Normally the kids and I take our summer vacation and go to the beach. Since the coast of North Carolina is only a couple hours away, this is a convenient place to spend a week as the summer winds down. This year, they asked to go to New York City instead. We had been there a few years ago, but only for about two days. As my son said, We didn’t get to do much and there’s so much to do. After some convincing, I agreed and we booked our trip.
It was fun acting like a tourist in a city I have lived in, and taking the kids to all the popular spots. We stayed on the Eastside in the Beekman Tower Hotel, near the UN building. Not only am I an Eastside person, but it was nice to be in a non-touristy, residential area. We stayed near Times Square before and there was just too much hustle and bustle of tourists. The best way to see the city is to get a City Pass, which gives you access to six attractions, and in many cases lets you bypass the lines. Below are the highlights of our trip.
Museum of Modern Art
This was the first of several museums we went to, but if you take a very laid back approach to museums, kids will enjoy them. We focused on pieces that the kids were familiar with, like Monet’s Water Lilies (above) and Van Gogh’s Starry Night. These museums are just too big to stop at every work, read the card and go to the next one. Even for adults. I focused on these important pieces and the reality of what you can see by standing in front of them. Things like how much of Starry Night is created by the brushstrokes and the layers of paint. This is never really conveyed in a book.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grace is a big fan of the Percy Jackson series of books, which brings Greek mythology into the modern day. The museum had a great guide highlighting select pieces based on the characters in the book. The first book also begins in the museum itself. Grace enjoyed finding these works with her special guide. We also enjoyed the Knights in Armor (one of my favorites as a kid) and the Egyptian artifacts, including the Temple of Dendur.
Statue of Liberty
A boat ride in New York Harbor on a hot sunny day led us to the famous statue. We learned a little bit about its history from a Park Ranger and did not go inside, as all tours must be pre-booked and were not included with our passes. After a few pictures, we were back on the boat.
The Immigration Museum on Ellis Island was more interesting to me, than to the kids, but we did talk about all the people who came through Ellis Island. We talked about the strength it must have taken to pack all your belongings and travel across the ocean to a place where you don’t speak the language. While I have family members whose name was changed when they arrived in the US, I don’t know any specific relatives who came through Ellis Island.
Mac N Cheese
We went to an all Mac N Cheese restaurant called S’mac and Grace reviewed it for her web show.
Museum of Natural History
No kid trip to New York is complete without a stop at the Museum of Natural History. We used their iPhone app to find the big Blue Whale and the Dinosaurs. While some things have not changed since I was a kind, the Hayden Planetarium and Space Center are brand new. The planetarium (which is the device that projects the stars, not the curved dome) is long gone and replaced with a digital projection system.
We also met my sister for dinner, which was great since the kids haven’t seen her since the last time we were in New York three years ago. Here are more photos from the trip.