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Planning NYC in March for 60 HS kiddos (on a budget)

Planning NYC in March for 60 HS kiddos (on a budget)

Jan 30th, 2019, 05:03 PM
  #1  
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Planning NYC in March for 60 HS kiddos (on a budget)

I'm planning a NYC trip for 60 high school band students for 5 days in March.

They are traveling from South Florida and will take part in a music festival at Carnegie Hall.

The Carnegie package includes: transport from Newark Airport to our hotel, Westin at Times Square, one subway pass, a Broadway Show, instructional session with clinicians, Carnegie performance and banquet at Hard Rock, tickets to Top of the Rock.

My challenge is to put together some sightseeing plans and meals, on a tight budget.

Itinerary:
*Saturday arrive in Newark about noon. (maybe an afternoon in Times Square and walk to Grand Central Terminal?), then dinner and our Broadway show (Wicked)
*Sunday we have free time for sightseeing (maybe bus tour to Harlem for lunch at Sylvia's) , then our instructional session, maybe Pizza at John's of Times Square?
* Monday is free time for sightseeing until 1pm when we have to be at Cargenie Hall and then attend a dinner at Hard Rock.
*Tuesday is free until we head to the airport at about 2pm.

So I would like to consider: Central Park (maybe ice skating if the weather allows), Museum of Natural History (if we have bad weather a need an indoor space),
maybe a street market? Maybe Brooklyn Bridge? Maybe Ellis Island or Statue of Liberty? Maybe 9/11 memorial?
I'm at the point where I'm plotting these options on a map to see which work together. Or are their other ideas? (Looking for free admission attractions and landmarks like Grand Central Terminal)

Food: I'm reading about other groups that found these good..........Vigil's BBQ, Eataly, Carmine's, Ellen's Stardust Diner, Buca Di Peppo. I'm worried about breakfast too. (Maybe a bagel place? Maybe the underground food court?) Any other suggestions??

Thank you for your input.
Kristinesonja is offline  
Jan 30th, 2019, 06:12 PM
  #2  
J62
 
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Congratulations to the band on getting invited to Carnegie hall. I don't envy you for having to plan a trip for so many people. Is there any you can break this down into smaller groups, say 10-15 each?
J62 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2019, 06:15 PM
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Obviously there will be other adults with the group. I would suggest breaking up the group into the max 20. Then I would call for reservations. If they cannot offer, do not go. (Different for breakfast.) John's in Times Square has the capacity call about reservations same for Virgil's.

Forget about Eataly, they have smaller segregated dining areas.

Try Jing Fong in Chinatown for dim sum. The room holds 800 people. Also Golden Unicorn, they are on two floors. They are both a zoo on weekends.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jan 30th, 2019, 06:17 PM
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For breakfast McDonald's is around the corner, also Dunkin Donuts....if kids just want to run there and back to the hotel they could do it easily (as opposed to rounding up 60 to go out for breakfast together.). Westway Diner is two blocks away and great for breakfast, Ellen's is more fun but quite a bit more expensive.

If you do full breakfast and early dinner before a show...you could pretty much skip lunch and just snack/ do pizza slices on the run etc.

https://www.bucadibeppo.com/tour-groups/


Last edited by clarkgriswold; Jan 30th, 2019 at 06:23 PM.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Jan 30th, 2019, 06:24 PM
  #5  
J62
 
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I'm thinking back to when I've been part of group events, and what has worked well for breakfast is when when someone goes out and gets assorted stuff for the whole group. - maybe a run to a nearby supermarket to pick up a few dozen bagels, and a jug or 2 of coffee, juice, or whatever.

You could ask your hotel if you can use a conference room for a common / meeting area, then the group can come and go on their own schedule.
J62 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2019, 02:25 AM
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If you going to get bagels for the group, you might as well get real NY Bagels. One of the Best is Ess-A-Bagel which is on 3rd and 51St and they can deliver.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jan 31st, 2019, 04:17 AM
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I think the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is likely to be cold in March unless the weather is good.
the Staten Island ferry has great views of the skyline.
The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian and free. It is in lower Manhattan. You would probably want to try to arrange a group tour.
Other museums have free days or hours.
Vttraveler is online now  
Jan 31st, 2019, 05:21 AM
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A lifetime ago, I took several groups of high schoolers to the Museum of Natural History. That would be a good choice for kids if you need an indoor activity. I do think they required one adult with each group of four or five students, so make sure you have enough if that still holds.
emalloy is offline  
Jan 31st, 2019, 06:34 AM
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I would do the 9/11 memorial even though they weren't born when it happened they should see it and the Statue of Liberty. So wish they could do something musical or see a play.
Macross is offline  
Jan 31st, 2019, 07:00 AM
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Thanks, they are seeing Wicked Saturday night.
Kristinesonja is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2019, 08:00 AM
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The lower bar of the Penny Farthing can hold 60 people. Must call in advance to reserve the spot.
https://thepennyfarthingnyc.com/

