Because the Big Apple is just too big to fit in one post, this is part two of our Memorial Day weekend NYC trip. Featured this round are the American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock and the Staten Island Ferry.
Part One appeared last Monday, and included features such as F.A.O. Schwartz, The Apple Store, Mars 2112 and the Central Park Zoo.
I’ll start off by mentioning the Staten Island Ferry since riding the big orange boats was one of the first things we did. The ferry ride is an excellent way to see some of the sights while keeping kids engaged. There are great views of the Statue of Liberty, various bridges, tankers and other large seagoing vessels, as well as the Manhattan skyline. You can sit indoors on the wooden benches if water isn’t your thing, but there is full access to the outer deck areas if you want fresh air and an unobstructed view. The passage to Staten Island is just under half an hour in each direction and there are bathrooms on the boats if you’re living in mortal fear of a child having one of those “I have to go” moments as you helplessly watch the dock disappearing behind you. Best of all, this ride is free.
More on NYC attractions after the jump.
Speaking of transportation, I should mention that we bought packages for Grayline Bus Tours and took full advantage of the double-decker buses and their extensive routes. We rode in cabs a few times, but I was uncomfortable with their general driving style (and I don’t say this lightly: one taxi we were in smashed off its passenger side mirror on an idling truck as it barreled down Broadway at a speed that had me leaving finger indents in the plastic arm rest) and besides, the guides on the bus were always entertaining. We went on several extended tours including Harlem and an incredible night trip that covered SoHo, Times Square, China Town, Greenwich Village and the Brooklyn Bridge. We were a little worried that the kids might find the tours boring, but being on the open deck had good amusement value and they seemed to appreciate the scale of the city. And it was a place to sit and take a bit of a break from tromping around.
Top of The Rock offered spectacular views of Manhattan and to tell the truth, I probably would have passed on it if it hadn’t been for the kids being there. I’m not fond of heights, elevators or motion, so the unpleasantness of dealing with those factors would have overridden any desire to see the city. But with the kids, I had to suck it up so they wouldn’t key off on my phobias and miss out on the opportunity. Despite my jitters, the elevator ride was smooth and the view was enough to distract me from the fact that I was seventy floors up, with just a few sheets of glass between me and the yellow ants below that turned out to be swarms of cabs. Tasha wasn’t as fond of this one and chose to have a seat after a brief survey, but the boys thought it was great. We hung out on the observation deck for a good half hour just looking and snapping photos.
The final attraction that we managed was probably my favorite: The American Museum of Natural History. Just like at the Central Park Zoo (which was lacking an Alex the Lion), there was some initial confusion among the younger set when the building did not exactly match the layout of Night at the Museum, which was set at the AMNH. However, we did soon locate familiar exhibits and I watched with amusement as a queue of kids would take their turn posing under “Dum-Dum” the Easter Island statue and, without prompting, raise their hands to mime picking Dum-Dum’s nose. I don’t recall that from the movie, but it seemed to be a ritual that all children were familiar with. And yes, mine did it too, although I didn’t have the heart to tell them that their arms were so short they were just scratching under Dum-Dum’s chin. We spent an afternoon at the museum, but I could easily see spending a few days there, given the time. The main museum store alone is bigger than some other museums I’ve visited… I found a small-scale replica T-Rex skeleton that would have made an awesome addition to my office, but since we also have to pay that darned mortgage, I made do with the Tee-shirt instead.