Boats, Bikes, Space Shuttles and Legos!

I was lucky enough to create this perfect NYC one day boys itinerary when I took my dear friends’ 10 year old son around the city for a day. Alex is often forced to share his days with his two older sisters, so an entire boys’ day was a real treat for us both and we covered as much as we could in our 6+ hours (10am-4pm) together.

I should note this itinerary is also perfect for girls, teens, any kids and any adults!!! No gender or age bias here…just labeled it "boys day" because that is who I took, but for sure, I also had a fantastic time this day as well as enjoyed dozens just like it as a kid!

Our special NYC One Day Boys Itinerary covers:

  • Intrepid Museum (1.5 hrs)
  • Beast Speedboat Ride (1 hr)
  • Lunch (1 hr)
  • Top of the Rock (1 hr)
  • Rockefeller Center – Lego, FDNY and Nintendo stores (1 hr)
  • Other Sightseeing Options: Central Park Biking, Museum of Natural History, Sony Wonder Technology Lab and more.

Save Over 25% With the Go Select Pass

New York City Explorer Pass

We used the New York City Go Select Pass to purchase our tickets in advance and save 25% over the gate prices. I ordered the night before and in less than 10 minutes my passes and directions were all on my iPhone, which was a breeze to use at the gates.

The cost of the Intrepid & Space Shuttle exhibit, Beast Speedboat Ride and Top of the Rock would have been $157 ($90 adult, $67 child), but with the New York Go Select Card, we only paid $118. We had a separate line at the gate, which still took a few minutes, but was quicker than not having the pass.

We started our day at 9:15am and took a cab over to the Intrepid, because it is a pretty far walk (15+ min) from the Times Square subway, however the M50 bus will drop you right in front of the museum. We got there around 9:40am, waited on line for entry into the museum (even with our passes) and were inside just after 10am. Using our smartphone pass could not have been easier!

Intrepid Museum and Space Shuttle Exhibit

We loved the Intrepid! We learned a ton about different old and new war planes and ships and got to take a lot of cool pictures with all of them.

Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum

The museum itself is on the the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. Then it went on to serve in the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

NYC Insider Tip: While we loved everything in the general Intrepid Museum, we were not impressed with the Space Shuttle Pavilion. The most interesting thing we saw there was how the Enterprise got it’s name, which was basically avid Star Trek fans petitioning NASA. Both Alex and I say, save the $7 and skip it.

Time: 10:00-11:30am

More Info: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

We walked the 4 blocks, along the water, to the Beast…

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Beast Speedboat Ride

This was absolutely the best part of the day! The Beast Speedboat is a don’t miss for sure!

Beast Speedboat Ride NYC

The Beast (and the Shark) are run by Circle Line Cruises, which is right next door, in case you’d like a different cruise experience. We got on line at 11:30, which was the perfect time for the 12pm cruise. We were third on line, meaning we got to sit at the front of the boat, and about 40 more people lined up within 3 minutes right after us.

The tour was great and we got up close views of the Financial District, Empire State Building, World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport and more, without ever leaving the water. The guides were lively, funny and kept all the adults and kids laughing the whole time, including some fierce and fast spins in the water. The guides come around with a surprise for everyone (no..I won’t tell you what it is, but let’s just say, don’t bring anything that can’t get wet!) and they will also take pics with your own device with the Statue of Liberty as a back drop. Don’t forget to tip these guys – they are so worth it!

