As a travel writer I cover all four corners of the world seeking out destinations of beauty and historical value. So when an opportunity came along, I jumped at the chance to “visit” New York City with my 10-year-old grand-nephew Eric, a native of Germany, and see my city through his eyes.
Where to begin and how to cover the most territory? The Big Apple has a myriad of attractions to suit every age and taste, but to maximize a three-day visit, a city pass seemed to offer the most opportunities in an economical way.
After picking up our passes at the NYC Visitor Center on Eighth Avenue,we hopped on the double-decker sightseeing bus and climbed the stairs to the open-air top deck. The bus provides listening devices so you can hear the commentary over the sounds of the city and rain ponchos should the weather turn inclement.
American Museum of Natural History
Our first stop was the American Museum of Natural History with its famous dinosaur hall. Eric was enthralled, having spent much of his younger years learning about dinosaurs, and he was happy to share his extensive knowledge as we made our way though display… after display… after display.
Afterward, we searched out the Native American wing, which Eric videotaped for his younger brother back in Germany. Of course, Eric enjoyed the gift shops the best and would have happily spent hours touching—and buying—every item had I let him.
Back on the bus, we covered the Upper West Side and Harlem and drove east to Fifth Avenue past the Central Park Zoo. We planned on visiting the zoo, but, by that time diving into a famous New York City pizza held more interest. So we headed for John’s of Times Square on 44th Street where we met up with my nephew Mike, Eric’s father. It was a good choice, and Mike said it was the best pizza he’d ever had. Score!
Statue of Liberty
The next day, the three of us took the hop-on, hop-off bus downtown to visit the Statue of Liberty. Along with hundreds of other visitors, we waited in line for ferry tickets (cost was included in our pass). Once through security, we headed for the top deck of the ferry for a good view of the beautiful harbor. I never take this ride without the emotional feelings of patriotism whelming up as Lady Liberty grows larger the closer you get, until she fills the sky with her welcoming message. The sun caught the torch at just the right angle, glowing with the light of freedom.
We disembarked at Ellis Island and took time to listen to the recorded stories of people arriving in a foreign land to an unknown future. I was impressed that Eric, even at his young age, could empathize with their trials. I talked with him about our grandparents fleeing oppression and hardship in their home country, and we left with a sense of awe and gratitude at the courage of our forefathers.
Yankee Stadium and Empire State Building
That night we took in a game at Yankee Stadium and ended the perfect day at the top of the Empire State Building,watching in awe at the radiating, multi-colored light splendor that is New York at night.
Rockefeller Center and Shopping
On Eric’s final day we headed for glamorous Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick’s Cathedral to Rockefeller Center and the Channel Gardens, decorated with spring flowers. Floating above the outdoor cafe, which in winter turns into a skating rink, is the golden statue of Prometheus, one of the many works of art scattered throughout the Rockefeller Center complex.
While Eric enjoyed the artwork, he really lost it with excitement in the Lego store, entered into from the Channel Gardens. We left the store with a shopping bag loaded with Lego and headed for 42nd Street and Broadway where we visited the M&M store, to buy gifts for Eric’s brother, and the Disney store, to buy an Elsa plush doll for his baby sister.
Sated with gifts, we trudged to 47th and Broadway to the TKTS booth to buy tickets to a Broadway show only to be disappointed that there were no child-appropriate performances that night. So we drowned our sorrows with deli sandwiches at Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery, home of the amazing Junior’s cheesecake, and called it a night.
Thank you, Eric, for your sense of wonder and for your good nature. Come back soon.
For more information, visit the official New York City tourist site: https://www.nycgo.com/
Barbara Angelakis is a seasoned international traveler and award-winning writer based in the New York City area. To read more of her articles and adventures, visit LuxuryWeb Magazine at www.luxuryweb.com