Monday, October 11, 2010

Family Friendly New York City Attractions

Walking in Central Park
New York City offers some fantastic family friendly attractions and activities.  If you are traveling with children, New York City can seem geared towards adults with a heavy emphasis on shows, food and shopping.  But, if you dig a little deeper, you will be surprised at what’s available for families.  Below, we have listed our favorite children friendly New York city sites.  We think these are the best in New York City and offer extraordinary experiences for children.    

There are plenty of great hotels in New York that can satisfy nearly any taste.  As we previously have previously written, if a hotel pool is a requirement for your stay, your choices are surprising limited.  But, there are a handful of good choices (click here to see our list of New York Hotels with Pools).   Beyond finding a New York Hotel with a pool, we offer you our simple, but good, list of our recommended friendly New York City attractions. 

Best Kid Friendly New York City Attractions
  • America Girl Shop609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, New York, NY 10017 - The The American Girl Shop is simply paradise on earth for young girls.  Resembling a high-end boutique with the latest American Girl clothes fashions, it is a shopping experience par excellence.  In the back of the store, there is a beauty salon with authentic styling chairs, vanity mirrors and real stylists that will recondition and style the dolls' hair.   Upstairs, there is a Doll Hospital where you can take your Doll for any repairs or other “procedures” which might be necessary.  Finally, the American Doll Store offers its own tea and dining room which is very popular for young girls celebrating their birthday in style with friends and family.  All in all, we think this is one of the best experience based kid stores in New York City (sorry boys, but the NBA store is probably a close second).  Visit:
  • Bronx Zoo - Looking for one for the world's best zoo?  Look no further than the Bronx Zoo.  The Bronx Zoo has a first rate collection of exotic animals, including elephants, gorillas, giraffes, polar bears, rhinos and leopards.  Getting to the zoo from downtown New York City is easy.  You can take a train from the Metro North station at Grand Central Station, or take one of the frequent BXM11 express buses from Madison Avenue direct to the zoo.  Trains from Grand Central Station on the Metro North Line stop at the Zoo.  Also, there are express buses (Look for the BXM11 Buses on Madison) that make pickups along Madison Avenue and go right to the Zoo. Visit: Bronx Zoo Web Site / Bronx Zoo Directions
    Central Park Carousel
    The Central Park Carousel – Central Park, New York, N.Y. - Continuing a tradition that remains ongoing since 1871, the carousel in Central Park is a beautiful old fashioned carousel.  Housed in a turn of the century housing, 57 ornately carved wooden horses await rides from youngsters.  It offers a simple pleasure from times long since past and is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the day.  While you are there be sure to stroll the paths, garden areas and sculpted ponds inside the park. It is a relaxing and expansive park setting and leaves one wondering how such a serene pace can exist in one the largest cities in the world  It’s no ordinary city park.  Visit:  Central Park Carousel 
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar - 1011 Third Avenue, New York, NY – What Willy Wonka did for the imagination; Dylan’s Candy Store does in reality. An emporium of sweets in all directions, it’s a veritable wonderland of candy which will have the kid’s wide-eyed and mouths wide open with awe. Dylan's is the most famous sweetshop anywhere, and its reputation is well deserved.  This New York City candy store is an absolute must visit, and parents we apologize for the post candy sugar rush that follow. Visit: Dylan's Candy Store
    Fun at Ellen's Stardust Diner
    Ellen’s Stardust Diner – 1650 Broadway, New York, N.Y. - Located in the Broadway Theater District, the Stardust Diner is a fun experience for kids and adults alike.  The dinner is a retro 50’s drive-in theater theme, but the real treat is the singing wait staff.  Comprised of aspiring Broadway actors, the staff will break out into a fully fledged Broadway style singing performance.  The wait staff is incredibly fun and very friendly and willing to kibitz.  The kids will eat it up.  Visit: Ellen's Stardust Diner

