NYC Attractions

If you have any plans on traveling to the Big Apple in the near future, you will want to consider visiting these great NYC attractions. There are some that you would expect to see on the list and perhaps a few you would not. But, overall, this is a collection of Five of the Best NYC attractions that you and your family can enjoy!

  1. Top of the Rock! Everyone who goes to NYC wants to visit the Empire State Building. It’s a neat place to visit, but if you really want to see a cool building, visit Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.

    The building is located in Mid-Town Manhattan and offers 3 floors at the top of the building which are an absolute experience.When you arrive you be able to watch a great movie about the building of the structure and you can even get your photo taken in a “high rise” scene. Once you board the elevator, you will enjoy a unique multi-media presentation, making this the “best elevator ride in NYC”. Once you exit the elevator you will have fun with the moving lights in the ceiling of lower observation floor (that’s all I can tell you as it is pretty cool). The observation deck is actually 3 different stories. And, best of all, the 360-degree view is not limited because the decks are surrounded by plexiglass! Since the plexiglass is specially designed, it will not interfere with your photos. Top of the Rock is a great attraction to visit, so be sure you go here when in NYC. You will be impressed!
  2. Best and Most-Popular Tours in New York City

  3. Statue of Liberty- You would have to be crazy to visit NYC and not take in the Statue of Liberty (and Ellis Island).  There is so much history behind Lady Liberty. The statue is comprised of 31 tons of copper and 125 tons of steel. These stats pale in comparison to the 54 million pounds of concrete in the base. regardless of how you look at it, the Statue of Liberty is quite a site. Here is a brief paragraph from the National Park Service:
    “The story of the Statue of Liberty is a story of change. The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of a friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the meanings of the Statue have grown until she has become an international icon of freedom and liberty, the most recognizable symbol of democracy in the world. The idea of the Statue originated around 1865 with Edouard de Laboulaye who saw the United States as a country that had proved that democracy was a viable type of government- after all they had just survived a Civil War and abolished slavery. De Laboulaye also saw the gift as a way to reflect his wish for a democracy in France.  Artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who was known for large-scale work, was commissioned to design this sculpture. Nothing happened for some time, but finally (in 1874) Bartholdi came to the United States to look for a location for his monument. He saw Bedloe’s Island from his ship as he sailed into the New York Harbor, and realized it would be a perfect location – since here his statue would always have an audience.”
    Rising high above New York Harbor, this monument stands as a beacon to all who see her and was a symbol of hope for those who entered our country, especially through Ellis Island.

  4. Times Square is a real treat for families. Known best for its celebration to bring in the New Year each December 31-January 1, Times Square is a very exciting place to visit all year long. Centered around Broadway Street, which runs mostly north to south in Manhattan, the whole area is a beehive of activity all day (and night) long. Visitors can shop in a variety of stores (music, sports, toys, …), stay in a hotel, eat in a restaurants, or people watch. Street vendors of all kinds dot the area, and since you are so close to many of the most popular Broadway Theaters, you can purchase discount show tickets on the square as well. Times Square contributes greatly to the notion that NYC is the “City that never Sleeps”. On every side you can see illuminated billboards, each adding to the electric atmosphere you experience when you visit. The lights can be seen from miles away, but are best seen (outside of the area) from Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building observation decks.
  5. Ellis Island-I know, we sort of cheated by adding these as two separate sites, but that is exactly what they are. Ellis Island is important no only because of the amazing history that is here, it is also the pride that was taken to restore this great historical monument. like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island is located in the harbor. In fact, you can purchase a ticket that includes both attractions. There are many which do this, but you can go here to get your discounted tickets.
    From 1892 to 1954 over 12 million people entered the US through Ellis Island. The site was originally only a few acres in area before being built up through land-fill additions over time. The real treat here, though, is the discovery  of real people who found a new life in the US as they passed through Ellis on their way to America.
    Ellis Island is a very important historic site and should be on everyone’s list of places to visit when in NYC. You can visit through either the Battery Park area of Lower Manhattan or from the New Jersey side. The NJ side is normally much easier line-wise, but there are fewer ferries during much of the year.