N.B. Do not be surprised if teenage boys do not like Wicked.
IMDonehere is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2019, 08:23 AM
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Introduce these Florida students to real NYC food: Kosher deli, real New York pizza, Tad's Steaks, Orange Julius, dirty water hot dogs.

For a show to see on an unscheduled night (or maybe a matinee?) turn the kids loose at TKTS and let them pick their own.

How about the South Street Seaport?

Maybe split up, as some may like a museum (MOMA, the Metropolitan, Cooper Hewitt, etc.). https://www.timeout.com/newyork/attr...museums-in-nyc
AJPeabody is online now  
Feb 2nd, 2019, 12:52 PM
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I have helped on trips, and was a chaperone on many more--band, Girl Scouts, sports. I also went on band trips etc when I was a kid.... I love a lot of the ideas above. Trying to put something together like you are doing is challenging. So this post is just on the food. And don't forget the allergy kids and the gluten free kids.... I was that girl growing up (peanuts!).

Breakfast
Taking 60 kids or more even into McDonalds for breakfast is a pain in the neck. It is just a huge time sync. I love, love J62's idea of ordering in food to the hotel. Even if you need to pay a cleaning fee, it'd be worth it.

IMDoneHere's Ess-a-bagel for sure.

On a different day consider ordering from Guy and Gallard for breakfast items. They also deliver/do large orders. There was one near the hotel I stayed at. Call them. Guy & Gallard New York | Purveyors of Specialty Foods & Coffees


Lunch/Dinner

Remember, there are several ways to do meals with a big group:
1. Reservation for all 70 at one restaurant.
2. Reservation for 2 groups of 35ish, or 3 groups of 20 at different restaurants.
(think about transportation if you split up.... are you taking buses or subway or what?)
3. Food courts or other type of venues--go at the BEGINNING of the meal shift for lunch or dinner, aka, dinner at 4:45 or 5 pm or lunch at 11:30. Ideally, if you can, get the list of vendors and some of their key dishes, that kids read over ahead, that will save you a lot of time.
4. Fast food, stands where you eat outside.
5. Museums or other sites' cafes and cafeterias.

Point 1:
A big meal is really fun, and hopefully you have 1-2 of those on your trip. You read about Carmine's because it's famous for its private dining rooms and large groups. IMDoneHere's gave you three other ideas, and I especially like the idea of doing Chinese food for a changeup. John's in Times Square, Golden Unicorn and Jing Fong.

To do AJ Peabody's idea of a deli--which I also like... Second Avenue Deli will rent out their second floor. I don't know how many it seats.This could be a situation where the group splits in half for dinner.
https://2ndavedeli.com/

I really like the prices at ClarkGriswold's Westway Diner. Wow! Cheese, chicken salad and BLT's are all less than $6, and ham and cheese less than $7, with coleslaw and pickle even. A little additional for carryout packaging. I'm wondering if you could place a big order of sandwiches for one of your days, in addition to eating there.

https://www.westwaydiner.com/Menu

Grand Central Terminal has a great food court. We really enjoyed it. So does Chelsea Market. But both will be crowded. Eat early. Examples at Chelsea that are served:

https://ny.eater.com/2016/3/21/11273...-what-to-order

Chelsea Market

Regarding point 5-- We had surprisingly good sandwiches when we went to Ellis Island. I would price the options at all your destinations. Because that is one less time you are moving the group.

And for your final day, I'm wondering if you could order boxed lunches that you take to the airport, or eat on the bus, allowing you to actually do a final activity. Between packing and eating, otherwise you won't have time. I would spend a little time on New York Delivery sites, not just yelp and restaurant sites. See what New Yorkers order out.

