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NYC on Mother's Day



A Family Trip to New York City
By: Lisa McElroy

I knew I was in trouble a few weeks back when my two daughters, ages nine and ten, told me that they had a great idea for a family trip we could take on Mother's Day. See, in my family, I'm the trip planner (maybe that has something to do with my being a travel writer?), so I'm automatically suspicious when my kids come to me and tell me that they think we should hit the Big Apple for my Big Day.

Turns out they wanted to see Wicked, the sold-out-for-months, most popular show on Broadway. And they wanted me to take them. And buy tickets. Which can't be bought. Because Wicked is sold out months in advance-they even have a lottery for about 25 poor slobs who didn't have the foresight to buy tickets two years before their kids even knew what Wicked was.

Alrighty, then. I was quite into the idea that my children wanted to celebrate, well, me! But I wasn't sure how I'd pull off the Wicked trick. So I started with something I knew I could do (again, being a travel writer and all): I booked us a nice suite at Homewood Suites, just across from Manhattan in Edgewater, New Jersey. I knew we'd have tons of leftovers from all the great restaurants I was going to find, so the fridge would come in handy. I'd heard that the view of the Manhattan skyline from Edgewater was unmatched (which turns out to be true, by the way), and I also have this thing about ferries. They rock. So, I thought, fridge, view, ferry? Sounds like Mother's Day to me.

Then I started making a list of all the non-Wicked things I thought we should do, like the Museum of Modern Art (all kids need to know about cubism and stuff) and the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Checking into prices, it turned out that all of that stuff is super-expensive-unless, I found out, you get CityPass, a booklet of tickets to all the big NYC attractions that gets you oodles of dollars off. Saving money also sounds like something good mothers do, so I was all over that.

Every mom deserves a facial for Mother's Day, so my next task was to find one-but a discounted one, because, as I said before, good mothers save money. Back online I went, and lo and behold, a great website appeared:, a super-cool online smorgasbord of spa discounts all over the city! I got an amazing deal on a facial at Body Beautiful Spa & Laser Center, and booked it right online, easy as pie.

I then set out to find the best family-friendly meals in the city. With all the great restaurants in Manhattan, it's hard to choose, but I quickly zeroed in on three: Prune, a gourmet comfort food joint in the East Village; Penelope, a Murray Hill retro diner; and Hotel Griffou, a sumptuous British Colonial garden restaurant in the West Village.

Homewood Suites and CityPass were totally the right call. At Homewood, we had a gigantic suite that was almost like an apartment, with a full kitchen and a big living room, plus a sofa bed for the kids. The breakfast-complete with eggs, waffles, bacon, and pastries-filled up even my starving kids for hours. And the hotel shuttled us to and from the ferry, making the 10-minute commute into NYC easy as pie.

Once in the city, we used CityPass to head to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see Van Gogh's The Starry Night. (This is a hit with the elementary school crowd, because they study Van Gogh in school and learn about his cutting off his ear and so on. Don't believe me? Ask your kid.) We then went to the top of the Empire State Building to do the wind-blowing-in-your-face and feel-like-you're-going-to-throw-up-from-vertigo thing. The surprise? The lines to see the 19th-century Impressionist night sky and the 21st-century New York skyline were practically non-existent. We walked right up, did our thing, and hit the streets for our next exciting activity. My stop at Body Beautiful was well worth it for a relaxing and organic facial and mini massage.

I'd also chosen our meal stops well. At Prune, my kids devoured omelets and Dutch pancakes, banana bread and hash browns, while my husband and I went for eggs Benedict and a ricotta, fruit, and scone plate that hit the spot without making me feel stuffed. The restaurant was kitschy and charming and oh so Village-y, but the real highlight was the excellent service-they even charged my iPhone for me upon request.

At Penelope, the macaroni and cheese and baked goods are what it's all about. This is the place to go for comfort food in NYC. Even better, the kids were willing to partake, filling their bellies super full before our ferry trip back to Edgewater.

But it was Hotel Griffou that was the culinary highlight of the weekend. When we arrived promptly at noon on Mother's Day, they sat us in the garden room of the romantic, luxurious restaurant, then promptly brought us a hot skillet of fresh-baked cinnamon buns. That and the lobster fondue would have been enough, but then we had eggs and burgers and shrimp and grits and Nutella cheesecake and salted caramel banana pie-I'll be honest, I've never enjoyed a Mother's Day feast so much.

Now, back to my quest: finding tickets to Wicked. Ticket brokers had two options: seats with obstructed views that were insanely expensive, and unobstructed-view seats in the nosebleed section that were even more outrageous. As in $200 or $300 each. And that was for the bad seats. I looked on eBay and craigslist, but that made me nervous-who knew what kind of Wicked people were out there hawking counterfeit tickets to Wicked? And so I did what supposedly couldn't be done, at least not only a few days ahead. I went on the official website. And I found them: three orchestra seats, unobstructed view, face value. AHHHHH! I typed in my credit card number lickety-split, convinced that the information on the screen before me was a figment of my imagination.

Was it real? Well, all I can say is that "I have been changed for the better. . . ." Because of Mother's Day weekend in New York City with my own two little witches, "I have been changed for good."*

*Lyrics from (you guessed it) Wicked

This trip courtesy of Homewood Suites, CityPass & Spa Beautiful.

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Pictures From

The Trip (Photo Credit: Lisa & Steve McElroy and Rayno van Heerden)


View of Manhattan skyline from Edgewater, NJ Homewood Suites


Homewood Suites, Edgewater, New Jersey


Steve, Zoe, and Abby enjoying a huge breakfast at Homewood


The ferry into New York


Abby pretending to be the Statue of Liberty


Prune restaurant


Ricotta, scones, and fruit at Prune


View from the top of the Empire State Building


Pastries on the counter at Penelope


Hotel Griffou, amazing brunch restaurant (Photo by Adrian Wilson)


The best Mother's Day ever: my crew


Zoe and Abby's wish come true: Wicked


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