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Book Review: Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids by Meryl Pearlstein

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Sitting in a suburban New Jersey park one day, I was having a discussion with a friend who asked, “Do you know what the longest mile in the world is?” My immediate response was, “The one I have to walk?” “No,” he said. The longest mile is the GWB between New York and New Jersey.” For those who don’t know, the GWB is the George Washington Bridge that runs between Fort Lee, NJ, and Washington Heights in Manhattan.

My friend was wrong. The GWB is actually only nine-tenths of a mile, but the point he was making was very true. A common Jerseyan reaction to news of an event in New York City is, “Oh, I’m not going all the way into the city.” Less than a mile, right? But for many, going into New York means a lot more than that — the traffic is horrendous, everything is more crowded, and the sales tax is higher. Then there’s the $8 bridge toll and the parking nightmare. They may have only a mile between them, but city dwellers and suburbanites are worlds apart in many respects. The well known antagonism between New Jersey and New York (after all, New York stole [co-opted] the Statue of Liberty) doesn’t help, either.

Because of these deeply entrenched cultural factors, many people who can actually see the Empire State Building on their daily commute in Northern Jersey, are totally unaware of the wonders New York City has to offer. They aren’t alone. There are many people living in New York who are just as clueless. Oh, everyone knows Broadway, Rockefeller Center, and Radio City Music Hall (don’t they?), but New York City holds so much more.

My primary interest in reading Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids, was to find things to do with my grandchildren when I visit New Jersey (yes, there are things to do in NJ, but there’s so much more in NYC — besides, they can do stuff with their parents in NJ), since I moved away a decade ago. You just can’t go in to The City from one year to the next and expect that everything will be the same. Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids turned out to be exactly what I needed; however, this little volume is also an excellent resource for people who are visiting New York City without kids.

If there’s an activity or attraction in New York that is not included in Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids it’s because it just opened. All the things that New York is famous for are included, as well as loads of things that aren’t as familiar. It doesn’t just list Central Park, for example, but includes all the different attractions the park has to offer. The emphasis, of course, is on kid- and family-friendly.

Budget considerations are covered, and dining suggestions are offered from the humble pizza slice (for a whole pie, go to John’s — no kidding) to fine dining in posh restaurants. Looking for a hotel? There are plenty of suggestions which include what amenities are offered and descriptions of what’s so special about individual hotels. Naturally, the absolute necessities are also covered: where to get ice cream, discount tickets, and a little bit of shade on a hot, sunny day.

Famous for its museums and theaters, New York offers art and entertainment on the street and it’s absolutely free. This Fodor’s guide will point your family in the right direction for whatever interests decide the activity of the day. Maps included make navigating around the city…well, not hassle-free, but understandable. And, unlike many cities, NYC is a lot easier to get around than you’d think.

If you’re planning to visit New York City, or you live there but want to find out more, get Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids. It’s a much better idea than asking a random stranger where to go.

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About Miss Bob Etier

  • childsplay

    Great article that shortens the distance between “the city” and the garden state.

    Going in the opposite direction, there’s a month left to see an amazing “Facing Mars” exhibit at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.