Last edited by 5alive; Feb 2nd, 2019 at 01:03 PM.
5alive is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2019, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kristinesonja View Post
I'm planning a NYC trip for 60 high school band students for 5 days in March.
They are traveling from South Florida and will take part in a music festival at Carnegie Hall.

The Carnegie package includes: transport from Newark Airport to our hotel, Westin at Times Square, one subway pass, a Broadway Show, instructional session with clinicians, Carnegie performance and banquet at Hard Rock, tickets to Top of the Rock.

My challenge is to put together some sightseeing plans and meals, on a tight budget.

Itinerary:
*Saturday arrive in Newark about noon. (maybe an afternoon in Times Square and walk to Grand Central Terminal?), then dinner and our Broadway show (Wicked)
*Sunday we have free time for sightseeing (maybe bus tour to Harlem for lunch at Sylvia's) , then our instructional session, maybe Pizza at John's of Times Square?
* Monday is free time for sightseeing until 1pm when we have to be at Cargenie Hall and then attend a dinner at Hard Rock.
*Tuesday is free until we head to the airport at about 2pm.

So I would like to consider: Central Park (maybe ice skating if the weather allows), Museum of Natural History (if we have bad weather a need an indoor space),
maybe a street market? Maybe Brooklyn Bridge? Maybe Ellis Island or Statue of Liberty? Maybe 9/11 memorial?
I'm at the point where I'm plotting these options on a map to see which work together. Or are their other ideas? (Looking for free admission attractions and landmarks like Grand Central Terminal)
So are you hiring buses to take your group places? You don't actually say that.... just want to confirm.
Your time blocks in more detail:

Saturday: Arrive Newark Airport Noon. Arrive hotel at best, 1 or 1:30 pm? Are you ordering buses for this ride with suitcases?
Wicked show starts at 8 pm at Saturday, so you want to be there at 7 pm. Figure you need to leave your dinner spot by 6:20?

Sunday, when do you have to be at Carnegie? What time could you be at dinner?

Monday, 1 pm you have to be at Carnegie. Is there somewhere in the backstage where you guys could eat lunch? That would give you time to actually see something in the morning.

Tuesday--do you need to arrive at 2 pm at Newark for a flight later? Or is 2 pm the time the plane actually departs?

-----------
A few thoughts...


Cooper Hewitt is a design museum right by Central Park. The current exhibits look interesting for both girls and boys. Free for kids under 18. You might want to call them and ask them if there is a certain number of students/per adults required for this. If it works out, it might allow you to split up between Central Park and the museum.

I know you are mostly looking for free. But have you thought about a group tour at the Tenement Museum? You might explore it.

https://www.cooperhewitt.org/visit/plan-your-visit/

https://www.tenement.org/groups-school.php

________

Regarding Statue of Liberty, what is usually suggested here is to take the Staten Island Ferry to see it. Far less expensive and less time than the formal ferry ride out and back. Having never done that route, I can't tell you more. I did take the full ride to the Liberty Island, got off, saw what there was to see, got back on the boat, went to Ellis Island and then back. We did spend more time on Ellis Island than some. But the whole thing would take way too long for you to make your commitments at either Carnegie Hall or back at Newark Airport.

5alive is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2019, 01:22 PM
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I don't think very many high school teens are interested in "street markets". Not sure what that means, but of all the things you could do, I wouldn't do that. Do you mean an indoor food hall? I just don't see the point, they aren't going to be buying groceries and cooking. I don't think they have authentic street markets in NYC like they do in France, for example. Some are just expensive high-end stuff like Canal St.
Christina is online now  
Feb 4th, 2019, 11:46 AM
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Take this or leave it, but I think the idea of trying to keep 70 kids and chaperones together in NYC is a very bad idea. I'd take the number of chaperones and divide them up into much much smaller groups of about 10 people with similar interests and give them some options. It will be easier for chaperones to keep an eye on ten kids than to try to herd 70 together everywhere (unless you are indeed providing point-to-point bus service ... that's a very different thing, but you said everyone was getting a subway pass, which is more typical for spring school group trips). Have them all buddy-up in case they get lost (and make sure they have a copy of their itinerary on their phones). Make sure you gather up all their individual phone numbers so you can do group text updates easily. Finally, please give the New Yorkers a break and don't try to get 70 kids simultaneously on a crowded subway platform and into the same car at the same time. I see big groups trying to do this all the time, and it's a nightmare for everyone. It also takes you three times as long to do anything. I know there's a tendency in a big city to think of safety in numbers. It's quite the opposite. You will impede everything in a crowded place by trying to keep everyone together and make it harder. I know some will disagree with me, but as a New Yorker, I absolutely hate spring trip season, when I see giant groups of students trying to go everywhere in a huge mob.

