The mythic appeal of New York City begins at an early age.
Our kids were fascinated by it and, despite some of their other travels, had never made it into Manhattan.
We decided to rectify that by doing a short weekend visit to the Big Apple.
As always, the kid travel philosophy is to shoot for one major activity per day.
Day 1-Midtown Stimuli
The NFO had secured tickets to the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building, but since no time was specified and it was “first come, first serve,” we decided to make it our first destination of the day.
Originally, we were thinking of taking public transport in, by my brother-in-law, with whom we were staying in Teaneck assured us that traffic was insignificant. And he was right. We were in the city in about 25 minutes, but I erred in the selection of the best parking garage and ended up with a $48 bill for about 5 hours. Ouch. Including the “minivan surcharge.”
Anyway, it ended up being the right call…if only judging by the lines going out the door in frigid NYC weather when we exited. Fortunately, our wait which was about 1 hour or so it seemed, was all inside.
After a lot of moving, hustling, and bustling, we made it along with tourists from pretty much every other country on the planet, to the top. Not a crystal clear day, but enough that the kids got the “WOW” element for which we were looking and we were able to lay out the geography of the island and surrounding areas.
And, of course, we enjoyed their newfound perspective on height and relativity.
We grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant and took it to the Sprinklr offices (which are 1 block away from Empire State Building) so we not only had a touchdown location, but they could see where I spend a nice chunk of my time.
Afterwards we walked up 5th Avenue so they could see of the Xmas decorations (they also had seen Macy’s windows on the way in), culminating with a visit to the tree and ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center.
Then, we took them through Times Square on the way back to our car.Transformative Moments Require Transformative Leaders
Bottom line: Mission accomplished. They got a sense for the hustle, bustle, and energy of New York.
Day 2-Bits of NYC History
Waking up to pouring rain, we knew we would have a challenging time, but we were determined to visit the 9/11 Memorial and the Tenement Museum.
The NFO had secured the “free” tickets beforehand for 11am and paid the “convenience” fee as well. We drove in, I dropped them off, and went off in the naïve belief that I could find parking for free, since I was still smarting from the $48 hit on Friday.
Good news: I was successful.
Bad news: I had to run for about 15 minutes through the chilly rain, only to get to the memorial and not be able to reunite with my family because of the snaking lines and security.
I ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes, during which I was sandwiched between 2 German families, one of which was giving their kids a version of semi-revisionist history about American hegemony…in German.
I debated for a long time about whether I should interject and, surprisingly, I chose not to. I’m not sure why.
Anyway, as I neared the final checkpoint, the NFO called and said that the kids were very cold, the memorial wasn’t really open (save for two reflecting pools designed to inspire introspection) and that it was time to go.
I jumped out of line and ran all the way back to the car, so I could intersect with them and minimize their outside time.
Bottom line: I had a 30 minute run through the lower Manhattan rain to/from the Memorial. Oh well, another time.
The beneficial part is that the kids had a chance to see it and the NFO are pretty good partners when it comes to providing the perspective/education/background on things of this magnitude (granted, there aren’t that many), but the overarching important thing of having them have a sense of history was delivered.
We drove from the Financial District to the Lower East Side and stopped for lunch at the Shalom Chai Pizzeria and then to pick up bagels and bialys at Kossar’s.
Once the center of Jewish life in NYC (and, America), most of the Jewish landmarks are now gone…a sign of the times, I suppose, and judging from what we saw about life in the early 20th century via the “Sweatshop” tour of the Tenement Museum, it’s probably for the better.
Cramped, crowded, poor lighting and sanitation, really difficult working conditions, you really get an appreciation for the type of sacrifice that so many immigrants have made over the years in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their children.
Speaking of appreciation, my hope for our kids is that they not only appreciate what their ancestors have done for them to get them where they are, but also a better sense of appreciation of what they have. We’ll see.
The tour itself (and the very knowledgeable tour guide) were really first rate, perhaps my favorite thing on our NYC trip, even though the tickets were quite expensive. Yes, I know it’s NYC and everything is expensive.
Either way…well worth it.
It took a while to get out of Manhattan, with pouring rain and traffic, but we eventually made it to our heated-pool equipped hotel in Elkton, MD.
Day 3—Potato Chips and More
We also love seeing how things are made, particularly when there is machinery, scale, and automation involved (oh yeah, free food samples never hurt either), so we stopped by the Herr’s Snack Factory tour on our way back.
We want the kids to get a sense of appreciation for entrepreneurship and overcoming adversity (the founders), marketing (hey, what can I say), production, and where things come from.
Plus, fresh potato chips that literally are coming right off the production line never hurts.
Highly recommend it if you are in the area.
Headed for Home
Another trip in the books (and when you think about the fact that in 1 month, we’ve hit Israel and NYC as a family, I’d say we’re doing ok) and I like how our team is coming together. For the most part, we travel well. Like others, we have our moments and 3 iPads certainly doesn’t hurt, but seeing them ask questions and get excited about new things is why we do it.
Plus, with mobile connectivity, though one argument is “you aren’t focused on your kids,” the other argument is “it’s easier to take time out and do things with your kids.”
Balance, as always, is never simple, but I am grateful that we are fortunate enough to have to confront this particular challenge.