I got a flood of questions about where to take boys. The boys probably won’t want to do a lot of the same kind of shopping, going to tea or doing their makeup before the show, but most of the suggestions were great for all tweens.
Here are a few more ideas. Madame Toussaud’s is a lot of fun and even with a pricey entry it is freaky and fun. (there are tourist pass tickets that give you discounts at lots of places, like the Empire State Building and if you are doing a lot of the regular touristic things they may be worth it) The Top of the Rock, at Rockefeller Center is supposed to be great for a view of the city if you don’t want to go all the way to 34th St. If your guests are coming from a smaller city, run them inside a couple of Buildings that are amazing spaces that you won’t see anywhere else. In Grand Central (there are good building tours, although you need to know your kid if they would enjoy it or not) there is a spot in front of the Oyster Bar where you can stand in one corner facing the corner and whisper and if someone stands facing the opposite corner they can hear you. Also the food court downstairs is pretty good if you need a snack), and the Reading Room at the Public Library makes a good stop to have a quiet moment if you have sensory overload in Times Square.
I love roaming around the tip of Manhattan. I would wait in line for Ellis Island, and that is saying something. The museum is great and if you have any information on the year that your family member entered the country, it is the biggest thrill to find their signature on the ship’s Leger. You can spend the whole day below Chambers St. I don’t spend much time at South Street Seaport unless it is to pick up tickets at TKTS (shorter lines than uptown) The National Museum of the American Indian (because it is part of the Smithsonian, it is free, your federal tax dollars at work) in the Customs House is great. They opened a beautiful museum on the Mall in DC, but 95% of the collection remains in NY. Spend a lot of time enjoying Hudson River Park, your guests will want to move to NYC. Don’t miss the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Irish Famine Memorial (this is a particularly lovely and unusual little park north of the World Financial Center, really, it is worth looking for) Walk the whole length of Hudson River Park, it is beautifully and unusually landscaped with wonderful playgrounds for young kids and games and sports equipment at the ranger’s station for older children. When you get to the north end you can walk over the Stuyvesant pedestrian bridge and find a nice bistro in Tribeca for a bite or if you haven’t had enough walking you can completely wear out the soles of their shoes and head due east to City Hall and over The Bridge.
Once you are in Brooklyn, the Transit Museum is small and good (really great for young kids, especially on rainy days) I think that the Carousel in Prospect Park beats all others. The adorable Prospect Park Zoo (check out the Pigeon exhibit) and the southern entrance to the Botanical Garden are right across the street (Flatbush, that is). Bring your stale bagels! Maybe it sounds too low impact when there is so much to see in NY, but sitting in the Japanese Garden and feeding the giant Koi fish and turtles can be a big high-light when the kids are otherwise on overload. It is also very, very beautiful. If you are visiting the Brooklyn Museum (great kids programs and First Saturdays) have brunch at Tom’s Restaurant a couple blocks north on Washington Ave. (not open on Sundays) This neighborhood institution is very kid friendly and if you are waiting they pass out cookies. It helps your guests understand that New York is a city of neighborhoods that are really like the best small towns.
Finally the NY Times had a good article about backstage tours last weekend. I can guarantee that the backstage tour at the Met Opera is impressive, but I am interested in the Yankee Stadium tour which sounds awesome, whether you are a fan or not.