The Scratches Take Manhattan, Part 3

The Empire State Building

[Click here for Part 1  |  Click here for Part 2]

You know what’s cooler than standing on top of the Empire State Building? Standing on top of another building that affords you a great view of the Empire State Building. Thus, we opted for …

Step Seven (continued):the Top of the Rock. Not only is the view spectacular (as shown above), but, in keeping with the guiding principles of

The Official Daddy Scratches Guide to Family Fun in New York City … for Broke-Ass People!™,

tickets to the Top of the Rock for a family of four total anywhere from $6 to $176 less than those for the Empire State Building (depending on which of the four Empire State Building ticketing options you choose) … which means we’re well on our way to making up for those $10 bowls of ice cream!

Zan on Top of the Rock!

If he can make it here, he can make it anywhere.

Us on Top of the Rock

NYC Travel Tip: Did you bring an umbrella or extra layer that you no longer feel like lugging around? No problem! Just stow those unwanted items in the enormous bags underneath my eyes!

“But Jon, what if my kids get bored while standing on the roof of an enormous skyscraper with a spectacular view of the greatest city in the world?” Hey, listen: Today’s kids need constant stimulation … which is why the Top of the Rock observatory also features a room whose walls and ceiling are comprised of motion-sensitive banks of multi-colored lights! And you know what that means, right? NYC Dance Party! Hell yeah, y’all!

♪♫ Oppan Gangnam Style ♬♪

Gangnam Style Dance Party in NYC
NYC Dance Party 1
NYC Dance Party 2
NYC Dance Party 3
NYC Dance Party 4
NYC Dance Party 5
NYC Dance Party 6
NYC Dance Party 7

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, it’s time for …

Step Eight: Remember that Christmas tree I mentioned? It’s at the foot of Rockefeller Center, the building that houses the Top of the Rock. If you time things right (which we did), you can watch darkness fall on the city, see the buildings light up, and then check out the tree when you come back down to street level.


The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza
Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

The bad news:
Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza does not fit into the Daddy Scratches’ Official Guide to Family Fun in New York City … for Broke-Ass People™ budget plan.
The good news:
The wait would have been insufferably long.
Plus, also: Ice skating? Meh.

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Look! Bonus trees! Free of charge!

What the pictures above fail to capture is the unbelievable crowd crush in which one finds oneself when one visits Rockefeller Plaza on the first Sunday in December … which also is the first Sunday of the year to follow the annual Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony. The last time I was in a group this large and this tightly packed was during Woodstock ’94. (We will not pause here long enough to do any math that might make us realize how long ago that was and, therefore, how terrifyingly old we have grown.)

And because I promised to wrap things up in this entry, let us move swiftly through the remaining steps of our adventure, shall we?

Step Nine: Get the hell out of Rockefeller Plaza.

Step Ten: Grab a couple slices of pizza at some nasty-looking pizza joint because your exhausted-and-on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown youngest child has refused to eat at the several other places you’ve suggested, and this is not a battle you deem worthy of either your time or energy. (Translation: Let’s not screw up an otherwise delightful day, OK?)

Step Eleven: Decide to pretend you’re one of those people who can afford to take a cab.

Step Twelve: Abandon all hope, ye who attempt to hail a cab in Times Square during a prime theater-going hour on the first Sunday in December.

Step Thirteen: Stare death in the face a second time as you return to lower Manhattan via the subway. (Bonus points if, instead of taking an express train, you take the local, thereby increasing both the duration of your ride and the likelihood that disaster will strike.)

Step Fourteen: Board the ferry and head back to the mainland.

Horrible picture of the Statue of Liberty

Though the fog has lifted, my complete inability to take an in-focus, long-distance, nighttime shot through a plate-glass window on a swift-moving ferry remains.

My little lady with her little Lady Liberty

Consolation prize: A clear shot of my little lady with her
little Lady Liberty.

And thus concludes our Big Apple adventure, my friends. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. I know I sure did. In fact, all my smart-ass remarks aside, I can honestly say that this was one of the most fun and special days my family has ever had. As someone who didn’t see New York City until I was 25, and who subsequently fell in love with the place, it was an incredible experience to take my children for their first visit at ages 7 and 9.

The best part? They fell in love with it too … which guarantees that our first family adventure in NYC most definitely won’t be our last.

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  1. Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    *sigh* One day… day, I will get there.

    Glad you had fun – all smart ass remarks aside. Your children will remember it forever. And that? That is priceless.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: Groupon…who knew it could tell you something new about the town in which you live?My Profile

  2. Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like an awesome adventure. Forget the broke-ass part. I think it just forced you to be creative and you guys did cooler stuff!
    Laurie´s most recent blog post: By the Skein of my TeethMy Profile

  3. Posted January 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I love great broke-ass trips! There is always something exciting about doing something, anything, for free in one of the most expensive cities anywhere. NYC is one of my daughter’s favorite haunts – and cheap ‘cart food’ her favorite meal. Great trip and great memories for all of you.

  4. Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely loved the photos and the commentary, but I am so darned tired after all that walking I feel like my feet are on their last legs….or something like that.
    Rilly´s most recent blog post: A Not-So-Tall Tale……My Profile

  5. Posted January 30, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Still haven’t seen that report from Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Top of the Rock though is the way to do it for sure. Oh, and the subway, after dark? Piece of cake. We stayed in Harlem and regularly took the subway from Time’s Square to Harlem after dark. Oh, and Harlem is suweet!! Check it out too. ;-) Love the pic of Lady Liberty with your munchkin holding Lady Liberty.
    Smokeynall´s most recent blog post: The First Goalie Post.My Profile

  6. Shelley
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Love, love, love NYC! It is a great place to visit and not a place I would like to live. :)
    Moved south a year +ago, but we used to go there on dates, see shows with girlfriends and scope out the cart food and cheapest shopping. There is no city that parallels New York. My best friends says it is the best place on earth if you don’t mind waiting in a line everytime you have to pee! LOL
    Glad your kids enjoyed it. Next time do a picnic in Central Park, that is a great way to watch the (very interesting) world go by…

  7. Diane
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    as a native NY-er long ago displaced to far-away lands, I thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious thrills! Your photos made me very nostalgic and, as always, loved your humorous comments. For my next upcoming visit I’ll be on about the same budget as yours, so thanks for the ideas….by the way, can you share details about the secret hideaway so I can enjoy a cocktail if I sell my car?

  8. Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Looks awesome, and I love the pictures. Hope to see you soon somehow!
    Father Muskrat´s most recent blog post: should i stay or should i go?My Profile

  9. Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Great series! Looks like a wonderful trip – and one my family might attempt at some point. Cheap-ass trips are usually more fun for kids anyway.
    MILF Runner´s most recent blog post: Friday Five: things about me that seem to piss people off…My Profile

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