Whether you choose a special exhibit or a permanent one, pick one and explore it in depth. Given the high cost of visiting the museum, newcomers to the museum might want to stick with the standard holdings unless there’s an exhibit you REALLY want to see. The special exhibits are add-ons, i.e. they cost extra.
–Butterflies – (open part of the year, now through May 27, 2013)
–Our Global Kitchen (open through August, 2013)
For permanent exhibits, don’t miss the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (that’s where the big whale is), Fossil Hall (with the dinosaurs), the Grand Gallery (the beautiful 77th Street lobby), or the gemstones.
The I (heart) New York t-shirts are cute, but they’re so prolific you get a little sick of seeing them in all the tourist stores. So what kind of New York souvenirs do you bring when you visit friends and family elsewhere? Or where do you point your visitors to get something unique to take home? Here are some ideas:
The kids were not overly excited when I told them we were going on a speed boat ride – with a bunch of other people. What fun is it if you don’t get to drive the boat yourself? And my husband chalked this one up to another of my crazy ideas.
I’m not a big Toys R Us fan in general, but I do like the one in Times Square (Broadway at 44th Street). Not that I actually shop there, but it’s a fun place to hang out. Here are five things not to miss when you go!
The Ferris Wheel – You can’t miss this four story Ferris wheel, which is the first thing you see when you walk in. While waiting in line (you buy timed tickets) you can try to figure out which car would be the best for you – the Cabbage Patch Kids? The Scooby Doo car? The Little Tykes car? The Monopoly car? My Little Pony? Mr. Potato Head? The M&M car? The Toy Story car? The Rug Rats? At $4.50 a person per ride, it’s not cheap, but the proceeds do benefit the company’s charity.
I have a confession. I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie. But I have read all the books. My kids haven’t seen the movies either – I won’t let them until they read the books (my daughter is partway through the third, and my son is listening to the first on tape).
With that in mind, I took them to the Harry Potter exhibit in Times Square, hoping it would inspire my kids to plow through (note to readers – my son is now on the 5th book and we’ve seen the accompanying movies – he now wants to go back to the exhibition AGAIN). And even though I haven’t seen the movies, the scenes are so vivid in my mind (and the movie actors so ingrained in our culture) that I was interested in seeing the recreation.
If you are able to get to the Park Avenue Armory by March 30, you must go. Here’s why:
I dragged the kids and husband – who did not understand my desire to see quilts hanging from the ceiling. I tried to explain – it would be 650 quilts – all in red and white. They still didn’t get it. But once they walked into the fabulous armory (which itself is an architectural masterpiece), they were also awestruck.
When my friends visit Manhattan, they often don’t want to stay in our lovely guest room, even though it’s free and comes with breakfast (and happy hour). After all, it’s in New Jersey, and getting in to see the sights involves a train or bus ride. Not so convenient after an evening Broadway show or for families wanting afternoon naps.
So I compiled a list of resources of where they can look for the best family-friendly hotels in Manhattan. And I’ll share them with you.
–Another option is to rent a timeshare apartment. The extra space and separate bedrooms are perfect for families.
–One mom recommends the Element Hotel because it has a small kitchenette. The Element is a Westin hotel, near Times Square (39th Street, between 8th and 9th).
–One mom I know of recommends Affinia 50, on 50th and the East Side (and several other in the city, including the Affinia Gardens which has a 2 bedroom). She said “the rooms were HUGE. We had a one-bedroom with living room, large kitchen and bathroom for approx $300/night. The downside is that it is far from “fancy” and has no room service, but a really nice lounge, clean enough (not dirty, just not posh) and great location. We would stay there again.” Not all the rooms are one bedrooms.
Last, let me know where YOU like to stay in Manhattan, or where you recommend.
On our first visit, we gave the kids the regular map and told them to pick two things they each wanted to see. And then we had them lead the way. The kids picked the Temple of Dendur and the Egyptian wing, the instrument room, the swords and armor, and I can’t even remember the fourth. We had a fabulous time exploring…until Zachary had a melt-down at the end, in the instrument room. He was tired. He was hungry. It was time to go. We were there almost two hours, and considered that visit highly successful.
The next trip was with Alison Lowenstein, author of City Kid New York: the Ultimate Guide for NYC Parents with Kids ages 4-12 (plus she’s the author of City Weekends: Greatest Escapes and Weekend Getaways in and Around New York). She’s a pro at visiting the Met with kids. For this visit, Alison led us to the lower level, where the (free with admission) tours and programs for kids are held. We did an Art Trek, where the Met guide took us to several works of art, and discussed them a kid’s level. At the end, they got to draw one of the pieces. The program lasts an hour, and is for kids ages 5-12 (they divide them into age-appropriate groups). The kids liked the program, though that guide didn’t leave enough drawing time for them at the end.
The Met offers hundreds of family programs each year, including drop-in drawing sessions, festivals, the “Discoveries” program for learning-disabled and developmentally disabled kids, holiday programs (including select Mondays), story times and more.
New York City is such a great place to visit in December. If you’re going to New York City with the kids, here are our ideas for what to do to make it festive.
Of course you’ll want to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Just outside you’ll find Sak’s Fifth Avenue, with sparkling snowflakes (coordinated to music) and window displays. Also with winter window displays: Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, Barneys, Macy’s and more.
Rockefeller Center has a tiny rink, but it’s so picturesque. Enter from 5th Avenue, between 49th and 50th. Skating is first-come, first-served and you can skate for as long as you stay there. Expect waits up to 90 minutes, unless you skate in the weekday mornings. They’re open on Christmas Day. Continue reading “NYC Holiday Fun with Kids”