New York City: Top Attractions
|Times Square, New York (PhotoDisc)|
If your family likes the energy and excitement of a big-city vacation, New York's your place. Along with browsing some of the world's best museums, you can attend a Broadway show, go inline skating in Central Park, or catch a Yankee game at the "House that Ruth Built." Explore your family's ancestry at Ellis Island, see the Statue of Liberty up close, or take a drive out to Long Island. There's so much to do, the kids might not want to sleep in the city that never does.
American Museum of Natural History
This museum has reinvented itself with state-of-the-art exhibits. The gem of the Rose Center for Earth and Space is a cutting-edge planetarium whose show zips you to the Orion Nebula where new stars are born. The Hall of Ocean Life features high-tech video screens displaying kelp forests and coral reefs. And the Hall of Meteorites' biggest specimen weighs 34 tons. Opening May 2005, "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" presents the latest theories about these extinct beasts.
American Museum of Natural History: 212.769.5100, www.amnh.org
Big Apple Baseball
New York City's two Major League Baseball teamsÂ—the Mets and the YankeesÂ—inspire fierce loyalty in their fans, so if you want seats, check ahead for home-game tickets. Tours are not available at the Mets' Shea Stadium, but a walk-through of Yankee Stadium shows you the press box, clubhouse, dugout, and Monument ParkÂ—a place honoring team greats like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.
New York Yankees: 718.293.4300, www.yankees.com
New York Mets: 718.507.TIXX, www.mets.com
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Grade-schoolers will enjoy roaming the U.S.S. Intrepid, a 900-foot WWII-era aircraft carrier now doing duty as a living museum. Along with exploring the deck and viewing 30 historic aircraft, kids can climb inside a replica of a Revolutionary War submarine and sit in a fighter-jet cockpit. Swing by during the twice monthly Saturday programs for families and you and your children (aged five to eight) may find yourselves designing a model plane, shooting off bottle rockets from the carrier's deck, or studying microorganisms living in New York Harbor.
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum: 212.245.0072, www.intrepidmuseum.org
Be sure to traipse through Central Park, a green oasis smack in the heart Manhattan's concrete jungle. Stroll the tree-shaded paths, ride the carousel, and watch experts break dance and inline skate. Or, you can visit the monkeys and sea lions at the Central Park Wildlife Center and take young kids to pet goats, sheep, and a pot-bellied pig at the Tisch Children's Zoo. Check the schedule for the summer concerts on the Great Lawn and for the puppet shows at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater. In winter, consider taking a museum break and head to the park for some ice skating!
Central Park: 212.310.6600, www.centralparknyc.org
Children's Museum of Manhattan
This museum, best for infants to eight-year olds, fosters imaginative play with interactive exhibits and 3-D versions of best-loved storybooks. Dora the Explorer, running through December 2005, features the treehouse slide and bridge over Crocodile Lake. In "Oh, Seuss! Off to Great Places," based on Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go, kids can teeter on a circus tightrope, try juggling, and dress-up in Seuss-inspired costumes. The Seuss exhibit runs through September 2005.
Children's Museum of Manhattan: 212.721.1234, www.cmom.org
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
America is home to the descendants of millions of immigrants, and for many of those seeking new life in America, Ellis Island served as their welcoming center. Now a museum, this national park helps visitors find a bit of their heritage. Exhibits display photographs depicting life for the immigrants as they arrived in the United States, including the bunks in which they slept and the pictures and trinkets they brought from their homelands. But the living-history performances seem to engage kids the most. "Ellis Island Stories" recreates an immigration officer's interrogation, and "Voices from the Past" mixes songs and narrative to detail the experience of Irving Berlin, a Titanic survivor, and other new arrivals.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum: 212.363.3206, www.ellisisland.com
Empire State Building
Once the architectural marvel of the world, the Empire State Building remains a can't-miss for family travelers to New York. It may not be the tallest building in the world anymore, but with 103 floors rising 1,454-feet, the Empire State Building still impresses. The 102nd-floor lookout is closed. But the observatory on the 86th-floor offers incredible vistas of the Big Apple. If you want to know more about the buildings way below you, listen to Tony, the wisecracking Manhattan native, who narrates the audio tour.
Empire State Building: 212.736.3100, www.esbnyc.com
Taking a child to a Broadway matinee is almost a New York rite of passage. The songs, costumes, and sheer showmanship of hits such as "Lion King," "Hair Spray," and "Wicked" prove inspiration to children of all ages (including parents and grand-folks). Aimed at kids and helpful to parents, Generation Broadway, www.generationbroadway.com, supplies summaries, age recommendations, and best of all, audio/video clips of current shows, making it easier to decide what seats to buy. TKTS, 212-221-0885, www.tdf.org, offers same-day tickets at up to 50 percent off.
Broadway Theater: 800.BROADWAY, www.broadway.com
Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is undoubtedly one of the world's greatest museums. And the facility's enormity can be overwhelming, so it's best to plan what you want to see ahead of time. Nevertheless, do plan to visit. The extensive Egyptian and African collections and the armor and bejeweled weapons intrigue kids. But there are also works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Renoir, Van Gogh, and other masters that no book or other museum can come close to matching. The museum's family programs connect kids to art through storytelling and sketching.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: 212.535.7710, www.metmuseum.org
Museum of Modern Art
The redesigned Museum of Modern ArtÂ—or MoMA, as it's affectionately referred to by locals and those in the art businessÂ—has doubled its capacity, providing huge spaces for oversized works, more natural light, and new galleries devoted to contemporary art and new media. It is an engaging facility and brings visitors of all ages more in touch with their artistic talent and more respectively of others' talent. Kids feel comfortable browsing here, and trust us, their reaction to the famous works of Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, Rauschenberg, and others will surely bring a blushing reaction to you.
Museum of Modern Art: 212.708.9400, www.moma.org
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication