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  • "What to see and do + restaurant ideas in NYC"

Gary Castagnola

Downey, California

What to see and do + restaurant ideas in NYC

My wife, daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters, ages 7 & 10 will be staying 5 nights in Times Square during mid April.  Plans are confirmed to date  include a birthday party at Serendipity, and a walk across the Brooklyn bridge.  Any recommendations for things of interest to see, places to visit, and eat... appropriate for kids that age?  Not interested in fancy restaurants.  Any areas in Manhattan they should avoid? Daughter-in-law likes to shop at boutique type shops and traditional department stores too. They will be taking cabs and the subway.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  • Central Park (attraction)

    14 E. 60th St New York NY 10023-6004 (212) 310-6600

    3 mentions

  • SoHo (neighborhood)

    New York NY

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  • FAO Schwarz (attraction)

    767 5th Avenue New York NY 10153 (212) 695-9198

    2 mentions

  • Thom Lehman

    top answer by

    Gary,

    Let's start with the girls...cause if they ain't happy, you ain't happy.

    Before you go to NYC, rent two movies that are kid appropriate: "The Legend of Pale Male" about red tale hawks that nested above Central Park - Conservatory Water; and "In Search of Bobby Fisher", a true story about a boy who learned to play chess in Washington Square Park (This might have some mild bad language).

    Central Park - Grab some coffee/hot cocoa and pastries and head to Central Park for a mid-morning snack in the park. Check out the Central Park - Conservatory Water. The very beautiful, romantic Alice in Wonderland sculpture is visible from here. Rent remote control sailboats from the Central Park - The Kerbs Boathousethere. Walk through the boathouse where private and rental model boats are stored. Kids also like to mess around in the water with nets trying to catch gold fish. If there are any Pale Male offspring left (I think there are), you will see people watching them from the west side of the Conservatory Water. Even a couple of years ago I remember seeing the nest as seen in the movie.

    Washington Square Park is where the Bobby Fisher movie is centered. Go watch the speed chess players any day when the weather is clear. I also love the dog park here. The street performers in the park are often entertaining, however, the language (and sometimes risqué performances) can be rated PG and R. Head down Thompson Street to the Chess Forum and some of the most cool chess boards and pieces imaginable (I'm not a chess player--I just love this store!).

    I highly recommend a trip to the American Girl Place; your girls are the perfect age for this magic spot. We took our daughter to the one in Chicago for her first doll 7 years ago and she still talks about that experience. She loves the one in New York just as much.

    Have they read "Cricket in Time Square"? If so you have too visit the Time Square Subway stop.

    Ok, now the wife and daughter-in-law...don't shop at any major department stores. Go to any store that suits your fancy in downtown for the New York treatment. Even I like to shop NYC! I especially like the shops in SoHo. Of course Fifth Ave and Madison Ave. are nice to window shop but I can't afford.

    Cheap eats are available all over the city. Chinatown New York is synonymous with cheap food and usually tasty to little ones. Pick any spot that looks to your liking. If you are adventurous you can eat cheaply anywhere in NYC. If the girls are picky eaters, I recommend looking up some ideas on Yelp.com before you go. I think food trucks are a great experience for foods that you can't find anywhere else and that are palatable to young children. I recommend a real bagel from any deli. You're there five days--go to a different deli every day. Stay away from any chain restaurants or tourist traps around Time Square. It's New York--live a little.

    Because you are there so long, I would recommend taking in Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero.

    My young family and I get most of our kicks walking around the city for free and eating just about anything out of the ordinary that catches our interest. (No McDonalds or Pizza Hut on any of those trips). We also gave our kids sketch books on one trip--I carried watercolors, crayons and glue. We collected tickets, flyers, free postcards and receipts to make sketch collages. We sat in parks and interesting public spaces to make our works of art. This accomplished three things...it gave kids time off their feet (very important for happiness), it kept them engaged with sites and sounds out of the ordinary and they had a personal made memory of the experience!

    Get a good subway map and use a smart phone to stay out of trouble.

    Have a great trip!

    Thom

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Thom.... spot on! The girls have just recently learned to play chess. The visit the American Girl Store here in L. .A. (love it), All of your recommendations are perfect. This site and feedback are way beyond anything I expected. I hope to pay this forward someday when somebody asks about So CA, L. A. and Orange County. Thank you, again, Thank you. · (3 likelikes)

    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Haha, you know girls! :) Great suggestions! · (0 likelikes)

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    2. Washington Square Park (attraction)
    3. Central Park - Conservatory Water (attraction)
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    5. Central Park - The Kerbs Boathouse (restaurant)
    6. Washington Square Park (attraction)
    7. Chess Forum (attraction)
    8. American Girl Place (attraction)
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    10. Chinatown New York (neighborhood)
    11. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
    12. Ground Zero (attraction)

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  • Courtney Robinson

    answered by

    Hey, Gary,

    Having grown up as a little girl in NYC, this is a subject near and dear to my heart!

    I would take them to the The Plaza to see the Eloise painting (if they're not into Eloise yet, read the books before you go--it's the quintessential book about a little girl in the city!) as well as all the various Eloise themed things they have there. They just opened a place in the basement called the Todd English Food Hall so you don't have to spend a lot of money on food! Also, while they're there, your daughter-in-law can shop at Bergdorf Goodman across the street!

