This was by far the best day in New York and now the kids really want to come back. I planned the day with the kids interest and passions in mind. We started with a Financial Tour – The Wall Street Experience. The tour was two hours and excellent. It included great revolutionary history in the tour. It included background information about what caused the financial crisis. I would recommend this tour even if you are not that interested in finances. Cobey really wants to go into the New York Stock Exchange and already working on this for the next visit.
We then headed straight for the 911 Museum. We only had a little over an hour and we did not have near enough time. Our friends went and stayed six hours. The museum is intense powerful and thorough. My only complaint was there was too many people allowed in at one time. Despite the crowd, people were quiet and introspective more so than any museum I have been to. The kids want to go back when we have more time to spend. This time we had to go for Clare’s part of the day
I signed her up for a private tour with SEEK. We got on the subway going the wrong way but we made it to our meeting spots only a few minutes late. The tour did not disappoint. Our tour guide Liz started with giving us background about the fashion district and fashion history. Some of the history went along with our tour the day before at the Tenement Museum. After the history part, she then took Claire shopping. We went to a bead store, three trim stores and three fabric stores. Claire had a ball and we had the best guide. Liz gave great advice and encouragement. They became instant friends. The tour was a little over two hours and since we skipped lunch and it was now almost five, we were starved. With advice from Liz, we headed to John’s Pizza. It was a great meal. They have gluten free pasta but I had a wonderful salad. The kids loved the mozzarella wedges and cheese ravioli. Cobey was disappointed with his wings but otherwise good meal. We then headed for Dylan’s Candy Bar. The Dylan’s Candy Bar was a very sweet ending to a great day.
This was our last day with Carolina Homeschoolers. We started our morning at the Tenement Museum. We had walking tour of the East Side. The guide did a great job incorporating photos to show what the area looked like at what time and what life would have been like. It was a a hour tour and very informative. We then did a short program where the kids got to identify artifacts. The last activity was a tour of two tenements and hearing the story of two families that lived their. One was a family from 1880 and the other 1920. It was great to compare the two homes. We then walked to Katz’s Deli. It was a fun place and they were fast.
We had free time that afternoon and the kids picked the American Museum of Natural History. The place is huge and we only had two hours. We decided to do the National Treasure Tour. We found all the exhibits from the movie which were throughout the exhibit. Cobey and I really liked Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific People. I would love a guided tour of that area. After this museum was when Cobey decided we had to come back. There is so much more to see and learn there. We can’t wait to go back!
Last time we were in NY the pedestal was closed for renovations, We spent a long time in the museum and the pedestal we really enjoyed it. Claire listened to the kid and adult version of the audio tour. It was a great morning/afternoon.
I would not come again during Memorial Weekend. One of the reasons we homeschool is to be able to travel in non peak times. The New Yorkers may have been away but everyone else was at the Statue Liberty today. It took almost an hour to get back on the ferry to go Battery Park. It took an hour and half to see the Empire State Building last night.
We walked around the financial district and grabbed a late lunch early dinner. I then gave the kids a map and told them they had to get us back to our hotel. I told Claire to get us to the bus terminal and Cobey to get us to the right bus. They could not ask me for help but they could ask other people. Claire found the right subway stop we needed, bought our tickets and then got us to the track. She had to ask which train on the left or right but she did great. Cobey guided us to the bus stop, got bus tickets and then got us to the correct gate. He almost let us get off one stop early but other than that he did great. I was very proud. And they were back in time for Claire to swim.
We had a wonderful full day in New York today. Last night we joined up with Carolina Homeschoolers which was great to have someone else do the planning. The best part was joining up with our friends – the Johnson Family. The theme today was Broadway. We started with a tour of the New Amsterdam Theater. The theater is beautiful and the history was interesting. The best part was when the kids got to try on the props from past shows. The next stop was a theater workshop where they learned part of a song and dance from the musical Aladdin which we got to see after lunch. The workshop and play were Claire’s favorite activities of the day. Cobey’s favorite part was lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This is a diner where the waitstaff sing the entire time. They are all trying to make it on Broadway. My favorite activities were Aladdin Musical and the tour of the theater. I thought the workshop was a great experience for the kids. We ended the day with Empire State Building. We had a great day!
Yesterday we made two stops on the way to NYC. The first stop was the science museum in Syracuse- Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) . We spent about two hours there. It was much smaller than Pittsburgh. We watch a Planetarium Show called Zoo in the Sky which was good. The kids favorite exhibit was where they could fly planes.
