Several families have requested holiday trips to New York with teenagers in tow. New York is bustling and beautiful in the winter months, I especially love Thanksgiving here. The holiday decorations are in place and the weather is not quite as chilly as December.
To begin in style: airport pick-up in a superb Mercedes Sprinter with glass roof. This special vehicle is specifically outfitted for 6 guests, so it’s quite spacious and just fabulous for viewing the city, day or night.
A few marvelous suggestions:
A private tour of the Museum of Modern Art
Helicopter charter fly over the breathtaking skyline of the city
VIP entrance to the Empire State Building, an executive representative of the building personally escorts you to the 102nd floor
Meet with my favorite local photographer in the meat packing district for family photos
Trapeze class, fly through the air with the greatest of ease!
Take a few half mornings to tour; enjoy a late lunch in one of the best NY restaurants and then shop or museum all afternoon. Of course, guaranteed Orchestra seats to the best theatre in the world!
First stop will be Top of the Rock, the wonderful aerial observatory in Rockefeller Center. You’ll also get a chance to see the art and architecture of Rock Center, where the Today Show airs and 30 Rock is supposed to take place—and where the skating rink and the famous Christmas tree are located during the winter holidays. If you’d like, this will be complemented by a stroll through the wondrous expanse of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Then it’s a drive through Times Square, where you’ll be able to tell first-hand why it’s called the “Crossroads of the World”!
You’ll pass through the Garment District, which, in its heyday, was responsible for the manufacture of four out of five garments purchased by women in the United States, charmingly symbolized by the huge button-and-needle sculpture there. You’ll also see the site of Project Runway!
Next you’ll see the iconic Flatiron Building—at only 22 stories, it is nonetheless one of the city’s (and the world’s!) first skyscrapers. It’s located in Madison Square, where Madison Square Garden…isn’t! Why? (Sorry, you’ll have to take the tour to find out!)
Then it’s on to Greenwich Village and the site of the Friends TV show and the hotter-than-hot Meatpacking District. A stroll through Chinatown and Little Italy quickly reveals that one of these famous neighborhoods is literally surrounding the other.
The Financial District is next. There you’ll see—from the awesome vantage point of the World Financial Center—Ground Zero, where your guide will explain the timeline and the trajectory of the attacks, the progress of the rebuilding and, perhaps most important, what it was like to be in New York City on 9/11.
Your visit to the Financial District will be rounded out by a walk on Wall Street to view the imposing New York Stock Exchange and a stop in Battery Park City for wonderful views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
You may want to pick up a snack at the food court at Pier 17 in the restored South Street Seaport, a beehive of activity in the 1840’s—with ships and sailors from all over the world, rope makers, coopers (your guide will explain what a “cooper” is), counting houses and cargo of every imaginable sort—and a shopping mall today!
A drive north along the FDR, the highway lining Manhattan’s east ”coast,” allows a view of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Williamsburg, as your guide explains the history of the three great connections—the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge—linking Manhattan to those neighborhoods.
Still on the FDR, you’ll get an eye-popping view of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in New York City, and, when you return to the city streets, you’ll stop in front of the United Nations to take a photo of the bright and colorful array of member countries’ flags and learn how this swatch of land came to be extraterritorial.
Then it’s off to majestic Grand Central Terminal where even grown-ups are allowed to enjoy the Whispering Gallery. If you still have an appetite (not just for sights, but for food!), Grand Central has the best—hands-down—food court ever. Before you leave the area, you must visit the dazzling Art Deco lobby of the Chrysler Building.
Venture uptown, where the calm beauty of Central Park prepares you for the somewhat slower pace of Manhattan’s more residential areas. You’ll see the ultra-modern Time Warner Center, stately Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the first grand apartment building, The Dakota (where John Lennon was tragically shot). You’ll stop for a quick visit to the American Museum of Natural History to see the dramatic recreation of an herbivorous mother barosaurus protecting her babe from an angry, meat-eating allosaurus.
Next stop will be at the CAthedral of St. John the Divine the largest Gothic cathedral in the world (yes, it’s bigger than Notre Dame!), and on to Harlem, the heartbeat of African-American culture, with its career-making Apollo Theater, its history-making Hotel Theresa, fascinating Striver’s Row…and much more.
On your way back to midtown, you’ll pass the spectacular Metropolitan Museum of Art, situated on Museum Mile, unless you have already enjoyed a private visit.
As you complete your figure-eight of Manhattan, you’ll pass the southeast tip of Central Park and see the fabulously-restored Plaza Hotel, the huge glass cube housing the entrance to the Apple Store, the legendary FAO Schwarz toy store and, the coup de grâce, Tiffany.
New York at any pace is marvelous fun for families.