More Info: Beast Speedboat Ride Tickets and NYC Boat Tours Cruises

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

April – September
Beast Speedboat Ride
Pier 83, West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
10:00 am–6:00 pm, every hour on the hour, seasonal

Since the Beast is a seasonal tour, check out of one of these other year round cruise options if traveling during colder months: Circle Line Landmark Cruise

Circle Line Liberty Cruise – see most of New York City’s major tourist attractions in one comfortable expedition. (1.25 hrs)

NYC Landmark Cruise – sails in a “U” around the island of Manhattan, giving passengers a fantastic view of nearly all that New York City has to offer. (2 hrs)

Best of NYC Cruise – circle all of Manhattan: equal parts leisure activity, fun history lesson, and incredible photo opportunity. (2.5 hrs)

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Travel from Intrepid Museum to Rockefeller Center

We then cabbed it over to Rockefeller Center. You can easily take the M50 straight from the Intrepid to Rock Center (get off at 6th Ave), about 20 minutes, but if you have 3 or more people, and don’t have an unlimited Metro Card, the cab is worth the extra $2 or so.

Lunch at Rock Center Cafe

We had worked up an appetite after our morning sightseeing, so we chose to sit right under Prometheus and have lunch. You can see we also managed to entertain ourselves while waiting for our food.

Lunch at Rock Center Cafe

So the Rock Center Cafe isn’t exactly a bargain, nor is the food fantastic by NYC standards, but we were OK paying for the atmosphere and experience of eating right in the heart of Rockefeller Center. My salad and glass of champagne (don’t judge me) and his chicken fingers and soda cost us $60 before tip. For us, it was worth it to take these photos, enjoy the waterfall and people watch everywhere.

For other lunch options, see tons more choices at Visiting Rockefeller Center

Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm

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Top of the Rock

As we started the day, I took Alex to my own 20th Floor roof deck, which was great. After going to the 70th floor of Top of the Rock, he changed his tune "Why bother with your roof, you might as well be on the ground!!"

Top of the Rock One Day Boys Itinerary

Of course, we knew exactly where to go to take the best pictures and where to look for the hidden animals in the wall, thanks to the Insider Tips I offer from my personal tour of Top of the Rock.

Alex loved the views of the Empire State Building, Central Park and even this new residential midtown beast of a building, which goes to 88 floors. Do you really want to live on the 88th floor of anything??? After losing electricity during Hurricane Sandy, the black out in the 90s and 9-11-01 (meaning no elevators), I don’t know anyone who would live that high!

Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm

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Rockefeller Center

After the Top of the Rock, we walked around Rock Center and wandered through the Lego Store, Nintendo World and the FDNY store.

Lego Store NYC
Tower of Lego Pieces

The Lego Store was for sure Alex’s favorite. There are huge lego exhibits everywhere including a model of Rock Center and an almost life size Prometheus statue. Then, there are wall to wall legos for 2 floors, every kid and price range imaginable. As if that isn’t enough, there is a huge tower of individual lego pieces of all shapes and sizes you can buy. That piece you accidentally stepped on barefoot, screamed expletives, and threw in the trash? Yeah, it’s there.

Nintendo World was a must-do for any gamers or Wii Lovers. There are at least 20 different huge flat screens and Wii’s you can play for free, each loaded with various games. There were waits for some of them, but overall, we got about 20 minutes of playing time in under 30 minutes.

FDNY Store was a great, short pit stop. It’s really there as a fund-raiser for the FDNY (and yes, we donated, because we LOVE our fire fighters, especially here in NYC!) but Alex really enjoyed sitting up in the front of a real fire truck, pretending to drive it and seeing all the cool gadgets on the dashboard. Don’t go in with high expectations like it’s an amusement park, it’s just a small store, but do stop by and pay your respects to our beloved FDNY.

Time: 3:00pm – 4:30pm

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NYC One Day Boys Itinerary Sightseeing Options

We ended our 7 hour day here, but had we wanted to be more aggressive, here are some other things to do that were on our list:

St Patrick’s Cathedral is right across the street from Rock Center and they offer a ton of free guided tours, a virtual tour, an app or you can just walk around. Open Daily: 6:30am to 8:45pm.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab – If our day together was a Tues through Sat, we, for sure, would have added the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, which is always free and just 6 blocks away.

Sony Plaza
550 Madison Avenue @ 56th Street
Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-5:30pm
Closed Sundays, Mondays and Major Holidays

Paley Center for Media – also close by and lots of hands on and interactive TV and Movie exhibits for kids and adults.

