KidTripster Teen: My 9 favorite things about "the City that Never Sleeps"
Photo courtesy: Joe Buglewicz
For my thirteenth birthday, my mom took me on a five-day trip to New York City, beginning on January 1. We stayed at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, and our room had an amazing view of Times Square, which was still being cleaned up from the New Year’s Eve ball drop the night before. They say NYC is “the City that Never Sleeps,” and they’re right. Even at midnight, the lights in Times Square are so bright, and it’s full of people and cars; it feels like the middle of the day.
1/Watch the New York Knicks
It’s super fun to go to a pro sports game in the city that you’re visiting. The New York Knicks just happened to be playing my hometown Portland Trail Blazers on the night that we arrived. As soon as we checked into the hotel, we booked it to Madison Square Garden to get tickets, but the game was sold out. My dad came to the rescue, buying tickets off a resale website from home, while my mom and I hunted down a place nearby with Internet access and a printer. Watching an NBA game at the Garden, where I was rooting for the visiting team, was unreal. Better yet, the Blazers won the game!
KidTripster Tip: Plan ahead and buy your game tickets well in advance.
2/Go to a Broadway show
Every other night of the trip, my mother and I went to a Broadway play or musical. My favorite was Warhorse at Lincoln Center. Amazing! These evenings were a highlight of the trip for me. You can’t come to NYC and not see a Broadway show.
KidTripster Tip: Some shows like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Wicked are so popular, you must book in advance, and you’ll rarely find discounted tickets. But if you’re flexible and looking to save money, the best way to get cheap tickets is to wait in line at one of the city’s three TKTS booths on the day of the show. Check the website to see what shows are generally being sold. Also the most popular TKTS booth (with the longest line) is in Times Square. For a shorter line, try the one at South Street Seaport (corner of Front & John Streets) in Lower Manhattan.
3/Ride the subway
We don’t have a subway in my hometown, and I hardly ever use public transportation. In NYC, it’s easy, convenient, and so fun riding the subway like a real New Yorker. I loved it so much that the one day we didn’t need to ride the subway to get anywhere, we rode it just for fun.
KidTripster Tip: Parents, teach your kids how to use a subway map and then let them take over the navigation. You’re teaching them an important life skill.
4/Explore the city on foot
New York City is an amazing city and one of the largest in the world. Wandering around, especially at night, was entrancing and left me awestruck at the vast size and number of buildings and long streets filled with people and shops. It was fun walking around even if we had nowhere to go! Being there during the holidays was extra special because of the decorations all over the city, the ice rinks, and the giant Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park.
KidTripster Tip: Christmastime is a great time to visit NYC, but it can be bitterly cold. Even though I never wear them at home, I’m glad that my mom packed me a warm coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. We also carried hand warmers in our pockets, which made a big difference. Getting a hot chocolate from Starbucks every morning helped, too!
5/Eat New York-style pizza
New York City is famous for pizza, and I ate pizza for almost every meal! We checked out some of the best pizzerias in town, like Pizza Suprema at Penn Station, Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, and John’s of Bleecker Street, which - according to Jack Black - is the best pizza in the world. But my favorite was Sbarro - yes, the chain you can find in mall food courts across America. Go figure! But try New York-style pizza nonetheless.
6/Experience your Night at the Museum
The American Museum of Natural History is featured in the movie Night at the Museum, which was partly why I was excited to visit. As one of the largest museums in the world, you’ll ideally want to give yourself several hours; but even if you only have 1-1/2-hours like we did, don't skip it. Start on the fifth floor and work down to the basement. The dinosaur fossils were by far my favorite, and it was fun to get a photo with the Easter Island statue who tells Ben Stiller, “Hey dum-dum, gimme gum-gum.”
7/Jaywalk and do other free fun stuff my grandmother wouldn't approve of
I know that jaywalking is not the smartest idea, and I never do it at home; but in New York, huge crowds of people cross the street against the traffic signal. If you can keep up with busy New Yorkers who do it, it’s pretty fun. My mom even let me run up the down escalator in Trump Tower when no one was around. Check that off my bucket list.
8/Take a pedicab through Central Park
When you need a break from skyscrapers, honking cars, and concrete, head to Central Park. We explored it first from the back of a pedicab with a blanket across our laps. Victor, our driver and guide, was awesome. He took us on a private tour, stopping so we could get out and look at different statues and fountains. He even took some great pictures of us with our camera. We enjoyed visiting the park so much that we went back on our last day, taking the subway to West 81st Street and walking through the park back to West 59th Street.
KidTripster Tip: For a 25% discount, reserve your pedicab tour online from NYC Pedicab Co.
9/Whisper at Grand Central Station
If you have a chance, go to Grand Central Station and find the Whispering Walls. You and another person stand at opposite ends of the chamber-like passageway, face the corner, and talk into the wall. Your voice travels up the corner of the wall, across the arched ceiling, and down the wall in front of your partner. It’s very cool. Downstairs is a huge food court, where I had, yep, more pizza; this time, it was from Two Boots.
KidTripster Tip: Did you know that you can take either a docent-led or self-guided audio tour of Grand Central Station? We rented one audio player, paid the child/student price, and shared it. There are two jacks for headsets on the device. Click here for more information.
Pablo Moreno is a high school sophomore from Portland, Oregon. He fell in love with NYC and would someday like to call it his home.