Great Places to Play in New York

New York actually has a great deal to offer young and old kids alike who enjoy very little better than playing a great game, video or otherwise. For those of you who enjoy this particular pastime, there are many unique opportunities in New York City in which you can participate in the games you enjoy so much while spending time with friends and family.

Astroland Amusement Park at Coney Island has much to offer the adventurous gamer. From thrills and chills on the midway to the Cyclone Roller Coaster and many wonderful rides in between, this park also offers arcade game rooms along the way where you can play video games of all kinds. This is great for those rainy days when you can't ride the rides or simply when it's just too hot to stand in line. It's also a great bonding experience for father and sun to play the games together and see who has the edge at any given moment.

Dave and Busters is a unique dining experience while offering a wide selection of gaming options. This is not your average arcade food by any means. In fact, this isn't your kids arcade or their arcade games. Dave and Busters offers good food and great fun under one roof and if you have the chance I recommend you take the big kid in you to try it out.

Finding Bargain Basement Accommodations

One of the things I've noticed through my many travels is that people often give up on the possibility of a good deal before even trying to get one. The art of bartering seems to be a lost art as is the art of comparison-shopping. When it comes to travel and vacation, every penny that you save on accommodations, food, and transportation is one more penny you have to spend on entertainment and adventure.

There are certainly plenty of both to be had in the wonderful city of New York and a vacation here is much like Alice's adventures in wonderland. There is just so much to do and see that it is almost impossible to know where to begin. I recommend making arrangements to save money before ever arriving in the city. One of the ways you can do that is by investing a little time each evening and making copious notes about whom you've talked to where and what they've had to offer you as far as price and perks for accommodations.

Most hotels today are quite willing to offer incentives to their guests in order to have warm bodies filling their beds. All good managers know that a filled bed earns them more money than empty beds under their care and the more money earned under their care, the more secure their positions. That being said, if you take wonderful notes about the other hotels you've discussed tentative arrangements with you are very likely to be able to strike a deal with one or more of them that is far more favorable then the original deal offered.

This of course, will not work if you are trying for a weekend that is likely to be a popular travel weekend so if you're considering a popular holiday or extended weekend for your trip this is probably not the best idea and you should probably be glad for any offer you can find. That being said almost any other weekend on the planet is fair game unless there are some very large and popular local events that may be drawing a sell out crowd for the local hotel industry.

Back to what I was saying, you can often not only get a better price by going between two competing hotels, but also added perks like tickets to shows, free meals, spa packages at the hotels spa, gift certificates to the hotel gift store. There are often little things a manager is willing to do in order to get your business with the assumption (often correct I might add) that he will make up the differences in add-ons and other purchases.

Some managers may get annoyed and confuse being frugal with being cheap. Please remember to tip properly. It's one thing to save money by being frugal and another thing to do so by simply being cheap. If you do not treat the staff well they will remember you long after you're gone. But that's another story all together. The trick is in always being polite when dealing with managers on the phone and going with your best deal.

It is also important that you realize the best deal may not be in the cheapest room. If you're getting one or two meals each day of your staying and only paying $5 0r $10 more a day for the privilege then you are very well coming out ahead in the bargain, particularly if one of those meals is dinner.

Family Friendly New York City

Many people forget that New York is a town full of families and plan their vacations without providing much thought to the entertainment possibilities that abound for children in New York City. It only makes sense that with so many families living in this city that there would be very many family oriented things to do and sights to see.

For instance, there are 5 zoos in New York City; some of them better known than others. The five zoos are Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Bronx Zoo, and Staten Island Zoo. Each zoo has something slightly different to offer than the others and if you have a true animal lover in your family there really is no harm in stopping by all of them. Also if you purchase the New York Pass you will find that most of the zoos mentioned above offer free admission to card holder.

For the child who loves drama, New York City offers many theatrical productions that might suit him or her just fine. The first is geared towards girls and is American Girl Place. You can enjoy dining, shopping, and theatre while spending a day with your special little girl. This is a great bonding experience for mothers and daughters. The Manhattan Children's Theatre produces several high quality shows for children and families throughout the year at quite reasonable prices (season tickets are also available for those who live nearby). The New Victory Theater offers a different type of theater experience for families to enjoy. The Paper Bag Players are a must see experience. They offer a different type of theatre for children that encourages audience participation that gets your children involved in the dramatic process. If you have the time you should also check out TADA! Youth Theater in order to show your children that even children have talents that need to be explored and can make a difference not only in their own lives but also in the lives of others.

In addition to the great activities mentioned above, there are several children's museums located in New York in addition to other museums that offer exhibitions that may be of interest to your children. The following museums are well worth checking out even if you decide to seek entertainment elsewhere: Brooklyn Children's Museum, Staten Island Children's Museum, Children's Museum of Manhattan, FDNY Fire Zone, Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York Hall of Science, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, Queens Country Farm Museum, and Ripley's Believe it or Not! Times Square. There are many more museums in the city that may provide plenty of family entertainment and education but these are some of the most kid-friendly museums in the city.

