FAMILY VACATION: NEW YORK CITY
TOP TWELVE TRAVEL TIPSHEET
New York City
by Debbie Humes
Editor’s Note: Top Twelve Travel Tipsheet is a ParentsPost.com series on favorite FAMILY-FRIENDLY places and activities outside Houston. Debbie Humes is a New York City SuperMom with one daughter. She is a writer/producer at ABC News. She attended the University of Delaware.
#1 BROOKLYN BRIDGE PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY
Take a scenic stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a great way to enjoy the breathtaking sights at your own pace while stopping to snap plenty of pictures. The 1.3-mile trek should take about an hour, so wear your sensible shoes. If you want to make it a one-way trip, I recommend hopping a subway to Brooklyn. That’ll give you the best opportunity to gaze into the incredible Manhattan skyline. From Brooklyn, you can get on the bridge at Tillary Street. From Manhattan, you can get on the bridge next to City Hall.
#2 CENTRAL PARK
You could spend all day walking through Central Park’s 843 acres located in the middle of Manhattan. The family activities are endless: picnics at Sheep Meadow, a visit to Central Park Zoo, row boat rentals and bike rentals at Loeb Boathouse, the famous Carousel and Carriage Rides. There are 21 playgrounds scattered around the park, each with different features. Wollman Rink, which is an outdoor ice-skating rink during the winter, transforms into Victorian Gardens, an amusement park with rides during the summer. The rides are mostly geared for kids ages 2-12. Another long-time summer tradition at Central Park: FREE performances of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater.
#3 CHELSEA PIERS
Pier 60, West 23rd Street & the Hudson River, 212-336-6060
Chelsea Piers is a perfect outlet to unleash kids bursting with energy. This state of the art sports and entertainment center, resting along the Hudson River, has something for every member of your family. They can try out junior golfing, bowling, batting cages, swimming, even ice-skating and rock climbing for kids as young as 5. They can also take advantage of a variety of drop-in programs while you soak up the sun and the amazing waterfront views from the spacious deck.
#4 CHELSEA WATERSIDE PARK
West 23rd Street & the West Side Highway
Chelsea Waterside Park is a great place for the kids to cool off in the summer heat. This unique water-themed playground is filled with refreshing spouts, fountains and tons of things to climb. Easy access to equipment allows the smaller set to join the fun unassisted. It also features more traditional options like a slide that shoots you into a giant sandbox.
#5 FAO SCHWARZ
767 Fifth Avenue, 212-644-9400
FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the country, happens to be celebrating its 150th birthday this year. Pose with a real-life toy soldier. Tickle the ivories of the giant piano immortalized in the movie, “Big”. It’s a collection of almost every toy, game or doll you can think of under one massive roof, plus one-of-a-kind surprises you never imagined. You can avoid the crowd altogether by paying for a private tour (breakfast included) before doors open to the public.
#6 AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY & THE HAYDEN PLANETARIUM
Central Park West & 79th Street, 212-769-5100
Despite countless class trips as a child, this museum could never disappoint. As visitors step into the enormous main lobby, all eyes gravitate to the towering dinosaur centerpiece. In addition to the fossils and culture exhibits, the 94-foot long blue whale model is a must-see. Both the museum and the planetarium offer great interactive programs.
#7 BROOKLYN CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
145 Brooklyn Avenue, 718-735-4400
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the oldest of its kind in the world. A quick subway ride out of Manhattan leads you to an oasis of learning and discovery where kids are allowed to touch almost everything. Glide your fingers over rocks and shells. Get your hands wet. Get them dirty. Crawl through a maze of tunnels. Explore to your heart’s content.
#8 THE NEW VICTORY THEATER
229 West 42nd Street, 646-223-3010
The New Victory Theater caters to kids and families. Your little ones will get a kick out of offbeat circus acts, whacky plays and funky hip-hop dancers. There is always a parade of unique shows and kiddie workshops from playwriting to puppet-making.
#9 BRONX ZOO
2300 Southern Boulevard, 718-367-1010
The World Famous Bronx Zoo is another pick that never gets old. It’s a 265-acre home to so much more than lions and tigers and bears. The butterfly garden is an amazing up close and personal experience. Take a spin on the Bug Carousel, climb into a bird’s nest or ride a camel just to name a few.
#10 THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY
Whitehall Terminal a.k.a. South Ferry, 4 South Street
The Staten Island Ferry is a bargain you can not pass up. Take in some of the best unobstructed views of the city absolutely FREE of charge. Hop on in Lower Manhattan for a brief round trip voyage. It’s about 25 minutes each way, but everyone must disembark in Staten Island even if you plan to get right back on. I suggest heading out in the middle of the day. That way, you avoid the crush of commuters during the morning and evening rush.
#11 SWEET TREATS
DYLAN’S CANDY BAR – 1011 Third Avenue, 646-735-0078
I know there’s one in Houston, but just supersize that. The flagship store is like none other. It’s three floors, 15-thousand square feet of wall-to-wall sweetness. Indulge in everything from old-school lollipops and gumdrops to newly concocted mouth-watering treats. My daughter falls into a light trance just thinking about it.
ALICE’S TEA CUP – 102 West 73rd Street, 212-799-3006
This quaint little restaurant inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” has a wide variety of teas you can sip from whimsical mix-and-match porcelain cups while munching on scrumptious scones, sandwiches and much more. Sit for breakfast, lunch or supper. FYI: Bigger boys might find it a bit too girly.
SERENDIPITY 3 – 225 East 60th Street, 212-838-3531
Famous for its Frozen Hot Chocolate, Ice Cream Sundaes and other delicious desserts, this is always a delightful spot for families. The menu also offers an extraordinary array of healthy and hearty dishes.
#12 CONEY ISLAND
Spend the day at Coney Island for a taste of the old world charm that paved the way for today’s Six Flags and Disney Parks. There are plenty of newer rides, but try taking a whirl on the historic Cyclone or Wonder Wheel. They’ve been around since the 1920s. Don’t forget to grab a bite at the original Nathan’s Famous Restaurant. Everything is just steps away from the boardwalk and beach.