At Manhattan’s epicenter, Times Square is a 24/7 celebration of sight and sound. Family time in Times Square, NYC, is a snap. Within a five-block radius, there are enough attractions, theaters, restaurants, and shops to easily fill a day of fun appropriate for all ages. My family of four, which includes my 10-year old son and 3-year old daughter, has visited repeatedly and we still haven’t seen everything!
Knowing that my kids’ energy levels are at their highest point in the morning, we start at an entertainment-focused museum, such as Madame Tussauds or Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium. Next month we’ll be heading to the Discovery Times Square Exposition, where Harry Potter:The Exhibition runs through September 5, 2011.
At Madame Tussauds wax museum, your tweens have the opportunity to be in a photo with the celeb likenesses of Miley Cyrus, Johnny Depp, and Robert Pattinson. The amazingly lifelike statues are posing in themed rooms on four floors. In the nightclub you’ll find the Twilight heartthrob, along with Britney Spears, Madonna, and (sigh) George Clooney. We hammed it up in the Oval Office, getting a photo of my son handing the “red phone” to President Obama for an important call. Here’s a tip: aim your camera directly into the eyes of the figures for the most realistic image.
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Times Square offering something-for-everyone menus, like Virgil’s Barbecue, Planet Hollywood, Ruby Tuesday’s, or Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company. I wanted to try a place unique to NYC, like Havana Central, but keeping my picky eaters in mind, opted for the Hard Rock Café for juicy burgers and a peek at some impressive rock memorabilia. We’ve also enjoyed the world’s largest Applebee’s!
In many stores within Times Square, the entertainment values are as important as the merchandise. Toys R’ Us features an indoor, 60-foot tall ferris wheel with cars themed for classic playthings, like Mr. Potato Head and Monopoly, as well as a 20-foot animatronic T-REX dinosaur and a life-sized Barbie dollhouse. It wasn’t easy drawing my son away from the LEGO section with a city skyline nearly reaching the ceiling.
Equally difficult was explaining to my daughter that we couldn’t linger in the Sanrio Luxe boutique, which carries an irresistible array of upscale Hello Kitty merchandise, from clothing and personal accessories to home décor. Boys will prefer checking out Midtown Comics, with two levels of floor-to-ceiling comic books and graphic novels. Here, my kids stretched their allowance far, with comic prices averaging $3.50. My son picked Sonic and Superman comics, while my daughter settled on Finding Nemo. Parental guidance is suggested at this store, since there are adult-rated books.
The new Times Square NYC Disney Store, the largest in the world outside of Orlando, contains two floors of merchandise mainly themed to movies and TV shows. Naturally, the interactive elements are there to entice your kids into spending your money, including a build-your-own car station called RideMakerz; a miniature, crawl-through Playhouse Disney; and a giant glimmering castle with two magic mirrors.
For an afternoon chocolate pick-me-up, just look up. You can’t miss the 215-foot Hershey’s Bar and other chocolate treats on the façade of the Hershey’s store. Inside, you can create a giant personalized Kiss, or take a photo holding the world’s largest Hershey’s Bar. The three-story M&M’s World across the street features the world’s largest M&M display, an expansive wall of 72 tube dispensers from which you can pour your own combination of colors.
Times Square casts a magical spell at night, when the blazing billboards encircle you in pulsating light. Take it all in while heading to a Broadway show. Popular family fare includes classics like the The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre and Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam. The New Victory theater exclusively runs children’s programming, with upcoming shows like The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy and Peter and Wendy.
Don’t hesitate to take your children to Times Square during a New York City vacation. There’s plenty to do for kids of all ages.
Traci L. Suppa has a strange compulsion for roadside attractions. She drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home. Follow her on Twitter at @GoBIG_GoHome.