Shopping is a fun and often educational process that often gets overlooked or even ignored when it comes to children. However, it would be remiss to mention great family things to do in New York without mentioning some of the wonderful children's retailers that abound in this city. Books of Wonder is aptly named as it brings back those books that held such wonder for us as children and gives us the chance to share those books with our children. They have old and rare books as well as many excellent current book selections. New York is also home to the largest Build-A-Bear store in the world, which will make the bear lover in your family's eyes light up with glee. There's FAO Schwarz, which is a toy store unto itself and almost worth the price of the trip to NYC alone. Old and young kids alike will enjoy spending an afternoon here. Toys R Us Times Square is offering up a Dinosaur portion of competition however by brining in great attraction to get families in the door and buying toys. Be sure that you let your little ones ride the Ferris wheel and that you get a copy of the photograph as a keepsake.

New York City is gaining a reputation for a much softer far more family oriented side. Don't let the past reputation of this city prevent you from making this the family vacation destination it could be ideally suited to be.

Fabulous Fun for the Little Ones in NYC

If you're looking for great off the wall fun things to do with your children while visiting New York, there are a great many ways to enjoy your visit that you won't read about in most guidebooks. These are things that are a little off the beaten path but a great deal of fun for you and your child.

Baby Loves Disco is offered in Cielo and Southpaw once a month at each club allows a chance for parents and kids to enjoy a 'night on the town' of disco dancing, bubble making, juice boxing, and having a great time dancing the night away. You'll need to check with the clubs to find out when they are offered and plan to get there early as the popularity of this event is growing and there is generally a long line waiting to get in. Moms and dads love this almost as much as babies and it's a new enough concept that it is not something you'll see in just any large city. It is still a fairly new idea that is beginning to grow around the country.

Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz is a fun jazz show that gets the entire family involved and participating in the making of the music that is played. It is important to remember that jazz music isn't as structured as other forms of music and this makes it much more enjoyable and fun for the kids who participate and you get to watch your little darlings develop a deep appreciation for this wonderful music genre. The tickets for this are $8 at The Bowery Poetry Club. Whether you are hoping to cultivate a serious love of jazz music in your children or simply want to encourage them to explore music and the world around them, this is a great way to spend a part of your New York Vacation with your children.

In addition to these great activities that are a little off the beaten path there are many opportunities for your children to explore the arts by watching the wonderful musicals that are available on Broadway or in the many children's theatres around town as well as through programs that offer performances throughout the year at the many city parks in New York. It is never too early to teach your children to love and respect the arts, as these will be lessons that will last their entire lifetimes.

It is also a wonderful idea anytime you can get your children involved in activities that get them up and moving around. If the weather outside doesn't invite playtime it might be a good idea to check out the many indoor play areas that New York has to offer just to give them an outlet for their energy and get some much needed exercise that disguises itself as play.

The many parks that can be found in New York City make this a great place to visit for many reasons. One of those reasons, very simply, is the abundance of free entertainment that is available. The parks offer infinite opportunities during nice weather for children to get out, socialize, and exercise. This is something that many other cities around the U.S. would do well to take to heart. Find the activities and events that your child will enjoy most and seize the opportunity to enjoy those moments together.

Coney Island a New York Must

If you've never been to New York City, you can't claim to have gone unless you trek on out to the infamous boardwalks of Coney Island. It is important to understand first of all that Coney Island is only open seasonally so you have to plan your journey accordingly. The second thing that is important to understand about Coney Island is that it isn't one centrally owned operation.

The vast majority of attractions at Coney Island close either immediately or very soon after Labor Day. The beach and the actual boardwalk are open to the public year round, some times are simply lonelier than others. Nathan's Hot Dogs and the New York Aquarium remain open after the summer season has ended and operate most days throughout the year. The Coney Island Museum is Open on the weekend from 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM year-round. During the summer season when tourism is high along the boardwalk the two major theme parks: Astroland and Deno's Wonder Wheel Park sponsor firework shows on Fridays at 9:30.

