Bright lights, big city, that’s how New York presents itself to the millions who have visited this concrete jungle. And while my kids still enjoy the theme parks of California and Florida, they were equally fascinated with the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Here are tips that you may find useful should you decide to make the city that never sleeps your next travel destination.
Prepare to do a lot of walking. We normally stay along 5th Avenue or the Theatre District so most attractions are within walking distance or short subway rides away. It’s easy to explore the city because everything is laid out in a grid. If you don’t have friends to show you the way, there’s always a friendly face in the street willing to give directions. Walking gives you the freedom to take in the sights, to stop at parks and shops at your own leisure and take note of other places you want to explore. We clocked in an average of 10,000 steps daily!
Of the many museums we went to, these are the kids’ favorites:
American Museum of Natural History
Marvel at prehistoric beasts and cavemen, learn everything from the American Indians to outer space. Get your fill of dinosaurs at the same building where Night at The Museum was shot. (You’ll find Teddy Roosevelt sitting on a bench at the end of the tour.) A Barosaurus and Allosaurus greet visitors at the lobby while the whole 4th floor is dedicated to the much beloved gigantic creatures.
Museum of Modern Art
My little girl jumped with glee when she saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night on display! (We have a replica painting hanging in our home) Paintings, drawings, sculpture, film and mixed media abound here for all the family to enjoy.
Museum of Mathematics
The first floor houses contraptions and rides all based on mathematical concepts. The kids rode bicycles with square wheels that ran on half cylinders laid out on a circular track. Using both left and right brain, my daughter created beautiful patterns and prints as she drew and colored using a digital brush. The lower floor had more math challenges (math square, puzzles etc) that kept us occupied for hours.
The Spy Museum/Skyscape
For my boys, the highlight of our vacation was definitely our Skyscape experience. We unleashed our inner spies as we answered a battery of questions (personality test), deciphered codes (encryption challenge), figured who was lying (in the investigation room), learned about the greatest spies in the world, underwent a rigorous surveillance challenge (try to find the man juggling three balls in 10 seconds while watching 12 cameras!) and tested our physical acumen as we maneuvered through lasers in the field operations exercise. In the end my husband was hailed as Spymaster (Head of the CIA, no surprise there!), while I was a cryptologist, my son an agent handler, and my girl an intelligence operative. At $45 per ticket, this was worth it. Major fun!
To round up our trip, we also went to the Central Park Zoo, had lunches at the Plaza, heard mass at St. Patrick Cathedral, watched broadway shows, shopped along 5th Avenue, spent a day in iconic Coney Island (and ate Nathan’s hotdogs), caught Cristina Aguilera’s appearance on Today over at the Rockefeller Center, played a bit of Mario Bros at the Nintendo store, and bought our Game of Thrones shirts at the HBO store.
Whew! Definitely a lot of memories made in two weeks. Hopefully, we can make a third trip to New York and make some more.