|I would very much appreciate advice from anyone who has traveled to New York with older teens/young adults. Our family is planning a trip to NYC over the Christmas break. We will be there on Christmas day. We haven't traveled together as a family for about 4 years, so this is a special occasion for us. I know very little about NYC, unfortunately.
I'm hoping for some suggestions about what to do in NYC, particularly for my son. For those of you who are familiar with New York or traveled there with young men, do you have any suggestions? We will have 3 days there, one of which will be Christmas day.
My son is a 23 year old engineering grad student. He is not interested at all in art. He likes listening to music on his ipod, but has no interest in concerts or going to see live bands. He is not interested in shopping at all. He likes history, but gets tired of huge doses of it. He is very active and loves running, swimming, biking, rock climbing, etc., but it's not going to be that kind of vacation. He is typically more interested in doing rather than seeing. For example, when we went to Arizona he didn't particularly care for just going to the Grand Canyon and looking at it, but he would happily have rafted down it. From a food standpoint he is fun to travel with, because he will try a lot of different foods. He did enjoy Washington, DC, but he skewed more toward Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, U.S. Mint, FBI building (we went when we could take the tour), etc.
When he tires of sightseeing, he will be fine if there is a bookstore and coffee shop nearby where he can read awhile while my daughter shops. He is a prodigious reader.
For Christmas day, I thought we would look at the Christmas displays in the big department stores and wander Chinatown. I've heard Mulberry St. is pretty at Christmas?
I thought my son would like either Top of the Rock or Empire State Building. He would probably be willing to spend about an hour or so in an art museum. I know the Met or MoMA are popular, but I was wondering if my son might prefer something like the Frick? Maybe something smaller and with an interesting building? East Side Tenement Museum? Brooklyn Bridge? We have toured an aircraft carrier, so we probably wouldn't go to the aircraft carrier museum. I think he would like Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. He might be interested in seeing a beautiful cathedral.
My son is very busy and doesn't have much time, and the week of time he has will probably be his only break until next August. So I would really like for him to enjoy this trip.
My 20 year old daughter is an undergrad engineering student. She has more time. She will love New York. She likes art, architecture, walking around interesting neighborhoods, shopping, museums, concerts, shows, etc. She is extremely thrifty and would not be interested in all shopping in the big department stores, but she loves flea markets and cut rate stores. Like my son, she is a prodigious reader and loves coffee, and she would enjoy historical museums and natural history museums. The part of our Washington, DC trip she liked the most was wandering Old Town Alexandria and the art museums.
So if you had 3 days with these two, what would you do?
Also, does anyone have suggestions for relatively cheap, clean, safe places to stay? We plan to fly to NYC and use the subway system as much as possible. So we would like to stay close to a subway station.
Thanks so much for any help you can give!
|Given your son's interests, what about a tour of the United Nations? There is also a skyscraper museum somewhere down around the Battery. Both kids might like to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, if it's not too cold. It was a major engineering landmark and full of history. You might want to set up a private tour with a tour guide focusing on engineering and construction in NYC. Don't forget the High Line, you can end in Chelsea Market for lunch. The High Line is interesting for engineering, landscaping, adaptive re-use. I think the museum of the City of New York also usually has exhibits on land use, planning, architecture, cars, etc. In general, The Empire State Building is another engineering marvel, in it's day it was pretty special. You could also go to the Twin Towers site. You definitely have to see the store windows uptown, that's really a special xmas in NYC thing. If your daughter likes vintage clothes you could hit some of the many thrift shops. We have visited the tenement museum and it's more of a social history and immigrant history than architectural but of course, it's very interesting. I would think the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has some tours. Where I live in Philly they are doing tours almost weekly and they only cost $12 and are open to all. The Statue of Liberty is always worthwhile, if you haven't done it before. There can be long lines though, and xmas is very much the tourist season so dress comfortably. |
If it's the three of you you might want to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel room. AirBnB has been recommended, haven't had a chance to try it though.
|Good ideas from judith. I am wondering if you wouldn't mind letting your son and daughter do things on their own for a few hours. Have your kids do a little research and come up with at least one fun thing that they would not want to miss. I would check out Chelsea Piers. They have a trapeze school (my daughter had blast there) and other sport entertainment things. |
I too love The Highline. You can use it as a way to walk uptown.
