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Posts Tagged ‘travel kids’

Times Square

Today I was in NYC and had the same energized feeling that I had eighteen years ago when I moved to the “Big Apple”.  My son shares the same love of the city.  I thought it would be great to pass along some easy tips to navigate the city for other families.

Some of my favorite resources are the apps that I have on my phone, NYC Way and HopStopNYC.    I love NYC Way!  It has over 30 icons ranging from things to do, street fairs, places to eat and ATM locator.  I used it today to find a place to have lunch close to Sony Wonder Technology Lab.  I also use HopStop when I am not sure which subway to take or which direction to walk once I have come out of  the subway.  This app is great!

Sony Wonder Technology Lab

I am a planner, so I  check things out online since I am always looking for inexpensive fun things to do.  Three resources that I use often are Time Out NY Kids , Central Park and TheatreMania .  I have found really cool things to do on Time Out NY Kids like having tea with Eloise at the Plaza for girls or outdoor movies on the Intrepid (the coolest place ever to watch Top Gun!)for boys. Time Out NY Kids is also great to find out what is going on at the museums.  Sony Wonder Technology Lab is free and has several workshops for $10.  My son never gets tired of The Museum of Natural History and he use to love the NY Children’s museum when he was younger.

Central Park

The official website of Central Park is fabulous!  There is so much to do in the park from Victoria Gardens Amusement Park in the summer and Trump’s Wollman’s Skating Rink in the winter to the Zoo and Carousel. One of my favorite things to do with my son is rent model boats to sail at Conservatory Water and have lunch at the Boathouse Cafe.  Check out their list of 176 things to do in Central Park on the Things to See page of their website.

Make sure you check out sites like Living Social Family Edition New York Kids Deals and Coupons  and Groupon.  These sights are a great way to save regardless of where you live, so subscribe and you will get notified of great deals by email.  Just last week Living Social had a deal to get two tickets to Victoria Gardens Amusement Park for $21 instead of $43.

Theatre Mania is a great place to get discounted broadway tickets.  Mary Poppins is great and there is usually discounted tickets, but there are a lot of other off-broadway shows for kids too like Freckleface Strawbery, The Bernestain Bears & Pinkalicious.  You can also find discounted tickets on this site to other things like exhibits at Discovery Times Square or Top of the Rock.

Freckleface Strawberry

NYCWay & Time Out NY Kids are also an excellent resource to find great places to eat.  One of my favorite places is Ellen’s Stardust Diner where you feel like you are in the 1950’s with the singing wait staff.  My son loved Mars 2112, so I have brought him there many times when he was younger despite the fact that it is overpriced food that is fair.  There is no where else that you can ride a space ship to your table and meet aliens.

I could go on and on about NYC and things to do with kids.  I hope the resources I shared will help families visiting NYC or those who live in the surrounding areas just heading in for the day.   NYC can be a great place to take kids.  There are many affordable things to do and it really is easy to get around.  Please comment should you have questions. I would love to help make your trip to my favorite place on earth the best place you will ever take your kids!

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After what I have called my year of transition (new house, new job, new car),  I was really looking to escape where I could leave all the craziness of my life behind for a couple of days. My aha moment came when I recalled a quote referencing Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau, ” A man may stand there and put all America behind him”.  Despite the fact that “putting it all behind” most probably wasn’t possible traveling with three boys, I was intrigued to explore the Cape.

Pirate's Cove Adventure GolfExploring the Cape is exactly what we did, with of course a little down time by the pool each day. Our first night into town we enjoyed mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove in South Yarmouth which is most probably shocking to many, since I am always planning learning experiences for our trips. It was really crowded since it has a reputation of being one of the best miniature golf course on Cape Cod.  Their reputation is well deserved, the crowds moved quickly and the course was entertaining for my pirate loving crew.  If you asked my son what his favorite part of the trip was he most probably will tell you it was at Pirate Cove when he hit a hole in one unintentionally!  Yes the ball went out of the green, bounced off the stairway and back onto the green in the hole!

Our second day in Cape Cod covered the learning category when we visited the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and the John F. Kennedy Memorial.  The four of us headed into the museum for a whopping $7.50.  Not surprisingly, my son loved learning more about one of his favorite presidents. There was a quick film which really put everything into perspective for my young nephews and after the viewing they were trying to follow the Kennedy family tree on the wall to identify family members that they had just learned about.

Of course the museum is small, so we filled the rest of the day with two tours.  First we went to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory.  This was FREE!  It only took about 15 minutes, but it was cool for the boys to see the progression of potato to the chip, then to the bag and ultimately boxing the bags to be shipped out.  They learned cool facts like it takes approximately 4 pounds of potatoes to make 1 pound of potato chips, because the potato is mainly water.  They munched on the “Kettle-Cooked” samples while chatting with one of the friendly employees while I purchased a couple of bags to take home.  It was a good time.

