Hi everyone! I'm sitting here in the hotel with a little time and wanted to capture our adventure while its all still fresh. This post is partly for family/friends, but mostly for the benefit of other families travelling with teens to NYC, for the first time, like us. I always like to read advise of others who have done this, so consider this my contribution. I've included a lot of details, hopefully it helps. OK here we go!!
planning the trip
Two things about teens - they want to be heroes, and they want to feel like they have a say in their life. So we encouraged them to plan the trip. My daughter, Brittany, (just short of 16yo) took up the challenge! Yay!!
She recommended, based on researching the individual cost of NYC attractions we wanted to see, purchasing the New York Pass. We got it on a sale day (these do happen!) and are happy we did. Download the app too, and you can put your entire itinerary there.
One thing I did to help prepareus for our trip was seek out some good reads and movies/documentaries. I'd highly recommend viewing something about the history of NYC. There are lots of options. As for books, we enjoyed especially One Times Square by Joe McKendry - its a storybook but not babyish at all. Each page shows the history of Times Square and how it has changed from past to present. Really helps give you the lay of the land. Don't negate storybooks for teens. Really. They actually enjoy them, they're a manageable read, and they can be informative, painting the "big picture."
Read about the Statue of Liberty with Building Liberty: A Statue is Born. A National Geographic treasure and a great read for all ages.
There are lots of books on the Empire State Building, we just checked out whatever was in our local library.
And not to forget the Not for Parents New York by Lonely Planet. I'm sure there are a gazillion others, and we did read more than this, but sitting here in my hotel room I can't remember them all.
day 1 - arrival
We flew into Newark, landing around 4pm. We took a shuttle to the hotel. You can reserve a pick-up in advance, or just wing it when you get there. The Welcome Center, near the baggage claim, arranges such transportation. We called SuperShuttle from the phone located there, on our own, but still ended up in the queue with others who just used the Welcome Center people.
We were in an 11-passenger van and while it is more economical this way, you end up going all over the place dropping off the other passengers because SuperShuttle is door-to-door service. We thought that would be a good thing, going right to the hotel door, but it was exhausting driving around Manhattan and we were last to get dropped off. Next time, we will just pay the extra few bucks and splurge for car service. Or, take a shuttle that goes from the airport to Grand Central or Penn Station and go from there.
We chose to stay at the Library Hotel because I'm a geeky book girl and it was ranked number 2 for hotels in NYC on Trip Advisor. We have two adjoining rooms and while this is more pricey, we LOVE this hotel. The location is central, just around the corner from Grand Central and walking distance to theatre, Times Square, etc. It is SUPERB. Its a small hotel, the service is impeccable, they offer free breakfast (boiled eggs, bagels/toast, fruit salad/yogurt, cereal, pastries,lattes), 24hr free refreshments (cookies, pastries, latte machine, fruit), and a daily complimentary wine/cheese reception from 5-8pm, which in fact is family-friendly because they have nice juices for the kids and things they like too, such as goldfish crackers, nuts, and so on. Really lovely. Quiet, can't hear all the noise of the city either. A sanctuary of sorts.
We wanted to get right to seeing the sights, so we first grabbed dinner. Brittany reserved online at Tony's DiNapoli Family Style Italian located near Times Square. She picked this one because it offered family-style food, was within walking distance, and reasonably priced. She's a smart girl! The food is WONDERFUL. You order "platters" which serve 2-4 people but its easy to get carried away. We ordered 3 platters plus a salad and it was ... too much. But gosh it was good. The restaurant is squishy and noisy but they ALL are here, I've found. Tony's has more of an upscale feel to it but there were families even with small children, and people dressed both up and down. Service was fast, you are in and out in less than an hour if you wanted to be. It was just ... loud. Very loud. We enjoyed ourselves!
Following dinner, the plan was to go to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Tower) and get our bearings, our lay of the land. The evening was warm, breezy, beautiful. If you have the New York Pass, you get in a separate, faster, line-up at the ticket sales area, in order to obtain the ticket to the top. The tickets have a specific time printed on it, you can't go to the top until they call your time slot. So, in that way, there is no fast-pass advantage for the NY Pass holders. They let large groups up at a time. The elevator to the top at night is awesome - the elevator ceiling is glass so you can see as you're getting closer to the top. My kids LOVED it. Brittany felt like she was in a Wonka movie and was going to blast out of the glass elevator! Make sure to go to the VERY top - you have to take an extra two escalators above the general viewing deck.
Looking straight across to the Empire State Bldg. Look at all those lights! WOW. We were mesmerized!!
That sums up our arrival day! We are tired, especially with the two hour time change, but soooo excited to go exploring. I'll be posting our day 1 adventures very soon, but right now I'm heading down for some wine and cheese :).
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 of New York in 5 Days with Teens is here.
Find Part 4 over here.
And Part 5 is found here.