What do you want to do? No matter what you will have an amazing time in an amazing city.
|Thank you so much, judithn and ellendi. Those are great ideas. |
Ellendi, I think it's more likely that my daughter, my mom and I will split from my husband and son. I don't have any problem with my kids doing something on their own in NYC, but my daughter's top picks will be things my son doesn't want to do. They attend the same university and get together there pretty often, so they won't care if they get time just the two of them without the parents. They see one another more than they see us. My daughter will research extensively and have a prioritized list and plan. My son is a very busy guy and about all we'll get from him right now is the dates he can travel. I've never heard of Chelsea Piers, so I'll check that out. I guess that's in Chelsea? I keep hearing about Chelsea, sounds like that's a happening place to be.
Judithn, those are wonderful ideas, thank you so much. I will look into the United Nations tour and the museum of the City of New York more closely. I saw some information on the High Line and wondered about that. I love the idea of being a part of adaptive reuse rather than just reading about it or seeing an exhibit. I think we will almost certainly wind up using that. Also the Brooklyn Bridge if weather permits.
We would love to stay in an apartment rather than a hotel, but I am reading online about the scams re renting an apartment rather than a hotel. Do you have any recommendations? There will be 5 of us - my husband, mom, kids and me.
What do you think of Chinatown on Christmas Day? And also, are the vintage clothing shops easy to find? Will we find them just walking down the street? I have no idea what to expect; I am pretty solidly suburban and small town.
Thank you so much for the advice, you have no idea how much I appreciate it.
|If you stay in a traditional hotel room how many rooms do you need and how are you splitting everyone up? Lots of hotels in NYC are one bedded rooms w/queen sized beds so that's limiting. Maybe someone has a good tip for a hotel that gives double beds. There is a Residence Inn up near Bryant Park that I think has suites w/pull outs. What level of comfort do your kids require? It may depend on the length of your stay. The longer you stay the more comfortable you all probably want to be. My brother in law, his wife, and their two kids visited and stayed in an apartment in Williamsburg and loved Brooklyn but you may want to be in Manhattan near all the tourist sites. One thing that works out well for our family travel is finding a place that includes a breakfast. The early risers can go eat, drink coffee, and read the papers without getting annoyed at the lazy bones in the family. By the way, if you want to get discount tix for shows prior to the trip and without standing in line at the TKTS booth, check Playbill.com.|
|i have friends and relatives who have found nice apartments in NYC through VRBO.com. (Vacation Rentals By Owner). |
We use the site often for our beach vacations. No disappoinments.
|In your case I would stay in a hotel. Christmas is a busy time in New York and my gut feeling is that you might have a difficult time geting a reasonable rate at this time. |
My daughter lives in Williamsburg and it is an easy commute into the city. I just asked my daughter and she says it is easy getting a cab from NYC to Brooklyn but not the other way around. But, during the day you would use the train. We have passed a hotel there, not sure of the name, but it looks new. When you are in NYC you will be using transportaion anyway to get to and fro.
If your daughter is into cheap clothing, check out Buffalo Exchange. People buy and sell clothing there. I sometimes take my daughter there for extra Christmas shopping and she gets a bagful of things.
|My sister-in-law and her family went to NYC the day after Christmas last year and stayed for a couple of days. They're a family of 5 like you, and I think they rented an apartment in the Village. I'll ask if she still has the info on that.|
|Your kids would probably love Chelsea Piers, and if they haven't seen it, Blue Man Group. |
If you want some space and views, and don't want to spend a ton, I'd recommend the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor (eps if you fly into EWR). There is a ferry every 15 minutes or so, and the ride is like 2 minutes. Always taxis.
If you are prepared for NYC prices, the Ritz Carlton Battery Park city is a great spot for access to Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Chelsea Piers and has great views and great food ... but it is very out of the way for a lot of other things.
The Marriott Fairfiled Inn near Bryant Park is quiet, very very clean, and well located. It has amazingly small rooms and bathrooms, truly a marvel, but some rooms face the empire state bldg and it does have all you need!