  6. Broadway Plays are a must on any trip to the Big Apple. There are as many different plays as there are tastes, so you are sure to find something that fits your appetite. For families, the Disney Play “The Lion King” is a real favorite for kids. For those who are a little bit older, the “Phantom of the Opera” or “Mamma Mia” are a real hit and are sure to please. Another fan favorite is “Wicked” the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”.
    Regardless of what play you choose, you will be delighted at what you see. Most of the plays have a long-standing history, so there is no need to worry about not being able to see one of them. But, if you want to be sure to get the tickets you want, be sure to purchase ahead of time as many plays sell out days in advance. You can get your Broadway Tickets Here.

Top 5 Midwest Vacation Cities

Winter has been long and hard for most. Too much snow and several storms have blanketed the nation over the winter months. Good news is in sight, though. Spring is almost here and summer will not be far behind. With that in mind, it’s time to start planning for your summer vacation.

If you live in the mid-west or are planning on vacationing there, you will want to consider our top-5 vacation spots. Our list includes a few places to consider when visiting each destination. Here is our list:

  1. St. Louis, MissouriThis great mid-western location is tops because of its location and amazing value. Forest Park has many unique offerings, and most are free. Starting with the world-famous Zoo, one of the largest in the US, a family is sure to enjoy-and it’s FREE!
    Close by a family can enjoy the St. Louis Science Center. Entry is once again FREE and there are many great things to experience. Several interactive exhibits are available for the family along with an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
    The Gateway Arch is a must-see attraction. The tallest free-standing monument in the world, the Arch is one of the most-visited sites in the US.
    Grants Farm is another great attraction for families. The famous Clydesdale Horses are kept here as are many unique animals. A guided tour through the former home of our 18th president is a nice addition to your visit. St. Louis is also home the Six Flags Over Mid-America. This theme park has tons of exciting rides and also has a water park on site. There are many more reasons to visit St. Louis, so be sure to explore our site to find out more information and start planning your trip right away.

