My article on our tour to New York City with two of our great grandchildren, published 20 June as 5 per Gallon Doesn't Have to Kill RVing, has precipitated a lot of e-mails. Most have asked where we went and what we saw that was of interest - or safe - for kids. The answers will come in installments, the first, A Kids’ Tour of the American Museum of Natural History was published 26 June.
Safety considerations when in New York City
There seems to be a prevailing perception that New York City isn't a safe place (especially for young children). Unfortunately, that is a gross miss-perception. But touring with children, touring ANYWHERE with children requires the constant and close supervision of at least one adult and two are really recommended (required with two children). (Like in any large city, there are areas that are not safe but these areas are rarely frequented by tourists and have no tourist attractions. ) Most New Yorkers, when given the opportunity, are truly helpful, especially the police. Don't hesitate to ask.
New York Subways are Exciting
People who live in New York tend to take what they have for granted. The subway system, for instance, is the largest in the world and runs with uncanny efficiency. When I lived in New York City, the subways were owned by private, for profit, companies and they did make money. I won't go into the history but when the City government took them over things changed. Recent years have brought a lot of improvements and they are probably better operated today than ever before (though still at a financial loss). But who would ever think of a New York subway as an attraction for an 8- or 10-year old.
Riding in the front car you will almost always see some kids standing in the very front of the car gazing our the window of the front door. Have you ever done that? No; you are an adult. Watching the traffic control lights flash by as the train moves between stations makes it seem like the train is going 60 miles per hour rather than 35. A passing oncoming train, viewed through the separating support posts of the tunnel, is almost strobe-like. Kids are truly fascinated by a simple subway ride. To add another thrill, take the old IRT (now the #1 Train) to Van Cortland Park (247th Street) in the Bronx. When it is approaching Dyckman from 191st Street the train emerges from the tunnel in a blast of sunlight. Two stops later, it crosses the East River and the scenery is quite a transformation. Yes, you are still in New York City.
Window Shopping on 34th Street
Although eye-popping any time of the year, New York City during the Christmas Season really knows how to dress. Take most any subway line to 34th Street (Lines 1, 2, 3, A, B, C, D, E, F, N or R). Within the area of just 3 blocks is a super busy area packed with stores plus a colossal indoor shopping mall. While always a fascinating stroll, a visit here during the Christmas season should not be missed.
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) and 50th Street is also an eye popper. This is one of the more expensive stops on your tour list (as senior citizens we were charged $14 each and the kids $10 each) but we do think it is worth the cost. Once upon a time we made a special effort to take two grandchildren on tour with us to Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico. Rarely were we not disappointed in their reactions to this National Treasure. Not so with Radio City! When they saw that huge auditorium with the rainbow of lights arching over the stage they were overwhelmed. (So will you be. )
Woolworth Building: ‘Cathedral of Commerce'
From Times Square, take the #7 line to 42nd and Grand Central. Let them view the lobby of Grand Central Station. Then take the #4, 5 or 6 Line to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop in lower Manhattan. Walk west across City Hall Park to Broadway, turn left and you'll see the entrance to the Woolworth Building, once the tallest building in the world. Its lobby is another sight that steals the glory from Carlsbad Cavern. A ride in one of the glass-enclosed high-speed elevators might be a little too much but if you prepare the kids they will enjoy the thrill (and that special feeling in their little stomachs).
Panorama of the City of New York
There is only space in this article for one more so I will choose the Panorama of the City of New York in the Queens Museum of Art. (Take the #7 Subway Line to 111th Street in Queens, walk south on 111th to the Park entrance at 49th Ave and follow the yellow signs in the park to the Queens Museum of Art. The Panorama of the City of New York is a 9,335 square foot scale model of the entire 320 square miles occupied by the five boroughs of New York City. With over 800,000 true-to-scale buildings, it is the largest scale model of any city in the world. The buildings even light up as ‘night’ approaches (each tour gets to see the day-night cycle). It is impossible to adequately describe the sight but the kids - and you - will be enchanted.
Don't Forget the Hudson River Ferry
Oh, there is so much more but it's time to stop. But, finally, if you are RVing and if you stay in Jersey City, you will get to ride the ferry across the Hudson River (which is very wide, there). You can see that unique skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and, of course, all the ships. Yes, your kids will love New York City and we are sure you will, too.
Bob Masters started RVing in a converted 1958 Flxible bus in the 1960s. He has traveled extensively throughout the 48 states and has written many ‘travel logs’ describing some of his journeys. Having traveled extensively with children, and, later, grandchildren, he has become very familiar with the best places to stop and enjoy what a local community has to offer. Recently he started the RV Guide project at Wheatley Memorial Institute to make available to RVers a graphic directory of the locations of RV parks and campgrounds near the Interstate highways ( see: http://www.RV-Park-Guide.org ) including locations of RV sales and service centers.