New York City Three Ways: Two Great Family Museums and Ice Skating

Trip Three: 24 Hours in NYC Family Itinerary
American Museum of Natural History, Ice Skating in Rockefeller Plaza, Tenement Museum

In the third and final installment of our series, “24 Hours in New York City Three Ways”, we’ll cover an itinerary for families visiting two popular museums and ice skating in the iconic Rockefeller Plaza–a bucket list item for many (read, Couple’s Getaway and Food Tour, Top of the Rock and Broadway).  Sarah traveled with her husband and three children–ages 13, 11 and 3–during one of the busiest times of the year.  This is why, at the Art Travel Company, we drink wine.   

11:00 am. Arrival Millennium Hilton New York. We decided to drive in, given the difficulty of traveling with overnight bags and maneuvering through the train station with children in tow.   Walking even a few blocks in January in frigid temps may ruin the entire trip, so we parked in our hotel for convenience sake. If you have ski racks on your SUV, take them off!

11:30 am Walked to Grand Central to pick up the Metro.

*Credit machines were down and it was cash only! Children under 42 inches are free on the metro; just pick them up and walk them through the turnstile with you.

*If at all possible, do not bring a stroller on public transportation. It is so difficult to maneuver. If you must, then you must. We have found it is much easier to carry or wear toddlers. We have always had positive experiences on the metro with children and fellow patrons. Someone always offers a seat, we get smiles, and a general warm welcome in NYC. When we have had a need to bring a stroller, others have gone out of their way to direct us to the appropriate entrances, helped carry it up the stairs, or pointed us in the direction of the elevator.

12:00 pm.  Arrival to The American Museum of Natural History., Central Park West and 79th St.

Though it is not the largest museum in the world, AMNH offers visitors about 2 million square feet to explore. Originated in 1767, the museum is now a complex of multiple buildings and exhibit space that allows patrons to study fossils, anthropology, dinosaurs, space, and the human body, plus more; all in one day.  Check for free entry if you have a membership to a participating Science Museum.

*Download the Explorer AMNH app and use the map to follow the Night At the Museum scavenger hunt. My kids couldn’t wait to rewatch the Ben Stiller movie after using the app.

3:30 pm  Walk to Amsterdam Avenue to find numerous restaurants (and shops) of all kinds.  My kids love asian food, and we chose Spice. Turned out to be a great choice, with homemade dumplings and spring rolls included in the cost of a lunch entree. It was also Happy Hour, lucky for us.

4:30 pm.  A stop at Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop, 285 Amsterdam Ave, for rich, house made hot chocolates with real home made whipped cream–stir it to perfection with their signature chocolate spoon. There are several Jacques Torres Chocolate stores throughout the city, including Grand Central and Rockefeller Center. There is also a tour of their chocolate factory that offers samples of his famous confection at 350 Hudson St.

5:00 pm. Back to the metro to check in with the hotel. Double bonus! We were upgraded to the top floor, two bed, to bath suite with spectacular views of the skyline. It is so hard to travel any other way after that. (A perk of the American Express Hilton Honors card, guarantees you Gold Status and upgrades if available. It’s also very generous on points purchased at Hilton hotels and offers points on many other categories as well.  If you’re a Hilton fan and a frequent traveler, the card is worth it, as you can use your points at all Hilton properties throughout the world for free nights. ) 

6:15 pmRockefeller Center Ice Skating under the lights of the holiday decorations and the lights and music of Saks Fifth Avenue.

*There are two ways to purchase tickets to the rink: VIP and General Admission.  VIP entrance is through the doors of 30 Rockefeller Center.  General Admission is down the stairs, in between the Lego store and the skating rink.  GA is first come, first serve.  VIP gives you a timed ticket, a heated area to warm up with hot chocolate and snacks. Each session is one hour and thirty minutes with a 30 minute intermission to clean up the ice. Be sure to check the online schedule.

* Children under 4 are free to skate and there is no age restrictions to entering the rink; all skate rentals must be paid, regardless of age, however.

8:00 pm. Uber back to Hotel.

11:00 am Walk to Grand Central to catch the Metro downtown.

12:00 pm arrival on Spring Street Lower East Side.

12:15 pm.  Walked to Russ and Daughters original shop on East Houston St, for Bagels, house made cream cheese and pastrami smoked salmon.

12:45 pm. Walked to Tenement Museum on Orchard Street

This museum is an actual tenement building built in 1866 and left untouched and condemned until the 1980’s when it was purchased and someone had a vision to turn it into a museum.   Dedicated to the many immigrants who populated the lower East side at the turn of the century, all tours are guided and they also offer walking tours of the neighborhood.  *What really is special about this particular museum, is the tours are hosted by actors, playing the role of a person who really lived in this building.  It is something quite special and really brings history to life, especially for children.

2:00 pm. Dumplings and hand pulled noodles at Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles in Chinatown. A tiny restaurant with a bright yellow sign.  There are only 8 or so tables upstairs, and another 4 in their basement.  * Cash only.

3:00 pm Back on the Metro to Grand Central.

3:30 pm Stop in to Starbucks outside the Grand Central Terminal and Maison Kayser for hot drinks and raspberry tarts. According to Dan, my tour guide on my Food Tour, there are over 400 Starbucks in NYC. If you miss this one, you are sure to stumble on another around the next corner.

4:00 pm.  Collected our luggage and car from hotel for the drive home.




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