Every now and again, I am reminded of just how glad I am that I don’t live in New York City. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a great place, and graduate school there was an experience that shaped my life in many wonderful ways.
The energy and opportunities there are amazing. It’s just that I like it better from a vantage point in a nice “superior” room at the Waldorf Astoria than from the sort of tiny apartment I’d likely live in if it was home. My husband, Fred Holland, and I took our grandson Kameron Badgers to the city for a week after he finished a 3-week summer circus camp in the Catskills.
I’m going to post a few photos and some of our favorite memories on this blog over the next few days — breaking it into several parts. Hope someone finds the information helpful in planning their own trip!
It was the first time I’ve “played tourist” in NYC. Usually, when I’m in the city, I’m booked solid for meetings and events, so this time we did the things I don’t usually take time for, from shopping and museums, to that most touristy of NYC pastimes: a double-decker Grayline bus tour. Note: The Grayline buses are NOT air conditioned (or the drivers fear turning the AC on for fear of overheating), and they can be miserably hot. The tour guides vary wildly, and some have such heavy foreign accents that they can be hard to understand. If you get a bus driver you don’t like, use the “hop off” feature, and wait for the next bus — some of the guides are great, so don’t suffer through one of the bad ones.
If you’re planning a trip — especially one with kids — here are some of the best and worst experiences we had.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s, a Greenwich Village and Times Square restaurant and club that looks as if it were designed for a Walt Disney horror movie, was a huge hit. The food was good, the prices were reasonable, and the staff of future Broadway stars went out of their way to make the experience both slightly scary and enjoyable for the whole family. The animatronics were excellent, and the place is guaranteed to be a hit with any kid who likes “Goosebumps” books or the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.
Serendipity 3, a design district restaurant that has long lines out the door most of the time, is most famous for its frozen hot chocolate and desserts. The food is quite good, but the reputation for dessert and drinks is well-deserved. You can make reservations for lunch and dinner, but not just for dessert. We went a few minutes early for our Monday, 3:30 p.m. lunch reservation, and had only a short wait. Kameron thinks the wait was well worth it!
I’ve been to a number of Hard Rock Cafes, but the one in Times Square (not surprisingly) has one of the best collections of memorabilia, and an excellent staff. As with everything in Manhattan, waits can be long, but it’s one of the best options in Times Square, which seems dominated by chains like The Olive Garden, Applebee’s, and the absolutely horrific “Dallas Barbecue” which does not serve Texas-style barbecue, in my opinion.
One note about Times Square with children — it’s definitely PG-rated, even at night. But the costumed characters seemed rather aggressive to me, and we had to tell more than one of them to take their hands off of Kameron. I understand that they work for tips, but I do NOT like strangers — especially strangers in masks — grabbing my grandson on street corners!
Of course, you can’t take an 11-year-old to New York City for the first time without visiting the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, we went during record-breaking heat, and the 2 1/2 hour security line to board the ferry was truly one of the most miserable experiences I’ve ever had. And we were in the “fast line”, because I had my walker with me (still feeling the effects of the car accident at the end of May), so we were in the “special access” line. Broiling sun, hard concrete, and packed lines — but some bouncy music from street performers kept us entertained. I felt for the women in Chadors and headscarves, and for the made-up and costumed characters dressed as the Statue of Liberty who were posing with tourists for tip money!