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Trip Report New York with kids and teens

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Thanks to the many people that gave us tips and advice, our 8 day trip to NYC with our five kids went smoothly and we had a great time. Thanks to all that helped us plan our days. Your advice was right on.
Transportation around NYC - it was suggested here that we buy the 7day unlimited metro card for eveyone in our family so we did. This is the way to go! The first two days were very frustrating trying to learn the "subway system". My husband and son finally sat down together and studied it out and things went better (but we did make a few errors and had to turn around). The Hop Stop App was helpful to a point but we all agree that having the large subway map and a compass is necessary too. Also, a map of the bus routes because you need to use a combination of both to get the best route possible most of the time. Also, we asked a lot of people for help and everyone was very nice, friendly and willing to help.
We grouped activities for the day in the same general area and were able to do all that we wanted to do.
Here are the things we did:
Central Park - beautiful. Didn't spend a lot of time here because it was hot. We walked through it to get from the American Mus. of Natural History to the MET but did stop and let our kids play on those large rocks.
MET - I thought it was excellent and loved it. My kids did liked it but I couldn't push then to spend hours there. We did certain sections recommended for kids.
American Museum of Natural History - My husband took our boys and they were all disappointed in it. It didn't meet their expections.
Ballet (Giselle) at the Opera House (with girls)- wonderful! We loved it!
Carlos Bakery - Got there by 8:30AM and walked right in the door. I was shocked because all I have read was about the horrible lines. Mary, the sister, came out and my girls were thrilled. We took a picture with her and she signed the t-shirts we bought. The pastries were very good. My youngest child can't stop talking about this. She is a big fan!
Greenwich Village Food Tasting and Cultural Tour with www.foodsofny.com - Loved it! It was 3 hours long and my kids didn't complain one time. Our guide, Sephara (probably spelled wrong) had the best personality ( funny, interesting, and engaging) We learn a lot and loved the food and neighborhood. I highly recommend this.
Mets game - My husband took our boys and they enjoyed it so much that he bought tickets for our last night there and took all of our kids. Citi Field was amazing. It was about the whole experience for them, not just the game.
Top of the Rock - No lines, great views. We went in the evening but didn't wait to see the sunset. Many were waiting to see it. I am sure it was amazing.
Empire State Building - We also did this but at night. It was a very different experience to see the city at night. I liked the night view better but I like Top of the Rock better. I did like the history behind the Empire State and my son is very much into architecture, so it was very interesting to him. I didn't like the lines! We went at 10:15 PM thinking the lines would be gone. You get tricked. There are 3 different lines and they wrap around things. It took a while but it was worth it. I wouldn't go with young kids. I wouldn't go tired or hungry. It takes a while and they are very aggressive outside, trying to sell you upgrades and the movie ride. They would probably not be honest with you about the wait time if you asked.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - I think that Ellis Island is a must see. We did the movie there, "Land of Hope, Land of Tears". I wouldn't miss it. We also did the 25 min. play they had for $6 a person. We also got the audio tour and we all did the kids' version, which was very good and a bit shorter than the adult version. We loved it and my kids will never forget what they saw and learned. We had tickets that we bought in advance for 9:00 but were there in line at 8:30 and went right through security. Plan on about 4 to 6 hours in all to do all of it but it is very much worth it. Go early.
China Town - Ate at Golden Unicorn (dim sum) and my kids have not stop talking about it. It was an experience for all of us, the lunch prices were great and it was a unique meal. We then had icecream at the Ice Cream Factory. It was good but overpriced.
Brighton Beach and Coney Island - We ate at Cafe Glechik (Russian Cafe) in Brigthon Beach and it was probably the best meal I had the whole trip. The prices were low, the portions large and we all loved what we ordered. We then headed to Luna Park. My kids love rides so we let them get the unlimited ride band and they rode for about 3 hours. We had the whole place to ourselves because it was a weekday I guess. The beach was pretty but we only looked at it, didn't swim. Seeing Brooklyn and other parts of NYC was interesting for all of us.
Today Show - I am a huge fan. Got to meet Meredith and Ann on the Plaza and took pictures. It was a Wednesday so we were on the "Who Knew" game done by Kathy Lee and Hoda but we didn't get our question right so we got Kathy's CD (this was fun for all of us!). To get on the game, go to the NBC cafe above the NBC store right at the corner before 9:00 if you can and there will be someone there to sign up with.
9/11 Tribute Center and walking tour - I highly recommend this. You can't prebook a tour but you can sign up for the tour when you get there. You can then spend time seeing the small museum while you wait for your tour. The man who lead our tour lost his wife that day. He was inspiring and it was very well done. I learned a lot.
Broadway Shows:
Lion King - My girls and I loved it! My husband said it was okay.
Wicked - My husband took our girls (ages 10 - 14) and they all loved it. They had partial view seats and they were fine.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - (all of us went) My 2 boys, ages 17 and 13 shocked me. They absolutely loved it (only show they saw). It went a little over my 10 and 12 year old heads but they loved the singing and dancing. My husband and I loved it. We bought these tickets at the TKTS booth in Brooklyn the day before, for the matinee, on the way back from Coney Island. No lines, right as you exit the subway. They were 40% off and we got 7 tickets in a row. You can only buy matinee tickets for the day before at a TKTS in Brooklyn or Seaport, not Times Square. In Time Square, you can only buy them the day of.

If you have questions, I would ask on this board. I was able to learn so much beforehand from everyone here. Thanks!

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