Returned last week from our 3rd trip to NYC. My husband and I traveled with our 3 teens girls, 13, 15 and 17. This was the first time I truly felt like I "got" the subway and felt oriented. We didn't get lost at all this trip! We stayed at the Salisbury, which was 2 blocks from Central Park. We love this city and already want to go back, maybe trying a different season next time (New Years Eve?!)
Subway tips that helped - Get a good, readable, laminated city/subway map with font you can see. I have street smart by vanDam. I actually ditched the Hop Stop App this trip and relied entirely on this map but my husband continued to use Hop Stop, so we ended up double checking our directions sometimes. I need a visual of where I am going. I would also bring a small compass or use the one on your phone. We had a frustrating time with our IPhones, even after downloading an update. The battery drained very quickly and we had spotty service, so the app wasn't always helpful.
We used the TKTS App to see what shows were available each day and decided if we wanted to work in a show. We didn't want to commit to specific times and dates so this worked well for us. Sometimes we split up with the kids depending on what we and they wanted to see. We saw Newsies, Kinky Boots (17 year old and myself), Pippin, Matilda and an off-broadway show, iLuminate, which was different and interesting but of course, not Broadway.
We also feel we have finally figured out meals and dining. We ate most meals on 9th Ave. We didn't have a plan or reservation but would walk down 9th Ave, read menus, and chose. Before walking in though, I would do a quick Tripadvisor search on the restaurant to read a few reviews (when my phone was working). The names of the ones I remember are Route 66 Cafe, Yum Yum (Thai), Island Burger & Shakes. They were all excellent and the prices about half of what you would find right around Times Square. We also went to Amy's Bread and bought chocolate chip bread sticks (love these), scones, etc., and ate that for snacks and breakfast in the room. Other places we ate at were Fluffy's Cafe on 7th Ave, along with a few diners, take out pizza by the slice, and "convenience store" delis, mostly along 9th Ave.
Places we visited this trip - Museum of NYC (they have a short film which I highly recommend. It gives a brief, interesting history of Manhattan), The Frick (teens weren't that interested but we liked it.), walked the Highline, walked around Chelsea Marketplace, visited the Anne Frank Museum (small but interesting with a 25 minute film), Free Tours by Food (lower east side), and did the Accomplice Greenwich Village Tour. This was fun, especially for our teen girls. The best part for me was meeting a fun, interesting group of people from other countries. That made the tour for us! We had booked this tour in advance.
After much thought and consideration (and talking to our girls), we did decide to take them to the 9/11 Museum. We watched the film first, which I highly recommend so that teens can better understand the events in the order they unfolded that day. We made sure that they understood they were not to take "selfies" or do anything that would be disrespectful. Looking back, I didn't have to tell them these things, but I wanted to make sure. They clearly understood and took the time to read and understanding, asking us some questions along the way. My youngest was 13 and she handled it well, though we did not view any of the areas that stated it may be too intense for some. We also choose to walk quickly through the area that had photos of the hijackers. I personally was caught off guard by that, not expecting to see that in the museum. We did purchase tickets online in advance and arrived 15 minutes before our time slot. We waited about 15 minutes, entered, went through security and spent about 2 1/2 hours inside.
This trip, I didn't have as rigid of a plan as for past trips and it worked well. I did have a very good idea of what we wanted to do though, along with the hours of operation and addresses. This worked well for us. I have found in the past that things usually take longer than expected and since we are using the subway and walking (as opposed to just driving up to your destination), I needed to build in more "down time and travel time".Edited: 17 July 2014, 05:08