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NYC: Exploring Lower Manhattan

Why Lower Manhattan is Great for Kids

Greetings from Manhattan!

There’s a whole world out there to choose from, but Kiddo wished to explore every inch of New York City this year for her birthday trip. This is bittersweet for me. Having spent more than half of my life living in New Jersey with the New York City skyline overlooking my shoulder at every turn, I didn’t know if I was ready revisit my old stomping grounds.

We hopped on a flight from LAX before the sun even peaked through the clouds, and land at JFK just as the sun was about to settle down for a long winter’s nap. We did manage to see the most gorgeous sunset setting behind the Brooklyn Bridge, and suddenly everything felt OK. See, it’s been a million years since I’ve returned. While planning this trip, I really wanted to spend time in Lower Manhattan, but I wasn’t sure if my heart was ready. I wasn’t sure if I was ready.

Lower Manhattan Sunrise Freedom Tower 9/11 memorial

Times Like These You Learn to Live Again

I have a confession to make, I haven’t been back since a week before September 11, 2011. I’ve spent all these years actively avoiding this sacred ground. convincing myself I had created a thick enough buffer with thousands of miles and the years  clocked between. But man, I was wrong. So very wrong. As our driver pulled up to the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown, the doorman opened my door, and I was a bit discombobulated until I looked up. 


A forceful tidal wave of emotions nearly knocked me to my knees with good reason. I had to remind myself how to breathe. Just typing this, I still scramble to find the right words, my heart is racing, and my eyes are watering. I was staring up at the Freedom Tower, 1776 feet into the clear night sky. “How do I explain this to my daughter?” She’s certainly old enough, and she knows the story and the importance of that day in history, but she knows the California version. She doesn’t know “our” version, but being there I felt she needed a deeper understanding. She needed to see the size of the buildings, the names on the reflecting pool, and the real life story told by our incredible doorman who was standing at the lobby doors the morning of 9/11.

From Hamilton and Wall Street to Freedom Tower and The Village, Find Out Why Lower Manhattan is Great for Kids

The NYC Suite Life

Once I snapped back into reality I was pleasantly surprised by the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown from the moment we checked in. Reception was an absolute pleasure, and the bellman was beyond helpful. But it was our corner suite that made me fall head over heals for this property. Our home for the next few days had floor-to-ceiling panoramic views from the living room and bedroom spanning the World Trade Memorial, Oculus, Freedom Tower, the Hudson River, the New Jersey skyline, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. I knew I was going to love it here. And the rooms are HUGE.

Exploring Lower Manhattan

I just know you are going to want to stay here, so the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown is offering readers of The JetSet Family discounted prices off of future hotel rooms. How? When you are ready: CLICK HERE or on any of the photos on this page!

Exploring Lower Manhattan

Exploring Lower Manhattan

Walking Across The Brooklyn Bridge

Let me begin by saying, there was so much more we could have done, if we only had time. Kiddo already has her “NYC: Lower Manhattan (Part 2) guide ready to be written!

Once the sun came up and the commuters cleared the streets, the neighborhood was ours! We had a quick bite at Church & Dey (I hear the Wagyu Brisket Mac n Cheese is amazing,) and the conversation quickly turned to, “But mom… we haaaaaaaave to go. No sleep till Brooklyn, duh!” So of course I went. What can I say? When Kiddo leads, I follow and everything always works out. It turned out to be the most beautiful day to cross the bridge. The visibility was so clear we could see all the way to the Statue of Liberty, the sun was shining and the weather was perfect. I’m seeing the Manhattan skyline from a different angle, through new eyes (those of a tween,)  and for once, I’m a tourist in NYC and not a commuter on the way to work. To think, we haven’t even been here for 24 hours.

For those looking to photograph your journey, here are some tips: The best times to go for lighting is during the morning. Either really early during sunrise, or around 10am after the commuters have already headed to work. You can also take the ferry either to or from Brooklyn depending on which angle you would like to capture the NYC skyline. I recommend taking the ferry to Brooklyn, and walking back during sunset if possible.

Where to Eat: Nobu – 1, Mom – 0

By the time we strolled back to the hotel Kiddo was famished and we had a few hours until we were meeting Luxury Travel Mom for dinner. I suggested pizza since everyone knows that New York City is famous for having the world’s best pizza, but Kiddo and her sophisticated palate had something different in mind. “Mom, did you see? Nobu is right next door from the hotel!” Two thoughts flashed into my head simutaneously: 1.) “How is it OK to bring an 11-year old to NOBU for lunch???” and “Wow…you know how much I love Nobu.” Needless to say Nobu won and while I cried tears of joy for my favoriteLobster Shiitake Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing, and Kiddo ordered her usual: Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño.

If you are not too hungry, small bites (a.k.a. Nobu Shuko Snacks) are the way to go! Don’t miss out on our favorite like: Spicy Edamame and the Nobu Tacos. YUM!

CHARGE IT! The Height of Luxury Retail

Serious shopaholics take note, not only are you steps away from Oculus, but once inside you can walk underground through a gorgeous shopping center and enter Brookfield Place where dreams come true. Shops and designers like Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Oliver Peoples, Dry Bar, Gucci, J Crew, Tory Burch, and more are there to dress you from head-to-toe in the latest fashions.

Exploring Lower Manhattan

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Within the set of the footprints of the original Twin Towers are two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools each about an acre big where the names of every person who perished in the 9/11 attacks are inscribed. The museum itself is a powerful reminder of that heartbreaking day, and a chance to examine history and the impact of the events through stories of loss and recovery.

Exploring Lower Manhattan

Depending on the age and maturity of your child(ren,) the museum is one where you may want to have a conversation about that day and where you were before they see the magnitude of the events unfold for themselves.

Trinity Church

Any Hamilton: An American Musical fans out there? Well that was the main focus of our trip, so my 11-year old “Hama-phile” just had to go to Alexander Hamilton’s resting place in the cemetery of Trinity Church to see the tomb of A.Ham and the Schuyler sisters. The church is absolutely beautiful inside, and be sure to make a wish if it’s the first time visiting!

Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried

Getting Around New York City

The Millennium Hilton New York Downtown has hired drivers, taxiis, and UBER at their disposal 24/7. The subway station is right outside the front door, so make sure to grab a Metro card, and if you need the PATH train, you can get it right inside Oculus. Need to be somewhere in a hurry? Your doorman will make sure to let your driver know where you need to go, and what time you need to get there by so they take the quickest route available!

Have You Visited New York City?

We would love to know more about your experience. By sharing your tips, recommendations and memories in our comment section below, you help fellow members of The JetSet Family community decide the best fit for them and their families. Let us know what you liked most, or if you have any questions about Lower Manhattan.

 Exploring Lower Manhattan with Kids Family Travel

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