No, it wasn’t really that easy to say goodbye to my kids and Any Working Dad for a few days. But by the time I had checked in and had that cliché first glass of bubbly, feelings of excitement were bubbling up, too. And after all the other bugs that had been plaguing our family for weeks, I was happy that for once, it was only the ‘travel bug’ that was scrambling through my soul:
3.5 Days. New York City. Only me and my women.
Short and intense, inspiring, and a chance for us all to recharge each others’ batteries. Here are our tips to copy/paste and use as a template for your own amazing girls getaway.
Where to sleep in Manhattan
Location is a matter of preference, of course – I prefer to stay away from touristy Times Square and look for a nest in Soho. Highly recommended: The Airbnb from Jesse on Spring St. (Lower Manhattan): A bedroom, a pull-out sofa, a kitchen and a bathroom with a shower. Not the best if you’re very sensitive to noise, since there’s a bar in the on the lower level next door. You could also stay here with kids, but there’s no baby equipment in the apartment.
Food in the City
Small, cozy, with a great atmosphere: At La Cocotte you can even order en français. And you can hear French hip hop playing in the kitchen. Reservations recommended.
Molto bene: Osteria San Carlo. Piedmontese cuisine in lower Manhattan with excellent pasta. The cocktails at the bar are also a must. Definitely make reservations.
For Donut Trees and a fabulous à la carte Brunch, head to The Dutch. The traditional oyster bar has a cozy atmosphere with individual booths. You can eat dinner here as well as brunch. Make reservations.
Le Balthazar: Also excellent for breakfast.
The Mercer Kitchen: Already packed by 4 p.m., a stylish, modern restaurant downstairs. No chance without reservations.
Insider tip for vegan eats: Avant Garden. Not much seating, but a large bar and a highly motivated restaurateur.
As a big fan of good cocktails, these three bars were a highlight of the weekend:
Pegu Club: A long, narrow room with a lot of cozy seating and a big menu. Perfect for happy hour, as the bar is full by around 7:30 p.m.
The doorman at Death & Co. is happy to add you to the waiting list, but: “There are 44 parties ahead of you”. After an hour, we received an unexpected text asking if we would like to come to our table now. Definitely! The bar itself is stylish, with a rather puristic interior, but the drinks are phenomenal – making it absolutely worth the wait. Tip: Try the popcorn and “Ghost Colors.”
Apothéke: The “speakeasy” is not recognizable from outside. There’s just a sign with the word “Chemist” hanging in front of a large wooden door, and a bouncer checks IDs. In the middle of Chinatown, with a very cool flair. Rumors hold that there are sometimes impromptu burlesque shows – but we were already impressed enough with a bartender styled like a pharmacist and the many petri dishes and Bunsen burners.
There’s a lot to see in New York City. Some of these sights are worth the effort (e.g. the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island), while others are totally overrated (see: ice skating in Rockefeller Center).
If you only have a little time, or if you want to get a good overview of the island and the various “boroughs” (the five divisions of the city), make sure to take a tour with USA Guided Tours NY.
Although I usually consider the “umbrella tours” a nightmare, and we didn’t all make friends with our fellow tour mates despite five hours together on boats and buses, our tour guide, Tyler, made it worthwhile. Despite this being my sixth time in the city, I learned new things, laughed and saw a lot in a very short time. It would have been very complicated to try to plan it all myself. Absolutely recommended, for $84 per person.
Otherwise, Airbnb now offers so-called “Experiences,” which let you explore the city or the nightlife together with a local at a reasonable price.
Artists & Fleas / a lot of local artists and smaller brands – great for little presents.
Papyrus / beautiful and funny greeting cards and trinkets.
Nike Soho / lets you custom-design and spray your shoes (warning: long waiting times!).
The flight from Zurich is 7 hours and 40 minutes. Swiss, American Airlines and United fly direct from Zurich. With a time difference of six hours, the jet lag is nasty, but the good thing: As a mother of three (link in German), my circadian rhythm is totally screwed up anyway, so adjusting doesn’t feel that hard.
And yes, flying to New York for a weekend is, of course, total insanity with regards to climate change (link in German). We did it because one of us lives in the US, and we met in the geographic middle. And yes, I paid the absolution afterward and yes, I care about the environment.
Only in the Christmas Season in New York City
Around the holidays, a huge Christmas tree is erected and lit up in the famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center. What appears to be insanely romantic and beautiful in the rom-coms is, in reality, an overrated tourist trap (ice skating costs $25 per adult + skate rental). And I think the Christmas tree at Paradeplatz in Zurich is prettier anyway.
Along 5th Avenue, the big department stores like Saks, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s compete every year to create the best Christmas window displays. At Lord & Taylor, the displays are even built underground and then brought up into the shop window with hydraulics. A highlight with kids, too.
In Dyker Heights, an exclusive neighborhood in Brooklyn, the residents also compete every year to top their neighbors’ Christmas lighting displays. There are free two-hour walking tours .
On New Year’s Eve, the legendary ball is dropped at midnight in Times Square – a spectacle accompanied by music and a show. By midday, there’s no more getting through on the surrounding streets, which is why our tour guide Tyler (see above) strongly advised us not to go to Times Square on New Year’s. The practical reasons alone are compelling: There are no bathrooms available that night! If you want to do New Year’s like the Manhattanites: Book an expensive hotel room with a view of Times Square and celebrate comfortably within your own four walls.