  • Empire State Building – 350 Fifth Avenue, 33rd & 34th Street, New York, N.Y.  -  Visit the Empire State building and go to the observatory level for a panoramic view of New York City.  A giant Gorilla greets you at the entrance.  Views from the observation floor are exhilarating.  It also worth trying to take a photo of the entire building from street...keep on backing up…it will give a good sense of just how tall this building really is.   The Empire State Building is unique because it was built from stone materials long before the age of steel and glass.  For a really fun time, bring along a DVD of the original King Kong Movie for a family movie night and then bring the kids the following day.  It adds to the fun and mystery. Visit:  Empire State Building Schedule & Tickets
     Stuffed Annimal Wild Kingdom
    FAO Schwartz – 767 Fifth Avenue at 58th Street, New York, N.Y. - FAO Schwartz is the mother of all toy stores in New York’s City.  Located across from Central Park, FAO Schwart
    z is child’s dream come true.  Offering the latest and greatest in toys, this store has something for everyone.  But, perhaps the part we like best is the extensive stuffed animal collection.  A virtual Noah’s ark of stuffed animals of every kind sprawls across the main floor, including amazingly huge stuffed animals (although one wonders how you could ever transport them home).  If you do venture into FAO Schwartz keep in mind you have zero likelihood of escaping without buying something and prices are not at a discount. Visit:  FAO Schwartz - New York City
  • Grand Slam - Times Square, Broadway between 46th and 47th Street, New York, NY. - Grand Slam is the king of New York souvenirs ranging from the popular FDNY tee shirts and caps, to all things you can possibly imagine that can bear a New York Yankees logo.  This store is aimed a tourists but is still loads of fun for sports minded kids.  Visit: Grand Slam - New York
  • NBA Store - 666 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street, New York, NY. - For the kid who loves basketball, this is your 3-story hoops heaven.  Authentic NBA merchandise is offered, including NBA jerseys and basketball shorts.  NBA players make appearances at the NBA store and will sign autographs.  Check the web site to check for appearance times. Visit: NBA Store in New York City
  • Manhattan Children’s Theater – 52 White Street (380 Broadway), New York, NY. -  The Manhattan Children’s playhouse is a children’s theater that puts on child appropriate productions based on popular fairytales and children’s stories such as Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Brothers Grimm stories.  These are high quality children productions for younger children.  Adults will enjoy them as well. Visit: Manhattan Children's Theater
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art - 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. – The Metropolitan Art Museum is one the world’s greatest art museums.  It houses an extensive collection of some of the most celebrated paintings and artworks ever produced.  The Museum will captivate many children, especially those with an interest in painting and art.  The Egyptian, Arms and Armor, Medieval and European Painting collections will be enjoyed by the kids. Visit: Met Museum
    Rexy at the Museum of Natural History
    American Museum of Natural History – Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, N.Y. - The Museum of Natural History is loaded with fun collections and interesting exhibits which will surely capture the fancy of any child, as well as the parents.  From Egyptian mummies and sarcophaguses, giant stuffed Elephants and wild beasts, dinosaur skeletons (including the now famous “Rexy” from the movie Night at the Museum which greets you at the front door), knights and armor, American Indian relics, totem poles and more.  The Museum of Natural History is an outstanding attraction for families. Try watching the movie Night at the Museum the night before, and then the kids will actively hunt out the exhibits. Visit:  Museum of Natural History New York
  • SONY Wonder Technology Lab - 550 Madison Ave. & 56th Street, New York, N.Y. – The Sony Wonder technology Lab is an engaging and well done interactive computer exploration environment for kids.  The exhibits include creative interactive applications with cutting edge technologies.  Interactive displays include virtual surgery stations, animation workstations,
     and nanotechnology and robots stations. Visit: SONY Technology Lab New York City
  • Theaterworks USA - 121 Christopher St, New York, N.Y. – Located in Greenwich Village, Theaterworks is a highly acclaimed family oriented theater production company.  Shows are available only on weekends, but the performances are top notch.  Performances cover children’s classics such as Charlotte’s Web, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Seussical. This is a top notch theater which young and pre-teen will love. Visit:  Theaterworks New York

