There was a true sense of city pride for my teen daughters and I when we traveled with 30 or so tourists as part of an Adventures By Disney four-day/three-night tour aptly named “New York Dreams.” While the group was made up of repeat and first-time adults and children (ages 7 to 17) from Idaho, Wisconsin, California, Florida and other parts of the country, we were the only three who got there by local commuter train. With our warm and welcoming Adventure Guides at the helm, we easily became one big family.
The itinerary offered the perfect amount of must-see sites and backstage access, as well as many meals and three nights in The Manhattan Club on 56th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. The hotel has suites with kitchenettes and continental breakfast.
Our first day of the tour included a must-see attraction that pulled at our native New Yorker and American hearts. An emotional afternoon at the 9/11 Memorial Museum was followed by a beautiful view from One World Observatory at One World Trade Center.
A chance to learn a different part of the history of the city featured a walking tour through Harlem and included a stop at the famous Apollo Theater. Anyone in the group was invited to take the stage, and both my girls belted it out on the same spots where legendary singers such as as Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin entertained many.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
A different kind of cultural odyssey took us downtown to an after-hours group experience that literally came to life at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. We met actors portraying three immigrant women — one Irish, one Jewish and one Italian — spanning the time period of 1868 to 1935, in their tenement homes. A presentation followed, telling the real-life journeys of these women and their children and grandchildren following their time living on the Lower East Side. As a grandchild and great-grandchildren of immigrants that came to New York City in that time period, we were fascinated by a glimpse of what their life must have been like.
The night ended with the tour being divided into smaller groups for a chance to sample international foods from neighborhood restaurants. We listened to the stories of the restaurant owners through video and our knowledgeable guide, Ruth (who happened to hail from our own neighborhood.) After all, New York City is still a city of immigrants.
My older daughter said the museum made her “especially proud to be a New Yorker,” but at the end of the four days and after even more exciting experiences I would say the adventure left the three of us not only more appreciative of our city, but just a little bit more knowledgeable about the amazing place we live and the many surprises it has to offer.
Stacey Zable is an award-winning veteran travel writer. She specializes in family travel, spas, cruises and luxury travel. Visit her site at www.StaceyZable.com.