Help a mom fill up (almost) two weeks worth of downtime in NYC
January 24, 2011 2:34 PM   Subscribe

My mom is visiting me in NYC for two weeks, while I have a full time job. What can she do during the day that is fun and safe?

My mom is coming to visit me and rubberkey for two weeks, she's staying so long because we both have jobs and she wants to make sure to get plenty of visiting, but that also means lots of downtime from 10-6 M-F.

So, what does a just-over-the-edge-of senior mom do the rest of the time by herself that would be cheap or close to free? She's moderately comfortable with the city, but the safer/easier the better.

Ideas we have already:
Museums: MoMA, Met, AMoNH
Libraries: The big one and the one with Winnie the Pooh
Central Park (brr)
Statue of Liberty

Suggestions need not be touristy, could just be a pleasant experience, nice views, etc.
posted by Brainy to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Which two weeks? We might be able to provide some date specific suggestions.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:36 PM on January 24, 2011

Feb 1—15th.
posted by Brainy at 2:37 PM on January 24, 2011

I enjoy just wandering around Chinatown. It will be cold out, but there are a ton of little teashops and restaurants where she could get a quick, cheap lunch.
posted by Adridne at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2011

Here's a calendar of free events during that period.

I'm going to look for more.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:42 PM on January 24, 2011

The Tenement Museum can only be seen by guided tour, which might be best for her--when I've gone, everyone else has been even older than me.

Ellis Island has a self-guided tour.

The Museum of the City of New York is swell.

Expedia lists quite a few tours of the city--the Rockefeller Center tour is very good. I know lots of people claim to hate tours, but good ones give more information than you might pick up on your own, and who knows? Maybe she'll meet a kindred spirit and have someone to have lunch with, etc.

(The Wall Street Financial Crisis Tour sounds inadvertently hilarious.)

Can you also arrange for her to do something out of character--get a massage, go to a day spa, and so on?

And shopping in Orchard Street and in the garment district is fun, too. Mood Fabrics is always a great stop.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:07 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library has free movies Monday afternoons at 1:30pm, and the Borough Park Branch has them on Thursdays at 2pm, and there's Scrabble at the Windsor Terrace Branch Library on Tuesdays at 11am.

At Film Forum, those over age 65 pay $7.00 for shows Monday-Friday before 5pm.

You can connect your mom with a free tour guide, by filling out a Big Apple Greeter request form. This volunteer organization pairs local guides with visitors, and itineraries can be tailored to individual interests. (Might be a little late for this trip, alas.)

Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival
Date: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Where: from 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. in Roosevelt Park (between Grand & Hester Streets)
The firecracker detonation, with expected attendance by local politicians and community leaders, is intended to ward off evil spirits. A large stage will feature all-day cultural performances by traditional and contemporary Asian-American singers and dancers. Plus, a dozen lion, dragon and unicorn dance troupes will march through Chinatown’s main streets, including Mott Street, the Bowery, East Broadway, Bayard Street, Elizabeth Street and Pell Street.

A guide to free arts institutions and events.

Another free events guide.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Top of the Rock observation deck
Grand Central Terminal
Radio City Music Hall's stage door tour
The Guggenheim, Whitney, Transit Museum, International Center of Photography, New Museum, The Frick, The Forbes Galleries
Church of St. John the Divine
Grant's Tomb
TKTS matinees
A long, leisurely lunch at Del Posto ($29 weekday prix fixe is a steal) followed by a stroll through Chelsea Market

See also Now in NYC and Upcoming (ignore the timestamps on top of these blog entries, Amy is constantly updating them).
posted by kathryn at 3:12 PM on January 24, 2011

If it's not too cold, she would probably like the Circle Line Tour. I did and I was only 24 at the time.
posted by something something at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2011

Museums, museums, museums. Also other cultural stuff - for instance a ticket to MoMA gets you free access to their film programming. Usually there's a schedule at the entrance to the museum of what films they're showing that day. Lots of classics, foreign, and accessibly arty stuff.

Big Onion, if it's not as frigid in February as it is right now.

I also highly recommend the Tenement Museum, especially if you have any of the typical East Coast immigrant roots. Ellis Island, too, though I've never actually been, myself.

She'll also be ideally placed to eat lunch at one of Eataly's first-come-first-served restaurants. I've been to the pizzeria, which was amazing, but Manzo is the most sought after (if she eats meat, of course).

Oh, and she should also eat at Shopsin's!

If she's a morning person (and, again, if it's not quite as freezing as it's been lately, or maybe if you guys are originally from North Dakota), the Flower District would be a nice early morning stroll.

That kind of time, too, means that she'll have ample opportunity to just hang out like a local. Surely you have a neighborhood coffee joint, interesting food market, place for neighborhood people watching...? My parents visit about once a year, and lately they've started to enjoy their time pretending to be New Yorkers.
posted by Sara C. at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2011

While it may only take 5-10 minutes to do this is certainly worth a gander, it has been on my To-Do list for a while:

Secret Restored Subway Stop
posted by darkgroove at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

The suggestions here are great! Another point, I don't know if you're a native, but pretty much everything is "safe," except (maybe) looking lost, clueless and expensive in off-the-beaten path neighborhoods.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:54 PM on January 24, 2011

And may I suggest that she register her cell phone with Hop Stop? So useful when you don't know the city well.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:55 PM on January 24, 2011

Adding the highline to the excellent del posto+chelsea market suggestion above. All my visitors seem to love it. And an early latte at Eataly (seconding that too!) on the way there. Yum!
posted by bquarters at 6:08 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

HopStop gives universally terrible directions, and their app seems to crash on me every time I actually need it. Some people swear by it, but, actually, I find that just looking at a subway map is a lot more useful.
posted by Sara C. at 6:26 PM on January 24, 2011

Museum of the Moving Image is fun.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:26 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have to second the suggestion to go to the Tenement Museum. They have a typical tenement building set up so that each apartment reflects the life of a family that lived there during a particular -- different for each apartment -- time period. The guides give you a tour, explain how the building was affected by various attempts to make life more livable through regulation and tell you the stories of the families. I found it truly, truly remarkable.

And don't forget about those half-price off-Broadway show tickets. Who doesn't want to do that on a trip to NY? The show may be in the evening, but the line in in the morning.
posted by driley at 2:55 AM on January 25, 2011

These are all great, great suggestions! Especially when people have seconded or thirded ideas, that immediately puts it to the top of the list (like the tenement museum).
posted by Brainy at 7:53 AM on January 25, 2011

Hopstop has always been pretty shitty for me.

Google Maps has a "Transit" overlay that you can turn on that puts the colored lines of the subway down, so you can see where each one goes, in addition to the little "M" map markers for their stops.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:37 PM on January 25, 2011

My mom has an iPhone which has Google maps which uses the subway system so I don't think she'll get lost, I should have mentioned that. Thanks.
posted by Brainy at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2011

« Older I want to be poked, proded, and flush with cash   |   Slightly late or slightly early? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.