  • The New Victory Theater – 209 West 42nd Street, New York, NY. - Located in the Broadway district, the New Victory Theater is a youth theater with a little more edge to it, and probably better suited to teens and more mature children.  Performances run from the macabre to the more juvenile avant garde style.  The interior of the theater is stunningly ornate and with just 500 seats viewing is spectacular. Visit: New Victory Theater

Monday, September 27, 2010

New York Hotels with Pools

Another Thanksgiving and Christmas season are just around the corner, and New York City is a popular holiday shopping getaway because it offers some of the best stores in the world, as well as great holiday entertainment.  Among the classic holiday activities for visitors to New York City are visiting the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Square, catching the annual Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, and stopping off at FAO Schwartz for out of this world toys.  If you are bringing children along, they will have loads of fun taking in the intoxicating holiday spirit that infects New York City.  But like any family with young ones, accommodations must include a hotel with a pool.  Surprisingly, the number of New York hotels with pools are limited and even those that have them offer fairly modest sized pools.  But, thankfully there are a few New York good choices.  Below, we have listed some good family friendly New York City hotels with pools that are worth considering.


Sheraton Manhattan New York Pool
* Most Family Friendly NY Hotel Pick
Sheraton Manhattan Hotel - Most Family Friendly New York Hotel- 790 7th Ave & 51st St, New York, N.Y. This New York Hotel is the best New York City hotel option for families considering overall value, its location and sizable pool. The Sheraton Manhattan Hotel offers a 4 lane, 50 foot pool which is the largest hotel owned pool in New York, even if it is small by backyard pool standards. For those looking for some relaxation at poolside, there is a pleasant and inviting deck lounging are a.  The Sheraton Manhattan also is relatively close to Broadway and Times Square which makes it an ideal choice for those seeing shows.

Crown Plaza Times Square Hotel Pool

Crown Plaza Time Square Hotel - 1605 Broadway & 49th Street, New York, N.Y. - This downtown New York City hotel is located in the heart of Times Square.  The Crown Plaza Hotel at Times Square offers a 4 lane, 55 foot pool in association with the New York Sports club. The seating and lounge deck area is limited, but usable. Because the facility is shared, two swim lanes are usually roped off for lap swimming , which reduces the usable size of the pool for kids looking to frolic. However, this New York hotel is a nice alternative for those who want to be right in the Broadway and Times Square area. Also, the Crown Plaza is usually a good choice for those on tighter budgets.

Le Park Meridien New York Hotel Pool
Le Parker Meridien Hotel- 119 W. 56th Street, New York, N.Y. - This midtown Manhattan Hotel has a 45 foot, 3 lane pool with a very pleasant upscale pool seating area. The views from the pool are outstanding and look out on to Central Park. This New York Hotel pool is small and can get quickly crowded.  But it will serve families well that desire a more upscale family friendly New York Hotel.

Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel Pool

Mandarin Oriental New York- 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street, New York, N.Y. - The Mandarin Oriental is a luxury Manhattan, New York hotel and its pool facilities are fitting of its luxury status. The Mandarin Oriental New York is considered by many to offer the most luxurious New York City Hotel pools setting. Large floor-to-ceiling windows provide great views of New York City. The pool lounge area at the Mandarin is impeccable and elegant and the lounge chairs are super comfortable. Despite being the best in town, it may not be the best for a families with active children.

Peninsula New York Hotel Pool
The Peninsula Hotel New York- 700 Fifth Avenue at 55th street, New York, N.Y. The Peninsula New York is another luxury New York Hotel with pool facilities that rival the Mandarin Oriental's.  Located on the 23rd floor of the hotel, there is a glass enclosed pool area with a chic asian minimalist d├ęcor that is offers a quite and calming atmosphere. At night, excellent views of the city provide an enchanting atmosphere. The pool with serve children well, but  adults will certainly appreciate the overall experience.

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel Pool
Millennium UN Plaza Hotel- One United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. - Located in the United Nations Plaza area, this New York Hotel has a 3 lane, 44 foot pool. The Millennium Plaza Hotel is a deluxe level New York Hotel located close to the United Nations Building . The Hotel's pool is located on the 27th floor and provides impressive views of New York. The pool's lounge area is a bit on the small side but provides enough space for some down time.

