Joisey girls.

Dear friends,

Not long ago I was kvetching to a friend about how much I’ll miss Kate when she moves away to college, about how time is slipping away, about . . . oh, you know — that thing that mothers do.

And my wise friend, who has been the source of many good ideas and advice over the years, suggested I needed to plan a girls’ trip with Kate — a week’s getaway after she graduates from high school, just the two us, as a kind of rite of passage/celebration/cementing of the mother-daughter bond experience.

I was all over the idea and mentioned it to Kate immediately. I told her we would go anywhere she wanted to go (within reason of course, which my girl is nothing if not reasonable) and to think about it.

A couple of nights ago I followed up with her.

Joan: Have you been thinking about where we might go for our girls’ trip?

Kate: Anywhere is fine, Mom. Wherever you’d like to go, I’m sure I’d enjoy it.

Joan: No, no, no. I want you to pick. It’s your trip.

Kate: Well, I was talking to a friend and I was thinking how fun it would be to go to Hoboken.

<insert screeching tire sound>

Turns out, guess who is in Hoboken?

Photo credit: hddavila2007

Our favorite baker ever, Buddy of Cake Boss!

Kate started her confectionary odyssey before I did. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to take up baking. Long before I was spending my Sundays making multi-layer, filled cakes from scratch, Kate was creating and selling these little delights:

So Hoboken it is! And while we’re in the neighborhood, I suggested we ought to drop in on the Big Apple. Because there’s just a few things we might enjoy over there, like hanging around outside 30 Rock and stalking Tina Fey.

I’m so excited, I’m tingly! I’ve been to NYC three previous times, in 1976, 1987 and 1999, but Kate has never traveled there. The last time I was in Manhattan, I went to the top of the World Trade Center for the first time. Kate and I both want to see Ground Zero.

If you’ve been to NYC more recently than 1999, would you do a girl a favor and drop me some suggestions? Where should we stay? Where must we eat? There’s so much to choose from, I need a carefully edited itinerary and would welcome your input.

With gratitude {for the anticipation and excitement of planning a big trip},

Joan, who in her secret dreams believes she could have been a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, pink tutu and all (except for the Mr. Big part because she is clearly more into the Mr. Moms than the Mr. Bigs)


  1. Have not EVER been to NYC, Joan, but watching you go through this “process” with your beautiful daughter sure brings up lots of memories for me. At our house, the funny thing was…I was so “prepared”…by worrying, planning, grieving…while Dad was casually thinking, “party, party, freedom!”, that HE was the one that hit the pavement when our kids left. (Both children graduated same year.) It’s an emotional time, so bittersweet, and not one to be traded for anything in the world, but good, good times are waiting ahead for you, girl…I promise. All of us 50-something’s promise.

  2. We always stay at the Hotel Stanford when we go. It’s a small hotel in “Koreatown” (really just a Korean street). Not a ton of rooms, but fairly large rooms for NYC, reasonably priced, partially subsidized parking across the street (though I suppose that makes no difference for you), and a reasonable walk to Times Square. Depends where you want to be I guess.

    As for what to see . . . just walk. I love just walking in NYC. I also loved going to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (except that might be closed for restoration at the moment) on the Circle Line boat. I went to the Fashion Institute last time I was there to see a display of dresses that was pretty cool. Don’t know what might be there now, though.

  3. Great idea – my daughter and I did something a little bit similar when she graduated from college – though we went the “week at a remote Pacific NW mountain lodge retreat” route bookended by a couple of days in the Seattle area. Yeah, I know. It sounds pretty underwhelming, but it is the time together – the special shared memories just between the two of you – that matters so much more than where the trip takes you physically.

  4. Sue McIndoe says:

    Joan, I was in NYC about a year ago with Linda Robards and we had a blast. You must go to the theater…We generally walk up to the box office on the day we want to see a show and ask what they have available for that night..We ended up seeing Adams Family Values, How to Succeed in Business with Daniel Radcliff and The Book of Mormon. We also took one of the bus tours..we did Famous TV/Movie sights and it was fun. One of our favorite places to eat or snack is Ellens Stardust Diner…Have Fun…

  5. While in Lower Manhattan, don’t miss St. Paul’s Chapel where the rescuers rested. Ellis Island, museum & brief tour of the grounds, opens our eyes to the immigrant experience. Don’t miss Zabar’s, on the upper West Side, have breakfast at Au Bon Pain, and stand in the Tickets line in Times Square. (How To Succeed In Business…. Is adorable…classic Broadway musical). You can load a free app of the subway system; also free app of available shows to peruse while standing in Tickets line. Have fun! NOTHING is better than a mother/daughter NYC trip!

  6. If you can get a reservation at Babbo go for it! I would check out Eataly and stop by the Magnolia bakery. I bet if you call the bakeshops ahead of time and play the high school senior who wants to be a Baker card you could totally get behind the scenes tours and maybe a connection for future internships!

  7. Sue — I’m dying to see the Book of Mormon. And I’m glad to know I can walk up and get tickets that day. The famous movie/TV sights bus tour sounds right up my alley. Gerre — I’ve been to St. Paul’s but would love for Kate to see it. And we both already agreed we want to see Ellis Island. Kristin — yes, Liberty is closed (the interior) through Fall 2012, but we’ll see it anyway since we’re going to Ellis. And thank you for the hotel recommendation. Lodging is the trickiest part! Lori — I’m trying so hard to keep your words in mind. I keep telling myself it’ll only get better, right? Someday, I’ll be taking a trip with kids AND grandkids!

  8. Annie — Got it! Babbo, Eately and Magnolia Bakery. Can’t wait!

  9. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the Hungarian Pastry Shop (across the street from each other at 111th and Amsterdam). And walk a few blocks north to visit the Columbia University campus. I lived in that neighborhood back in the early ’80s. It was a great neighborhood then and it still is.

  10. Joan, how fun. Sounds like you and your daughter are in for some serious memory-making. When I lived in New York I often sought refuge at the Cloisters, still one of my favorite spots in the city. Also love the Neue Gallerie–a lovely little art collection in an amazing house on museum row. You can pretend like you’re in an Edith Wharton novel. Enjoy!

  11. What an awesome idea! Wished I would have thought to do that — maybe after I get my other knee replaced! I did a “screeching of the tires, too” when I read Hoboken. Sounds right up Kate’s and your alley though. I’ve never been to NY, so can’t give you any tips other than have a great time. It will be a good time when you go with the kids and grandchildren!

  12. Well, if you’re into bakeries and baked goods, you need to go to Levain Bakery (Amsterdam and 73rd St) and have the chocolate chip walnut cookie, it is the BEST cookie ever. Also Magnolia’s Bakery, (there are several in the city, but one close to the Rock, on 6th Ave) and have their banana pudding, it’s the BEST puddling ever. And also, stop by Bouchon Bakery at The Warner Center on 59th St and get some macarons, they are the BEST macarons ever. See a trend here? But seriously, you will love these.


  1. […] on my lunch hour I finally got around to booking our trip to NYC — er, Hoboken — for Kate’s graduation gift. I had been procrastinating because — while I’ve been to NYC four times in my life, I […]

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