New York City is a city that needs no introduction. It is famous for so many things like Broadway, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, and the Empire States Building. I planned the trip to include places that my kids would be familiar with like the Central Park Zoo from the movie Madagascar and the American Museum of Natural History from the movie Night at the Museum. You might think that we were crazy to spend only 48 hours in New York City after travelling 18 hours halfway around the world, but the trip to the Big Apple was part of our New York and Orlando vacation. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of things to see and do within 48 hours in this vibrant and famous city. We were there from Saturday 12 noon to Monday 12 noon.
1. Grand Central Terminal
Our first stop was the Grand Central Terminal, one of the most popular historical landmarks in New York City and the busiest train station in the country. My kids remembered this terminal from the first Madagascar movie.
2. Broadway and Times Square
At the heart of the Big Apple is Times Square, the most bustling square in New York City. With its huge electronic billboards, broadway shows and cinemas, it comes as no surprise that it is one of the most visited places in the world. I wanted to bring my kids to watch and experience a Broadway show there, but unfortunately, my youngest did not meet the minimum entry age of 4 at that time.
3. Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus tour
We purchased a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus New York pass that was bundled with a harbour cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, and a ticket to either Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) observation deck or Empire States Building observatory. The pass covered a Downtown tour, an Uptown and Harlem tour, a Brooklyn tour and a night tour within 72 hours.
The Downtown tour gave us a good introduction to New York starting from Times Square to Macy’s, Empire States Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, South Street Seaport, Waldorf Astoria, Rockefeller Center and back to Times Square.
In the evening, we took the Night tour that brought us across the Brooklyn Bridge to see the New York City skyline from across the bridge.
4. Empire States Building
With a choice of going up the Top of the Rock or the Empire States Building as part of our Hop-on-Hop-off tour ticket, we decided to go for the Empire States Building as my kids were more familiar with it. There were tonnes of movies that featured the Empire States Building but I could only recall the classic movie King Kong, Independence Day and my favourite, Sleepless in Seattle, when Meg Ryan met Tom Hanks for the first time at the top of the Empire States Building.
The queue to the observatory was long, but it was worth it. Check out the spectacular view of the city that never sleeps.
5. Central Park Zoo
The next day, and our only full day in New York, we headed off to the Central Park Zoo. The kids wanted to visit the zoo after watching the movie Madagascar however, they couldn’t find any of the animals from that movie. No lions, zebras, hippos or giraffes.
We did find cute little penguins during their feeding time.
After the zoo, we strolled around the other parts of Central Park until we reach the American Museum of Natural History.
6. American Museum of Natural History
Located on the Upper West side of New York City is the American Museum of Natural History, one of the largest museums in the world. We were amazed by the large collection of dinosaur skeletons and how life-like the dioramas of mammals were.
When it came to shopping, New York City offered tonnes of choices for the shopaholics, from Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Rockefeller Centre and more! The shop that we loved the most was the M&M’s World. It was the first time for us to see so much M&Ms in a variety of colours. We were literally like kids in a candy store. My daughter chose M&Ms in girlish colours like pink, purple and a sweet shade of blue while my son went for the more solid boyish colours.
8. Eating in New York City
Even though there were plenty of restaurants in the city, we enjoyed buying and eating food from the roadside vendors like the fresh bagels with cream cheese, giant pretzels, halal kebabs and hotdogs and Mister Softee. The only time we sat down for a meal was to eat the huge New York pizza with cheese.
9. New York City Harbour Cruise
We initially planned to go on the Harbour Cruise (spelt Harbor in New York) on our full day in New York City but we were not in time for the last cruise. Instead, we went there the following day before checking out of the hotel.
We got to cruise under the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the great view of the New York City skyline.
10. Statue of Liberty
Last and certainly not least is the Statue of Liberty, a must-see when visiting New York. Our cruise went quite close to Lady Liberty and gave us enough time to take photos of this world-famous landmark.
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