Monday, January 16, 2023

2022 New York City Trip - Day 2

We had the most magical trip to New York City back in December, and I didn’t have time to recap the whole thing before Christmas, so I’m back today and I’m finallyyyy recapping day two of our trip!  In case you missed the recap for day one, you can hop on over and read that here and then come back to this post when you’re done.  You definitely don’t want to miss day one… it was probably my favorite day of the whole trip because that’s when we did most of the Christmas-y things!

Sunday, December 11

Sunday morning was day two of our trip, and we kicked off the day with a semi-early wakeup call of 7:30 followed by breakfast in our hotel.  We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square on 8th Avenue, and they had a great continental breakfast.  We’re not usually big fans of a continental breakfast because we’d prefer to find somewhere local to try, but our hotel had lots of great, hot options like breakfast wraps, breakfast biscuits, homemade Belgian waffles, etc., and it was just so convenient that we ended up eating there every single morning!  On Sunday, the kids both opted for Belgian waffles, I had a big cinnamon roll muffin hybrid, and B had one of the breakfast biscuits.  Everything was really delicious!

First on the to-do list for Sunday morning was the 9/11 Memorial Museum.  That whole area is nowhere near Times Square, so we had an Uber come pick us up at our hotel and drive us down there for the morning.  Sunday, it was freeeezing and drizzly, so we were equipped with umbrellas and aaaallll the winter-wear! 

When we arrived, we walked over to see the reflecting pools first.  Brian and I had already visited them back in 2012, but even so, I was still taken aback by their vastness.  Nothing can really prepare you for it.

After visiting there for a bit, we walked over to St. Paul’s Chapel.  If you’re not familiar with the story, St. Paul’s Chapel is a very famous church that was built in 1766 – it is OLD – so old that George Washington attended services there after he took his oath of office to become the first president of the United States.  Can you even believe that?!

Anyway, this little church sits directly across from the World Trade Center site, but it miraculously suffered no damage during the attacks… not even a single pane of glass was broken.  During the recovery and cleanup process after the attacks, St. Paul’s Chapel became a refuge for first responders, a place where they could eat and rest and pray, and it has since become a symbol of hope. 

Now that you know the back story, you know why we wanted to visit this precious gem.  It has been on my list of places to visit for a long time, but we had never been, and I was excited to check it off of my list.  What a treat!

It’s open to the public daily (they do have metal detectors and they check bags, but it took about two minutes, so it was fast!) so we walked there, stopping to look at all of the headstones on the gravesites in the front.  Some of the graves are so old that there aren’t even any markings on them, and most of the ones that do have markings are mostly worn off. 

The inside is just stunning with ornate woodwork and big columns and a massive organ that sits in the loft in the back.  The pews have been removed, but there are plenty of chairs if you want to sit and spend some time praying and reflecting. 

They also have a station where you can light a candle for a prayer, intention, or loved one.  When our kiddos saw it, they asked if they could light a candle in honor of my late grandfather (my Big Daddy, who was married to my Mama Cass who a lot of you know from here on the blog), and, of course, that made me tear up… my sweet babies.

On the way out, Olivia was delighted because there were squirrels and pigeons everywhere outside the church, so of course, we had to stop and watch them.  The squirrels were very clearly accustomed to people, and one guy was feeding them, so they weren’t shy at all.  One of them came right up to the kids and I was able to get their picture with it.  I think that was Olivia’s favorite part of the whole trip!  Haha.

After we were done there, we made our way back to the 9/11 Museum, but we stopped to admire the Oculus, that spikey building right next to it. 

While we were walking back, it started snow flurrying a bit, too, and I thought we were all going to lose our minds!  Hahahaha.  We don’t get snow in Georgia very often, so even flurries get us excited!

The next couple of hours were spent in the 9/11 Museum, and let me tell you, be sure to bring tissues when you go.  I spent the whole two hours teary-eyed, especially since I had to explain so much to the kids since they didn’t live through it like I did.  The whole museum is very well-done – there’s just so much beauty and so much tragedy wrapped up in that space. 

You could easily spend 4-5 hours in there, but we didn’t linger as much as we would have if the kiddos hadn’t been with us.  The museum is not recommended for kids under the age of ten simply because there is some very graphic content in there, but the sensitive content is well-labeled, so we were able to breeze by the stuff that we didn’t want the kids to see.  Olivia is eight, so she wasn’t technically above the recommended age, but I do think that she learned a lot in an age-appropriate manner.  In all honesty, she did get bored here and there, too, because she’s just not quite old enough to grasp the horrors from everything that happened that day. 

By the time we left, I felt like I’d been through the ringer, so we wanted to find something fun to do to cheer us up a bit.  It was nearing lunchtime, so we decided to try to get in at Ellen’s Stardust Diner.  Ellen’s is near Times Square, so we booked another Uber to take us back since the walk was way too far.  Plus, it was drizzling again, so we didn’t want to be out in the freezing rain too much.

When we arrived at Ellen’s, the line to get in was down the block, but we’d heard that the line moves fast, so we hopped on in to wait.  I ducked into a souvenir shop that was right there while we waited so I could check out their Christmas ornaments.  I wanted to find one to bring back home to hang on our tree to remember our trip.

By the time I came out of the souvenir shop 5-10 minutes later, the line had already moved tremendously, and sure enough, we were inside about 20 minutes later, maybe?  The wait wasn’t bad AT ALL, and let me tell you, it was definitely worth that wait!

