot of city driving. We used the valet parking at the hotel, and it was worth every expensive penny. We stayed at Four Points By Sheraton Midtown - Times Square in case you are interested. It was very nice and an excellent location.
We did a lot of sightseeing in Times Square the first day.
We had fun at the giant Toys R Us (with a ferris wheel inside), the Hershey's store, the M&M store, and lots of other places in Times Square.

We were really hungry and didn't really have a food plan in place. So unlike me I might add...I always have a food plan! We happened upon Guy Fieri's restaurant, so we decided to check it out.
The kids loved their hamburgers (which is good because we had to spend their college savings to pay for them).
My pasta dish was really good too! That being said, I probably wouldn't go back. There's so many options in NYC!

We went to the Empire State Building.

Parker and Claire were excited to see the place where they filmed that scene from "Elf".

Of course, we had to go to Macy's. The windows were decorated so beautifully. I bet they are so gorgeous at Christmastime. The store itself was huge!
One the first evening, we had our first experience with New York Pizza. And I fell in love. True love forever.
On our second day, we wanted to see some sites that were far away from Times Square. We managed to figure out how to purchase subway tickets and which train to board. Keep in mind, we just came from Washington where we rode the Metro lots and lots for several days. With no problems at all.
So we rode the Subway down to the financial district where we visited the 911 Memorial, One World Trade Center, New York Stock Exchange, and the Raging Bull. 

Then we made our way over to the ferry for The Statue of Liberty.

After seeing the statue, we jumped back on the subway to head back towards the hotel. That's where this story gets interesting. Our children will probably only remember one event from this whole entire trip for the rest of their lives. Witnessing lots of different cultures and interesting people is to be expected when visiting a big city and certainly when riding a subway, and we had prepared them for that. We encountered a very angry man who shouted very, VERY ugly and inappropriate words and phrases for most of our trip back. The kids were scared, and we were all very ready to get off when we finally made it to our stop.

We loved the pizza so much the first day (when we all just shared one piece to see what it was like). Pizza for dinner was clearly an excellent choice! It was just as good as the first day, maybe even better. So my affection deepened. I have no doubt that there will be NYC pizza in heaven. (And Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And Aussie cheese fries. But that's beside the point.)

After our nutritious meal, we walked to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, The Today Show Plaza, and visited the studios where several shows are filmed (like The Tonight Show).

The highlight of our whole trip was that night when we went to see Les Miserables on Broadway. Our kids (and we) have seen it several times, but not in NYC. (Actually, I did see it when I was a senior in high school in NYC, but I slept through it. I know. It's a sad story.)
It was truly amazing!
One our last day, we just walked around the city some more. We may or may not have had one more piece of pizza. (I'm not kidding people. The struggle is real.)

Then, because I wanted to drive across the Brooklyn Bridge and because my husband loves me a whole lot, we drove all the way across the city. It wasn't awful (says the person who wasn't driving), but I probably wouldn't recommend it. Nobody seems to follow any driving rules and there are cars AND PEOPLE everywhere to watch for and hopefully not hit.
It was fun to drive over the bridge on our way to Coney Island.
Coney Island pictures up next... 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Washington, D.C.

Spring Break has come and gone. Our family was more than ready for a little break from school and work. However, we certainly didn't get any rest during our week off. Instead, we headed north and walked more than any human should ever walk in a week's time. Leave it to me to try to cram anything and everything possible into any given situation. We had decided to take the kids to Washington, D.C. Since we were already headed that way, why not just tack on New York City and Philadelphia. Makes perfect sense, right?

Our week began in Washington, D.C. We spent three days exploring the city. And by exploring, I mean walking our legs off. If you've ever been to Washington, you know that you could easily spend a week there and still not see and do it all. Since we only had three days, we knew we had no time to lose. 

On Day 1, we walked by the White House. The roads around the White House were blocked off even to pedestrians that day, so we couldn't get very close.

We also headed up to the Washington Monument. There was some kind of kite flying festival going on around the Washington Monument. Let me tell you...they picked the perfect day for flying a kite. The wind was so crazy that it almost knocked us over when we were standing up near the monument. I should also mention that it was bitter cold. Who's idea was it to head north on Spring Break anyway? (Ahem.)
By the time we finished up there, we were seriously starting to worry about frost bite. Our plans had to change a little bit for the rest of that day and evening. We had originally planned to do more walking and outdoor activities, but we went on to a museum instead. 

The National Museum for Natural History was fabulous! We spent hours walking through every exhibit. I took lots of pictures of things like the Hope Diamond and various animals, but I'm sparing you by only posting this one of our new elephant friend. (P.S. My favorite part was the mummies. It was gross, but so interesting.)
After hours in the museum warming up, we braved the cold to walk (a long way) back to the car. We headed to check in at our hotel, and then to get some dinner. After all that walking, we were really hungry so we just looked for something close to the hotel. We found a cute little Italian restaurant, so we were happy.

The next day, we bought a one-day Metro pass. The kids both loved riding the metro, and we were on and off that thing all day long.
First, we headed over to Ford's Theater. You have to go early to get a time stamped ticket to come back for the program and tour later in the day. The Park Ranger program was really interesting. I thought it was one of the best things we did in Washington, D.C.
The National Archives building was really neat too because we got to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. By the way, "DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS!" Haha! There are guards standing around who will remind you not to touch the glass where the documents are located. Most of the writing and signatures are so faded that you can barely make them out. No photography was allowed either, so I didn't get any pictures inside.
Library of Congress
The Capitol Building (getting some work done on the dome up there)
Supreme Court
Inside another Metro station. We felt like the subway system in Washington was easy to figure out with clean trains and stations. Also, we mostly felt safe and had no problems. Our NYC subway experience was quite different, but that's another story for another day.
We went back by the other side of the White House.
The Lincoln Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial
That evening, we ate at TGIFriday's because again, it was close to the hotel. Who needs an excuse to eat at Friday's, right? 

On our last day, we went to the National Zoo. It was the nicest weather we had all week. There were lots of animals (obviously), but I was mostly excited to see the giant pandas. Claire's class had been watching the live cam at school, so she knew all about the new baby panda. It was our first time seeing a panda in person since there are only about three places to see them in the U.S.

Parker and Claire's favorite exhibit was probably a giant anaconda. It was unbelievably huge. Seriously. If I described how big, you'd never believe me. had something furry in it's grip that it was saving for later. I'll spare you by not posting a picture! Just trust me, it was awful.

That evening, we went back to the same Italian place again, partly for convenience to our hotel and also because we liked it the first time.