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!
“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 ♬♪
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.
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.
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.