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Our Trip to New York City and Dyker Heights – Part 1 of 2

{ Posted on Dec 10 2010 by Marcus Alston }

I took my wife and kids to New York City and Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, NY  last weekend to take in the holiday sights and over all it was amazing.  The New York City part was underwhelming, but eventful, but the Dyker Heights tour was amazing and is a must see.

New York City Visit.  We drove to New York City and it took us about 3 hours to get there with stops.  We decided to drive instead of the taking a train because of the convenience of the car, the cold weather, and we wanted to stop at other points of interest along the way.  The kids also wanted to watch some new videos in the car.  I scouted out cheap parking in advance because I do not like paying for parking—in fact I have a vow not to pay for parking.  In this case, I made an exception since my wife has wanted to go to New York City during the Christmas holiday season for years.  I thought I would try to make it as special as possible.  I did save a lot on parking by finding a website that offers coupons.  Click here to find out more.

Our target location was Rockefeller Center and the great Christmas tree.  Police were everywhere directing traffic and pedestrians.  We drove by the American Girl store which had a line about a half a block long and wondered why people would wait in line outside to enter a store.  At least it did appear to be moving quickly and the wait appeared to be just a few minutes.

After driving through thick and hectic traffic, and finding the pre-arranged parking garage (only $20 with the coupon) with my GPS, we walked about 2 blocks to Rockefeller Center.  Unfortunately, upon getting there, we realized that the area appears a lot more spectacular on television or in pictures versus in real life.  The tree was only decorated with lights and had no ornaments.  I am told that years ago it used to be decorated with ornaments as well, but that tourists would take them, so organizers now just decorate with lights.  The ice skating rink (see below)  in Rockefeller Center was also smaller than it appears on television.  We could have ice skated, but the kids did not want to.

New York was very alive with the energy and excitement of tourists making their way to the various sites.  It was also extremely crowded which made us labor to walk around to different points by wading through the crowds with the kids.   We saw the Today Show set and went to the Today Show Store, bought a New York soft pretzel (I prefer Philly soft pretzels over New York ones), and bought a few things from the street vendors for a huge discount over what we would pay for similar items in the store.

Since our New York city visit was not as magical as we expected, we decided to enter the famous FAO Schwartz in search of some holiday magic.  The store had a line that stretched around the block for about 1.5 blocks.  It took us 17 minutes in line and I was counting since the FAO Schwartz employee had quoted us 10 to 15 minutes.  We looked around in the 3 floor store and saw some cool toys and a person dressed up as Pinkalicious and the Big Piano that was featured in the movie Big.  You could also make cup cakes out of soap in the store when we went.  I read a book to my oldest daughter while my youngest made soap cup cakes.  The kids loved it.  It was pretty magical in the store and it was worth the wait.  If you have kids, be careful to plan ahead for bathroom breaks, as the lines moved very slowly for the women’s and family restrooms.  The men’s restroom at FAO Schwartz had no line when we were there.  Other stores have similar waits and some stores (the Today Show Store) have no rest rooms.

We escaped from New York rather easily with the use of my GPS (what a great invention) and passed by a restaurant selling pizza for $.99 per slice and offering 2 slices and a soda for $2.75 at the corner of West 41 Street and 9th  Avenue.  I was amazed to see it and so I had to take a picture with my cell phone.  I wanted to stop and eat there, but my wife would not go for it.

We then headed to Dyker Heights where our trip would go from underwhelming to AMAZING!

In my next blog post, I will write about my incredible Dyker Heights experience.  Do you have any New York City holiday stories?  Please write me in the comment section below.

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