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Family in Manhattan
Finn's first trip to NYC
I’m very delayed in this recap, but from April 13-18, my sister Danielle, her husband Steve, and my nephew Finn, flew from Toronto to New York for a friendly visit.
I was happy to take a couple days off work, show them my new life on the Upper West Side and cram into a small apartment for a weekend of fun!
Wednesday, April 13
The crew arrived while I was wrapping up a few work meetings so Lynn took them to Central Park (we were blessed with amazing sunshine and warm temperatures for their entire trip). Finn got his first taste of NYC playgrounds, and they arrived back just in time for me to log off and head to happy hour.
We took them to one of our locals, Owl’s Tail, for a couple creative cocktails and snacks, then picked up sushi and brought it back to the apartment to put Finn to bed and catch up over rolls, tempura, and champagne.
Because the little man is always up early, we went to bed at a reasonable hour most nights. Not exactly embracing “The City that Never Sleeps” but it was worth it to soak up every moment of every day with Finn.
Lynn and I gave up our bed for the Rombough’s and slept in the living room on our air mattress. We could have opted for a hotel, but the apartment hangouts in the morning are so much fun so I wouldn’t have traded the non-glamourous sleeping arrangements.
Thursday, April 14
Finn woke me up around 7:30 so he and I headed out to grab some NYC bagels for the squad at Zucker’s. After picking them up, I asked Finn if he wanted to go home and eat them or to go to the park - he opted for the park and I’m glad he did given how sunny it was outside.
We sat in Strawberry Field and he crushed half a bagel and cream cheese to get energized for the day. I loved having a little uncle-nephew time and it’s always so fun to see how quickly he’s growing and how smart and funny the little man is.
We walked home (a theme of the trip was just how much Finn walked with his little legs, and seemingly never got tired) and delivered the bagels for the rest of the group.
Once everyone was satiated, Dan, Steve, Finn and I left the apartment, bound for the LEGO store at Rockefeller Center (a two-mile walk from our apartment). We walked through Central Park, pointed out the Plaza Hotel (of Home Alone 2 fame) to Finn, and continued through the crowds of people down Fifth Avenue, only to find a massive lineup at the LEGO store.
Instead of lining up, we window-shopped, then walked around the corner and into F.A.O. Schwartz, the famous toy store at 30 Rock. Lynn arrived to meet Finn and I there while Dan and Steve checked out a nearby clothing pop-up Dan heard about.
Finn tried out a few of the fun games and toys in the store, before leaving with a nice haul of glowboards, a muppet, and a boomerang.
We took the subway home for a little downtime before dinner. Lynn and I signed up for babysitting on the Thursday so Dan and Steve could head to a cool West Village restaurant for a date night.
Friday, April 15
Dan and I kicked off the morning with a long walk down Central Park West, around Columbus Circle, and picked up breakfast in Hell’s Kitchen, taking it to the Hudson River Park to eat while looking over the water.
It was great to catch up on work, life, family, and everything else in between. It’s important to me to carve out more of that individual time. Dan and I used to work in a two-person business for more than 6 years, spending hours per day sharing every detail and navigating every obstacle (both personal and professional) together. It’s never going to be that immersive again, but I never want to lose the level of comfort and trust.
Steve and Lynn took Finn to the park to ride the carousel, and they picked up crepes for lunch.
For an afternoon break, Finn put his relentless focus to work on a cool LEGO project that Lynn had bought for him - a semi trailer carrying a couple cars.
We took Finn to another playground (this time outside a UWS school, rather than inside Central Park) where Dan, Steve and I threw a ball around for a couple hours with him, working on those throwing and catching skills.
Back to the apartment for Friday happy hour. For Friday night, Dan, Lynn and I went to one of our favourite restaurants, Dirt Candy (thanks to Steve for staying home with the kiddo). Dirt Candy is a prix fixe gourmet plant-based restaurant. With incredible creativity, they let vegetables elevate the dishes (no mock meats), and add a wine pairing for a fun Lower East Side evening.
After getting an Uber back uptown, Lynn and I took Steve out for a local pint (okay, maybe two) at Malachy’s around the block from our place. Steve loves dive bars and I think this checked the box for a local watering hole.
Saturday, April 16
This was a busy day. We were dressed and ready and out the door around 9am to get on the subway and travel to lower Manhattan. Finn seemed to enjoy the subway and was a good little man by holding someone’s hand, avoiding the crazy people, and sitting calmly on the trains!
We emerged off the 2 train at Park Place and walked a couple blocks to the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center). I bought tickets for us to get a nice view of the city from the 102nd floor, and the experience was actually really cool. We had a beautiful clear day to get a perfect 360 degree tour of New York and New Jersey.
After the tour, we walked a mile to brunch where we all enjoyed a friendly brunch cocktail and meal before splitting up. Dan and Lynn went and crushed some shopping in SoHo, while the boys took Finn to the National Mathematics Museum near the Flatiron building. It was a small place, where every exhibit was hands-on and interactive. Finn had an absolute blast - we almost had to drag him out of there after a couple hours!
We took the subway back uptown and reunited with the gang for… you guessed it… happy hour! To complete a very busy day, we had a group dinner on the east side at Coletta - another plant-based restaurant serving up Italian classics. The pasta and pizza and meatballs were delicious, and Finn was treated with a surprise strawberry (oat) milkshake from the waitress - he was in heaven.
We all headed home after dinner, where Lynn setup our living room bed and kindly stayed home to babysit (and sleep herself). Dan, Steve and I hit the town in the rain to do a mini-Upper West Side pub crawl. Note: I’m taking liberty that you can still call it a pub crawl if you’re in your late 30s and enter more than two establishments over 3 hours.
Jake’s Dilemma, St. James’ Gate, and The Caledonian gave a nice variety of sports bar, Irish pub, and whisky cocktail lounge all within a small stretch in the low 80s (W81st street to W84th street).
Again, I used to enjoy beers and sports and wrestling and life with Dan and Steve every week, usually several times per week when I lived in Toronto, so it was fun to just kick back and fall into the normal routine, but in my new hood!
We rolled in around 12:30am with only one thing on our mind - the Easter Bunny was about to roll through Manhattan.
Sunday, April 17
Finn patiently waited until 8:30am to begin his egg hunt. With ten rhyming clues left for him, he was able to explore all 450 sq ft of the apartment to find a large amount of chocolate, candy and toys. He was one happy bunny.
After the hunt, we went to explore yet another neighborhood and playground, this time in the West Village. Finn mingled with some New York kids while we sipped coffee and enjoyed the morning. After burning all of that energy, we refueled with John’s of Bleecker - one of New York’s classic pizza joints.
Back uptown and Dan and Steve went for a nice, long, exploratory walk while Lynn and I took Finn back to Central Park where we slid on slides, climbed rocks, and made up all sorts of ball/soccer games in the playground. Finn ended up be-friending a local Upper West Side 7-year-old named Noah, or as Finn is Convinced, Ye-Noah. I look forward to his rap career taking off.
We capped our last night off with a team dinner at our local Thai spot, Sala Thai. We crushed curry and pad thai and spring rolls and recapped an amazing trip.
The morning before they had to catch their flight (and Lynn and I had to work), we walked over to a local food cart to get some NYC breakfast sandwiches, then took them to the park where Finn got one last runaround, meeting yet another local kid to kick the ball around with.
It was an amazing five-day trip and we packed a ton into the visit. I think Finn really enjoyed his first time in NYC and I look forward to him growing up and becoming even more familiar with the city!
Thanks for reading,