Single Parent Travel Sponsored by SingleDad.com and Kimpton Hotels. RJ Jaramillo shares his family travel this month with his daughter’s Sweet 16 Birthday gift to New York City.
I saved the best trip for last! To celebrate my daughter’s 16th birthday, we went on a five day trip to New York City. I was anticipating this trip all year and I have to admit, I experienced a little father -daughter travel anxiety. If you are a dad reading this article, you can relate to my feelings of a little uncertainty. Five days and five nights are a lot to put on a person. But combine the trip to New York City with a teenage daughter and a not so perfect, divorced dad – you’ve got an adventure!
Every father wants to give their daughter the best and I’m no exception to this. My oldest daughter is extra special to me. She was my “rock” when I went through my divorce and always gave me support during my tough times. I feel like she had to grow up too soon for the sake of keeping me sane. My opinion is that most children of divorce are taught through experience to be more resilient to change, but much more vulnerable to emotions. With that said, my trip was a combination of fun, excitement, and some overdue re-connecting. So I packed my brand new, Flip Mino HD camera, a couple of jackets and sweaters and began my single parent travel adventure to the city that never sleeps.
Trip to the Big Apple: The Muse Hotel
This trip was all about focusing my attention on my daughter’s New York experience. We started off with a perfect hotel destination that I highly recommend to all visitors. The Muse Hotel, (www.TheMuseHotel.com) is located right in the heart of the theatre district and just a block or two away from Times Square. This is an ideal location for anybody who wants to be within walking distance of everything in midtown Manhattan – shopping, theatre, sports, tv shows, etc… The hotel has gone through a major renovation and was immaculate. The rooms were spacious, the service was exceptional and the entire staff was friendly. Upon arrival, our room had a lovely gift bag with birthday wishes for my daughter, a NYC shirt and a box of cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery. Every evening, between 5 and 7 pm, the hotel sponsors a “wine down” happy hour for guests to enjoy a featured red and white wine. This was a very nice feature and I made sure to arrange the end of my day around this event. There is nothing like a little “adult talk” with other travelling single parents. I just have to rave one more time about the staff service and attention to detail. They always made me feel comfortable, whether I was asking for directions, an additional map or the best subway or cab options to my destination. The Muse Hotel is very family friendly. Thank you again, Daniela Moore at the Muse hotel and Iiana Alperstein from Baltz & Company.
Destinations in NYC: Museums
I had planned to spend our first day enjoying the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) (www.moma.org). It was only a couple blocks from our hotel but we were met with the remnants of a hurricane that was passing through New York. There is nothing better than a light drizzle and an unpredictable slap in the face of cold, East Coast wind. When we got to the museum, it was pretty busy and full of patrons. Students and children under 16 get in free and I had to pay the general admission of $20.
This building itself is a work of art. The museum was just transitioning one of their main exhibits which was the works from The Bauhaus (1919- 1933). The other two main exhibits were Monet’s paintings, and modern photography. What caught my interest was the paintings and how close I stood next to history. There were three or four of Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilly paintings that I was able to see firsthand. I also was able to view and take pictures of Pablo Picasso’s famous The Brothel painting and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. What a treat! Four hours went by like four minutes and we were off to chase our next destination, LUNCH!
Food: The Carnegie Deli
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, avoid this paragraph altogether. The Carnegie Deli has been serving cheesecake and deli sandwiches in New York since 1937 (www.carnegiedeli.com) and there is nothing more filling and satisfying than stopping by to treat yourself to a landmark restaurant. My daughter and I were seated in the middle of the deli and played a quick game of “guess that celebrity”. There are hundreds of new and old publicity photos of every generation’s movie and TV personalities. There were even a few that I couldn’t identify and many I tried to forget. Anyways, it’s important to know a few things about the deli. They are famous for their pastrami sandwiches and cheesecake, they don’t accept credit cards and you can split any menu item. Trust me, you will need to share one sandwich. Order a “frozen Cheesecake to go” and it will handle the flight back to the West Coast. My son says it was the best travel gift he has ever received!
Events: Madison Square Garden
There is nothing square about this famous arena (www.thegarden.com)
that plays host to both the Knicks basketball team and the Rangers hockey team. My daughter was just finished up her high school field hockey season before our trip, so she wanted to experience a Rangers hockey game in person. I love hockey, so we had a date.
So I am no wise guy. In fact, I am a “wannabe” wise guy. I thought it was a good idea to get to the game a little late and see if there were any scalpers around to sell discounted tickets around the entrance. I found a nice gentleman who assured me that the tickets were from season ticket holders that were out of town…. right? Wrong. My $40 dollar purchase was immediately met with a half smile from the man taking our tickets at the entrance gate. “These ain’t no good” the man said. “What????” I said. “They’re fakes, where did you get them?” he asked. As I went through my explanation in detail, I was met with more smiles and more rejection that I cared to admit, especially in front of my daughter. The cold hard fact was that I “donated” $40 dollars to the New York City’s crime fund. What made matters worse was that I didn’t want to go back to the hotel with the disappointed look on my daughter’s face. So, what did I attempt to do? Look for more scalpers and buy more tickets!
Fatherhood Lesson #3,456,541: When you dig yourself in a hole, stop digging and listen to your daughter.
Thank God someone was looking after me that evening. I was watching my father -daughter trip self-destruct in front of my eyes all because of my ego. And then, I was rescued. It just so happens that one of the “Ticket Guards” had followed us on the way out and ran up to my daughter and I and offered us two free tickets. Now these tickets were not sitting together, but we decided to just get in, gather our thoughts and figure something out once we got in. We thanked the man, passed the gate and set off to reclaim some “Daddy Dignity”.
The rest of the evening was great. We met some great people who worked at the Garden and asked us to sit with them as their guests. The game was exciting and fun. I think I made back some points with my daughter that evening and as we rode the subway back to the hotel. I even saw a smile as we laughed about our misadventure.
Shopping in SoHo, lunch in Little Italy
I consider myself an exception to the rule because I am a dad that likes to shop. My technique is all my own; I know what I want, I dive in, buy it and move on to the next store. With that said, the SoHo District in Manhattan has every store imaginable within a four block radius. From name brand designers to small ‘couture’ boutiques; this place is shopping heaven. We spent half a day between these streets and then decided to have lunch in the Little Italy / Chinatown area. We decided Italian food sounded best, so we hopped into one of the many restaurants that line Mulberry Street and had fresh pasta and a glass of Chianti. Despite the cool weather, the streets were filled with shoppers and diners. We took one last subway ride downtown. We saw Ground Zero and stopped off to briefly to shop at the world famous department store, Century21.
As we headed back up to midtown to end our evening, I felt like this trip was hitting a perfect stride. I saw that the sense of adventure of our daily plans had created a bond between us. Having no plans or structure for our day was a good thing. There was never any rush or arguing about where we had to be and what we had to do. When we wanted to discover a new place, we mapped it out, hopped on the subway and walked to the new destination. There is a lot of freedom created in that environment and I noticed how good it made us feel. Nothing is as beautiful as a father that is both happy with his life and proud of his relationships with his children.
I had great conversations almost every evening with my daughter as we hung out and watched late night TV together and share a dessert. There were a lot of stories and laughs between us. Not all the conversations were fun to hear as a father but they kept my life, my priorities and responsibilities in focus. I am a grateful father. I am a single parent. I am human. I know I’m not perfect, and I know I make mistakes. I am doing the best I can and I don’t ever want to lose connection with my daughter or any of my children. This was a special trip for both of us. It was a single parent travel adventure as well as a sweet 16 birthday gift. “Happy Birthday Alexa, I love you very much…”
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”