Here is a link that might be useful: hotel possibility
|I would do some research and find out what the holiday hours are for the major sites and try to set your schedule around that. |
I would definitely suggest you go to the Ground Zero museum - very interesting and a must see for your kids. You have to go online and reserve your tickets ahead of time, so I'd do that before I left home.
The Natural History Museum is great - especially if they enjoyed the movie Night at the Museum.
We actually enjoyed the double decker red bus tour - the guides tell great little stories about the sites and it's a nice way to spend some time and you can get off and on at the various stops. It goes all over and it was interesting to see some of the sites you hear about in NY but to walk to would be too time consuming.
We were there at Thanksgiving and went to China Town on Thanksgiving Day. It was fun, but really just a lot of shops with cheap stuff in them! Lots of people trying to sell you knock off handbags!
I'd also look into going to a show - the whole theatre district is fun and we had dinner at Sardi's which is famous for all the celebrities whose pictures are on the walls.
Times Square is fun as is taking a carriage ride through Central Park. Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center and seeing the Christmas tree is fun too.
I think if you've never been to NYC, you should do the touristy things and believe me the three days will fly by.
|Eastgate Tower Hotel was one of the places I considered for a visit this past March. It's on the East Side and at least from what I could see in the photos on a website, the rooms look more "suite like" with armchairs and sofas. You might want to throw that in the mix in your hotel search. (I eventually chose the Affinia Shelbourne -- same hotel chain -- also on the East Side, a little closer to where my nephew lives, tho. The room was find for me, but like so many in NY, tiny!)|
|I've stayed at that Affinia Shelburne several times. It is very good. We seem to get good prices on NYC hotels through QuickBook.com but I don't think you'll see any sales during xmas holidays. The city tends to be very busy and packed at that time of year with high prices. Just mainly wanted to second the vote for that hotel.|
|Thank you all so much for the recommendations. I'll look into each of them. Judithn, we are staying 4 nights and the kids are flying into JFK. We plan on mostly using public transportation. We hope to fit everyone into 2 hotels rooms, so we are hoping for double beds. |
Mtnrdredux, the Ritz Carlton is out of our budget, but the others look good. We are all comfortable traveling by subway, but I'm a little wary of taxis. The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor looks great, and I'd love to stay there. Do you think we can get around using the ferry and subway rather than taxis if we stay there? The Marriott Fairfield in Bryant Park looks good, too. I'll see how close that is to a train station.
Pammyfay and Judithn, thanks for the recommendation of the Affinia Shelburne. It looks like a good choice, too. I'll see how close it is to a train station.
Chickadee2, I'd love information on that apartment. Do you know if they mostly used the subway to get around?
Caroleoh, you're right, I think we'll just do touristy things. Thanks for the suggestions.
Thank you all so much for the suggestions. I think we'll split up with my mom, daughter and me going in one direction and my son and husband going in the other for our sightseeing. I pretty much might as well have sucker written on my forehead, so I think I'd do better somewhere safe near public transportation. I love the Washington DC Metro and the Atlanta Marta, so I think I'll be okay taking New York subways and ferries. I'm not so sure about taxis. My husband is very comfortable with taxis or public transportation, but he won't always be with us.
Thanks again for all the help!
|I am just curious, what is your worry about taxis? I would not hesitate to use taxis at all. |
The thing about the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor is that the views are great. But from JFK it's less convenient than EWR .... you have to get into the city, then across the city, and across the river.
At the hotel, the ferry just crosses right to the other side of the river, less than a 5 minute ride, and when you get out there are taxis lined up and also buses. I haven't taken the buses but I am told they are convenient. I would imagine that the rooms are larger there then in NYC proper. (I never stayed there, from time to time we took the ferry from there).
You will find the Marriott Fairfield in Bryant Park very convenient to all subway lines. If you go , ask for a high floor and view of the Empire State Bldg. The hotel is very new and clean, but as I said, it is amazingly tiny. A friend of mine was there and I marvelled at how they fit all you need in a tiny tiny room and bathroom.
