NY in May for the whole family
April 27, 2010 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Highly Specific Travel Filter: What can my family do — together — in New York in May?

I've been living in New York for the past two years, and my family is coming to visit for a week next month. We're having trouble finding activities we can all agree on, and I'm having a hard time thinking outside of the MOMA/Met/Natural History Museum/Staten Island Ferry box. Can you help?

We are:
  • Brother, 19, interested in video games, guitars and anime.
  • Sister, early 20s, interested in musical theatre, music education and art.
  • Mom, interested in museums, biking and being outdoors.
  • Dad, interested in computers, space, science and technology.
  • Me, late 20s, interested in all of the above.
We'll probably split up some days so mom & sister can do one thing while brother & dad do something else (I'll float back and forth), but it would be great to find some things we can all do together. We'll be based in Morningside Heights but willing to travel to the ends of Queens for something really cool.

I'm thinking MoCCA (for my brother), the NY Hall of Science, the Intrepid (for my dad), renting bikes and riding through Riverside Park, a trip to The Cloisters, and a long wait in front of the TKTS booth. What else? I'm pretty familiar with the mainstream museum circuit and am more interested in things I may not have heard off, random movies/plays-in-the-park types of things, and places you've personally been.

Bonus points for cheap/free things or if you can recommend one of those all-in-one NY passes that would help us keep things inexpensive.
posted by rebekah to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Guitars: B.B. King's in Times Square often has good guitarists playing.

Musical theater and music education: Julliard and Lincoln Center, as well as Broadway.

Computers: A tour of the New York Stock Exchange is an impressive display of computing power. Though I don't know if that's actually that interesting. As for space: Hayden Planetarium is often suggested, but, frankly, if your father has any sort of knowledge about space and its related science he will find Hayden Planetarium woefully underwhelming and unimpressive. Though, architecturally, its building is interesting.
posted by dfriedman at 4:55 PM on April 27, 2010

Do they like The Daily Show? You could take them to a free taping. You do have to wait on a long line in the middle of the day, but it's worth it. It sounds like something they would all enjoy.
posted by amethysts at 5:19 PM on April 27, 2010

How about the Paley Center for Media?
posted by billtron at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2010

Go to Governor's Island and rent bikes. It's car free, has old forts and may have arts or other exhibits depending on the weekend. Great views of downtown Manhattan, Statue of Liberty, NY Harbor, etc.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:49 PM on April 27, 2010

This is completely off the wall, but will you have access to a car? May is just when upstate New York becomes absolutely beautiful.

If you can get a car, take everyone out for a day trip up along the Hudson River. There's a lot of history up there: West Point Military Academy and all of the Revolution-era forts and such along the river, the Roosevelt Library, and so on. Bear Mountain State Park has a few decent hiking trails and an impressive view of the entire Hudson Valley from the top of the mountain. All of the small towns and villages along the way are absurdly picturesque and they'll all have a local pizza place or deli to get lunch.

If a car isn't an option, you can also get to a lot of interesting stuff by taking MTA's Metro-North Railroad. The Hudson Line runs straight up the side of the river for the most part (has amazing views, probably my favorite part of coming back to NY to visit my parents in upper Westchester County) and will get you pretty close to a lot of cool places.
posted by spitefulcrow at 5:56 PM on April 27, 2010

Guitars, musical theatre and technology: check out The Tank, in Hell's Kitchen, an awesome performing arts space which occasionally hosts work-in-progress musicals, local rock bands, and performers doing all kinds of weird/neat things with the technology available to them. Also, consider one of the musical improv groups at places like the People's Improv Theater.

Outdoor movies: Rooftop Films begins its 2010 program in a few weeks.
posted by Ash3000 at 5:57 PM on April 27, 2010

Also, the Studio Museum in Harlem is a decidedly underappreciated art museum, and worth checking out - adding b/c even people familiar with the mainstream museums in NYC sometimes don't know about it.
posted by Ash3000 at 6:02 PM on April 27, 2010

May is Bike Month and there are all sorts of group rides and bike related events.
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2010

Not quite anime, but your brother might be interested in the "Double-edged sword" film series going on at the Japan Society. If he's interested in Manga and artbooks as well and doesn't usually have access to decent Japanese bookstores, he would probably enjoy poking around the Kinokuniya Bookstore (which has a large collection of manga in both English and Japanese, art books, anime and various collectibles) and Book Off (which specializes in used Japanese books and features inexpensive manga, although there are plenty of English books upstairs as well with some excellent) both of which can keep a manga nerd occupied for hours. They're also very convenient to the New York Public Library's 5th Ave branch and Grand Central Station, which your family would probably enjoy seeing besides.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2010

Go to the Highline on Tuesday night and stargaze with the Amateur Astronomers Association.
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:46 PM on April 27, 2010

Seconding the People's Improv Theater, but for general enjoyment, particularly the Harvard Sailing Team (which is sketch, not improv) (they do do music sometimes). Fun for the whole family in my experience. (The Upright Citizen's Brigade is also great.)

Two stores on Broadway in Soho that visitors tend to love, in my experience:
Pearl River Mart ("art" and Asian kitsch, Brother + Sister)
Muji (Asian design and technology) (Brother + Dad)
(the new-ish Museum of Art and Design in Columbus Circle is also good for this, and when I went I thought it was the kind of place that made everybody go "wow!" regardless of their interests).

Speaking of Columbus Circle, if you can go to a show at the Allen Room in the Time Warner Center in the evening looking out over the park, it'll probably blow everybody's minds.

On nice days there are probably pretty good NYU students playing music in Washington Square, which Brother might enjoy, and Mom could be outside. There's a cool guitar shop near there on Bleecker but I can't remember the name of it.

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (towards Manhattan, starting in Brooklyn) is another outdoors activity that should be enjoyable for all because it's just so cool.
posted by rustcellar at 6:48 PM on April 27, 2010

The Bronx zoo is free on wednesdays...and is awesome...take the overhead tram from the entrance to the bird house/monkey house (you can't miss those) and work your way back...if that's too far out of the way, the zoo in central park is pretty rad, particularly the jungle house and penguin habitat (a great way to cool down on a hot day)...Coney Island? (the brooklyn museum is nearby...great collection of armana-period egyptian art, there) ...sounds like everyone would have a good time at the hayden planetarium at the AMNH...
posted by sexyrobot at 7:26 PM on April 27, 2010

American Idiot on Broadway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2010

You don't need to wait on the TKTs line. TKTs is always a crapshoot, but their South Street Seaport location (or Brooklyn) usually has a much shorter wait. This way you can get tickets to something and enjoy the rest of your day.

MoCCA is worth visiting, but small.

Coney Island? (the brooklyn museum is nearby...great collection of armana-period egyptian art, there)

The Brooklyn Museum is nowhere near Coney Island. It's about a 35-40 minute train ride away.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:51 PM on April 27, 2010

For any long lines, plan something specific to do while waiting. Bring trivia cards, create a cooperative story, play 20 questions, whatever. Make it a thing you do everytime you have to wait.

And you know that the TKTS office in South Street seaport usually has shorter lines, right?
posted by CathyG at 9:52 PM on April 27, 2010

The Brooklyn Museum is nowhere near Coney Island.

der. your're right...the aquarium is right by coney island (also fun)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:53 AM on April 28, 2010

cmgonzalez, the South Street Seaport TKTS location opens at 11 on Thursdays; what time would you recommend getting there before it opens? Any idea how long of a wait to expect? I think I'll be there on a Thursday in late May.
posted by jroybal at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2010

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