Trump International Hotel Pool

Trump International Hotel and Towers - This is our least favorite New York Hotel with a pool in terms of children, but if there are no other suitable options, it might just do the trick. It is a fine choice for those in search of a daily lap swim.  The Trump International Hotel has 2 lap pool which part of a large exercise and fitness facility. It is really designed as to be part of the fitness amenities rather than a pleasure pool.  The Trump Hotel in New York City is a five star hotel and despite the small pool, it provides outstanding amenities and service, and is also located in a prime area right on Central Park.

The Author is a contributing editor to New York Hotels by RoomRate is a leading provider of online hotel booking with no fees and bargain hotel rates direct from hotels around the United States.

For more information on New York Hotels with Pools please visit: New York Hotels with Pools .
For a resource to all New York hotels, including great up to the minute official New York Hotel deals, you can click here:  New York Hotel Deals.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hotel Safety Guide

Hotel safely is not high on most people's list when travelling. Visiting a new destination is about fun and relaxation, and escaping the usual worries of life.  Heck, that's what vacation is all about.  However, there some things that you should not cast aside and one is using common sense safety precautions.  When it comes to staying in hotels in unfamiliar locations, it is important to exercise some precautions.  Here are some helpful hotel safety tips which can help to make your visit safe and enjoyable.

Learn Your Surroundings.  When staying at a hotel property you will likely be in an unfamiliar location.  Take time to survey your surroundings and understand what "kind" of area you are in.   Typically, there are clues to the level of safety which residents and local perceive to exist.  Check to see if the local neighborhood is well kept or if the area is rundown with gang graffiti, empty storefronts or iron bars are on store and house windows.  Are the streets well lit?  Is there a lot of loitering going on? Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask the front desk about street safety and places which are advisable to avoid.  It is important if you will walking or jogging around the area.  Also, be aware that often a relatively safe urban area can be bordered by a more risky area  within a relatively short distance.

Parking Areas & Rear Hotel Entrance Areas.   Hotel parking areas and garages can make for great locations for opportunistic criminals.  The best deterrence is areas that are well lighted.  If there are areas that are better lit than others, choose a well lit area and preferable one which is viewable by others from the street or hotel.  When exiting and entering in your car, pay attention to your surroundings and scan the area for any suspicious persons who are hanging out or watching you.  If you feel nervous, there is usually a reason and you should act on your concern and return to a safe location until the threat is gone.  Most hotels lock their entrances later at night.  If you are returning after hours have your key card readily available for quick entry into the hotel.  This is especially important if you are using a hotel side entrance or rear entrance.  You should never permit a person who does not have their own key to enter through a side or back door entrance. Finally, if you feel uncomfortable or feel a person who in a hotel area is suspicious, you should avoid the situation and report your concern to the hotel's security staff.  

Fire and Other Emergencies.  When you go to your hotel room, take a moment to understand where you are in the hotel's premise and where the nearest fire exists are located.  Many hotels have confusing and disorienting layouts.  Find where there are two or more fire exits, because  one fire exit may be unusable and you may need to find another exit out.  Usually, fire escape and emergency information is posted on the back of the hotel door or located in a hotel reference book in your room.  You should always visually confirm where the exits are so there is no second guessing in the rare case of an emergency.  If a fire alarm sounds, prepare to evacuate, and follow the hotel’s instructions.  If there is an alarm and there are no instructions or cannot hear them, you should evacuate and proceed quickly to the emergency exits.  Do not waste valuable time trying to gather personal effects or changing your clothes.  Put on your shoes and coat if they are close by and leave immediately.  Even if you don’t smell or see smoke in a fire situation, it does not mean there is no fire present.  Before opening your hotel door check to see if it is hot to the touch.  This is an indication that fire is present and it is dangerous to open your door.  If there is a fire and you cannot evacuate your hotel room, get towels from the bathroom and wet them down and place the wet towels at the bottom of the door.  Also block any vents to prevent smoke from seeping into your room.  In all cases of emergency, the best assurance for a good outcome is remaining calm so you can think.  Most cases of serious injury or death are often the result of bad decisions made in a state of panic.  During a fire, stay close to the floor where there is less smoke.  If you are stuck and you feel you are in danger, call the local emergency number (usually 9-1-1) and request assistance.  Give the public safety officer your name, the name of the hotel, your room number and any other information that can assist fire and emergency responders in locating you.  If your hotel room phone does not work, use your cell phone, or vice versa.  If you have no communication, go to your room's exterior window and create a visible distress signal using any colorful objects or materials that are on hand and wave them back and forth to attract attention. If possible write a massage on a sheet and hang it from the window and move it back and forth.  If you are physically challenged or unfit, you should request a room near the ground floors to make your exit easier in the event of an emergency.

