A Perfect Mother Daughter Adventure in NYC
I don't know about you, but I adore my mom - always have, always will. She is one of those kind hearted individuals who always knows the right thing to say, can comfort you when you're feeling down or overwhelmed and is always at the ready to shop until your hearts content. And so, the last two years, I've decided that each May, I would treat my mom to an unforgettable weekend away and as a bonus, I brought my daughter along for the trip so that she could make some memories of her own with grandma too.
Last year, we spent three days away from home in Los Angeles, and this time, we decided to stay nearby and opted for an overnight trip in Manhattan. While debating whether to take the train or drive into the city, I discovered BestParking.com - a site which enables you to type in the address where you're going, your time of arrival and departure and voila, you're given dozens of choices of parking lots offering the best prices in the area for your car. Lucky for me, I found a lot a few blocks away from our hotel that was only $18 per night - so we printed out our coupon, packed an overnight bag and zipped off to our night on the town.
Within 45 minutes (okay, I know we live pretty close), we arrived in Manhattan and I couldn't wait to tell my mom and daughter where I had planned to take them that night - but I had decided to keep it a secret until showtime. We got to the lot - which was situated a few avenues away from our hotel, hopped in a cab and made our way to the Carlton Hotel, which is located on 28th and Madison Avenue - away from the hustle and bustle of midtown but still close enough to get you anywhere you want to go.
Thanks to the Carlton, we were given a complimentary overnight stay so that we could experience their "Tween" package - a guide for girls that offers great destinations and discounts for young girls and their moms in Manhattan - complete with directions from the Carlton Hotel to each location. From makeovers, to mani/pedis at Oasis Day Spa on Park Avenue (which we enjoyed the next day) to a Broadway show to shopping, every tween that checks into the hotel gets the complimentary guide as well as a copy of the book 13 Things to Do By 13.
The Carlton Hotel is quite lovely with an art deco lobby and rooms that remind me of the upper west side pre-war apartment I used to rent what now seems like a lifetime ago. The room came complete with flat screen television, bathroom with mega magnifying mirror and signature bathrobes. Plus, the bedding is comfy too - which in my book, is crucial when your ultimate goal is to have a good night's sleep away from home.
Waiting for us in our room was a fabulous fruit plate compliments of the hotel catering staff along with an invitation to Subtle Tea, a new age tea house with wifi where we grabbed an iced mojito tea and a chocolate chip muffin and then made our way the Flatiron District and Union Square where we spent two solid hours power shopping.
Incidentally, the Flatiron district and Union Square are one of the best places to find furniture, clothes, handbags, shoes and accessories - every store you can think of - from ABC Carpet to White House Black Market to Kate Spade, is a few blocks away from the hotel and best of all - there are no crowds!!! Naturally, we wound up at our favorite shopping haunt - Ann Taylor and after doing some damage, we raced back to the room and I slipped into my latest purchase a fuschia colored flouncy top (I just love anything flouncy). With no time to spare, we decided to grab a bite at the hotel's restaurant, Country, where I dined on delectable appetizers (personal fave was the tuna tartare) and my daughter ordered the salmon and mom went for the chicken - both entrees received two thumbs up. With the clock ticking, it was time to head to our next destination...Broadway!
After hopping in a cab, it took about 7 minutes to get to the theater and as we drove along my daughter kept asking me..."Are you taking us to Wicked? Are we going to see Wicked??? Please tell me we're going to Wicked!!!" And as we inched closer to the Gershwin Theater and my daughter saw the sign for the show, she squealed in delight "You're taking us to Wicked!!!" We arrived about 30 minutes before the performance and couldn't contain our excitement when we were brought to our seats - Orchestra Row J. Translation: Front and Center!!!!
Before we knew it, the show started and all I can say is, if you are traveling to New York or have lived here all your life, you are missing out big time if you've never seen "Wicked." I happen to be a sucker for Broadway Shows and this one is phenomenal. The performances are incredible - especially Mandy Gonzales who literally soars as Elphaba and Katie Clarke who stars as Glinda the pretentiously good witch.
In a flash, the show had ended and as I wiped away tears that had been streaming down my face - yes, you will laugh and cry during Wicked and trust me, it is better than "Cats" - we left the theater and visited one of my favorite places in New York City - Ellen's Stardust Diner - the place where many Broadway stars get their start.
While it was already 11 pm, the place was hopping and we were seated on the second floor so while we had an obstructed view, we still were able to hear the waiters and waitresses perform nearly 1 dozen songs - and each and every one was incredible. In fact, our waiter, Mateo was one of the best of the night - singing a powerful number from Les Miserables. While mom and I enjoyed frozen yogurt and fruit, Becca opted for a brownie sundae and finally, after we finished a second cup of coffee (bad move), we grabbed a cab and returned to our hotel.
Stay tuned for part II of our Mother/Daughter adventure...