Inside tips about New York City
Smiles in NYC:
• With ten major league teams in five different sports, New York could easily be called Sports Town USA. Depending on the season of your visit, you can purchase tickets online to see Major League baseball at Yankee Stadium, NFL football at the Meadowlands, NBA basketball or NHL ice hockey at Madison Square Garden. Round out your sports day or two with a visit to Sports Museum of America on Broadway and the huge NBA store on Fifth Avenue with all of its hoops memorabilia and indoor shooting courts.
• Parks and playgrounds are a way of life in New York and a great place for kids to blow off steam. Even in Manhattan, many of the best small green spaces like Union Square, Madison Square, Washington Park in the Village and Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library are rarely crowded even in the middle of the day. Many of them boast swings and other playground equipment.
• Explore the stores! For kids, toy stores are your best bet. Families can easily plan a whole day around visiting New York's incredible toy stores. In addition to millions of games and gadgets, the gargantuan Toys R Us on Times Square has an indoor Ferris wheel, two-story Barbie dollhouse and a life-sized, automated T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Among other awesome toy stores in Midtown are the American Girl Place and World of Disney (all on Fifth Avenue).
• Save money by investing in a sightseeing discount pass. New York CityPass includes coupons to six top attractions ($79 adults; $59 children 13-17) and can be purchased either online (www.citypass.com/city/ny.html) or at the city visitor center at 810 Seventh Avenue in Midtown. The coupons are good for nine days from the day of purchase. Those who are going to be in town longer might want to consider a New York Pass, which includes admission to over 50 attractions. They range in price from $75 adult/$55 child for one day to $150 adult/$130 child for seven days. Purchase online at www.newyorkpass.com.
• While the Big Apple remains the major draw, New York is close to other family friendly destinations like the rustic Catskill Mountains, the scenic Hudson River Valley and aptly named Long Island with its endless beaches. Philadelphia and its historic attractions are only an hour away by train.
Frowns in NYC:
• Given its upper mid-Atlantic location, New York's weather is often both fickle and extreme pack accordingly. Summers are hot and sticky, although it can be cool on occasion. Winter days can run from mild temperatures and sunny to 20 below with blizzard warnings. Because of the various weather conditions, your family should be prepared for rain, sunshine or snowfall on your vacation.
• Some people are still afraid to visit New York City especially with kids in tow because they fear getting mugged or even worse. There was a time in the not-too-distant-past when the Big Apple did have one of the nation's top crime rates. But such is no longer the case. Recent mayors have beefed up the police force, and after 9/11, NYC added another whole layer of high security. According to the FBI's Crime in the United States report, violent crime in NYC decreased by four percent within the past year. Heavily trafficked areas like Midtown and the Financial District are especially safe.
• Despite countless taxis and great public transportation, be prepared for a lot of walking. Attractions like the Bronx Zoo or American Museum of Natural History can easily entail four hours or more of walking and standing time. Depending on the stamina of your children, long walks could be great exercise for the family, or result in tiring tears at the end of the day. Clad your kids in comfortable walking shoes, and bring bottles of water while resting at regular intervals.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun