Hi Everyone! Thank you for being so patient while I traveled and took a little bloggy break to enjoy my family and adventures (and then played MAJOR catch up this past week)!

I’m back with Part 1 of our trip to NYC, where for the first time, we decided to reside in Brooklyn for the entire stay.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know the love affair I have with New York (40th Birthday, Mini-Move in 2015)… so when my parents decided they wanted to celebrate their 70th birthdays in the Big Apple (they are exactly one week apart in age… too cute, right?)… I was busy planning out this vacation before the words even escaped their mouths!

So why Brooklyn (Williamsburg to be more specific), you ask?

Well, we had a BIG group of people to provide for. My brother and his family were staying in Brooklyn and taking my niece Ella to the ABT summer ballet program, which she has qualified for… for two years in a row (MAJOR ballet dreams envy!).

We also had more family coming into town for the big party, so Brooklyn offered more space at a more affordable price.

Plus I LOVE a new adventure and a brand new hood to discover (it’s actually what my dreams are made of)… so off to Williamsburg we went!

I’ve had a few inquiries about traveling with kids, so I’m going to pepper in some advice throughout this post.

We left REALLY early (6:40am flight, which meant a 3:45am wake up call). My husband was so nervous about the kids having to wake up at this time, being cranky, etc., but you know what… they were CHAMPS. In fact, Parker asked when we could leave “in the middle of the night” again! Kids are adventurers at heart… they find the whole process exciting. If you are prepared, the process is easy.

On that note… bring them in their PJs (anything new and novel makes things more fun… “we get to leave the house in our PJs? COOL!”). Cozy booties (vs. slippers), like these Robeez booties worked flawlessly (like a slipper, but an actual shoe!).

We also always pack their carry-ons with at least one new book and one new toy. Again… novelty seems to be the key here.

… and snacks, snacks snacks. When all else fails… feed them (you can never bring TOO MANY SNACKS).

Happy Travelers!

After arriving, catching up with my brother and his family, playing and eating… we all crashed out for I believe twelve hours. It was glorious!

The next morning I grabbed my mom and forced her to wander the streets with me on a search for our first coffee…

How adorable is this home with that yellow door that looks like it was painted JUST FOR ME. A little CA sunshine in the city 😉 .

This is Toby’s Estate in Williamsburg. The people are cool and their shelfie game is strong… like their coffee.

Williamsburg is charming, and gritty… beautiful moments and spots sprinkled with dirt and grime. It’s city life… and I love it. These kiddos did too. Don’t be afraid to expose them to something other than the perfectly manicured hotels that sit across from multi-million dollar storefronts. Life is fascinating in all of its many forms… and there is something to learn on every (sometimes smelly) corner.

Another travel tip: Don’t trick yourself into believing that five years old is too old for a stroller. If you are going to be doing a ton of walking… bring an extra stroller (if you have two kiddos). The two cousins on the right? Five years old and THANK GOD we had extra wheels!

Color splash!

One of my absolute FAVORITE spots that I discovered on a solo adventure, with a hint from Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar (and went back three times because it was just SO charming), was Cafe Colette. A little bit New Orleans, a little bit Paris, and a WHOLE lotta gorgeousness!

Instagram GOLD!

We took a few walks to the waterfront with everyone in tow (I miss these moments so much already!)…

… to grab some scoops at Oddfellows …

… and to catch the sunsets.

Goodnight Moon.

Over in Dumbo we played in Brooklyn Bridge Park (which is really a combination of multiple parks and play areas that cover 1.3 miles of waterfront!)…

… and took a ride on Jane’s Carousel, a 100 year old carousel with STUNNING views of the waterfront and city skyline!

Travel Tip: The park areas are free, and the ride was $2.00. Hours of fun on the cheap in NYC. Whaaaaat?

Do you know what else is free? The Staten Island Ferry! We took it to pick up family… but what you get is a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty and a free boat ride (which the kiddos LOVED).

Back near our digs we discovered Zona Rosa… a Mexican restaurant with roots in Mexico City cuisine. It was AMAZING. I think we ate there three times as well. I wish I had a prettier photo… there is a rooftop with string lights and an old trailer that serves as the kitchen. They serve organic chicken and grass fed beef… and serve up a perfect classic margarita. I couldn’t recommend it more!

Brooklyn… you’re growing on me like my favorite pair of ripped up jeans!

On Monday I’ll bring you Part 2, with exploits across the bridge… and most importantly, my parents’ birthday celebration, which won’t include pictures from MY CAMERA, because I LOST IT ON THE WAY HOME (more on that later… cue copious amounts of tears).

Two places I wanted to try, but didn’t have time to check out:

Juliette: We walked past here on our way home from the waterfront one evening and I literally GASPED at one of the prettiest rooftop eating areas I’ve ever seen! Please go try this out for me!

Suzume: This sushi spot was literally five steps away from our airbnb and we didn’t go, and I am kicking myself. It was PACKED every evening and everyone I spoke with gave it majorly strong reviews. The hubs and I were going to go on a date night but high-tailed it out to the Lower East Side for a “sleep-over” instead!

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