The next stop was Fort Stanwix which was built at the end of the French Indian War and where a siege took place during the American Revolution. There was a reenactment going on so the fort was full of folks in costume which made it even more fun. We spent about two hours which was rushed. I wish we had time for tour also but we had to head out.
We had another full day. The weather was rainy on and off all day but most of what we had planned was indoors so it worked out okay. We finished the activities on both passes. The first stop was the Floral Showhouse which was part of the Nature Pass. This was a huge disappointment. It had a room with the world’s largest flower and one other room full of hydrangeas. Outside there were lot of tulips. There was not much to it. We moved on from there to Butterfly Conservatory. Claire loved this place and it was in her top picks for the two days. It was bigger than some we have been to but basically the same.
We next went to Laura Secord Homestead. The Canadians are very proud of Laura Secord who traveled 20 Kilometers on foot to warn the British where the American’s were going to attack. It then took her 50 years to get the recognition she thought she deserved. The next stop was in both kids top three activities- MacKenzie Printery. We first heard background information about William Lyon MacKenzie , a rebel printer. The kids got to typeset their names and print a paper with their names on it. They also got to print a bookmark on a different machine.
We drove through the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. I love this town and wish it was beside the falls. It was old and quaint. We then went to McFarland house. We learned more about the War of 1812 and how upper class lived at the time. The last stop before we crossed the bridge to the US was the smallest church in the world.
We made it to Fort Niagara just in time for the last movie and guided tour. We had two hours and we were rushed to see it all. We loved this fort. We learned so much more about the War of 1812. The fort was built by the French which is different than other forts that we have visited in the states. One of the top three activities for both kids during the two days.
After we left the fort, I wanted to go see the American side of the falls. It started raining on the drive. We parked and went to this large gaudy store. Clifton Hills is Myrtle Beach and the American side is South of the Border. It is tacky and not decent places to eat. With the rain and hunger pains, we decided to skip the falls on the American side and headed to dinner. Overall great day and fabulous visit to The Falls.
Yesterday, we spent the day in Pittsburgh. We quickly realized we could not do it all and had to come back. Claire picked to go the Heniz History Center to start the day. We really enjoyed a new exhibit – Treasures of the Arbia. It is about a sunken Steamboat that has been recovered. We also liked the glass exhibit and What is it? Cobey liked the small exhibit on the French Indian War. There is a large sports exhibit also. The museum is great at having interactive activities with every exhibit. We spent over two hours and could have easily spent longer. We saw every exhibit at a steady pace.
After the History Center, we decided to take the Duquesne Incline up the hill and have some lunch. You have to have exact change and cash for the incline so be prepared. We picked that one because quite frankly it is red and cuter. After we got to the top, we had lunch at Monterey Bay Fish Grotto. A friend recommended it and she did not steer us wrong. The food was delicious and the view was amazing. Claire had the best looking crab cake I had every seen. It was a huge crab lump with lots of meat. Cobey had a steak burger and I had trout. Everyone gave it five stars. We then headed down to spend the after at the Carnegie Science Museum. The museum is great. We spent about three hours and could have spent the day. It is very interactive in ever exhibit and had a great show that taught great vocabulary without them even knowing it.
We plan to return to do Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Andy Warhol, and the Ducks Tour. But for now we were off to drive to Ontario, Canada. If you are taking your kids without your spouse out of the country, be sure to take a letter of permission. The Border crossing was a little interesting. We arrived not too terribly late and checked into Embassy Suites- Niagara Falls. The hotel is really nice. It has the layout I love with the bathroom in between the two room. The bathroom has a huge Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There is a fridge, microwave and two extra sinks also in between the two rooms. And the best part I am sitting in my room watching the lights on the falls. It is beautiful!!
We arrived late last night and we were looking forward to a great view this morning from our room. We were disappointed when all we could see was mist and fog. We decided we wanted to do the Heritage Trail Pass and Adventure Nature Pass. We will see if we can get it all done in 2 full days. Today, we started at the south end of Niagara Parkway at Fort Erie. We watched a 30 minute film about a battle during War of 1812. Then we had a tour of the fort with a guide in costume. Cobey talked the entire day about how 3,000 killed was not that many compared to some of our battles in the US.
