What is your connection with New York?
“The first time I came to the Big Apple was with my husband (though back then we had just started dating); I am American and I had never been there. It was love at first sight. The city that never sleeps became my dream city: I wanted to live there. I would have moved instantly, if I had the chance… 12 years later, after a wedding, two daughters and 12 suitcases… my dream came through!”
Who is Nathashja…
…other than being Gwen’s & Chloe’s mom?
“I was born in California, my father is Italian and my mother half Chinese and half Bahamian . When I was 5 years old, I came to live in Switzerland, where I spent most of my life. I am a marketing specialist, mother of two daughter aged 3 and 5 years old, and about 3 years ago I moved to New York with my family.”
What do we need to see if we want to travel to New York with kids?
“Let’s start by saying this: people think that New York is not a city for kids, but they are wrong. New York is a place where kids will never get bored, not even for a minute.
The list of places to see is endless! My motto is: if something exists, rest assured that you will find it in NY.
Everywhere in the city is a must-see. From the Upper East Side for its museums, to the zoo in Central Park (yes, a zoo amid skyscrapers!), to the Rockefeller Center, the Flatiron District, Chelsea Market, Soho, Chinatown, and even the Financial district, to see the Bull statue (it represents the American stock exchange). Until March 2018 there is a new statue to see in the area; it is called “fearless Girl” and represents a little girl facing the world, with no fear. Well, each district in New York is full of unexpected surprises.”
“Living in New York like a New Yorker with kids is very easy. There are many websites written by local moms. My very favourite is mommypoppins.com; it tells you all about child.frinedly activities, including parades, festaivals, fairs and all sorts of activities.
The website is divided in sections: cities, districts, age-groups, interests, Free or payable activites. It’s the best way to seek out the most interesting things to do with kids and plan your days”.
And what do we need to visit?
Of course see the tourist sights (Times Square, the museums, Central Park etc., see above), and after that, let yourself be pampered after a long day and long walks? Spend an hour (if you have daughters) having a mother and daughter manicure and pedicure. My daughters love it. You do not need to book in advance and there are centers which use natural nail polish, free of chemicals.”
“Shows at the New Victory Theatre (a performing arts theater devote year-round to kids and their families) are less expensive Broadway shows and kids enjoy them very much. Boys might want o to visit the Lego store in the Flatiron district, whereas girls might prefer the American girl store. It is suitable to girls aged 4-13 and has a vast array of dolls. You can choose the one that looks like your daughter most. You can dress them, choose your preferred accessories, and even make a booking for a doll hair-dressing session. The experience is unique.”
“See a museums dedicated to fire-fighters, the New York City Fire Museum. Have the kids dress up as American fire-fighters and let them climb on boars a real fire engine.
What’s the best season to visit the city?
“You can love and visit New York all year round. My favorite seasons are fall and spring, and of course the days just before Christmas.”
What about transportation?
“We (and everyone who came to visit us) prefer flying with Emirates, with direct flights from Italy. In the city, the metro is very handy and comfortable. In città si viaggia comodamente con la metropolitana. I suggest buying a 7 day Metro card.
Traveling by UBER (private taxis) is very popular, too – as well as Lyft (download the app and insert your credit card details for automatic payment).
Another option is VIA (similar to Uber but uses celebrity-style black cars, the difference lies in the pooled transportation, or co-sharing). You tell them where you are and your destination, and within minutes someone will pick you up and drive you where you need to go for only $ 5.”
A restaurant (or more) that you would recommend…
“Here’s the top 10 of my favorite restaurants in New York:
The Antique Garage – Soho (an old garage turned into a delightful restaurant serving Meditterranean cuisine. At the weekend you can listen to live jazz music during brunch.
Friends of a Farmer. Famous for its brunch. Families with children come first, when waiting for a table. Tip: if people are queuing up outside a NY restaurant, you can bet that the food served is excellent!
ABC kitchen – Union square (always great food, and do not miss the ABC cocina, right next to it and ABC Carpet and home; a concept and furniture store).
The Boqueria (4 restaurants in New York) . The place to go for authentic Spanich Tapas.
Morimoto in the Meat Packing District (with kids, lunch only) for excellent sushi and Japanese food. Try the Bento box for lunch!
Tao downtown – Meat Packing District (one of the most fashionable restaurants for Asian food. If we go out with kids, we have dinner very early (17:00, otherwise you can forget about getting a table). The restaurant, with its 100 Buddha statues, including a huge onw with special effects, which make it look real. It is a remarkable sight. Kids will also like the Koi fish swimming in the pond below the big Buddha.
Food court below the Plaza Hotel – on 5th ave near Central Park- you can choose from different types of ethnic food: there are places selling Asian food, Italian, American food and so on. Great for lunch.
The Boathouse – a magical place off Central Park: perfect for a brunch with a view on Central Park Lake (it is famous for crab cakes).
Shake shack: for some of the best burgers in town. It looks like a fast food joint (well, it is one) but the burgers are to die for…
My favourite shake shack is in Madison Sq. park, with outdoor tables… go before 12:30, before everyone comes – otherwise you’ll have to join a 100+ people in the queue (bear in mind that in NY people queue up for everything, so don’t let this put you off. They tend to move fast. After lunch, take your kids to the playground next door.
The best tacos; Tacombi (Flatiron district). A unique experience, you will feel like you are in Mexico.”
What food should kids absolutely taste?
“Go for the mini cupcakes of Melissa’s cupcakes . The cupcakes are tiny and yummy, and it is popular with families.
For pancakes or waffles, always present in the typical American breakfast or at a brunch, go to Friends of a Farmer. They serve the best pancakes I have ever eaten
Manhattan chowder: it is a typical New York soup with clams, veggies and potatoes.”
Can you recommend three hotels (in three different price ranges)?
“Prices vary by the day and the season. But I would recommend with no hesitation:
Somewhere or something special that one can’t find in guidebooks…
“Rent a bike along the Hudson River and follow the bike path from Pier 90 to the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing it (and stop along the way at the playground by the river). In summer playgrounds become water parks with fountains, little “streams” and sand, so that everyone can have fun.
A morning or afternoon at the Children’s museum of Art in Tribeca. Kids here can make art using different materials.”
“See the Clay Bar: it looks like a real bar with high chairs shaled as bar chairs. Il “bartender” teaches customers (kids over 5 years old) how to make people and animals using play-doh. As soon as you step in, add your child’s name to the list. The bar changes ” customers ” every 30 minutes.
In winter head to the standard hotel in the Meat Packing District. The rooftop becomes an ice-skating rink and toddlers can “penguins” . There’s nothing nicer than skating surrounded by skyscrapers. Another skating location is Bryant Park (but most likely you’ll have to wait for a long time).”
What activity would you like to do in New York, in the future?
“A speedboat tour to see all Manhattan..”
A little souvenir to take home…
“A hand-painted map of New York with graphics of bridges or skyscrapers. These maps can be bought in the market of emerging artists – Chelsea Market, most specifically in the final part of the market, where you can find vintage objects and hand-made artistic t-shirts, glasses and jewelry.”
A special place (or more) off the beaten path, in New York…
“The districts of Chelsea, Flatiron, West village and SoHo. You need to explore them on foot. Getting lot in New York is the best way to discover the city.”
And around New York?
“The districts of Williamsburg and Dumbo in Brooklyn and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. You can get there by train in 15 minutes from Grand Central Station.”