Last summer we took an art trip to New York City and the Hudson Valley with our toddler and preschooler. New York City is one of our favorite adventures with kids. We chose to stay in the Meatpacking District for the hotel and the HighLine. Both gave us something fun to do in the mornings before we jumped on a subway or trekked across the island.
The Gavensvoort Hotel
As we anticipated, the Gansevoort Hotel eased the added challenges of traveling with young children. When we checked in, the staff brought our kids a special gift pack and their own kid-friendly toiletry set (including a rubber ducky). The suite had two separate rooms with a door between them. Our bedroom had space for a crib and the king size bed. Whenever we travel, we look for creative ways to enjoy the mornings because we usually have a few hours before most cultural institutions open up mid-morning. At the Gansevoort, we took our coffee and orange juice up to the outdoor, rooftop pool every morning. The skyline view and the splash made a great way to start the day with early risers.
Another easy early morning activity in the Meatpacking District is the HighLine. Opening in 2009, the HighLine is a 1.5 mile elevated park with unique gardens, art exhibitions, and architectural designs. It is a journey in perspective. The curated look-outs and elevation invite all ages to take in a new perspective of the city (above the cars and buses). You can find great travel advice here and information about their extensive kids programing here. We like to go early, before it gets crowded. Check for stroller entrances and take your sidewalk chalk!
The official map outlines special features, restrooms, etc. The attractions my children prefer are on the north end and the food I prefer is towards the south end (*Note, many food vendors are seasonal). We made a morning of it and walked the entire length (bottom to top). We pushed our two year old in a single stroller until we found the Legos, trains, cranes, helicopters, and tunnels! The northernmost section is full of action, machines, and benches. Our crew could have stayed there for a long time. It navigates the Rail Yards, where large cranes are working on the new Hudson Yards development. You have a clear view of the river, boat traffic, and a helipad. It almost perfectly replicates the kids’ play room after a long afternoon, except more chaotic and alluring. There is a sunken area called the “Pershing Square Beams,” where the park exposed the original beams of the train tracks. You can climb around and even under part of the garden.
The HighLine has both permanent and temporary art installations. Spencer Finch‘s windows in the Chelsea Market Passage are one of my favorite. He also has permanent installations at the Morgan Library and 9/11 Museum. During the summer, Olafur Eliasson created a temporary artwork called “The collectivity project” and that is where we found all the Legos. Eliasson is the same artist who created the four waterfalls in the East River in 2008 and one of the most popular installations in the Tate Modern‘s turbine hall. More recently, he placed twelve icebergs in front of the Pantheon to melt during COP21. During “The collectivity project,” the public designed and re-designed millions of white legos. In the shadow of a massive construction project, we added our own small contribution. I hovered and hoped that my children wouldn’t knock over the most sophisticated towers. I also wished that a big gust of wind would make it all fall down.
When we share New York City with our kids, we try not to do tourist lines or late nights. Those activities are more difficult with toddlers. But we make memories and learn to be flexible. Adjusting to all the new sounds, different scales of speed or height, orienteering on different city plans, etc. is a small step towards mastering flexibility. At least we hope, and hope is a significant part of my parenting plan.
We spent two nights in NYC, then drove up to Woodstock to have campfires, eat at amazing restaurants, and (of course) see more art. Those posts are coming.