Catherine and I decided to ditch OUR kids and take our mom to New York City for a weekend.  SHE was still stuck with HER two kids, but she seemed okay with that! May is a wonderful time to enjoy the city.  In an effort to see as much as possible, we tried the hop on/off bus tour.   At $50 per person, it may not be the most economical way to see the city with a large group, but for four, it was perfect.  We saw parts of New York that we had never seen before (East Harlem anyone?) and we learned a lot about the history ofCatherine and me in Central Park on the Upper East side. The view behind us is of the Reservoir and the Upper West Side. the city and its unique neighborhoods. Tip: The quality of the guides varies widely on the bus tours.  Don’t suffer through a bad one!  Hop off, take a photo or snack break, and in a few minutes, board another bus.  We were worried about getting seats upstairs as it was absolutely gorgeous weather and every bus seemed to be full, but not once on three different rides did we have a problem finding 4 seats together. Tip: While the city may seem shaded by a million sky scrapers, it is really sunny riding around on the buses… wear sunscreen! Eating is always a favorite past time in the city and this trip was no different.  We discovered our new favorite breakfast and lunch spot in Chelsea, The Grey Dog.  The service is friendly, portions are huge and prices are reasonable.   For dinner we had to go to Rosa Mexicano one night for pomegranate margaritas and guacamole made at the table. We prefer the original location on 1st Avenue that still feels like the hole in the wall restaurant we originally fell in love with before it became a chain.  Saturday night we branched out and tried Barbuto in the West Village. The food was delicious, a blend of Italian and American with lots of fresh seafood (the risotto with shrimp and the soft shell crab tied as our favorites).  The garage doors that serve as exterior walls during the winter open up in the warm months to make a delightful outdoor dining spot.  We heard from friends that dining when the doors are closed can be quite loud. We lucked out!  It was a pretty evening and a lovely place to eat with great service.  No weekend trip to NYC is complete without a Sunday brunch and this one was no different.  We hopped off the tour bus for the last time right in front of the Plaza hotel and ventured downstairs for shopping and good food at their brand new Food Hall. A cross between a high end cafeteria and a fine food shop, the Food Hall is celebrity chef Todd English’s American ode to a long held European tradition. The menu is extensive and varied; they literally offer something for everyone.  We all agreed the parmesan fries dipped in truffle sauce were our favorite! They do not accept reservations, but we were seated quickly after arriving around noon, however it filled up quickly so if you are pressed for time, get there early. They open at 11am on Sundays.  There are amazing baked goods for sale as well as a shop devoted to Eloise gear.   If you aren’t familiar with Eloise, the subject of a number of amazing children’s books, you are missing out. She “lives” at the Plaza and is quite a character.  It was the perfect spot for buying souvenirs for those small children we had left at home! A side note, we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton in Chelsea.   We used Starwood points and got the rooms for free.  I thought it was a great central location, practically smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.  It was a lovely hotel with a friendly staff however I doubt I would choose it again.  The main reason being we had to cab it almost everywhere.  We were right in the middle of everything, yet 20+ blocks from the places we wanted to go and see.  I think next time, we will try the Four Points in Soho where we can walk out our door to great shopping! Emily

About Emily Dunn

I joined Aladdin in 2004 and my favorite destinations are Africa, Italy, anywhere in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. I love to travel with my family, have extensive international travel experience and am passionate about helping others explore the world. I have managed events all over the globe. Whether it is a high touch board meeting abroad or a large medical convention in the Caribbean, I bring passion for travel and industry knowledge to work for every single client.

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