|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|Dining in New York|
|Sightseeing in the City|
|Nightlife in Manhattan|
|Activities with Kids|
|Bookstores in NYC|
|Galleys to Grab|
|Children's Galleys to Grab|
Struggling for creative ways to keep the kids entertained while in the Big Apple? New York City is one of the most kid-friendly destinations around, offering everything from walruses to wax figures and following are ideas for a hassle-free day with kids of all ages.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab. 550 Madison Ave.; (212) 833-8100; www.sonywondertechlab.com; free.
From the moment you are greeted outside the Sony Wonder Technology Lab by b.b. wonderbot, the interactive telepresence robot, you feel the excitement of cutting-edge communication technology. Enter your name, have your picture taken and record your voice at the log-in station, located at the twinkling fiber-optic lights, to obtain your personalized "swipe cards," which allow access to four floors of exciting and inviting interactive exhibits.
You're not just going to see technology; you will become part of it during an adventure of hands-on educational fun. Don't despair if you and your kids are not techno-whizzes; helpful guides throughout the lab will answer your questions and offer assistance. Keep in Mind:This place is a true bargain. Admission to this cool wonderland of technology is free, as are screenings of popular movies shown evenings in the theater. Even the children's workshops cost only a moderate fee.
Chelsea Piers. 23rd St. and Hudson River; (212) 336-6666; www.chelseapiers.com; free; some attractions charge.
This riverside recreation resort features bowling, basketball, soccer, in-line skating, swimming, sailing, kayaking, rock climbing, ice-skating and golf, all on piers jutting into the Hudson River.
Just pick an activity. The Field House (between Piers 61 and 62, 212-336-6500) is an 80,000-square-foot facility for gymnastics, team sports, basketball, soccer and lacrosse. It contains four batting cages, dance studios, a martial arts mezzanine and a climbing wall designed for children, teens and adult beginners. There are open gym and open toddler gym sessions as well as open climbing. The Sky Rink (Pier 61, 212-336-6100) is open 24/7, in case you want to ice-skate at 3 a.m. Chelsea Piers Bowl (between Piers 59 and 60, 212-835-BOWL) offers 40 lanes equipped with automatic scoring, bumper bowling for kids and Xtreme Bowling—an evening bowling experience with black lights, Day-Glo pins, music and fog machines. The Golf Center (Pier 59, 336-6400) houses 52 heated and weather-protected hitting stalls on four levels with a computerized automatic ball tee-up system. Keep in Mind:at the 1.4-mile Waterside Promenade you can stroll, grab a bench, picnic at tables or just relax and enjoy the spectacular Hudson River views.
F.A.O. Schwarz. 767 Fifth Ave., at 58th St.; (212) 644-9400; www.faoschwarz.com; free (theoretically).
Embark on your own Toyland fantasy as you enter this interactive store and are greeted by a toy soldier in full uniform. Look up at a giant animated clock tower that's over 20 feet tall and features dozens of moving parts, including a jack-in-the-box and a train that chugs around the timepiece. Three glorious floors containing everything from stuffed animals to action figures, games to dolls, await the young and young at heart. Ride in the giant robot elevator for an overview of the store.
The first-floor stuffed animal collection is one of the most extensive anywhere, with many in the menagerie twice as big as young shoppers. Remember Tom Hanks dancing on the giant floor keyboard in Big? Well, it's still here, along with today's favorite computer games, video games and blocks sold by the pound. Toys are clustered in small boutique shops. Visit the Barbie Boutique for anything and everything under the sun for your little one's collection. Lego lovers can spend hours at the Lego Boutique, constructing the most intricate buildings and feats of engineering. Familiar favorites notwithstanding, more than 70% of the merchandise here can only be found at F.A.O. Schwarz.
Free story times (held every day at 1, 3, and 5 p.m.) are hosted by an array of characters including Mother Goose and Geppetto. Keep in Mind:Compare prices beforehand, so you know by exactly how much you're overpaying. There are no great bargains to be had here price-wise, but you can't beat the selection.
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. 234 W. 42nd St.; (212) 512-9600; www.madame-tussauds.com; museum only: $17.95, $15.95 children (4—12 years); combination museum and virtual cab: $21.95, $17.95 children.