It will similarly make food easier. Yes, you could probably book a party room for 70 people, but then you're going to increase the cost of food to $40 or more per person (especially at 2nd Avenue Deli, which is on the expensive side), and I'm guessing you don't have the budget for that. If you split up and eat at places that interest kids, it will be easier, and you'll be able to make dinner reservations for 10 instead of 70. Ninth Avenue has a lot of cheaper eateries: Thai, Mexican, Mediterranean, Greek, etc. It's going to be well-nigh impossible to have a meal all together except at Bucca di Beppo (not great food but a good idea if you are a huge group .... and they probably have a large group coordinator). Better, though, would be Tony's Di Napoli, which is actually a New York place rather than a big chain. If you talk to them soon, they can probably accommodate the whole group for one meal and give you a decent price. My suggestion? Have all your large group meals at lunch. The restaurants will be more accommodating than if you try to hit them with 70 people during the pre-theater dinner rush. And they are likely to accommodate you. Then the kids can grab fast food for dinner.

Someone suggested arriving for Wicked at 7pm for an 8pm show. For goodness sake don't do that. The kids will be just standing around for over 30 minutes waiting to get in, and it might be cold in March. Arrive no earlier than 7:25. There will be lines, but they move quickly, and they will get everyone in before the show starts and still give everyone time to hit the restrooms. No show allows anyone in until 30 minutes prior to the performance. I see tourists line up, and I just don't understand why.

I also saw a recommendation of Tad's Steaks. Egad. I think they went out of business in 2015 and were horrible even then. NYC's answer to Sirloin Stockade. Skip the "dirty water" dogs and get a really good, inexpensive NYC hot dog at Gray's Papaya (which is grilled, not boiled); lunch or dinner for under $8. The cheap 99-cent Pizza places might also satisfy the appetites of hungry high-schoolers. Similarly, Orange Julius has been out of business at standalone stores for over a decade; I think they are sold at Dairy Queen still. But the idea of a sit-down Asian meal is a good one, and it can be done for under $15 per person.

Dallas BBQ (there's on 42nd Street around the corner from your hotel) has a group dining coordinator and can probably get you a meal for $20 per person.
If you have the app, you can order Shake Shack en masse and eat in the room, but the restaurant is too small for 70 people.
There's also a 5 Guys near the hotel on 42nd Street
The Row NYC has a good food hall called City Kitchen with Dough donuts (but they are about $4 each)
Your hotel is near John's Pizzeria (call to see if they can do big groups ... it's a huge place).
There's a Gristede's grocery store on the corner of 49th/8th Avenue, which has a huge street-level food court type place where you can get bagels and pastries and such.
Dunkin Donuts is a good idea if you want to pick up a huge amount of food in a hurry.
Lenwich (on 9th Avenue between 43td and 44th actually has reasonably priced breakfast items, and it's good.
doug_stallings is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by doug_stallings View Post
Take this or leave it, but I think the idea of trying to keep 70 kids and chaperones together in NYC is a very bad idea. I'd take the number of chaperones and divide them up into much much smaller groups of about 10 people with similar interests and give them some options. It will be easier for chaperones to keep an eye on ten kids than to try to herd 70 together everywhere (unless you are indeed providing point-to-point bus service ... that's a very different thing, but you said everyone was getting a subway pass, which is more typical for spring school group trips).

Have them all buddy-up in case they get lost (and make sure they have a copy of their itinerary on their phones). Make sure you gather up all their individual phone numbers so you can do group text updates easily. Finally, please give the New Yorkers a break and don't try to get 70 kids simultaneously on a crowded subway platform and into the same car at the same time. I see big groups trying to do this all the time, and it's a nightmare for everyone. It also takes you three times as long to do anything. I know there's a tendency in a big city to think of safety in numbers. It's quite the opposite. You will impede everything in a crowded place by trying to keep everyone together and make it harder. I know some will disagree with me, but as a New Yorker, I absolutely hate spring trip season, when I see giant groups of students trying to go everywhere in a huge mob.
Doug, I agree with your premise. In fact, it is for that reason I suggested she shoot for 7 pm for the show. Because it takes so long to move 70 people anywhere, they will shoot for 7 but will in fact arrive at 7:30. I probably should have been honest about that with her...but that was my intent.