    If they're into Alice in Wonderland, they'll probably love the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park. While you're there, why not also check out the Central Park Carousel which is a bit of a New York tradition.

    There's also an amazing doll house in the permanent collection at the Museum of the City of New York.

    This wasn't around when I was a kid, but I've heard great things about the The Toy Museum Of NY.

    This isn't my favorite adult activity, but as a kid, I LOVED riding the Roosevelt Island Tram. You'll get a great view of the city on the other side but don't plan on roaming the island--it's just a bunch of ugly residential buildings--nothing at all to see there.

    They might also like a boat ride around the city. Circle Line Cruises offer some great ones!

    I would try MarieBelle which is a gorgeous chocolate store in SOHO where you can sit and have some a little chocolate snack.

    For your daughter-in-law: I would tell her that the best boutique shopping is probably in Nolita, on Madison Avenue, SoHo or in Brooklyn, NY.

    Have a blast!!!

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  • Maggie Nugent

    answered by

    I love Courtney's suggestion of taking them to the The Plaza to see Eloise! The Plaza is in Central Park, so you could pair that trip with some Central Park exploring.

    The girls would probably also like the huge FAO Schwarz toy store on 5th ave. That's kind of a must-see for kids.

    And, I work here, so I have to mention it ;)--if your girls like games, they might want to try a Stray Boots tour of Times Square (www.strayboots.com). It's an app that takes you on a scavenger hunt-like tour of the neighborhood. The tour includes the giant Toys R Us store and the M&M's World store as well!

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      This is absolutely amazing . Terrific ideas..... I wish I were going the city with them. Thank you, Maggie · (1 likelikes)

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  • Rohan Vimalachandran

    answered by

    Gary,

    If your granddaughters enjoy science/space, I can absolutely recommend the wonderful 'Dark Universe' exhibition at the Hayden Planetarium. With the recent 'Cosmos' reboot on television, this is a great live experience for all ages!

    http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/space-show/new-space-show-dark-universe

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Rohan, Excellent!!! The girls are at a perfect age for this venue. Thank you so much. - Gary · (1 likelikes)

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  • Ross Crowder

    answered first by

    They could go downtown and see the 9/11 Memorial (really worth it), Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Those are all pretty easy to get to. Grand Central Station is worth going to, as well as being a convenient place to branch out to the rest of the city. There are some .99¢ pizza places that I actually enjoyed! I know there is more than one, but there's one close to the Empire State Building for sure. If they want a really unique tour, Famous Fat Dave's Food Tour is unbeatable. It's a little pricey, but totally worth it.

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Wow, these are great ideas and perfect for the kids. Thanks a lot. · (0 likelikes)

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  • coco mico

    answered by

    tell em to check out ny.racked.com if they havent, there's plenty of options... I shop from No. 6 Store, Creatures Of Comfort, Maryam Nassir Zadeh to Forever 21 (many in NYC)... but keep eye out for Sample sales.

    Food: Noodle Village, Barrio Chino is good but very hispterish (anything in the Lower East Side will be hipsterish with huge $ range), Minca ramen is great, Cafe Habana is always happening, one of the first places I went to when I moved here, there's good vegan food in East Village... I never eat in Little Italy or Times Square.

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      I think you have a soul mate in my daughter-in-law. Those shops will be oasis for her and exactly what she is hoping to visit. Perfect food ideas too. Thank you so much. · (0 likelikes)

    • coco m.

      coco m.

      forgot, russ & daughters for best bagel in city! farmer's mkt in Union Sq on odd days, if we are alike, then I would suggest downloading a food app so she can see pics of food before going; I always travel with foodspotting (im mostly raw and vegan but LOVE greens so finding food is hard for me) also Rachel Comey store should be open by the time she arrives, but I would look at Won Hundred and WOOD WOOD designers (all the 'cool' boutiques have them), also BWGH (aka Brooklyn we go hard), trendier shops like Steve Alan, good but not so secret, than again what is with the internet, and of course OPEN CEREMONY is a big one for the 'rock and roll' look, Christophe Lemaire, very refined and understated... there use to be a lot more vintage stores in the LES but I know of 2 popular ones, persaonlly i'm over vintage bc they're over-priced in NY but... it's an option. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Anna Klemm

    answered by

    For children I would recommend FAO Schwarzthe biggest toy store in the city,it's right next to Central Park so you can visit it on the way there!

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Thank you Anna. Several years ago we heard the store had closed. We are so glad it is still open. For sure, they will go there. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Julia Li

    answered by

    After you walk across the bridge, take the granddaughters for a spin on Jane's Carousel if you don't think they're too old for that sort of thing--it's a beautifully restored vintage carousel that's gorgeous too look at no matter what your age though. Dumbo (the cobblestone neighborhood where the carousel is located) also has boutique shopping for the daughter in law. Have fun!

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Thank you Julia. Is that a safe area to visit? · (0 likelikes)

    • Julia L.

      Julia L.

      Very safe! Also, the view of the Manhattan skyline from the park where the carousel is located is phenomenal. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Diana Chang

    answered by

    For the next 3 weeks, there's giant eggs scattered along the 5 boroughs designed by some of the most creative New Yorkers! You can download the app and have an easter egg hunt with the girls around the city! http://thebigegghunt.org/starthere/

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    • Gary C.

      Gary C.

      Thanks, Diana. This is getting really exciting for the girls. Gary · (0 likelikes)

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