  2. Chicago-The Windy City takes the second spot on our list. Boasting some of the most popular museums in theworld, Chicago has something for everyone. A wonderful place to start is the Museum of Science and Industry. You will have hours of fun exploring this mammoth museum. There are hands-on exhibits, a WWII submarine (and an Enigma Coding Machine from the Nazi’s), a flight simulator, and so much more.
    Another great place to see is the Shedd Auarium. Located just off of Lake Shore Drive, this is one of the most popular aquariums in the world. They have great water shows (dolphins and more) for the family and there are millions of sea creatures to see. This place is a wonderful place to see and it is great for all ages.
    Right down the street from the Aquarium is the Adler Planetarium. I visited the Planetarium when I was in the 6th grade and recently took my kids (a difference of only 33 years) and a lot had changed. The exhibits and shows were amazing and the staff was very friendly. My kids especially loved the gift shop.
    Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) is currently the tallest building in the western hemisphere. This 108-story, 1451 foot building offers a breath-taking view of Chicago. The building sways slightly in the wind, though its pretty hard to detect and is capped by several antennas which give the building its familiar look.
    Don’t forget to stop off at Navy Pier to enjoy some theme-park style fun, take in a show, or take a ride on Lake Michigan in one of the boats for a panoramic look at the Chicago Skyline.
    Chicago has much more to offer. From sports teams to shopping to entertainment (like the Blue Man Group). If you are thinking about a vacation in the mid-west, Chicago is a real pleaser!
  3. Branson, MissouriBack to the Show-Me State for our number 3 pick. Branson is home to some of the best family entertainment found anywhere. There are dozens of top-notch entertainers found all over this once-tiny Ozark community. Show tickets can be found almost anywhere you look and there are more hotels, motels, timeshares, condominiums and other types of lodging than you can find anywhere else.
    Branson has a true family theme park-Silver Dollar City. Thrills and spills are abound in the 1800’s setting along with authentic old-style shops and crafts. There is something for everyone here.
    Table Rock Lake is nearby and offers plenty of aquatic choices, including boat rides, swimming and more.
    Branson is perhaps the most-family-friendly destination in our list because the whole area is built on family entertainment. Don’t be fooled by it’s smaller size, though. Branson does experience heavy traffic during many months of the year. Be sure to make your arrangements early and pre-order your tickets if you want to see a show. Some shows sell out regularly, so you don’t want to miss out.
    When you arrive you will also want to consider the Shepherd of the Hills area, Marvel Cave, and the Titanic. Branson is a great place to visit and when you do, you will want to keep coming back year after year!
  4. Rapid City, South Dakota- The Black Hills Region of South Dakota is one of my favorite places to visit. History, geology, and just plain fun things to do bring Rapid City to number four on our list. When you think of South Dakota, you normally think of Mount Rushmore. Four great presidents stare over the Black Hills in this american landmark. Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln come to life. There is a unique museum, a great night show, and more at Mt. Rushmore.
    Nearby, Crazy Horse is taking shape. Though not complete yet, it takes little imagination to see the famous Native American riding his larger-than-life horse through the Black Hills.
    The Badlands National Park is a wonderful place to explore. Created through the erosional powers of wind and water, the Badlands offer views that are unlike any seen anywhere else. You can hike trails (fossils are a common find on the trails-I once found a petrified animal skull here), take some great photos, and even see a prairie dog community on the west end of the park. Just outside of the Badlands, you will find Wall Drug. You won’t be able to miss it as you will see signs for it for hundreds of miles in either direction you approach from, but it certainly a place you will want to visit. There are plenty of shops and stores in Wall so you will be able to gather some great gifts for those back home.
    Ellsworth Air Force Base is located just to the east of Rapid City and it the home to some pretty impressive machines. Jets, planes, and rockets are the focus of Ellsworth so if you have any flying enthusiasts, you will want to stop here.
    There is so much more to see and do in this area. Caves, gold mines, historical sites, and more are plentiful and are generally within an hour from Rapid City.
    Two other spots you will want to consider seeing while here are Custer State Park and the Mammoth site in Hot Springs. Trust me, even though I haven’t said anything about them here, you will want to visit each.
  5. Indianapolis, Indiana–  The Hoosier State gets on the list finally with Indianapolis. The largest Capital City in the mid-west and second largest in the United States, Indy has lots of things to see and do.
    The Indy 500 Museum is a must see when visiting. Located in Speedway on the near-west side, you can see cars from years gone by as well as the Borg Warner Trophy (given to the winner of the race). During much of the year, you will even be able to take a drive around the 2.5 oval.
    The Children’s Museum is the largest such museum in the country. Here you will find plenty of hands-on exhibits and see some great demonstrations. The gigantic water clock is extremely fascinating and is sure to spur discussion with the kids.
    The Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument is located in the heart of Indianapolis. Each year this monument is transformed into the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” (or so claimed) and there is a huge lighting ceremony on Black Friday where thousands show up.
    Conner Prairie is an 1800’s homestead in restored condition. Here you can see how people of the time lived and watch as they perform their crafts.
    The NCAA Hall of Champions is in Indianapolis and is a great place to visit for sports enthusiasts of all ages. Relive those championship games from years gone by and learn about how college sports have changed through the years.
    There is so much more to see and do in Indy! From unique museums and monuments to exciting athletic events, Indianapolis has plenty to experience.

A few other places you may want to consider that just missed our top-5 lists are (in no particular order): Minneapolis, Wisconsin Dells, Sandusky (Ohio), and Kansas City. Each of these has plenty to see and do as well.

Regardless of where you travel, be sure to send us where your favorite mid-west vacation spots are and why. We may publish your results if you give us permission and send us your photo.