Day 4: Excursions
Broaden your urban horizons by day-tripping to outer Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
1. No trip to New York is complete without baseball. But instead of getting yourself in the middle of an inflamed Yankees-Mets debate, head out to Coney Island for a minor-league Cyclones game at MCU Park. Tickets are supercheap, with bleacher seats costing $10 and field box seats a mere $15. After the game, walk five minutes east along the boardwalk to score more fun on the ball club's namesake roller coaster ($8 per ride), which is open from spring through September. For year-round high jinks, watch dolphins flipping, sharks feeding, and walruses blubbering at the New York Aquarium at Surf Avenue and 8th Street ($9.95). Grab hot dogs ($4.30 each) at the neon-lit Nathan’s Famous before the 30-minute ride back to midtown on the D, N, Q, or F train.
2. Snow leopards, giraffes, and gorillas are among the hundreds of species at the world-famous Bronx Zoo, a 30-minute ride on the 2 or 5 subway line. Get tickets ($16.95 adults; $12.95 kids) and enter at the Asia Gate, where you can pick up a stroller, if need be ($10). Skip past the zebras and elk in the African Plains on your way to the creepy-crawly Bug Carousel. Continue in a clockwise fashion to hit the Monkey House, Tiger Mountain, and Baboon Reserve. Alternately, kids can learn English and Western horseback riding with weekday lessons (appointments necessary) at the Bronx Equestrian Center, in nearby Pelham Bay Park. Pony ($5 for three rides) and trail rides ($35 per hour) are available all week.
3. Plan a Big Apple version of planes, trains, and automobiles: Start by grabbing sandwiches and pastries from the Financier Patisserie in the World Financial Center, then hop on the Staten Island Ferry for free, unobstructed views of the skyline. Get off at the Staten Island terminal, make a U-turn, and ride back across the harbor. Then subway up the 6 line to the 59th Street tram ($2.50), which will fly you halfway across the East River before plunking you down on Roosevelt Island (a sliver of green that's home to thousands of New Yorkers). Grab the Red Bus (or just walk north along the water) to explore one of several playgrounds and the huge community garden. To take your tourist high even higher, take a crosstown bus on 42nd or 34th Streets to the helipads on the West Side Highway and 30th Street. Several operators offer chopper tours, starting with a quick, fifteen-minute ($195 per person at Sightseeing World) spin above the city.
Additional reporting by Candace Taylor