Most of the time my diversions are plans; suggestions or ideas about where to go and what to do. Sometimes, they’re after the fact but can be part of next year’s must-do plans. This week I am finally catching my breath and reflecting on the entire holiday season. It was a memorable time filled with joy, hope and because I still have a small child at home. By all accounts, the weekend with I spent with my daughter, her best friend and mine in New York was the highlight. My daughter Jules is from China and is nearly 7.  Her best friend and crib-mate, Lily, now lives in Columbus, Ohio. We get together as often as possible but this was the girls’ first time taking on Manhattan during the holidays. To say it was amazing and seamlessly orchestrated would be an understatement.

We wanted to have the quintessential New York experience without stress. Sounds impossible? Well, we achieved it. We met up at The Lucerne Hotel on West 79th Street. I totally recommend this conveniently located, yet out of the fray boutique hotel! We loved the accommodations, the neighborhood and, for New York in December, the price. This hotel has all the amenities you need but is intimate, there is plenty to do within walking distance and we  had no trouble finding Ubers, cabs or getting to the subway. This is why we loved it! So here is what we did during our holiday in New York:

Friday night:
Tea with Eloise
The Plaza New York, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, NYC
If you have a daughter and can get to New York any time of the year, this is a darling experience. In December it is even better. The Plaza Hotel is festively decorated as are all of The Shops and eateries on the lower level. Tea with Eloise doesn’t miss a detail. It is fun for moms, too. It is pink feast for the eye; pink hot tea, dainty and delicious tea sandwiches, character Q &A, Eloise stories and sweets topped off by a visit with Santa. Our recommendation: read as many Eloise books prior to your visit.

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Why we loved it:
It was fun, creative and yes, tasteful.  Who could not love a roomful of little girls in the festive fineness, enjoying high tea in a pink paradise at one of the world’s most iconic hotels?  All the moms and grandmas were having fun and being mannerly; making new friends at their tables. Reservations a must. After tea you can spend hours wandering through The Shops and then walking around 5th Avenue.  

Saturday:
The Christmas Spectacular
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, NYC
If you have not been to the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes ever, or even in a while, you absolutely must go next year.  I had been several times in the past, with my boys, and as a child.  I honestly had marginal expectations but being a NYC holiday tradition, we went strictly for the girls.  Well, we could not be more surprised and impressed.  Besides the amazing Rockettes with their unending talent, energy and seamless costume changes, this production features a story that  is rich and classic, with live animals and an incredible 3-D experience. This is truly a show for all ages.

Why we loved it:
We all agreed it was the best performance we had ever seen. The girls reported that the 3-D piece was the best. They tried to “catch” every star or creature that came their way. We loved how efficiently managed the process is from the time we got to the door. Remember how we are stress-averse? Well, they totally get it! Great communication and pleasant people guiding us. Getting an Amazon gift card for doing a survey following the show just solidified the experience.

5th Avenue/Rockefeller Center/Saks/Cartier
After the Christmas Spectacular we walked over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and from there up and down 5th Avenue to experience the iconic lights and decorations. It was packed, but we weren’t in a rush so we hardly noticed. I do think that by this time the girls were on sensory overload but the adults couldn’t get enough of the sights and shops. Ending up at Macy’s, the fact that we found an Uber when we were done was truly our miracle on 34th Street!

Sunday:
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th Street, NYC
Just a quick walk from The Lucerne Hotel, and because it was our holiday trip, we ventured over to the museum specifically to see the Origami Holiday Tree and like everything else in our weekend, it was a don’t -miss. The Origami Holiday Tree has been a New York tradition for 40 years. The stunning tree features a different theme each year. This year’s theme was “Oceans of Origami.” The girls got to participate in a mini Origami workshop and we wrapped up our visit at the Unseen Oceans exhibition.
Why we loved it:
The Origami Holiday Tree was breathtaking. Floor to ceiling brightly colored handmade paper creations was such a striking juxtaposition from all of the traditional sparkly and shiny ornamented trees that we saw everywhere else. We also loved the small cafeteria adjacent to the exhibit. I know that’s hardly the point of Diversions, but it was really nice and full of healthy, not-to-expensive choices.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
The New York City Ballet, David H. Koch Theater
20 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC
Another well-coordinated entrance to an incredible NY event. Both of our girls take ballet, have seen many Nutcrackers and Lily has even been in the Columbus Ballet Company’s production two years in a row, so this was the piece de resistance of the weekend. It was.The choreography, technical mastery, costumes and world-class talent had us all at the edge of our seats.
Why we loved it:
First of all, we loved to see all the classic NY high fashion on display on patrons of every age.  We loved every aspect of the ballet, exploring the art work throughout the theater and learning what the word proscenium means, (it’s part of the stage in front of the curtain). It was without exception, the perfect conclusion to the Jules and Lily Take Manhattan Weekend 2018.