Nieces in New York: Detailed Itinerary

My 11-year old twin nieces visited New York last week and we had a whirlwind time. They are that tweener age where they both like the playground and Forever 21.

Some of the best kid-friendly attractions in New York are quite remote, particularly the Bronx Zoo up in the Bronx, the New York Aquarium out in Coney Island, Brooklyn. With typical weekend subway service changes, these trips can be quite taxing, hour-plus subway rides that require plenty of distractions. Fortunately my nieces read, actual books, no less. That means weekdays can be much better for transport and crowds.

We did a mix of memories from my childhood visits to my grandparents in Brooklyn and new attractions. They are adventurous eaters, so much so that they even tried lotus root and congealed pig blood at Chinese hot pot. As non-parents this all was quite exhausting. We got high marks from my nieces, though.

Wednesday, November 13:

  • Late morning arrival to LGA after early start. Q70 express bus + subway into town.
  • Hot dogs and papaya drink at Gray’s Papaya.
  • Quiet afternoon in our neighborhood.

Thursday, November 14:

  • Homework and reading in the morning.
  • Shopping in Herald Square and Times Square.
  • Late lunch at Alice’s Tea Cup.
  • Momma Mia, tickets courtesy of a colleague.
  • Non-parent mistake: Cold Stone ice cream at 10:30 pm – girls wired.

Friday, November 15:

  • Homework and reading in the morning.
  • Late lunch at American Girl Cafe.
  • 5 pm Radio City Christmas Spectacular. They start exactly on time, do not be late. I saw this once when little. They have modernized with 3-D and video games, retaining some classic elements. It is now 95% Santa and token baby Jesus tucked in at the end almost as an afterthought.
  • Dinner in K-Town at Han Bat on 35th, my favorite Korean restaurant in NYC, open 24 hours.
  • Dessert at Korean bakery cafe Tous Les Jours. Asian French-themed bakeries are so cute, they always have adorable uniforms that look great on the women and make the men look very sissy (such as the light blue and white suits for male flight attendants on Korean Air).

Saturday, November 16:

  • Long slog out to Coney Island.
  • Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, so commit the sin of ketchup only.
  • Stroll on Coney Island boardwalk.
  • New York Aquarium, partially re-opened post-Sandy. There is maybe an hour worth of exhibits and the sea lion show is just 15 minutes. I am looking forward to the 2016 formal reopening, however at this point can only recommend submitting a donation rather than making the trip.
  • Over to Russian enclave Brighton Beach.
  • Dinner at only Uyghur restaurant in NYC, Cafe Kashkar. Superb.
  • Dessert at Russian bakery.

Sunday, November 17:

  • Even longer slog out to Bronx Zoo. Winter Experience ticket is good value, with all you can watch 4-D movies and all you can ride Bug Carousel. Monorail and shuttle carts do not run in winter, and JungleWorld is quite a hike from the rest of the attractions.
  • Hot pot at Happy Lucky Restaurant. Good quality, all you can eat option, so you can experiment. Girls loved mixing their own sauces. Watch out for the 15% automatically added on the Chinese-only receipt.
  • 3Q bubble tea at Vivi Bubble Tea.

Monday, November 18:

  • Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ because of some TV show, did it on a Monday early to avoid the weekend crowds.
  • American Museum of Natural History, my favorite NYC attraction.
  • Up to 110 St to catch the M60 to LGA.
  • Pop in to Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the way.
  • Giant pizza slices and Columbia University institution Koronet.
  • Dash on to the M60 for the slow, slow, slow ride to LGA. Local businesses scuttled last year’s plans to have Select Bus Service on this route so travelers just wanting to get to LGA share it with kids and their premium yoga outfit clad Uppper West Side mothers, and the Pathmark shoppers at 125 & Lexington.
  • Depart.

New York has so many things to offer all ages so no two trips could be alike. What do you recommend for kids and kids at heart?

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  • kodoma

    I laughed when I saw the late night sugar infusion mistake. You only do that once!
    I took my nieces to see Wicked, they loved it. And they enjoyed the singing staff at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. We went to a farmer’s market over at the Rock and the Nintendo store, and a trip to Book-Off. They are into anime so they were thrilled!

  • Joey

    I visited NYC for the first time when I was 12 years old back in the mid-90s and I still remember every single minute of it. I hope your nieces enjoyed their visit and if there was one thing I’d add, it’s to go to ABC’s GMA or NBC’s Today show one early morning. We did that and it was great to see Al Roker in person and be on TV (even for only 2 seconds.) They can tell their parents and their friends back home to watch out for them that same morning. I still do that with visiting friends as long as they’re morning people like me.