New York City for Families – Part 2November 9, 2010 1 Comment
We started our second day in New York by taking a walk through Times Square (See New York City for Families – Part 1). From stopping for chocolates at the Hershey store to staring at the enormous digital bill boards and posing for photos under the glittery theater district marquees, it was all an enjoyable cluster of noise, color, and flashing lights. Times Square is great for walking and very pedestrian-friendly. Broadway is closed to cars from West 42nd to West 47th Street. The kids really enjoyed the indoor Ferris wheel at the massive Times Square Toys R Us. From Times Square we walked over to Radio City Music Hall where we took a tour of the historic venue. Yes, they do offer elevator access if you need it for a stroller; otherwise you walk stairs and can carry the smaller travelers. The history of the tour was fascinating for adults, the kids enjoyed the eye candy of the famous art deco location, sitting down in the theater seats viewing the massive stage, and getting to pose with an actual Rockette at tour’s end.
Near by is the awe inspiring beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the soaring spires and lovely stained glass make a remarkable visit regardless of your beliefs. We walked up to the Metropolitan Museum and enjoyed a long stay there. Our first stop was the completely enthralling Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian Gallery. This enormous exhibit reminded our kids of an Indian Jones saga. Smaller children will simply enjoy being able to carefully explore the area. Another hit were the Medieval galleries and armor galleries. The sculpture gardens and decorative galleries with their all inclusive recreated palatial rooms were also transporting to both the adults and children in our group. The Petrie Court Cafe is a surprisingly good lunch stop, with salads, sandwiches and entrees in a relaxing setting.
We took the museum bus up to the Cloisters, a long ride that may not be your choice for very young children. The grounds are beautiful though, and the quiet and serene atmosphere makes up for the distance. The Cloisters is a replica of a Medieval monastery, and features art and tapestries from that era. The park area around the museum itself offers plenty of gently hilly green space for relaxing or burning off a little steam that well represent that period in time. The stained glass windows are beautiful.
Across Central Park but much closer to the Met than the Cloisters is The Museum of Natural History. The world class planetarium shows, the dinosaur bones, and the classic nature dioramas captivated all ages. And if your children have seen the Night at the Museum movies, they’ll be expecting those dioramas to come to life! The highlights for us were the African, Asian and North American exhibits, the awesome and enormous full-size Blue Whale model, and the Star of India, which is the largest blue sapphire in the world. The kids also enjoyed the Discovery Room with a wonderful two story replica of an African baobab tree. The tree holds bird, insect, reptile, and mammal specimens to spot. Another hit was assembling a life sized dinosaur cast skeleton from the Triassic period. Older kids will like having the ability to use fairly sophisticated microscopes in an interactive display.
We left the museum and snacked at Zabar’s Deli which has in my opinion the most excellent bagels in the world; then headed over to Brooklyn for the grand finale. Here we explored a living museum dedicated to one single cultural icon: baseball. We toured Yankee Stadium. While you can tour either on your own or with a guided tour, the latter takes visitors into the clubhouse and batting cage area, the dugout and Monument Park. We also enjoyed the New York Yankees Historical Museum, which provides perspective concerning the original ball park as well as the new, state of the art stadium, and baseball itself. If your kids are of Pee Wee or Little League age, they’ll enjoy this tour tremendously.
All kids will be drawn to the beauty and views from the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge when it was built. Now over a hundred years old, the bridge was the first passage by land between Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. It’s a delightful and easy walk between the two along an elevated walkway. The views are wonderful too, of both harbor and sky line.
We ended our evening dining with friends at the noisy, trendy Tao restaurant. Sharing dishes keeps the restaurant within reach of the cost-conscious, and the enormous golden Buddha surveying the scene was fascinating to our kids. Be warned, its noisy, and if the evening is growing late the family-friendly vibe will dissipate. The varied vegetarian and fish appetizers kept our family happy, and the well-heeled crowd was excellent for people watching.
Leaving Manhattan proper for Brooklyn made us curious to explore other areas outside downtown on the following day. With kids in tow, Coney Island is a natural. Taking the subway is not difficult – it’s a straight shot on the N line – but it does take forty-five minutes. We went on a weekday; summer weekends might be problematic in regard to crowds.
Strolling the beach boardwalk was great fun, the old fashioned signs, traditional carnival rides and sea view from the wooden walkway were a fun stop for the kids. The caramel corn wasn’t bad either.
Back in Manhattan, we piled in a taxi to get to another great walking location – Greenwich Village. Stopping for pasta at an outdoor cafe, watching the chess players hunker down in Washington Square, window shopping boutiques, musical instrument shops, and record stores, and listening to street musician made for a great evening.
While you might not think of the Village as family attraction, we saw many a family pushing strollers and carriages or with toddlers in tow. The street scene is a wonderful panoply of sights and sounds, and kids are comfortable in the outdoor cafes taking it all in.
Whatever view, cultural icon, city park or city street you visit in New York, your kids will have taken a tasty and memorable bite of the Big Apple.