Bolting the Hotel Door.  When you are in your hotel room, you should always keep it locked and use the siding deadbolt bolt or chain lock for additional safety.  These extra lock bolts protect against unauthorized or forcible entry.  You should not open your hotel door to unknown persons.  If a member of the hotel staff appears and they have a known reason for being present.  If you have any questions regarding a hotel staff member’s identity or reason for knocking on your door, call the front desk before opening the door to verify their purpose.   If you experience an attempt at forcible entry, call the front desk immediately and call for assistance.  Forcefully tell your potential assailant that you have called and help is coming and to immediately leave.  Try to keep the door closed until help arrives.  However, if there is a gun present move away from the door and out of site and aim, and retreat to another room with a locked door if possible.  Try not to create opportunities for assailants by allowing them to know if you are in the room and observe your movements.  If you are on the ground floor or in a location where the inside of your hotel room can be seen by others from the outside through, keep the drapes drawn closed so that you and/or belongings cannot be viewed.

Keep Your Keys and Room Information Private.  Do not give your room number to a person you do not know, and keep your hotel room number and room key safely stored and out of the view of others who may try and steal it.

Be Careful Around Pools and Hot Tubs.  Hotel pools are great fun but many are not attended with a lifeguard and you swim at your own risk.  Do not enter a hotel pool if you cannot swim unless a person is present who is responsible for your safety and capable of a water rescue.  Also, be sure observe the water depth markings and understand where you will be over your head.  Do not leave children unattended in pool areas even if flotation devices are available.  Avoid using hot tubs if you are pregnant or have a medical condition which may be aggravated by an increase in body temperature or blood pressure.  Do not  allow young children to enter hot tubs.  They are small and their body temperature heats up much quicker.  Serious injuries and on occasions deaths have resulted.

Keep Young Children Supervised.  Do not leave young children unattended in your hotel room.  If you are on an upper level floor with an outdoor balcony or movable window, be sure to check that the windows and doors are locked and secured.  Make sure that young children cannot open them, and use the breaker bar for any sliding patio or large window.  Also, do not permit young children to play near elevators, and keep them from climbing around railings or other places where they may fall, especially for hotels with atriums and rooms looking out to the lobby floor below.  If there are games rooms or other entertainment venues for children at your hotel, keep them in your sight at all times.  Always know if there is a secondary exit through which children may leave or others may enter without your knowledge.   

Lock Your Valuables.  Don’t leave valuable s unlocked in your hotel room.  If you must bring along valuables you should use the hotel room safe.  Also, most hotels have their own house safes and you can ask to use them as well.  If are leaving valuables in the hotel safe, try to discuss your needs privately and don’t communicate the nature of the valuables in earshot of others.
About the Author.  The author is a Senior Editor for  RoomRate is a premier consumer friendly hotel booking site.  RoomRate provides hotel deals direct from hotels with no booking fees, and does not charge its own cancellation fees and penalties like many other travel web sites.  Roomrate offers great hotel deals direct from tens of thousands of hotels in the United States for all cities, including places like New York Hotels , Atlanta Hotels Miami Hotels and Boston Hotels, to name few.