Yep, they named it twice, but you can visit New York a hundred times and always find something new and memorable…

Having been fortunate to visit New York on countless occasions over the past twenty years  for both business and pleasure, it was with huge excitement that I spent four nights in this favourite city recently with my two daughters, allowing me to experience the Big Apple through the eyes of my children. One of the attractions of returning to this city over the years is the fact that every time I visit not only do I enjoy my familiar haunts time and time again, but I always discover new areas, restaurants, attractions, museums and neighbourhoods each visit and that keeps me addicted and inspires me to return again and again. Plus of course, it’s always energising visiting this vibrant city. This time, it was all about the kids. October is a really great month to visit the Big Apple. The climate can be mild; the city is still flirting with the last few weeks of summer, so sight seeing and pounding those famous pavements of Manhattan is very comfortable. Plus, the city is geared up towards not only Halloween, with decorations in every shape and form, but Christmas is just around the corner. A visit in October half term is an ideal time to start your festive shopping.

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Have a look at my ‘Top 5 Must Not Miss’ attractions for the family

1. Top of the Rock and the Rockefeller Ice Rink

Picture an image of New York city and it is bound to consist of skyscrapers and grid-like streets. Although there are numerous options for appreciating the views of the city, I always think the view from the Top of The Rock gives you the best overview, being situated midtown at 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The queue for our timed ticket was relatively short, and we were kept entertained with images and videos of the constructions in city on the verge of the Great Depression. The ride in the stomach dropping elevator is an experience in itself, and soon we were marvelling at the views from the 360 degree observation deck. Down below the ice skating rink was open and at this time of year it was really pleasant to skate in this prestigious location and not be completely frozen by the winter chills.

Ie-skating at The Rockafeller Ice Rink

 

2. American Museum of Natural History

The films  “Night at the Museum” have always been big favourites of my daughters’. They star Ben Stiller and all the crazy characters from this popular trilogy. Friendly staff on the Information desk in this museum hand out a printed sheet detailing the key sights from the film and where to find the stars, such a ‘Dexter’ the Capuchin monkey, ‘Rexi’ the dinosaur that comes to life and ‘Dum Dum’, a huge bubble gum chewing Easter Island carved head. Like many museums worldwide the content of the exhibits here were overwhelming, but a couple of hours spent here working through the plan of film characters from the original movie set in Manhattan proved both fun and educational for both the kids and us, the parents. Highlights included the Oceanography exhibits with the vast whale hanging from the ceiling in the cavernous room. Situated on upper West Side at 79th, its a good idea to plan a visit to the American Museum of Natural History in the morning, followed by lunch and some fresh air afterwards in nearby Central Park.

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3. Central Park, the Zoo and FAO Shwarz

Keeping to our theme of movies based or filmed in New York, a visit to Central Park was a must on our weekend schedule and a relaxing contrast to the busy thrum of sightseeing in New York city. Hiring a boat and messing around on the lake followed by brunch at The Loeb Boat House is highly recommended. A horse drawn carriage ride around Central Park was also a relaxing and fun exploration, ticking off sights from ‘Enchanted’ and ‘Home Alone 2’ as we clip-clopped along the driveways with the joggers and roller-bladers weaving through the tourists enjoying the autumn sunshine.  Our girls loved dancing on the keyboard in FAO Schwarz, just as Tom Hanks had enjoyed in the movie ‘Big’.  The zoo at this end of Central Park is also a big hit with kids of all ages and a fun place to spot Manhattan based celebrities and their offspring, not to mention exploring the collection of animals. Here there is a small and compact Children’s Zoo, and if you are around at 10.30 or 2.30 make sure you catch the hilarious feeding of the Penguins.

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4. The Highline & Chelsea Market

One of our favourite mornings was spent ‘walking the Highline’ from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. This public park, constructed from the old freight train line that transported goods in the 1930’s through till the 1980’s is a fun way to see another alfresco angle of the city. Incorporating the rail tracks, the elevated walkway contains sculptures and pieces of art juxtaposed with gardens designed with plants based on the self-seeded landscape that developed when the line fell into disuse. we chose to take a break from our wanderings to find lunch at Chelsea Market, in the Meatpacking District at 9th Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets. Here we found the most colourful Halloween displays and decorations and a vast array of food stores and restaurants to suit all tastes. A good tip here would be to visit mid morning or mid afternoon, when the lunchtime crush has died down.

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5. SS Intrepid Museum

One of our biggest surprise during our long weekend in the Big Apple was how much we enjoyed the Intrepid Museum. Having only daughters, not sons, I had mistakenly dismissed this museum when planning our trip. However, we decided to visit and spent a few hours here on our last day, but wished we had set aside longer. The former aircraft carrier, that fought in World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War is host to an incredible selection of air, sea and space craft. We clambered all over the submarine Growler, and were amazed at our visit onboard the slim-sized Concorde. The Space Shuttle Pavilion houses the Enterprise, and this includes a number of historic and educational exhibits. All in all, this is one museum that we would definitely re-visit and one we could recommend to explorers of all ages and genders!

Sophie suggests…

  • Keep it simple and don’t try to do too much in one day
  • Another skating option is at Bryant Park, behind the New York Library, 42nd and 5th Avenue
  • If the kids wake early due to the time difference, watch a New York themed kids movie in your room until its time for breakfast!
  • For a free excursion that includes a great view of the Statue of Liberty take the Staten Island Ferry across and back…and also enjoy the brilliant Manhattan skyline photo opportunities

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