Definitely see Blue Man Group (I think your son will like it) and take a ferry ride.
|Oh, I forgot, you can also try Airbnb, but you need to be a little openminded. It can be great --- or awful.|
|Sounds like a great trip - we are likely do the same trip this year. My concern is keeping DH entertained. |
Two of our boys live there. DS3 has lived on Mulberry St going on 1.5 yrs - it is a wonderful neighborhood no matter what time of year. He was on 58th for 2 yrs, next door to One Columbus and a block down from the Hudson (fun to look at, have a drink, not my taste to stay there). DS1 moved there 1.5 yrs ago - first year .3 mi east from brother on 58th (midtown and near shopping) and now in Hells Kitchen (Lots and lots of restaurants). That is the west of the Times Sq area.
I encourage you to find maps on line or Barnes and Noble and look at the neighborhoods. It might influence where you stay. I sometimes stay with the boys, sometimes in hotels very near where they live. (found on line) I would also plan some alternative activities....the weather may impact what you do. Also google places and print them out - it will help you get organized and recognize it.
An fyi - Top of the Rock and Empire St Bldg viewing areas are COLD and windy, no matter what time of year, I did Empire in Feb, ....we were almost the only ones there and could only be in the outdoors for a minute or two without warming up inside. Worth doing, but do dress for it. Top of the Rock was freezing in August.
Street food is fun in midtown around Rock Ctr - DS1 works in 50 Rock and knows which are the best carts, I can never remember but skip the ones that don't have a big line. Funny though, DS3 won't touch street food....his loss.
A few things that haven't been brought up: The Campbell Apt in Grand Central Station. Go for a drink...look it up on line - very historic, most tourists would not find it. Grand Central Station is interesting even if you donï¿½t find the Apt. Eataly on 5th, amazingly fun - google it. La Crepe at 51 Spring in Nolita (DS3 in between Prince and Spring on Mulberry) - OMG good. Last summer I happened upon NY Cake at 56 w 22nd, the most amazing store for baking supplies - it is overwhelming....very fun store. And it was chance I found it, I was trying to get to Home Depot that is a block up, Yes there is a HD in Manhattan ... they just dont cut wood - they cant handle the dust).
Go through the Time Warner Center shopping and check out the huge Whole Foods downstairs, fun for lunch just for the experience. (Columbus Circle - 59th st) From there walk up to Lincoln Center - host to so many events - including Fashion Week shows. There is a cute place called Rice to Riches down in the Mulberry - Nolita area - a block from La Crepe that is only Rice Pudding....about 20 flavors, all delicious, fun containers....I was in there once and had just ordered when a tour guide actually brought a huge group in there to see it. In Flatiron, try L.A. Burdick, the most amazing Hot Chocolate ever.. you could hit art galleries in Chelsea then have dessert.it is at 5 E 20th. Great on a cold day.
Fun store for house wares: Gracious Home up in the Lincoln Center area. Also not to be missed: ABC Carpet and Home at 888 and 881 Broadway at E 19th - a wonderful old building and 10 floors of wonderful / interesting things to look at....it has been in business since 1897. I have seen it mentioned on this site from time to time. The Apple store on 5th (near the opposite side of the park - maybe 60th and 5th) might be hit with your kids - it is a big clear cube and you go down to shop.
Thinking of engineering and architecture, one interesting thing about NYC is that it is so old and yet they adapt through the times and generations - stores that have small store fronts easily has three huge floors all underground.
I live in SoCal and don't go anywhere with my car here....in NYC I ONLY take cabs....if I am with the DSs I will do the trains but give me a cab anytime. DS3 is a cab taker too..faster, easier, you see the lay of the land. I can and do the subway to get anywhere (except going to /from the airport) in London but I find the NY subways dark with not great signage and harder to figure out.
I also walk and walk and walk and walk. Keep your eyes open when you are there, you never know who you will see! Yellow cabs are a good thing, pass on the Black Cars - not subject to the same regulations. Just get out there and wave one down - the lights on the top of the cab will indicate if they are on duty (or not). You will feel like a native!
