Traveling to New York City with kids? It will be a COMPLETELY rewarding experience if you take some professional advice.
What follows are itineraries that will keep a family - especially the kids - entertained. You'll especially want to pay heed to my last piece of advice - and perhaps the most important - that you'll find at the end of this blog!
As important as WHAT TO SEE is HOW TO SEE IT. Although Manhattan is a rather small and walkable island, spending your time trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B (or worse yet, getting caught in traffic) can spoil an otherwise fun day.
Also, following a strenuous adventure with a relaxing interlude will pay dividends. Here are some daily itinerary ideas:
Morning visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on 42nd Street. Spend 2 hours or so walking through the hands-on and up-close exhibits, most of which will be familiar to kids age 8 and up. Afterwards, walk about two blocks to the huge Toys R Us (44th & Broadway), then have lunch at the nearby Planet Hollywood (45th & Broadway). For a relaxing afternoon, take a Circle Line 3-hour sightseeing cruise around Manhattan (go by taxi to their 42nd St. & 12th Ave pier). An evening Broadway show like Disney's The Lion King, Little Mermaid or Blue Man Group (off-Broadway) will end an unforgettable day for Dad, Mom and the kids!
Day One: See all the major sights of the City by boarding the Downtown Gray Line New York double-decker hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus at 8th Ave between 47th & 48th Streets. Your narrator/tour guide will describe the sights of Times Square and the Garment District before you get off the bus at the Empire State Building. Take the elevator to the Observatory to get an amazing view of New York City.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can get FREE ADMISSION to the Empire State Building Observatory if you purchase a complete New York City vacation from New York City Vacation Packages.
Re-board the next bus and continue through the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Soho and Chinatown until you get to Battery Park. Get off the bus and walk towards the water to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty. When you get back on the bus you'll find your next stop is South Street Seaport, a great place to have lunch and do a bit of shopping.The tour will continue through the historic Lower East Side and East Village, past the United Nations (where you can get off and take the brief 1-hour tour for an additional cost) to Rockefeller Center, Central Park and on to the Hudson River pier.
Day Two: Kids and parents should enjoy today's Uptown hop-on hop-off tour as it heads past Lincoln Center and Central Park. You'll see stately apartment buildings occupied by New York's Rich and Famous, including The Dakota, where John Lennon lived and Yoko Ono still does. You might get off the bus here to walk a short distance into Central Park to Strawberry Fields, Yoko's memorial to John. The next stop is a must-see - the American Museum of Natural History, with its Hall of Ocean Life featuring a 94-foot blue whale, the Rose Center for Earth and Space offering the popular Space Show and Hayden Planetarium, and the famous dinosaur halls. By the way, your kids might be interested in looking at the Museum's web site for kids.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can get FREE ADMISSION to the Museum if you purchase a complete New York City vacation from New York City Vacation Packages.
The tour continues past other sites in uptown Manhattan including the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb (guess who's buried there) until reaching Harlem. It's worth getting off the bus to walk around this area rich in the history of American music, dance and literature. Don't miss the Apollo Theatre, which has showcased talent for almost 70 years, or the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market, full of traditional African crafts.
As the tour returns to midtown you will pass the famous Museum Mile, home to some of the City's top museums and galleries. If you still have time and energy you can disembark at 65th Street and 5th Avenue for a stroll into Central Park and its Zoo
More Family-Oriented stuff in the Big Apple:
Children's Museum of Manhattan - for the under-12 set
Kramer Reality Tour - for Seinfeld fans
NBC Studio Tour - 70 minute "behind the scenes" tour including NBC History Theater, famous working studios and mini-control room.
NY SKYRIDE - awesome simulated aerial tour of New York City
Sony Wonder Technology Lab
New York Hall of Science
The last piece of advice - and perhaps the most important - is this: DON'T STAND IN LINE TO BUY ADMISSION TICKETS!
Kids (and adults too) get cranky. Don't subject them to a long wait while you and hundreds of others wait to get into your next attraction. BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE. You won't usually pay any more for this service and you'll breeze right through the ticket-purchase lines at major sites like the museums, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty ferry, Circle Line cruises and Madame Tussaud's. You'll also benefit by having advance reservations at some must-sees like the NBC Studio Tour.
HOW TO BUY YOUR ADMISSION TICKETS IN ADVANCE: Go to the Ticket Machine at http://nycsightseeing.nyctrip.com. You can buy tickets to most major sites, attractions and museums in New York City and print most of them immediately!