25 West 52 Street, New York, NY 10019
Open Wed to Sun 12pm – 6pm (Thurs til 8pm)

Other options are highlighted in this One Day in NYC with Kids Itinerary.

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Uptown Sightseeing Options

Central Park Bike Tour – we could have easily made it to an afternoon 2 hour Central Park Bike Tour (4pm) which is an option on the Go Select Pass and an easy ride, recommended for kids.

Museum of Natural History – great option before, after or instead of the bike tour.

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Downtown Sightseeing Options

Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) – I haven’t been yet, but this would have been a great downtown option, along with visiting Madison Square Park and having a burger at Shake Shack.

11 East 26th St (b/w 5th and Madison)
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week, 364 days a year Closed on Thanksgiving Day.

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Reader Questions

Visit With Young Boys in New York City

We are taking our 9 & 11 yr old sons to a Yankees game. What are the odds we can get tickets and the best place to get them? My husband wants to see the opening bell on the Stock Exchange on Friday morning and we were hoping to see the Yankees Friday night game. Any suggestions for Friday afternoon? I was thinking about the Museum of Natural History or the Bronx Zoo. Any suggestions for a 2-3 day trip with young boys would be greatly appreciated. – Kim (Upstate, NY)

NYC Insider Guide Answer:

What a great trip! First, do not stay near Penn Station. There is little to do or eat around there, so just take a $7-$9 cab ride to a hotel in a better area. Given the things you want to do, I suggest Midtown East, probably near Grand Central Station.

That puts you off the 4/5/6 subway which will easily get you to the Bronx and Central Park and a quick transfer to get to the West Side, for Museum of Natural History.

The good news for you and the boys is that so much of what they like to do is free! Just walking into our huge, flagship stores will be fun for them.

  • Museum of Natural History and definitely the Planetarium ($24)
  • Walk through Central Park playgrounds, your boys are probably too old for the Carousel, and check out the Zoo if you are not going to the Bronx Zoo (both great, your choice)
  • Come out on the SE side of the park (59th and 5th), look at The Plaza Hotel and head into both the Apple Store and FAO Schwartz (now CLOSED). Check out the Lego Section with life-size Darth Vader or huge Empire State Building, jump on the piano keyboard from the movie, “Big”.
  • Continue walking down 5th Ave toward Rockefeller Center. Check out Top Of the Rock and Nintendo World. You can skip the ESB if you go to TOTR.
  • See St. Patrick’s Cathedral (51st and 5th)
  • Walk West to Broadway, where you’ll be right in Times Square and the Theater District. If interested, take in a Broadway Matinée – Lion King is great for the whole family.
  • Have lunch at Mars 2112 (CLOSED – see Best Restaurants for Kids).The food stinks, but you can take a space ship ride to get in that kids love and the whole place is some kind of cross between Star Wars and Star Trek. The decor is futuristic, waiters are dressed up, tons of video games and things to do for the boys.
  • Walk down (no lower than 42nd, probably 45th) and back up the other side of Bway. Every store there is targeted to your boys – ESPN Zone, Toys R Us (closed), Fun Zone, Hershey’s, etc.
  • After this, go chill out at your hotel and head to the Yankees Game later. Get there by 6:30 (40 minutes on subway) and have dinner there (I suggest hot dogs!). Read on how to get Yankees Tickets or Half Price New York Yankees Tickets. Last week at Yankee Stadium, StubHub upgraded a random family. Since StubHub knows which tickets are used and unused, they picked a random family in the bleachers and moved them down to the 5th row, but I wouldn’t count on that.

A downtown day might consist of taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, walk around Wall Street (to the best of my knowledge, NYSE is not open to visitors), head back up the west side to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and maybe check out Chelsea Piers (driving range or batting cages) if the boys have any energy left.

Closer to your hotel, you may want to check out The Paley Center for Media (formerly Museum of Television and Radio).

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