Trip Coach: February 26, 2008
Maria Burwell, editor of "Fodor's New York City 2009," answered your questions on the Big Apple.
Cleveland, Ohio: We're planning a 3 day family trip to NYC in March. Besides the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Bldg., and the Natural History Museum, what are some additional sightseeing ideas for the kids (age 8 & 6)? Matt
Maria Burwell: Matt, consider the Big Apple your kids' oversized playground. There's enough family fun to keep kids in this age group busy for three months. On top of what you've mentioned I'd recommend:
—Rockefeller Center. Aside from seeing the facade of the Radio City Music Hall, you can tour the NBC studios, skate in the ice rink, indulge in the stores (hello, Maison du Chocolat!), and go to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller's observation deck ). It's a great vantage point to view the NYC skyline and get a bird's-eye view of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, etcetera.
—The New York Fire Museum. Sadly, you can't climb around on a fire truck, but your kids can get up close with all the sliding poles and candy-apple red trucks that make fire-fighting such a fascinating occupation.
—The Sony Wonder Lab. A free interactive tour through cutting-edge technology featuring twinkling fiber optic lights, audio recordings, and screenings of popular movies.
—The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This is a great doable museum for kids. The tenements capture what life was like for early immigrant families in New York, and the family programs illustrate the very real conditions kids lived and worked under.
If you're willing to go into the outer boroughs, there are even more great attractions:
—The Museum of the Moving Image (in Queens). Take your kids here to play with sound editing equipment, make their own stop animation movie, or play with their video games. Hands-on fun in the best way.
—The Bronx Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! If your kids like animals, they'll be really happy here.
Norristown, Pa.: I'm coming to New York for a 2pm show at the August Wilson theatre. How can I get there from Penn Station? How long will it take? Can I walk the distance?
Maria Burwell: You could walk it, but it would be a loooong walk. (About 20 blocks.) I'd suggest taking the subway. Take the 1 train uptown from 34th Street Penn Station, get off at 50th Street, and you'll be a block away! (If you need more subway directions, check out hopstop.com.)
Melbourne, Fla.: My 8-year-old daughter and I will be making our first trip to New York in late July. We read about The Cloisters in one of her Magic Treehouse books and now we HAVE to see the unicorn tapestries! Can you recommend something else to see or do, or somewhere to eat while we're up in that area? Also, in addition to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is there other fiction we can read to get her excited about NYC? Thanks!
Maria Burwell: What a great question! Take a look at the suggestions I made above for Matt for other activities. As for the Cloisters themselves, I highly recommend you take a picnic up there and enjoy it on the grounds. It should be beautiful weather in late July. Swing by the Time Warner Center before you continue north and pick up snacks from either the Bouchon Bakery (terrific French macaroons!) or the local Whole Foods. Or, for an authentic NYC experience, grab some bagels at H&H on the Westside. If you wanted to try to group a few more activities into the day, I'd say you could jump off at the Columbia campus area to explore that or even poke around Harlem on your way back.
As for New York based children's books, I recommend the first Kiki Strike book. It's entirely based in New York and has an imaginative plot about a group of renegade girl scouts that discover an underground city below Chinatown. It'll certainly make her want to play urban explorer!
Brookfield, Mo.: We're a couple in our mid-50's. We'll be leaving Kansas City for New York on 6/2/08 & returning on 6/7/08. We're both afficianados of anything historical or literary & love just seeing the architecture of a new place. I was in NYC for a few days in 1987 & adored the energy & diversity. My husband has never been there, so he wants to see the famous sites—The Statue & Ellis Island, the Empire State & Flatiron buildings, etc. We'd also like to see a Broadway show. We're staying across the Hudson in Weehawken, near the ferry; so we'll have to go into the city each morning & stay for the day. Any tips for other, lesser-known things to do? Our ideas of a vacation is to start early & go nonstop, and come home exhausted, so we need plenty of ideas! Thanks so very much, Denise