Welcome to my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip where I share our adventures along the way, how we’re doing this on a budget, honest reviews of attractions & restaurants we visit, and money-saving tips and ideas. If you missed it, read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, and Day 6 here.
We had SUCH a fun adventure in NYC and I had a terrible time picking the pictures to share with this post, because there were so many I wanted to share!
It was my 4th time to be in NYC, Jesse’s 2nd time, and our kids’ first. The first time I came, I was overwhelmed. This time, it was still thrilling, but it felt much more familiar and much easier to navigate (even though the subway is still a challenge!)
Riding the Bus from New Jersey
Instead of staying in the city, which would mean we’d also have to drive in the city (something we wanted to avoid!), we took a bus from our hotel in New Jersey to the Port Authority Bus Station in Times Square. It cost $8.50 for a round-trip ticket for ages 12 to adult and it’s $4.25 for kids 11 and under.
This was our first time to stay outside the city and this worked really well. It was also much cheaper and simpler than trying to stay in the city ever would have been.
When the bus dropped us off at the bus station, we then walked to Times Square for a little while. Our kids basically stood in Times Square with their jaws dropped. “You see the pictures, but it’s nothing like actually being here!” Yup, that’s the truth!
9/11 Memorial & Museum
After spending a little time in Times Square, we took the subway to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and spent the afternoon there. The memorial is beautiful and such a poignant reminder of the lives lost.
Some things you should know before visiting:
- The memorial is free to visit, but the museum is a little on the costly side (though they were incredibly kind to give our family free press passes since I’m a blogger and would be blogging/sharing on social media about our time there).
- If you are wanting to go and can’t afford the ticket price, they offer Free Admission Tuesdays where you can get in completely free from 5 p.m. to close!
- They also offer discounts to FDNY/NYPD/PAPD and free admission to military members and 9/11 Families & Rescue and Recovery Workers.
- They allow you to bring water bottles and sealed snacks into the museum. We had these in our backpack. However, they asked us to check our backpack at the coat check as they don’t allow you to carry around large bags/backpacks in the museum. (Update: Here’s what I found out about bringing food into the museum from the staff there: “Food can only be brought into the museum if it is completely sealed and put away. Then it can only be eaten in the upstairs atrium of the museum. In other words, if you brought a closed bag of chips in your purse, we wouldn’t ask you to throw it away before entering the museum, but we would ask that it only be opened in that designated area.”)
- It was really chilly in the museum (at least for me!). I wish I had brought a sweater. It’s mostly all underground and is a lot bigger and more spacious than I expected.
- The main exhibit chronicles the entire day of 9/11, as well as what led up to the attacks, and how America responded. It was very, very well done and, even though I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of videos on 9/11, I learned quite a bit. They did a really amazing job of honoring everyone impacted and affected by this tragic day and honoring those who lost their lives.
- The topics and videos might be upsetting to very sensitive kids. Again, I went through the museum with Silas (8) in order to explain things to him at his own level of being able to take it in. We mostly skipped over the part where it talks in-depth about terrorism and the attackers because I felt like he isn’t quite ready to take all of that in just yet and it would be pretty overwhelming for him and possibly a little scary (especially since he was SO impacted by the Berlin Wall display at the Newseum and has brought that up over and over since then).
I would strongly, strongly encourage everyone to make going to the memorial and the museum a priority. I’m so glad we went — just like Arlington and the Holocaust Museum, it was a heavy sort of experience, but one that is an important piece of our history and that we want our kids to understand.
Staten Island Ferry
We then walked to the Staten Island Ferry to take a round-trip on it. It was almost 7 p.m. when we left, if I’m remembering correctly, so we got to see amazing views of NYC and the Statue of Liberty — at dusk and at night.
I would highly recommend making this Ferry Ride a priority if you visit NYC. It’s such a fun experience and it’s the best price: FREE!
Times Square & Good Conversations
We then took the subway back to Times Square and decided to let our kids get a little taste of NYC at night. We walked around with the eclectic masses of people for awhile and then splurge on Frozen Yogurt with toppings and a Tiramisu Crepe at 10:30 pm at night!
And then we road the bus back to our hotel and got in around midnight! I thought everyone would be ready to crash (I sure was!), but nope! The kids wanted to process the day and talk about their thoughts and feelings about the whole experience!
That’s one of the beautiful things about this trip that we didn’t really expect: the questions that our kids asked and the conversations that have resulted from all the experiences we had and the many varied and interesting people from all walks of life that we met and saw and interacted with.
I feel like it has expanded their horizons, deepened their appreciation for our country, and given them a very different taste of culture outside of Kansas and Tennessee!
Next stop: Boston!
To be continued…
Have you been to NYC before? If so, any inexpensive or free suggestions of places to visit or things to do?