New York, New York!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

No, I am not talking about the casino and hotel in Vegas. I am talking the real deal- NEW YORK CITY- the big apple, shining bright lights in Times Square, Broadway, pizza, pretzels, and the whole shebang. We got to visit New York City for Thanksgiving week this year and 1/2 block from our hotel, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade passed us by.

My husband’s cousin was getting married so we had an excuse to enjoy the city a bit, and spend Turkey day with both sides of both of our families- how extremely unique and cool! If 2012 was about anything, it was family and politics but not mixed up together. Ha! We had a really fun time.

We flew in and out of LaGuardia Airport. I have to say, the airport is perfectly sized and what airport don’t I love that has a Dunkin Donuts inside. I mean come on! We did not do the hop on and hop off. Even though the weather was perfect, with the girls, busing around New York was not our idea of fun. Instead, we walked – and we walked… and we walked. Alot! We took strollers for the girls because hubby and I can walk, and walk, and walk but they can’t walk that much.

For the first part of our trip, we stayed smack dab in the middle of Times Square area, at the Sheraton New York Hotel- really a gem of a hotel. I have to say, and I have written reviews at TripAdvisor and Yelp about the customer service, it was an amazing stay! We were treated like royalty and we had no complaints. I had plenty of other complaints like how rude the Budget Rental Car people were – the one in midtown, 49th Street- DO NOT RENT FROM THEM, but other than that and being taken for some money by a luggage porter, all in all, New York was not so bad. And, despite being denied giant soft drinks by the mayor, the people were not irritable or rude. Oh wait… back to the hotel. If you are starwood preferred, see about getting the suites especially if you are a family traveling together, and club level. Can I just say, wow! Their club level food and drink was amazing, and it is open 24 hours for guests and Club-level members. Breakfast was included at the club level, and appetizers for happy hour. The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers was a great deal for us and I would highly recommend it to you.

Another great thing about this hotel was that we walked 1/2 block to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. We got a good breakfast at the hotel, and then caught an hour of the parade and with kids, if they need to go potty, staying right near by was awesome. It was great and the people all around us at the parade were very nice and let the kids move up towards the barricades to see it. It’s no Mardi Gras but wow! What an experience.

We really enjoyed sightseeing and had great weather for a few days while we were walking around so that helped. We saw the Statue of Liberty and we did (since the monuments and a lot of subway stops were closed down near the water) the Staten Island Ferry which the girls enjoyed and it’s free. You get a great view of lady Liberty. The Ellis and Liberty Island boats have limited hours until they can do some repairs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It may all be open again though. Oh, and the 9/11 Memorial had limited hours and closed exhibits too so check before you venture there. Although, now it may all be operating just fine. We got a good deal from a street vendor near the Empire State Building and avoided all the long lines to go up. What a neat view from atop and with the weather being so perfect, it was actually hot. If you can take the stairs to the final levels instead of the elevator. The elevator lines are always so busy because able-bodied people do not want to take stairs, something I never understand. Obviously, with strollers, it was not possible. We hit FAO Schwarz but after our experience there (kids going nuts), we avoided the giant Toys R Us on Times Square. We would have done this store on the way out (Thanksgiving day) but it was a zoo trying to leave the city after the Macy’s parade. There are M&M and Hershey stores in Times Square too!

Times Square is insane- it reminds me of the Las Vegas strip on steroids. It is very intense and the people are multiplied by 10. Watch where you go and don’t get run over and you know it’s bad traffic, when you can get out of the car, go buy a hot dog and pretzel and return to the car and it’s only moved a few inches. Love it or hate it… New York is not a place to have a car. So, let’s talk about renting a car if you are going to drive into New Jersey, Philadelphia, etc. The best way, of course, is the train. Even the trains were malfunctioning, etc. for Thanksgiving but if you can’t train it to other places, rent a car but my recommendation: Rent it from LGA (La Guardia airport) and not in the city. It is a nightmare to get out of the city and the people are rude especially the Budget Rent-a-Car experience I had, so if you can go to the airport. The thing is, the Midtown locations of all rental car companies get their cars from LGA so avoid the middle man or in my case, two angry women – one Hispanic, one Black made to work on Thanksgiving day. They were rather angry and power-wielding, making people wait, and negotiating prices for higher range vehicles. It was like a bad Seinfeld episode. “They know how to take the reservation, they just don’t know how to hold it.” It’s actually price gauging and quite illegal. I have reported them to the BBB but Budget Corporate actually refunded me the price difference I had to “negotiate” for a larger vehicle just so I could get the heck out of there when they did not have my mid-size car. Let this be a warning to you to try to rent out of the city because the worst part was the traffic to get out – took us 30 minutes to drive 2 miles.

We traveled to New Jersey, Philadelphia to see family and the wedding was in New Rochelle. What a cute town! We really enjoyed New Rochelle but were shocked to see people staying at our hotel who were still, three weeks later, not able to return home due to damage from the Hurricane. Wow! There are two hotels in New Rochelle: Marriott Residence Inn and the Radisson. The Radisson is rated higher but we had a swell time staying at the Marriott and there is free hot breakfast included. The beds could be more comfortable but it was fine overall. New Rochelle is a very cute, quaint town and walking around is fun. We had amazing pizza in New York, just about every night (HA), and in New Rochelle, the pizza was more authentic NY than we had had anywhere else. Great places to eat in this little town. And the Fountainhead, where the wedding was held- Wow! I can honestly the venue, the wedding itself, and all the pre-wedding activities – simply awesome!

All in all, great trip and the kiddos had a blast but they were exhausted and so were we. New York was wonderful and best of all, we saw both sides of our families whilst there, and really had a great experience in the city as well.

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