A couple of years ago if anyone would have asked me if I thought I might go to New York City my answer would have been it is unlikely. If they wanted to know if I thought I would ever be in New York City for Independence Day my answer would have been yeah right. But things change and with our lifestyle being what it is these days I am happy to say that I have visited New York City and during Fourth of July no less! It is amazing how quickly things can change. It is also amazing how our perceptions can change as we add experiences to our lives. Watching the fireworks go off over the Empire State Building was definitely not something I thought I would ever experience, but it is an experience I have now shared with my children and something they will never think of as being out of their reach. There are so many things to see and do in New York City that deciding what to miss was tough. We are a budget minded family and we try to see as much as we can when visit each place, but there is always so much to do that we have to miss some stuff. It makes it easy for us that we try to stick with the free and inexpensive options. Aside from the fact that it was our most expensive site rent so far we did manage to see a lot, but not spend a lot while visiting New York City.
We chose to stay in a place called Liberty Harbor RV because of its proximity to the city. It is the closest RV Park you can get to New York City where parking is at a premium. It was nothing impressive, a parking lot barely wide enough to put the slides out, power, a low pressure water connection, but the location is what it’s all about. We could see the Statue of Liberty (barely) from the park and it was a short walk to the waterfront, where we got a great view of the City, as well as the PATH which is the public transportation in to New York City. I can now say that I have ridden the subway in New York City. It was by far the most expensive place we have stayed on our adventure thus far, but I think in the end it was worth it for its convenience to the city. We were able to avoid driving entirely other than into and out of the park which was definitely a bonus. I am happy to say that these accommodations were the most expensive part of our stay in New York City.
There are so many things to do in this city that finding things we could do for free was not difficult. We took the subway into the city and then we took it back out of the city, but other than that we pretty much walked everywhere we wanted to go. Our stops included the High Line which is this really cool park made on an old abandoned rail line. It is several miles long and 30 feet above the city. The look of it changes as you walk from one end to the other and it has some nice plants and landscape features along with benches where you can sit and enjoy the surroundings. We all enjoyed our walk up there where it was cool and we could see the city from above. The Intrepid Air and Space museum is only a few blocks away so we walked over there and used the ASTC membership to get on board because it is an aircraft carrier museum, it was very cool and our first aircraft carrier experience with the kids. They also have the one of the only nuclear submarine open for tours in the country so of course we had to check that out. The kids were surprised to find out that there is no window for the captain to look out while they steer. Exploring the ship, planes and exhibits was great because they had so much more than just the aircraft carrier. It is such a big ship that they could also have an entire section on drones and another section dedicated to space where they kept the Enterprise which was the prototype for the space shuttle. It was huge. After exploring the ship we headed to Central Park because what trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to Central Park? It started to rain as we walked and we felt like real New Yorker’s when we had to duck into a building to get out of the storm. It passed and we made it to the park where our first stop was of course the playground. My only experience with Central Park having been the movies I honestly had no idea there even was a playground, but of course there had to be one right? There are actually several. The kids loved this playground that felt like it was an old military fort. We could have spent our whole time there and they would have been happy, but I wanted to see more of the park so we drug them away and set off to walk around some more. There are many statues throughout the park and I really wanted to see the Alice in Wonderland Statue. We finally found it, but not before stumbling upon the statue of Hans Christian Andersen. Both of these statues were fun to see, Journey sat in the lap of Mr. Andersen while Trip pet his Ugly Duckling and they all had fun climbing on Alice’s mushroom. Central Park is a beautiful place and I definitely have a better understanding of why it is so famous and so frequented by the citizens and visitors alike of New York City. We decided that we had to eat some pizza before we left the city so we found a place close by and walked there. It was called Pete’s Pizza and it was really good especially after a long day of walking around New York City. So we got to ride the subway, see Central Park, visit a really cool museum and eat some pizza, it was a busy day, but a memorable one. (As a side note we walked 11.5 miles and our 5 year old Trip almost walked the entire way without being carried!)
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are two Iconic things in American culture and we did not want to leave New York City without visiting these sites. The sites are “free” to visit, but you are required to get there by ferry which costs money to ride and is the only way to get to either island. We bought our tickets in advance because we wanted to go to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty which apparently has limited availability; unfortunately, due to the New Jersey government shutting down the day we were supposed to go we had to reschedule and were not able to go to the pedestal which was very disappointing. The ferry that provides the tickets and rides to the statue and Ellis Island does a very poor job which is unfortunate because it does take away from the experience, but I guess that’s what happens when they are the only ones allowed to provide the service. Aside from their poor service we did have a nice time visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was a very interesting place and I walked away with a much better understanding of the role that immigration played in shaping this country. The museum was very well done and it is nice to see that at least some of it is being kept up and open to the public. The kids enjoyed walking through the exhibit of items that some of the immigrants had brought with them and picking up the phones to listen to the audio histories. We ate our lunch on the lawn in front of the museum before taking the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty. Being on the island with the Statue of Liberty was really incredible. Although we did not get to go to the pedestal as planned we did get in on a Ranger tour and learned some really interesting facts about the Statue of Liberty. There were too many facts to list, but I will share one thing I learned. All the money to build the pedestal was donated by private citizens, not one state nor did the Federal Government donate a cent. I found it interesting that not even New York would donate to the cause. It is always a new experience when we visit National Park Sites because they are all so different, but also important in their own ways. It is still hard for me to believe that I got to take my children to see the Statue of Liberty up close. The only thing we didn’t enjoy about it was that Chris had to miss it because he was sick and the kids were really sad he couldn’t be a part of the experience with us.
We watched the fireworks from Liberty State Park right across the river from New York City. It was an amazing display to celebrate our Independence. There were fireworks going off all across the river for hours. Watching them go off with the Empire State Building as the backdrop was an unforgettable experience. It was awesome seeing how they reflected not only off the water, but also off the skyscrapers surrounding us. I still cannot believe that we got to watch Fourth of July fireworks while visiting New York City! It was a great end to our first year on the road and I am looking forward to seeing where this year will take us.
Here are some clips from the phone and camera of the fireworks. We watched for over an hour and could see at least ten different firework shows from our spot.
Here are links and more pictures for the places we mentioned:
Liberty Harbor RV Park (Rates: the most expensive park we have ever stayed at!)
Path (Metro to get from New Jersey to New York City)
New York City Metro
The High Line
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Pizza Pete’s (Apparently they don’t have a website)
Their Location and phone number
Want to read about another family’s adventures in New York City? Check out Whirlwind Family Day Trip to NYC
or read more about our visit to New York’s Capitol: Mountains to Mansions