In case you don’t know much about Ellen’s Stardust Diner, it is a two-story old-fashioned diner where the waiters and waitresses perform for you while you eat.  Like, they are working their actual shifts and serving you food, and then one of them will get called up, drop what they’re doing, walk up to the catwalk that runs right in the middle of all of the tables, and sing for you.  And they walk all around the restaurant, too!  It’s such an intimate and unique experience!

And y’all, let me tell you, the people they hire there are INCREDIBLE.  They are not just some random singers that you’d hear anywhere.  The MC for the day told us all that the majority of their waiters and waitresses end up leaving the restaurant to go work on Broadway, so they are the cream of the crop! 

In addition to the performances, the food was DELICIOUS.  I was so impressed.  They offer breakfast all day, so the kids both opted for pancakes and sausage, and I opted for “Rachel’s Mac & Cheese” with a side of the seasonal vegetables.  The mac & cheese was delicious and so creamy (although not the best I’ve ever had), but my favorite thing was, surprisingly, the seasonal veggies!  It was just carrots, green beans, and broccoli, but oh my WORD, I wish I could have found out exactly how they seasoned them because they were incredible.  

Anyway, if you’re ever in New York City, Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a MUST.  It was such an enjoyable experience for all of us, and we can’t recommend it enough.  The food was delicious (TONS of options), the service was fast and wonderful, and the entertainment was just the icing on the cake.  Seriously, so so good.

Right as we were getting ready to leave, I got this alert on my watch…

And the kids couldn’t have been more excited when I showed it to them!!!!

Sadly, it never ended up snowing, but we sure were hopeful that it would.  Haha.

After we left Ellen’s, we walked to FAO Schwarz because it was the #1 thing that the kids wanted to do in NYC, and we had missed out on Saturday because it was closed by the time we made it to Rockefeller Center. 

The line was down the sidewalk for FAO Schwarz, too, but again, the wait was minimal.  It was still drizzling and FREAKING FREEZING, though, so we couldn’t get in fast enough!  While we waited, we were treated to an up-close view of the Christmas tree, though!

It was an absolute madhouse inside FAO Schwarz, but it was to be expected.  I still cannot believe all these weeks later that none of us came home with Covid or flu or RSV after that trip.  Haha.  So. Many. People.

While we were in the toy store, of course, we had to play on the big piano.  I expected the wait to be insanely long, but surprisingly, there were only a few groups in front of us.  They also had an employee timing each group of people (two minutes per group), so that kept the line moving pretty quickly.

Once we were done there, we were all tired, so we started making our way back to our hotel to take a little break and get out of the cold.  On the way, we stopped at a couple of souvenir shops to pick out Christmas ornaments, though.

At the hotel, we relaxed for a good hour or so, and then we all got freshened up, because it was time to go see Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes!!!!  We figured that since we were going at Christmastime this would be our main show/event since it’s only available during the holiday season.  Then, the next time we visit, we’ll take the kiddos to a Broadway show.

Since we opted for the 8 PM show, we decided to eat dinner there, so we made sure to get there pretty early so we could grab hot dogs and beers and cotton candy for the kiddos.

We opted to get seats on the first mezzanine (there are four levels – the orchestra and then three mezzanines, and we were on the lowest mezzanine) and they were absolutely perfect.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the orchestra for this particular show because I think we would have missed some of what was going on around us since they utilize the whole stage, plus the entire two sides of the theater on the ground level. 

The show was definitely named spectacular for a reason – it truly was! – and both of the kids were enamored the entire time.  When it was over, Olivia was legitimately sad, and she said she didn’t want it to ever be over.  Haha.

On the way out, I got another notification that snow was starting, but again, it was just freezing rain on the walk back to our hotel.  Boooo.

We stopped to admire the outside of Radio City Music Hall on the way back to our room, and we booked it to the hotel because it was just freezing!  

We were all exhausted by the time we got back, so the kids both showered quickly, and then we were all lights out shortly after that. 

And that was our day two!  I’ll be back tomorrow with my weekly recap, and then on Wednesday, I’ll recap days 3 and 4 to wrap up our trip!

Happy Monday, y’all! 


  1. Oh my goodness! This was full of so much goodness. I can't even imagine taking in the 9/11 museum... My heart aches just looking at these pictures. It looks like you did a great job finding so much joy as the day went on! I'd love to go to that restaurant and I love the kids reaction to your watch showing them that it might snow! What a perfectly captured moment!

  2. I've never heard of that diner but it sounds so fun!

  3. What a fun-filled, packed day! The 9/11 museum is so moving, and the Rockettes are so entertaining.

  4. How much fun! I'm sure the 9/11 Museum was heartbreaking (but maybe also showing hope at all we all came together). It's so hard trying to explain to my girls what happened. I saw the Rockettes once when they were in Detroit, and it was amazing! Can't wait to read about more

  5. You guys truly did New York City right! What fun!

  6. You visited SO many places, I love it! I've never to New York, but it would be so neat to see. Loved reading your recap and seeing all your photos!

    Hope you have a fantastic week! :)

    Make Life Marvelous

    1. We did squeeze in a whole lot! I hope you can make it there someday! It is a wonderful city!

  7. What a fun trip to NYC you all had and visiting so many great places. I used to work many years ago in the building right across for the St. Paul's Chapel. I've never been to that diner but it looked like you all had a fun time.

  8. Literally cannot wait to go back in November! The last time I went the memorial museum wasn't yet open so I'm looking forward to that but the story about the church was just so touching. The rockettes is such an amazing show! I havent' been to Ellen's but think I must make that happen this visit.

  9. And this is why I love NYC in December. All the beauty. I haven't been to the new World Trade Center museum. I will definitely check it out.


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