Meghan and I like to keep our kids exposed to the cultural world, giving them a cosmopolitan worldview. I chose a job near Boston in part to allow frequent trips into the city. But one city isn’t enough to give them a breadth of experience.
We took an overnight trip to New York City during February school vacation. Discovery Times Square is currently exhibiting The Vikings, which is of particular interest to Meghan and Alpha. (That isn’t to say there isn’t interest from me and Beta, they’re just that much more keen.) Meghan found a great deal on motel rooms (the girls are old enough now that we need two) right by Times Square at Four Points by Sheraton. The view wasn’t anything to write home about but the location can’t be beat: two blocks from Times Square. The rooms were clean and neat, and the staff were bend-over-backwards friendly. I would totally stay there again.
We drove down early Wednesday morning, dropping Butter off at Marty’s and picking up Meghan’s mom (aka Baba) on the way. Baba loves going to NYC, she knows the lay of the land better than we do, and she’s a bit more adventurous than I am when the kids are around, so we invited her along. She offered to share the kids’s room to keep costs down — and that provided peace of mind overnight, too.
We rolled into town around noon and got situated in the hotel with time to spare before our exhibit reservations. We walked from the hotel and poked around Times Square for a few minutes.
There were a pair of people in costume, one dressed as Woody from Toy Story and the other as Olaf from Frozen, soliciting tips. They made their own costumes and don’t work for anyone but themselves, so Meghan got photos with each and tipped them a few bucks.
I continue to be amazed how many people are continually in New York City. The crush of people feel like there’s an event going on somewhere, but it’s really just an every day occurrence. Dozens of people at every crosswalk, hundreds of people on every sidewalk, all the time. Boston has nothing on NYC.
We made our way through the crowds to the exhibit and spent about an hour and a half learning about Vikings. As an aside: the exhibit is self-paced and just about the right length. They had a number of artifacts grouped into several themes about everyday life, instead of constructing a sequential historical narrative.
We waited to get lunch until after the exhibit so we were somewhat famished. A few storefronts down from Discovery is a pizza and Italian restaurant called John’s of Times Square, located in a former church. The adults had excellent pizza and the girls had excellent pasta. It might have been a case of hunger making the best sauce, but probably not.
After lunch we shopped around Times Square a bit. Alpha bought a New York-emblazoned sweat shirt and Beta got a pin for her hat. Baba noticed that Phantom of the Opera was playing right in front of us, so she bought three tickets for 8 o’clock that night. Beta wasn’t interested and I was wiped from driving all day; we chose to stay in.
We wandered back to the hotel to rest up. I had to step out in search of a pharmacy: we had a snafu when we left the house and forgot to pack our bathroom stuff.
Our motel offers complimentary dinner stuffs on Wednesday nights. We were just coming off of lunch, not particularly hungry, but the food was delicious. Free wine and beer, too!
We finished dinner and Beta and I headed up to our room to watch some TV and get ready for bed. Meghan, Baba, and Alpha headed out to their show, and didn’t get back until after I was asleep — sometime after 10:30 pm. They said they had a great time though!
We started the next day with an excellent breakfast buffet at the motel. We seem to have a knack for choosing motels with great breakfasts; it really makes dollars stretch further if your breakfast is hearty when you’re traveling.
We decided that we could fit in one more museum visit before leaving town. The American Museum of Natural History was on our way home and is always worth a visit. We also considered the USS Intrepid but decided to save it for another visit so we can give it the amount of time it deserves.
We got in early and encountered almost no waiting to get into the parking garage and admissions line. We had three destinations in mind: the dinosaurs, the blue whale, and the gift shop. We got to see all three, in that order. The life-size blue whale model is stupendously large – and that’s after seeing the full-size apatosaurus for comparison.
We made our way out of the city around 1 pm. We didn’t want to get home too late, and the drive can take upwards of six hours with stops and detours to Willimantic and Hampton. The ride home was uneventful, traffic was mostly light and Waze didn’t let us down. Butter the dog was very happy to see us when we picked her up, and I was extremely happy to sleep in my own bed.