I met one of my best friends, Leslie, when our girls started pre-school together four years ago, and almost since then we have talked about taking them to New York when they turned six- just like our girl from the Plaza, Eloise! We finally made it happen last week (just in time- because Grace & Polly will be turning 7 this summer!!!) the whole trip was honestly Core Memory material. For those of you who reached out after seeing our instastories, I went ahead and broke down our full itinerary here!
The Plaza: Tea at the Palm Court & The Eloise Suite
The girls knew we were going to New York for two days for a “Grown Up Girls Trip”, and both of them had a wishlist of activities, but the whole plan was a surprise. We took an early flight from Houston and arrived in New York around lunch, checked in at The Plaza where we took the girls down to their gift shop and got them each matching Eloise costumes for our tea at The Palm Court. I had taken Grace to visit the Eloise portrait a few years back, and we stopped by the gift shop then, but they have REALLY stepped up their game now. The Eloise costumes are done by Rachel Riley now “for Lord’s sake” (as Eloise would say).
They do an Eloise Tea at The Palm Court, and their is an adult option as well, that you can do whether or not you are staying in the hotel and I would HIGHLY recommend. It is one of those rare activities that is balances a grown up specialness with the right amount of whimsy and fun for the kids. It doesn’t feel like you are at a cheesy Eloise theme-park, but like you might have actually gone back in time and become Eloise for the day.
We stayed in the Eloise Suite at The Plaza– it was designed years ago by Betsey Johnson (I actually wrote a post on OG Peppermint Bliss about it back in 2009!) and there is only one in the hotel, so we booked awhile back and planned our trip around its availability. The room itself is on the smaller size, though it has a king bed, but there is adjoining room they call “The Nanny Suite” that I would recommend booking if you are going with multiple kids and adults. Design-wise, the room is A LOT but the girls were in HEAVEN, and they really did a great job of fluffing them up. The reservation comes with a gift bag, and they do lots of cute little things for you during your stay.
Dinner & A Show
After tea, and the room-reveal, the girls played for a bit before we all got dressed up for a fancy dinner out on the town at Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar. Again, the girls didn’t know what was on the agenda for the evening, but wanted a “fancy night” so we chose the Polo Bar because it is gorgeous, and feels like a special occasion, but the menu has some crowd-pleasers for the kids. Also, it was walkable from the hotel, and on the way to the theatre.
From dinner we took a cab to Times Square where we told the girls we were going to look at the lights, and then surprised them when we got to the theatre with tickets to see Frozen on Broadway. Grace is super into theatre and I have taken her to a few plays before, and Polly had never been to New York and seeing a show was her #1 request- both girls were THRILLED! It was a great show to take kids to- I was curious to see how the live staging would hold up to the animated version for the girls, and whoever did the set designs and special effects better have won every award because it was truly magical.
After the show we walked back through Times Square- where Grace learned a hard lesson about walking in heels- and then took a pedi-cab back to the hotel to get some rest for Day 2!
The Statue of Liberty & Ladies Who Lunch
Grace is OBSESSED with the The Statue of Liberty, and has been forever. I really don’t know where she gets it from, but she talks about it constantly and seems to have been born with a build-in encyclopedia of fun Lady Liberty facts. I am ashamed to say that while Leslie and I both lived in/around New York for years, neither of us had ever been, so a tour was a top priority on our lists. Leslie booked us an early morning tour with access to the top of the pedestal through this company– shoutout to our tour-guide Owen who was truly the BEST!
Pro-Tip: We didn’t realize how far in advance tours book (tickets to climb up inside the statue to the grown are reserved months in advance ) so while you can always do the Ferry and walk around the Island, if you want to go inside the Statue Museum and climb up any part of the way, plan ahead!
I was worried that the girls might get bored since the tour we booked wasn’t geared specifically to kids (they were the only two in our group which was mostly sweet, retired couples) but they were super engaged, asked great questions, and Owen did a great job of giving us all the info while moving it along. At the end of the guided museum tour, you have the option to take an elevator or climb up 176 steps to a view platform at the base of the statue.
The girls climbed up the whole way, and the view was well worth it! I definitely don’t think they could have continued on to the crown- and honestly I am super claustrophobic so I would have opted out as well. Afterwards, our tour continued on to Ellis Island but the girls were pretty wiped out so we skipped that part and headed up town for a ladies lunch at Fred’s since the girls had also requested to go shopping.
If I had to make an edit to our itinerary, I think I would have deviated from the “Grown Up” theme here and just bit the bullet for lunch at American Girl. The girls were worn out, and while it is fabulous, Fred’s was a little too grown up to keep them engaged after such a big night/morning. From lunch we went back to the hotel to let the girls play in the room, and have a little quiet time.
We took them to Bemelman’s– the iconic piano bar at The Carlyle Hotel adorned in hand painted murals by the author/illustrator of the Madeline books, Ludwig Bemelman. We went early, around 5:30, so that we could get a good seat- plus the girls were still exhausted. They loved searching for Madeline on the walls, and while it is definitely a “grown up” spot (I would not have taken them later in the night as it is definitely an adult bar/lounge) the girls were on their best behavior and thoroughly enjoyed the vibe- and their sliders/french fries.
We went back to the hotel around 7:00 because after 36 hours of intense Mom-ing, Leslie and I wanted to take ourselves out on the town for a bit. One of my best friends little sisters is a super cute teacher in New York, and came over the play with the girls who got to order room service for dessert- and Charge it please! -before crashing after a full day!
Living the Dream in Brooklyn
Our flight didn’t leave until the afternoon on our last day, so we had some time to squeeze in one more activity before heading home. We debated between the many delights New York has to offer- central park, museums etc. but when we heard about The Dream Machine in Brooklyn we knew while it might not be as culturally significant as our other options- it would for sure be the biggest hit with the girls.
The Dream Machine is one of those pop-up instagram experience exhibits like The Museum of Ice Cream and The Color Factory you have seen on your feed. There were tickets available to their 10:00 AM walkthrough (some of these things sell out immediately) and while I wouldn’t say it was worth the trip on its own- it was basically on the way to LGA so we decided to book a car (so we could bring our bags) and plan a little BK adventure around it.
While the pictures may look like we are in some Kusama/Turrell situation, make no mistake, this is a Selfie-Factory. No disrespect to The Dream Machine, it was both of the girls favorite thing we did (!%#*) on the whole trip, I just want to make sure anyone following this itinerary has appropriate expectations. It was a delight, and afterwards we explored Brooklyn, shopping and visiting a little park, before grabbing lunch at Mister Dips (super cool food truck in a sky garden at The William Vale hotel).
Leslie and her husband moved to Houston from Brooklyn when she was pregnant with Polly, and it was cool to take a spin around her old hood and see how much it has changed since then. There was so much more we wanted to do and see, and I would definitely plan a full day/night to explore on another trip.
And that was that! Many thanks to my mostly companion, and wing woman, Leslie for helping me put this all together. It was a quick, perfectly spent trip to NYC- and hopefully a lasting memory for two of the sweetest, smartest, spunkiest 6-Year olds around!