I didn't see the subway pass in her post. Schools, sports teams, choirs, bands, scouts... all have child safety rules and they're all different. But often they require that at least two registered/background checked adults be present. This is both to prevent abuse, and in the event of a medical crisis, accident etc. It would be good to know what her thoughts are, or any school rules. If they could eat at restaurants up and down the same street, as you mentioned, that would work. I"d be surprised if they could just spread out all over the city. (As to the platforms, that sounds awful. I'm sure it's a nightmare for New Yorkers. Most big big trips my kids have gone on, we've had a bus. And even if the bus is going slowly, the kids are corralled and no one is getting lost on their way to Brooklyn by mistake.)

Regarding the phone numbers, absolutely, yes, yes and yes. Also have a shared google doc each person's name/Phone number, so if there is something you really need to tell just a subset of people.

Originally Posted by doug_stallings View Post
It will similarly make food easier. Yes, you could probably book a party room for 70 people, but then you're going to increase the cost of food to $40 or more per person (especially at 2nd Avenue Deli, which is on the expensive side), and I'm guessing you don't have the budget for that. If you split up and eat at places that interest kids, it will be easier, and you'll be able to make dinner reservations for 10 instead of 70. Ninth Avenue has a lot of cheaper eateries: Thai, Mexican, Mediterranean, Greek, etc. It's going to be well-nigh impossible to have a meal all together except at Bucca di Beppo (not great food but a good idea if you are a huge group .... and they probably have a large group coordinator). Better, though, would be Tony's Di Napoli, which is actually a New York place rather than a big chain. If you talk to them soon, they can probably accommodate the whole group for one meal and give you a decent price. My suggestion? Have all your large group meals at lunch. The restaurants will be more accommodating than if you try to hit them with 70 people during the pre-theater dinner rush. And they are likely to accommodate you. Then the kids can grab fast food for dinner.
OP indicated she was interested in Carmineís. I took that to mean that she went on Yelp and looked at the prices. It takes like, 30 seconds to do. Second Avenue Deli is not any more than Carmineís; there are many sandwiches, salads and omelets that are about $20-25. Both venues have items that are well over that, but she's going to have to talk to her chaperones and make sure the kids don't buy the prime rib, no matter where they go.

https://2ndavedeli.com/menus/dine-in-take-out/

https://www.yelp.com/menu/carmines-i...are-new-york-5

I would avoid formal sit down meals when you have a deadline of getting everyone to a rehearsal or performance right afterward. I would have to strongly disagree with your idea to have a big meal at lunch given the schedule she described so far. Except for the first day, they seem to have to be at Carnegie at about 1 pm, every day. Except the last day when they need to be at Newark Airport at 2 pm. Iíve done a trip where this has been tried. It was very stressful making the performance in time, and we just had to walk to the venue.

Except for the first night with Wicked, they have evenings entirely open. That doesn't make fast food a bad idea then either. But their evenings are free.

Originally Posted by doug_stallings View Post
There's also a 5 Guys near the hotel on 42nd Street
Doug, I've read and appreciated a lot of your past advice. I'm sure all your other restaurants are good choices. But 5 Guys uses peanut oil for their fries, and peanuts are everywhere. The likelihood of at least one kid having a peanut allergy, I would pick something else.


5alive is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 07:01 AM
  #18  
J62
 
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"But 5 Guys uses peanut oil for their fries, "

That's interesting to know 5Alive. Do you have a listing of the fry oil used by other places in NY as well so they can find out what place is safe?
J62 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 11:08 AM
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Please remember the prices at Carmine's are for family style plates, not individual. And it would probably be good for kids.
IMDonehere is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
"But 5 Guys uses peanut oil for their fries, "

That's interesting to know 5Alive. Do you have a listing of the fry oil used by other places in NY as well so they can find out what place is safe?
I'm afraid I don't. 5 Guys is a national chain. It's well known for this.
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