New York City is a great destination for a family holiday this summer. With a little research, good planning and comfortable shoes, you can enjoy an affordable itinerary that includes everything from a Broadway show and free concerts to world-class museums and walking tours to famed historical sights.
1. The best source for Broadway tickets
Many visitors don’t realize that you can buy Broadway show tickets at great prices by visiting the official ticketing source, either Ticketmaster.com or Telecharge.com depending on this show, in advance of your visit. Very often you can find tickets under $60! Check out this guide, which directs you to the official ticketing source for each show on Broadway.
2. NYC for free
Summer offers a bounty of free performances around the city, from Shakespeare in (Central) Park to music and dance at Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park. You can hear the New York Philharmonic free in all five boroughs, plus smaller orchestras at smaller parks.
Carnegie Hall offers free 45-minute family concerts throughout the year. The McGraw-Hill CarnegieKids series introduces classical music to young kids.
Some museums in NYC, such as The Forbes Galleries and the National Museum of the American Indian, are always free. Others offer free admission on certain days at certain times: the Children’s Museum of Manhattan Target Free First Fridays offers free admission from 5-8 pm on the first Friday of every month, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has Target Free Friday Nights every Friday from 4-8pm, and The Jewish Museum waives admission fees on Saturdays, but the children’s galleries and café are closed.
4. Bring your membership cards
If you belong to your local children’s museum, science or art museum or botanic garden, check to see whether your membership includes a reciprocal arrangement that also entitles you to free admission at its NYC counterpart.
5. Pass the lines, save money.
New York CityPASS provides admission to the Empire State Building Observatory, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum and Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Cruises. Even better than saving money, you save time, skipping long lines at museums and the Statue of Liberty.
See the Statue of Liberty free from the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry operates 24/7 between Whitehall Terminal near Battery Park at the south end of Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.
Ride the aerial Roosevelt Island Tram for the price of a Metrocard (free if you buy a weekly pass, and free for kids under 44 inches).
In summer months, take free ferry rides from lower Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge Park to Governors Island.
Where to stay
The Omni Berkshire Place is luxurious yet affordable, and within walking distance of most Broadway and off-Broadway shows. The Omni Sensational Kids program provides backpacks of goodies for little kids, and free milk and cookies delivered to the room the first night of your stay.
The hotel also has a loyalty program that offers free WiFi and morning drinks delivered to your room, even on your first stay. If your kid wakes up and needs cold OJ right away (or you and your teen need coffee) this is quite a savings.
When you’re not at the theater
So what will you do the kids before the show starts? TravelingMom.com recommends these NYC attractions:
The annual costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-see for kids who like to play dress up. This year, the Met exhibit, Schiaparelli and Prada (through August 19), explores two very different Italian designers. Through November 4, weather permitting, you can climb the rooftop installation, Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City.
The High Line, an elevated park on the far west side, offers free interactive arts programs and story times for little kids, and nature tours, dance programs and stargazing for the whole family.
Visit the Times Square Alliance for the latest info on everything to do in or near the NYC theater district each week.
Rent a Bike. There are several Bike and Roll locations in NYC, and the west side has a bike path along the river that is safe and dedicated to non-motorized vehicles. Or bike the designated lane on the Brooklyn Bridge. Biking in NYC is great for sight seeing and keeping in shape.
For more information on these and other vacation ideas, visit NYC’s official visitors guide www.nycgo.com/#nyc.
Article by Judy Antell, a native New Yorker and mother to three theater-loving daughters, writes about travel on TravelingMom.com and blogs at Veggie Mom.