The next stop was Journey Behind the Falls. We added this onto our Nature Pass. This was a bit of disappointment. It was the closest view by far we got of the falls. It is kind of cool to know you are walking in tunnels behind the falls but when you get to the cutouts you can’t see anything. They did have plaques with cool information in the tunnels. This one ranked last of all our activities.
The next stop was new Hornblower Niagara Cruises. This was an awesome experience. They ride the boat into the mist of the falls which is like a steady rain when you get that close. The ride is only 15 minutes or so but really fun. The kids loved it and quickly became their favorite of the day. Don’t worry about rain gear. Both the Journey Behind the Falls and the Hornblower Niagara Cruises provide you with these nifty rain ponchos.
We next went on the Whirlpool Aero Car. You ride in a open air cable car high above Class 6 rapids. The round trip is about 1 Kilometre. This actually exceeded expectations and we really liked it. It was a close second to the boats. We took the WEGO bus from the cruise to the car and back. Save your gas and the outrageous parking fees and use the WEGO which is included in the pass. It is easy to use. It will not work for the Heritage Trail Pass but for everything else you are good.
We finally ate at Hard Rock around 3:30 in the Clifton Hill district. The Clifton Hill is Myrtle Beach squeezed into a block. It is full of wax museums, haunted houses, mini golf, rides. I really think it is tacky. I decided early on today that this would not be a place I wanted to come back. We had a wonderful day and the falls are beautiful but all the commercialization takes away from it. I have seen overall more beautiful places in the world. I am glad I have been once but not on my return list. On my list to do again for sure is our last activity of the day. Shop for bargains, skip wasting your money at Clifton Hills and put on your must do list the helicopter ride with Niagara Helicopter. It was fabulous. They have a recorded tape of what you are seeing and a little history about the area. Cobey was thrilled to sit up front with the pilot. He said it was the best 11 minutes of his life. Claire was smiling ear to ear the entire trip. It was a huge hit. The only bad thing is that the rest of the trip will be a let down.
Today was an example of totally going off the plan. The plan was to go to the Flight 93 Memorial but I read about it more and threw out that plan last night. It is not complete yet. There is no visitor center and it was an hour out of the way. I gave the kids six choices to do over the next two days and told them they could pick two each. Cobey picked Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. I did not figure out till we punch it into the GPS that is not really in Pittsburgh. (about an hour and half away) Oh, Well! We made reservations on the way. We had some extra time so we were looking for something to do. Sometimes this works out well and sometimes not so much. The first stop was one of these not so well. We ended up at a picnic shelter across from trailer park. We didn’t stop. The next place was a state park and the cool thing was a truck was there full of fish to stock the river. He asked Claire if she wanted to see. This was cool since we had been to a fish hatchery before to see it.
We then went to Fallingwater. Even with our detours we got there early but they took us earlier than our reservation. There is a short walk to the house. Our guide was knowledgeable but not great The house is so phenomenal it speaks for itself. Claire fell in love with house. I knew my nature girl would love it because the house brings nature in. Cobey liked Biltmore better. There is another Wright house nearby but Cobey wanted to go to Fort Necessity and we did not have time for both.
Fort Necessity tells the story of the start of French Indian War and the only surrender of George Washington. There is a small museum, movie and then the fort. The fort is small and the kids were not very impressed. I think they thought they could do a better job in the backyard. We ended up with a short guided tour of the Washington Tavern before they closed. It was good but I would not go out of my way to go to it. We will see how Claire’s picks are tomorrow.
Every time we go somewhere that has themed statues around town , Claire wants to go see them all. For example, the Outerbanks has horses and New Bern has Bears. We never seem to have time to search them out. Today was a down day, Cobey wanted to work on his online class so I thought it was the perfect chance. We set out this morning to find the 14 apples in Winchester. We accomplished the goal several hours later with a stop at Target and lunch in between. Who knew driving around town searching for apples could make you so tired. I am glad we had the best driver and tour guide- Sue Selznick. Now that is DIAMOND service.
We had lunch at Piccadilly Public House which was scrumptious. I had the Martha Washington Salad with Shrimp. Clare had a crab cake sandwich and black bean soup. She did not care for the black bean soup but I love she is trying new foods. Sue had a burger and fried pickles. They had several gluten free options.
We love the Pineapple one because it reminds of us of how we always feel in Winchester- Welcome! Here is a link to the all. http://www.visitwinchesterva.com/PDF/ApplesonParade.pdf The number 6 one is missing. It blew away in a storm.