The amusement parks of Coney Island are only part of the attraction but they work to bring many people to this very unique entertainment venue each and every year. Astroland Amusement Park is the largest amusement park in New York City. The Cyclone is the most famous ride in this particular park and this is a ride that is well known by roller coaster enthusiasts around the world. It is a wooden roller coaster that offers quite a thrilling ride. Other great rides at this park include the Astroflume, The Break Dancer, the Astroland Carousel, The Swings, Top Spin, Dante's Inferno, Power Surge, and Astro Tower. For the little ones there is a very nice selection of kiddie rides that will keep them entertained while older children enjoy some of the more thrill-oriented rides. If you're looking for a day of great food and great fun in the sun Astroland is a great place to be.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is most famous for its Wonder Wheel. The cars on this magnificent ride are red, white, and blue (rather patriotic of them wasn't it?) with swinging red and blue cards and stationary white cars. The Spook-A-Rama is another popular if not frightening ride that is offered at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. If you need a shot of thrills and spills try the Super Shot but only if you're 52" or more or the Thunderbolt, which has a 48" height requirement. And what day at Coney Island wouldn't be complete without a taste of bumper cars? There are also plenty of rides for the little ones to choose from on their outing as well.

For something a little more sedate than thrills and chills at the amusement parks, Coney Island is also home to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. This is a great way to learn about marine life and enjoy watching your children watching fascinating sea creatures they would be unlikely to see in other circumstances. There are more than 8,000 animals represented at the New York aquarium. Not only is this a fascinating adventure of its own, you won't have to sacrifice your hairstyle in order to enjoy it.

The Coney Island Museum is also well worth taking a peek. You will find relics of old rides and memorabilia of days gone by in the museum as well as incredible views of the rides available today. The admission price is rather affordable at 99 cents and it's a fun place to visit and get out of the sun for a bit. No trip to Coney Island is really complete without at least stopping into the Museum. Besides, these might be the cleanest restrooms on the island. Coney Island is one of the greatest things about a visit to New York. If you can schedule your trip to New York when the Parks are open and the boardwalk is bustling I highly recommend you spend a weekend night out on the boardwalk.

Broadway Makes New York Sing

Whenever I think of a trip to New York City whether for a vacation or just a short one or two-day visit I can't help but think of Broadway and the delightful shows that await in these hallowed halls of entertainment delight. Broadway is the essence of New York to me. It can in turns be bawdy, brawling, loud, rowdy, soft, romantic, comedic, and rip-roaringly hilarious. Broadway has it all for those who are willing to look for their perfect fit.

The problem with Broadway is that there are so many wonderful shows to see and such limited time (for most of us) in which to see them. I don't even believe those who live in New York City have enough time in which to appreciate the artistic treasure trove that is represented within this wonderful city that never sleeps. The truth of the matter is that in order to properly enjoy all the theatrical offerings available to you, you'd almost have to never sleep yourself.

Musicals

It is important to remember that all shows are not available at all times. Check to see if the show you wish to see will be playing during your visit before getting your hopes up. On to the musicals, which are, by the way, my favorite types of Broadway entertainment. Chicago the Musical, Forbidden Broadway (this one offers an hilarious 'spoof' of Broadway), Jersey Boys, Naked Boys Singing (yes, they are!), Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Wicked, and Mama Mia!

Comedies

Broadway is well known for thumbing its nose at convention as well as for letting it's hair down and having a good ole time. The same holds true for the Broadway theatre of today. Comedies and musicals on Broadway are not mutually exclusive so some of the hilarity mentioned below will have some degree of song and dance (well most likely quite a bit of both but you will definitely laugh). Let the comedies begin! I Love You, Your Perfect, Now Change (seriously, that's the name we're already off to a great start on the road to laughter). Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (I think someone's been peeking in my kids windows at night-this one is actually off Broadway but I thought it bore mentioning with such a catchy title and all). Spamalot. This one is rising star with rave reviews by critics and a fairly good attendance rate so buy your tickets early! The Producers, which was recently made as a motion picture and The Little Dog Laughed round up my list of comedies. I hope you've seen something here that looks like a good laugh; I know I've seen a few!

Drama

While many people think of the happy go lucky song and dance that is often associated with Broadway there is a deep dramatic flare to the offerings as well. Particularly some of the musicals that carry with them profound messages about music, life and love-among these wonderful icons of Broadway are the following: Rent- a very La Boheme meets modern life musical that is probably one of the best Broadway musicals I've ever seen and I'm a huge fan of Phantom. Les Miserables is another Broadway drama that really needs no introduction, Grey Gardens is perfect for anyone who fears becoming a cat lady or spinster, A Chorus Line, Chicago, The Color Purple, Phantom of the Opera (my personal favorite), and The Vertical Hour (this is a new one let's hope it lasts).

There are a few family friendly musicals and plays that bear mentioning among them are the following: Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera (may be a little frightening for younger children during certain scenes), Tarzan, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Momma Mia!, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Beauty and the Beast. You know your child best and what will or will not be frightening for them or possibly lead to uncomfortable questions for you, view most Broadway plays with that in mind.

Broadway is a great way to really enjoy what New York has to offer its visitors for entertainment. While it would hardly be possible to see each and every show that might attract your attention it is quite possible to make the time to view the one that is most appealing to you and it will be quite an experience for the entire family.