FAMILY FUN IN NEW YORK CITY

Spring may be the loveliest time to visit New York City, with flowers in full bloom, events in abundance, and the weather warm but not insufferable as it can be in summer. And while Spring in The City That Never Sleeps draws its share of fever-struck romantics, hipsters and the swanky elite, more than ever it’s become an ideal destination for families looking for a decidedly Manhattan change of pace. New York offers a cornucopia of cultural, entertainment and dining choices for everyone. Make this Spring memorable with an action-packed, heart-pumping New York family stay.

If a red double-decker tour bus draws embarrassed glares, and the Empire State Building provokes a pitchy chorus of “been there done that,” stop the rolling eyes and whining with a memory-making helicopter ride over New York City. With an impeccable safety record and rave reviews, Liberty Helicopter Tours boasts the highest view of New York City, bar none. Downtown Manhattan Heliport, 12th Avenue at West 30th Street, 212-967-6464.

And it would be something like sin not to tour Central Park in the spring, on foot, on a bicycle, or riding horse and carriage. Remember that May is bike month in New York City and there are lots of rides, events and even riding classes planned for kids and adults. A bicycle cruise through Central Park for views of Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and the Shakespearean Garden is worth the $35 fee. Includes bike rental, helmet and tour guide. 2 Columbus Circle, 58th Street and Broadway, 212-541-8759.

All that walking and riding will surely stimulate the family appetite. No excuse for stomach pangs in New York City with the Enthusiastic Gourmet offering eating tours of Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Learn a little New York neighborhood history while sampling food from a variety of restaurants, bakeries and food stores. Dim sum, linguini with clams, or bagel and lox, no culinary whim will go unsatisfied. For meeting points and schedule information call 646-409-4724.

After glutting, a nap at the hotel might be the ticket. Maybe Mom can slip out for some shopping. That’s right. And how deny her this, in New York City, the shopper’s mecca? Mom may or may not know that there’s more to shopping in Manhattan than deluxe boutiques and glitzy department stores. For a walk on the bargain side she might want to take the Elegant Tightwad Tour. This excursion hits classy but non-bankrupting shopping destinations. 800-808-4614.

Later, take in a Broadway show, or make some starlit family memories with the Harbor Lights Cruise on the deck of the relaxing Circle Line. See the world’s most famous skyline at night, and a close-up and shadowy view of the Statue of Liberty (who never sleeps, you know). Manhattan. Pier 83, West 42nd St. at 12th Avenue, 212-563-3200.

The Best Family-Friendly NYC Hotels

The Loews Regency New York enjoys a loyal following that has become increasingly rare in modern times. The Regency NY can credit both its stately, contemporary style and its excellent staff for this devotion. Take advantage of their Loews Loves Kids program which features special gift bags, children’s menus, availability for cribs and rollaway beds, and mini-bars stocked with child-friendly snacks, plus favorites from Dylan’s Candy Store. The program even has something for tweens and teens, including two music download cards, and a lending library of DVD players, board games and more.

To experience the exciting, fast-paced, sensory symphony that is Manhattan, few places are better than Times Square. To experience that same electric atmosphere, but with a quiet place to retire at the end of the day, few hotels are better than the 4 star Crowne Plaza New York. The hotel itself is modern in design, with each room offering awe-inspiring views and a quiet respite at day’s end. The hotel has an indoor pool, a rarity in NYC, and we are offering fantastic rates for the season.

From its dazzling lobby replete with enormous chandeliers to its grand staircase and soaring 55-storey tower, The New York Palace is the epitome of Manhattan opulence. The historic Villard Mansion houses the public spaces of the hotel, while the modern glass tower behind it contains the more contemporary guestrooms. Family trips usually involve the daunting task of finding two connecting rooms, but this hotel offers many double bedded room types, and breath-taking views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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