Sorry to be so wordy, and easily with nothing you are interested in ..... seems I am in a NY state of mind.......
|We were in NY last year over Christmas. Virtually nothing is open on Christmas Day (as it should be). As a result, we walked the High Line and went to Ground Zero on Christmas Day. Both were great. |
There are also very good guided walking tours in NY. We've done a couple of these and recommend them.
if you decide to go for a more traditional Christmas Dinner, you are good to have to search for an open restaurant. I would encourage making dinner reservations now.
We went to Rockefeller Center on 12/26 and it was HORRIBLY crowded. Because of school holidays, it seemed like every NY family with school age kids was there. Every street leading in was wall to wall pedestrians and you could not move. we gave up and left the area.
I could spend days in NY, but these are my Christmas time warnings.
I would also try to visit the Cathedral of St John the Devine. There are often musical programs scheduled there, plus it's a gorgeous church from an architectural standpoint.
|I've used D.C.'s Metro system, too, but I'm not a daily commuter, so I always have to plan out my trips on it -- incl which exit to use. |
But in New York last time, I was either walking (only sometimes with my nephew) or in a taxi. I think there's a big myth that taxi drivers will take tourists "for a ride." We never had an issue. With congestion in the city, double-parked delivery trucks, one-way streets, taxi drivers aren't going to be going in zigzag routes just to make an extra $4 (esp with today's gas prices). (Airport trips might be a little trickier, I dunno -- but you'll have your hubby with you for that!)
Just be aware of, say, where your hotel is: "65th and Lex, pls" -- knowing the cross street is important -- instead of "the Hotel Smith." And really, more than half of the people on any day in NYC are tourists, so you're not at any more of a disadvantage than anyone else. Unless you're trying to hail a cab during bad weather!
|I see someone already mentioned it but your son might want to check out St. John the Divine (stjohndivine.org). It's uptown - 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue - but I think it's more interesting than St. Patrickï¿½s and well worth a tour. I'm just not sure if they'll be doing tours the day before or after Christmas but he can always download an iPod app and walk around inside (when they're not doing services). |
If your son is into music, does he buy vinyl records? They're are still some good used vinyl stores to browse through and, if he's into books, he can visit the Strand bookstore for a great selection of used books. If he's into cameras, B&H Photo will be open Christmas day.
There's ice skating at Bryant Park behind the Main Library (42nd and 5th) and Bryant Park also has a fun holiday market (as does Columbus Circle, Union Square, and inside Grand Central). There's also ice skating in Central Park (Wollman Rink) and, of course, Rockefeller Center (really crowded). If you go to Bryant Park, check out the reading room in the library - drop-dead gorgeous.
I have to say I almost never take a taxi unless it's late at night. Midtown traffic can be horrible most days (probably not Christmas) and I find taking the subway or walking to be a better alternative. I don't worry about getting ripped-off by taxi drivers but I find increasingly that a lot of them don't know where they're going. You do have to give them the address. And be really careful walking around with earbuds in - there is so much going on - crazy taxi drivers, bikes going the wrong way, packed sidewalks - pay attention to your surroundings. Of course, my kids don't pay any attention to my rant about earbuds....
Free - Brooklyn Bridge, High Line, walking either downtown or uptown along the Hudson River, the outside of the Guggenheim (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). Of course, everything is weather dependent. I generally find December to be okay for long walks. I'd check out the websites for the different museums and see if there's an exhibit your son might be interested in. Some of the museums have a suggested price (the Met) but you can pay less. I generally find MOMA to be packed all the time.
If you're coming into Newark airport, you might want to check the hotels that are located in the Newport section of Jersey City; they're right by the PATH train to NY (similar to a subway). There's a Courtyard Marriott, Westin, and a Doubletree. The PATH into Manahattan is $2.25 but you can buy a Metro card which is good for the PATH and the subway (subway is $2.50). It's a short ride into Manhattan either going uptown (Christopher Street, West 9th, 14th, 23rd, and 33rd Street) or downtown to the World Trade Center.
The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor is nice but I find the ferries to be a pain. They've become really expensive ($8 to $9 one way) and, when you leave the 39th Street ferry terminal on the Manhattan side, they have free shuttle buses to take you to different parts of Manhattan but I find getting the shuttles back to be a problem. There's also a ferry that goes downtown. (NYWaterway.com) There is a bus stop across the street for NYC buses; you're 2 minutes away from the Lincoln Tunnel so if it's not rush hour it's a fast commute.
