We took the kids for their first trip to New York City in April.
Getting There: The drive time from where we live to New York City is only about 4 ½ hours, but we really had no desire to drive in NYC, or pay to park in the city. Fortunately, there are many good and cheap options for getting there from Washington, DC. Obviously we could have flown, but that would have been the most expensive alternative. Instead, we decided on two different modes of transportation to keep it interesting for the kids. Getting there, we took an Amtrak train from DC’s Union Station to Penn Station in New York. Amtrak has a zone-based system for redeeming points (which are transferrable from Ultimate Rewards) and it requires very few points for the DC-NYC route. Coming back, we took a Bolt Bus. Bolt is a great service I’ve used before for day trips to New York. The clean and comfortable bus goes direct from New York (departing right near Penn Station) to Union Station, has free WiFi, televisions, and plugs at every seat, and costs only about $15 each way. This is such an economical option and my kids thought it was fun to ride a bus.
Where We Stayed: We stayed at the Affinia Penn Station. I picked this hotel because it was one of the few available options where we could get a reasonably priced suite for all 5 of us. Turns out it was a great choice. It had a bedroom with 2 queen beds, a separate living room with a pull-out sofa, and one bathroom. The best part was that it had a massive balcony with an amazing view of the city. The location couldn’t have been better either. We emerged from Penn Station with our luggage and were literally staring right at the hotel! No need for a cab or other ground transportation. We were able to walk most every place we wanted to go, and when we couldn’t, we either took the subway, or hailed a cab. We quickly learned that subway fare for 5 people was more than most cab rides!
What We Did:
Little Airplane Productions Tour: Son2 is a budding filmmaker, so he loves anything that has to do with film production. This great tour of the small animation studio was great. Geared toward kids, they do a great job of explaining and showing how cartoons go from idea to screen. Thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Visit and Tour of Ellis Island: This started out a little rocky when we showed up with our pre-purchased tickets and had to wait in a line that was MILES long to board the boat. I don’t know what kind of crazy system they have, but it needs to be improved. Anyway, once we finally got on board, thing turned around for the better. Although I had originally planned to get off at the Statute of Liberty (first stop), it was so late in the day due to the massive wait time to board that we decided to forego that stop and head straight to Ellis Island. Ellis Island itself did not disappoint. It is very well done, and one of those attractions that manages to be interesting for all ages.
Visit and Tour of Intrepid Air and Space Museum: This also proved to provide hours of entertainment for our whole family. The ship itself was interesting, but I also enjoyed the tour of the retired Concorde jet on the site.
We also spent a lot of time generally wandering around. We visited Times Square and the NHL Store, as well as the big Toys R Us with the Ferris Wheel inside.
We enjoyed two shows while in NYC. Comedy4Kids is an improve comedy show at ComedySportz, which really was a riot. We also spent an evening at the Million Bubble Show, which I would also highly recommend. Son2 even got called onstage!