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The requisite trek to the FAO Schwarz toy megastore in Midtown Manhattan — one of several top tourist destinations my wife and I had never seen in our many prior NYC ventures — was spoiled by a sudden rainstorm. On cue, that also wound up being the one and only time we had trouble finding the subway station we needed.
Lesson 1: Always know your escape route. Lesson 2: Have your kids watch Tom Hanks in “Big” before you go, not after, or the whole dancing floor-piano shtick might be lost on them.
Then came the Empire State Building, also a first-time for my wife. We hit the big gray beauty when everybody says to: a midweek morning not in summer. We still wound up waiting in line 45 minutes — a long, crammed line with very little to look at, nothing to snack on and (surprise, surprise) no nearby restrooms. When we finally got to the top, the windswept view proved too gusty for the girls. So our 45-minute endurance test resulted in four minutes on the observation deck.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was a lot more welcoming, especially the big Egyptian section. And Central Park predictably went over well, from all the princess and knight talk produced at Belvedere Castle to the many playgrounds tucked into the park. Me turning a corner: “Another one?!” My daughter: “Yep. This one looks gooood.”
Bonus points for New Yorker Niceness goes to the woman who let us sneak into a private performance in the park’s Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, which came off like an Ed Wood movie set to puppets.
Our biggest problem in Manhattan was simply underestimating the size of the island and going too far trying to see too much. We ran our girls ragged there, and just the sights and sounds of it can be exhausting.
Exactly how far over the line we had gone became apparent one afternoon as we did the quintessential walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge. We couldn’t wait to show our girl the best view of the city.
“There it is: The Statue of Liberty,” I called down to the stroller halfway across the bridge. Silence.
Our high-wired 4-year-old — who has considered naps an inferior pursuit since age 2 — somehow fell asleep atop one of the busiest bridges in the biggest, noisiest city in America. That was our bad, not hers. I suppose we at least owe her one more trip to make sure she gets the full New York experience.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658