Leave your autograph book at home, but grab your camera and get up close and personal with your favorite celebrities. Though Madame Tussaud's has been entertaining Europeans with its signature wax portraits for more than 200 years, this $50 million, 85,000-square-foot, five-story showplace is new to Manhattan. Nearly 200 uncannily lifelike wax portraits are featured in six interactive exhibits. Photograph your family with a virtual who's who of movies, music, sports and world leaders.
The Opening Night Party lets you mingle with the A-list of celebrities including Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Grant and others. In the Gallery you'll come face-to-face with American presidents and great leaders who've made a difference. You can pose with the Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. and Princess Diana. Keep in Mind:The combined experience admits you to It Happened in New York, a virtual Hansom cab ride through major events in New York City's illustrious history. Young children (and some adults) may find it a bit uncomfortable to look up at the domed ceiling screen while leaning on rails (no seats here).
American Museum of Natural History. Central Park West at 79th St.; (212) 769-5100/5200 museum programs and tickets; (212) 769-5304 natural science center; www.amnh.org; suggested donation $10 adults (13 and up), $6 children (2—12); museum and space show $19 adults, $11.50 children; IMAX extra.
This museum, a wonderful place of exploration, discovery and learning for generations, contains over 36 million specimens and cultural artifacts. Exhibits range from dinosaurs to gems and minerals, from life in the sea to cultures from around the world to the ends of the cosmos. A good place to begin is the world's most comprehensive dinosaur collection, housed in six spectacular halls. The five-story exhibit in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, featuring a Barosaurus rising up to protect its baby from an Allosaurus, is the tallest freestanding dinosaur exhibit on earth. The Hall of Gems houses the Star of India, the world's largest blue star sapphire. And don't miss the replica of a 94-foot blue whale suspended in the Hall of Ocean Life. The Space Theater screens Big Bang, an audiovisual presentation that re-creates the beginning of the universe. Keep in Mind:When was the last time you hunted for hidden creatures in an African baobab tree? Ever piece together the skeleton of a Prestosuchus in a simulated dinosaur dig? If you haven't, head to the renovated Discovery Room. Extremely cool.
Broadway on a Budget: TKTS. Two locations: Duffy Square (Time Square), 47th St. and Broadway; Bowling Green Park Plaza (212) 768-1818, 888-BROADWAY Broadway Line; www.livebroadway.com; usually 50% off regular price plus $2.50 surcharge per ticket.
With tickets for top shows costing up to $80 each, it can be expensive to give your family's regards to Broadway. Enter TKTS. At two locations, you can purchase same-day discounted tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals. You won't get tickets to The Producers, The Lion King or Mama Mia—after all, they're only available to TKTS if the theater isn't sold out—but there will undoubtedly be something that's entertaining.
Lower Manhattan's TKTS booth is located in a trailer in Bowling Green Park Plaza, opposite the National Museum of the American Indian. Lines here are shorter, and matinee tickets are sold a day in advance. Remember to bring cash or traveler's checks, because TKTS doesn't take credit cards.
To avoid a wait, go later in the day, but know that many of the day's offerings may be gone. Family fare can usually be found. Keep in Mind:A nifty publication, the free Family Guide to Broadway (800-832-8440) contains plots of the season's shows, age guidelines, schedules, prices, running times and theater locations.
New York Unearthed. 17 State St., at Battery Park, in courtyard on Pearl St. between Whitehall and State Sts.; (212) 748-8628; www.southstseaport.org; free.
There's history underfoot inside this urban archeology museum. Here the remains of the past tell the story of New York's colorful history. In fact, the program focuses on interpreting the lives of centuries of New Yorkers through the objects they left behind: Native American arrowheads, Dutch clay pipes and delft tiles, fragments of Chinese-export dinnerware, a silversmith's tools, children's marbles and even animal bones.
Don't miss the Unearthing New York Systems Elevator, which whisks your family down through the layers of a simulated dig beneath the city streets. The professional staff is always happy to answer questions as they process some of the museum's collection of two million artifacts. Keep in Mind:In a city bursting with unusual experiences, this one is truly unique, and as hard as it is to believe, admission is free. Can you dig it?