Only a couple of blocks away from the JFK Hyannis Museum, we discovered  Cape Cod Duckmobiles.  My son and I had done a Duck Tour in Boston and loved it, so I had to do it again so my nephews could experience the amphibious vehicle.  Honestly, there was not a lot to point out, but the guides were humorous and kept the boys entertained and they were thrilled when we “splashed down” into Hyannis Harbor.  If you take the tour don’t expect to see the Kennedy compound, but you do get to see the church the Kennedy family frequented and the armory where JFK made his speech during the election.

After our busy morning, the boys played in the pool while I tried to have a “Thoreau” moment before heading to catch a little “summer baseball”.  The Cape Cod Baseball League is a collegiate summer baseball league.  We decided to watch the Hyannis Harbor Hawks play the Brewster Whitecaps.  I have been to countless baseball games, but this was one of the most enjoyable games.  It is not because the Harbor Hawks won or the game was FREE, but because it was like I had stepped back in time where the boys could roam freely during the game without worry and at the end of it all, go onto the field and approach the players.  I wish we could have gone to more games!

Another highlight of the trip was taking the boys on a Pirate Adventure.  The Pirate Adventure was also not educational, but it was too much FUN not to mention.  First, I must give kudos to the staff.  I had made a mistake with my online reservation and had bought tickets for Monday instead of Sunday.  Considering that we would be back in New York on Monday, I was happy that they  honored our reservations on Sunday!  My son who is twelve was a little old for this adventure, but the Captain befriended him and gave him the ins and out of the operation while my nephews were having the time of their life!  The boys had their faces painted and wore costumes as we sailed off on The Sea Gypsy.  The whole experience was so much fun!  I was crying I was laughing so hard as the kids were shooting the water cannons on the side of the ship at a pirate who was trying the take the treasure that belong to the crew of their ship.  From figuring out the treasure map to doing the limbo it was nothing short of a great time.  It was one of the most expensive things we did at $21 a ticket, but well worth it!

We ended our trip with a visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore.  This year the Cape Cod National Seashore celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of when President Kennedy  signed legislation to protect the seashore and making it a part of the U.S. National Park System.  We visited the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham first and the boys participated in a FREE shellfishing demonstration and were ready to go clamming when we left.  We then headed to Nauset Light Beach which is also in Eastham.  We toured the Nauset Lighthouse, the one that is pictured on the Cape Cod Potato Chip Bag.  The tour was FREE and the boys learned the history of the lighthouse and the battle of the erosion that forced the lighthouse to be moved more than once.  The Nauset Lighthouse was our last stop on Cape Cod before heading home.  It was a perfect place to end our trip and I didn’t realize it until we had climbed the stairs and looked out the window to a magnificent view of the ocean.  It was at that moment I found my self ” standing there”  and literally could “put America behind me”.  I shared this with the boys, and even at the ages of 12, 9 and 7 they got it!  I hope one day you will be able to experience what Thoreau described in the 1800’s and what my family experienced in 2011.  Cape Cod turned out to be a great escape.

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An hour north of NYC you can spend the day as if you were living in the 16th Century at the New York Renaissance Faire.  My son and I had a great time a couple of years ago in the woodlands of Sterling Forest in Tuxedo Park, New York.  We spent a full day enjoying the medieval village and really felt like we were in Elizabethan England!

We played countless century games and my son was amused on the rides like the Dragon Swing.  What was great is that all the games and rides were included in the admission ($22 for adults and $11 for kids), so you could play and ride as much as you wanted!

Entertainment was endless!  We enjoyed seeing the actors and visitors in costumes and it really was “people-watching” at it’s best!  If you want to have the full experience, you can always rent a costume in the shop called The Bellrose, that is if you don’t have one of your own.  It is conveniently located by the information booth when you go through the admission gates.

We also saw several shows which were also included in the admission!  The Faire has 125 shows that range from comedy, adventure and for children.  Our favorite was the joust!  Where else can you see knights on horseback swinging swords!  Another favorite was the Living Chess Match.  It was really neat to check out the feud on the massive chessboard.

I am sure you are thinking, “Wow, what a full day!”, but believe it or not there is plenty of other things to do and see.  No place would be complete without shopping and dining!  The kids can try Renaissance food by chomping on a roasted turkey leg.  If they are not that adventurous, no worries because there is plenty of traditional kid food like pizza and french fries.  Parents also have the opportunity to try a true-brewed mead!

If you want to do a little shopping, there are over a hundred artisans who sell their handcrafted items.  Just a few things you will find in the Artisan Crafts Marketplace are jewelry, clothing, blown glass and exotic leathers.  There is also face painting and hair braiding in the market place too!

     Events like these are fabulous to teach your kids about a time in history.  Let’s face it, reading about 16th century history makes me want to snooze, so I can only imagine what a kid would think.  Being a spectator at an armoured joust tournament in a period costume followed by a renaissance meal really brings medieval times alive!

Writing this entry has brought back so many fun memories that I think I want head back to the faire again!  The Faire is only open August 6th through Sept 25th.  I am thinking about heading back with my sister and her four kids the weekend of August 20th for the Pirate Weekend!

I am sure if you check out the video below that was on You Tube, you will be planning a day trip to the medieval forest soon too!

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