If you can find a good deal in Manhattan, I'd stay there but I don't know what price range you're looking at and what the prices are at Christmas time. There's the King and Grove in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn (good location) but I don't know anything about the hotel.
And since you're son is over 21, he could check out the White Horse Tavern (11th and Hudson) or McSorley's (East 7th Street). Both have a lot of history attached to them and he could have a beer while you shop.
|My sister-in-law emailed back to me that NYC passed a law making short term ( few days )apartment rentals illegal. If you google, you can read the specifics about what's legal and what's not. My daughter has used Air B&B in CA and parts of Europe with no problems, and most of the apartment rentals in NY are probably let by honest folks, but if it's basically illegal, you might have a problem seeking satisfaction if something goes wrong. She mentioned that they stayed at the Salisbury Hotel another time, but it's often fully booked. Check out Trip Advisor when you book a hotel because I noticed that there is construction in the area of the Salisbury now, and people recommended getting a room in the rear of the bldg or on a high floor. I've read the same thing about other hotels at different times. It's not something you think about in advance, but it sure is good to know. |
I only take cabs when I'm in NYC because they're easier for me to get from one place to another. I'm not a subway fan. My sister-in-law and her family use the subways because it's usually the 5 of them together. Cab drivers change shift at 4PM and it's almost impossible to get a cab at that time. That's just good to know if you decide to take cabs.
I haven't taken them, but I think some of those tour buses circulate among the tourist sights and you can jump on and off at the various stops. You pay for the package. I think you can avoid some lines that way too. You'll have to check it out.
Here's something I found on Trip Advisor about hotels. On the right side of the page, there's some info on getting from the airports into the city.
Here is a link that might be useful: apartment syle hotels
|Thank you so much, all of you, for the advice and tips. I've read them all. Mntnrdredux, my hesitation with taking taxis has to do with a trip my husband and I took when we were not long out of college. We traveled to Washington, DC and had problems with the taxis there. Taxi drivers trying to take us the long way to our destination, or just flat charging an outrageous fare, etc. I'm pretty gullible, so I like public train systems with unlimited fare cards. I'm a small town and suburban girl, and I'd be much less intimidated backpacking in the woods than maneuvering NYC. My husband travels a fair amount and is just as comfortable in a big city as the woods, but I'm a little uneasy about getting around when we split up. Particularly with my daughter and my mom in tow. But I guess that will be part of the adventure! |
Thank you for all the tips, from the apartment rental to St. John the Devine, to a crowded Rockefeller Center. And thank you so much, tjmb, particularly for the information about the ferry. I'm hoping we can buy unlimited subway fare cards for everyone and just get around that way, like we do in DC.
Lv_r_golden, I'm going to the bookstore tonight to look for some good maps. I' think that will help me plan better.
Again, thank you all so much for all the advice. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a lot for this trip. Most of our family vacations have been camping. This trip is a radical departure both from our normal budget and our normal destination.
|The problems you had with the DC cabs was unique to Washington, DC--they had an extremely complicated method of calculating fares using zones and sub zones. It was bewildering to most people, including those of us who live here. That system has been replaced by the more conventional metered cabs, and NYC has metered cabs. I always use cabs in NYC (and use the Metro in DC).|
|Thank you, kkay, for the information. I would probably be a lot more comfortable using metered cabs. I think our problem many years ago was more than just a complicated method of computing fares. When we got off the plane at DC, we asked a police officer for directions. When the officer found out we were taking a cab to the hotel, he warned us about cab drivers scamming their fares, and sure enough, the first cab driver in line did just as the police officer described. We handled it the way the police officer suggested, but the first cab driver was angry and tried to intimidate us into using his cab. Fortunately, a nice airport security officer saw what was happening and intervened. Like I said, I might as well have sucker tattooed on my forehead! We had a few other problems our first time in DC as well, but fortunately there was always a nice, helpful uniformed officer around most of the time. My husband and I always looked younger than our ages way back then...we probably looked like a couple of 15 year olds.|
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