New York City with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

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New York with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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New York City can be a thrilling adventure for children ages 8 to 12. With so many historical, architectural and amusing wonders in Manhattan, it's hard to decide what to see in just one day in New York with tweens. But if you plan ahead, your tweens will have the time of their life in the Big Apple.

Morning


Start with an early morning walk across the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. To get to the bridge, take the 2 or 3 train on the red line south to the Clark Street stop in Brooklyn.

Note: Depending on the itinerary for the day and the location of your hotel, you may want to purchase MTA 1-Day Fun Passes from a MetroCard vending machine for $8.25 each. The pass is good from the first ride to 3AM on the following day. Regular subway fare is $2.25 per ride. Check out the unlimited vs. pay-per-ride comparison.

In Brooklyn, grab some grub at Clark's Restaurant (near the subway stop at 80 Clark St., BrooklynNY11201; 718-855-5484), which offers diner-style breakfast options, from bagels and cream cheese to waffles and omelets, for a reasonable price. When you're finished, walk west to Cadman Plaza and follow the signs to the Brooklyn Bridge walking path.

You'll not only get a bit of exercise on the Brooklyn Bridge, you'll get just about the best view of Manhattan. Be sure to bring your camera for some classic shots -- and stay out of the bike lane to avoid any morning riders. They go fast and feel entitled to their lane.

Once you've made it to the Manhattan side, you'll land at City Hall Park (Broadway, Park Row and Chambers St., New York, NY 10007). This area of lower Manhattan is filled with important history about New York and the United States, so try to schedule a walking tour. One of the more popular tour companies for New York with tweens is Big Onion Walking Tours, but there are plenty to choose from. If you can't catch a tour, head southeast to the South Street Seaport (Fulton & South Streets, Pier 17, New York, NY 10038; 212-732-7678) and take the kids to the BODIES: The Exhibition, a series of intriguing and scientific views of human anatomy. Weekend admission for adults is $27.50 and for kids ages 4 to 12, it's $21.50.

By the time your brains have been filled to the hilt with historic or scientific facts, you'll be hungry for lunch. A family favorite is the Bridge Cafe (279 Water St., New York, NY 10038; 212-227-3344), located at the north end of the South Street Seaport area, right next to the bridge. Because it's off the beaten path of the seaport, it's less touristy and cozier.

The restaurant has two claims to fame -- other than a great meal, of course. First, it declares itself to be the oldest drinking establishment in New York City. Originally established as a grocery, the businesses that have been operated there under the "eating and drinking" category have included a brothel, a pirate bar and various saloons. If there are not printed copies of the history at the entrance or on your table, ask your server to bring you one. It's worth the read and makes for interesting table conversation.

Second, the cafe has a reputation for being haunted. There was even an investigation done by the Eastern Paranormal Investigation Center in the summer of 2007, although nothing conclusive was uncovered. This fact might just put a little extra thrill in the meal for your tweens.


Afternoon


After lunch, walk down to the pier for some ice cream and window shopping in the mall or on the square. You can also swing by the TKTS Discount Booth at 199 Water Street, corner of Front and John Streets, to see if there are any great deals on Broadway shows. Note, while the more popular booth at Times Square offers day-of-performance tickets only, the South Street Seaport booth sells tickets to that day's evening performances and the next day's matinee performances. It also opens earlier for same day evening tickets (11AM vs. 3PM) so you have a better chance of getting your favorite show.

Next head west on Fulton Street to the subway stop at Fulton and Broadway (one entrance is in the Chase Bank building). Take the A or C train on the blue line and change to the E train at Canal or W. 4th Street, and take it to 5th Avenue and 53rd Street. Walk west on 53rd to the Museum of Modern Art or MoMA (11 W. 53rd St., New York, NY 10019; 212-708-9400), where there are collections and exhibitions that will get the tweens talking. There is also a sculpture garden for some outdoor art exploration.


Evening


For dinner, continue west on 53rd street to 6th Avenue (aka Avenue of the Americas), and then walk a few blocks to the Jekyll & Hyde Club (1409 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019; 212-541-9505). It's silly and corny, but tweens will get a kick out of the features, creatures and shows put on at this themed restaurant.

After dinner, take the Q train on the yellow line at 57th Street and 7th Avenue to 42nd Street. This is Times Square, where the kids can experience the height of New York City's hustle and bustle. As the evening progresses, the neon lights of this entertainment district will enthrall and delight.

If you've picked up Broadway tickets, this is a grand finale for a great day in New York with tweens. If not, explore the Hershey's or M&M's stores for some tasty souvenirs and then wind down with a movie at the AMC Theatre Empire 25 or the Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. A "chill" end to an exciting day for your tweens in New York.


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