I first fell in love with New York City when I was 11 years old. My mom and I arrived at Grand Central Station in the heart of Manhattan and stayed at the Edison Hotel, which is still standing.
I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Shopping at Macy's, getting my hair cut, walking on Broadway and staring at the tall buildings made an everlasting impression on me. My favorite of all was our visit to Radio City Music Hall to see the movie "Mr. Roberts" and the fabulous Rockettes.
I have carried on this tradition throughout the years. My daughter, Shai, was only a year old when she took her first train ride from Connecticut to the "big city." We have made New York our special town ever since. We have tried to get back each year calling it our "New York Injection."
Just recently, against the advice of many, I introduced my 4-year-old twin granddaughters, Alex and Grace, to this wonderful city. You might think what could 4-year-olds do in New York City?
We rode the double-decker bus and toured the city, saw the Empire State Building, went to the Broadway show "Beauty and the Beast," rode the horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, visited the Plaza Hotel, where the movie "Eloise" was filmed, went shopping at the American Girl Store, where you can buy a doll to match the personality and coloring of your child, took a picture in front of the Edison Hotel, saw Spiderman on the streets of Broadway, had lunch at Rockefeller Center and watched the ice skaters and started down to the financial district to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. However, it was getting late in the afternoon, and I was afraid it would be difficult to get a cab back to our hotel, so we skipped actually going to visit the Statue of Liberty.
One year later, the twins keep telling us they couldn't get a good look at the lady with the green head. Therefore, we must go back to New York.
When booking in New York, choose a place close to Times Square, where 42nd Street and Broadway meet. It may be more expensive; however, you are within walking distance of Radio City, NBC Studios, Fifth Avenue, the theater district and many delicatessens and fine restaurants. I highly recommend Carnegie's Deli. You won't mind the wait. Pastrami on rye, New York cheesecake or whatever you choose will not disappoint you.
Purchase a multi-day pass on one of the double-decker sightseeing buses. You will be able stop at So Ho to shop, Little Italy for some delicious Italian food, Greenwich Village for shopping and fine restaurants, visit Wall Street in action, catch the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, visit St. Patrick's Cathedral, stop off at Macy's or shop till you drop on 5th Avenue.
I recommend you purchase your theater tickets in advance; however, in the middle of Times Square you will find a cash-only price ticket booth for same-day shows. I recommend you purchase advance tickets for Radio City, Madison Square Garden and most special events. The holiday shows featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall sell out far in advance.
Expect to pay around $30 for cab fare from the airport to your hotel. Expect to pay the bridge toll. Always look for the light on the top of the cab to be sure you are in a legitimate cab. In all the years I have visited New York City, I have never had a bad cabby. You should have seen my twins hail down a cab.
Consider a visit to Grand Central Station, where you can have a gourmet dinner or glass of wine under the magnificent ceiling display and a chance to people watch. There are also several shops. In the evening, you might want to go to the top of the Marriott for dinner or a cocktail where the view of New York City is breathtaking.
New York City is truly the "city that never sleeps" - the hustle and bustle of millions of people from all over the world going about their business, not noticing one another's differences.
It is one of the most exciting cities in the world and my favorite city.
Pat Kelley is owner of Port Orange Travel. She can be reached at (386) 788-3990 or by e-mail at Pat@portorangetravel.com.