Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WellsWorld on the Radio: Tourist Tips for NYC, CityPASS, Fun in Flagler County, Park and Cruise

Being a tourist in New York is all about hurry up and wait. There are lines for everything, from picking up a sandwich at Dean & DeLuca to the myriad of lines that have you all but climbing to the top of the Empire State Building.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial
The Memorial Museum isn't finished yet but the Memorial opened on the 10th year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It's an impressive sight -  the two acre-sized reflecting pools each with continuous waterfalls and names of victims etched around the rims surrounded by a grove of trees - and everyone wants to see it.

The site, though, is surrounded by ongoing construction. To facilitate the crowds, free, timed reservation tickets are issued, either in person or, much better, online at www.911memorial.org/visitor-passes.

Getting in: Wait until reaching New York and you'll wait on line forever. A limited number of  same-day passes are issued, maximum 4 per person, daily but lines stretch around the blocks at the four distribution locations.

My recommendation: Go online from home. There are separate links for family members of victims and the rest of us. You can reserve and print out access passes or if you don't have access to a printer, reserve at home and line up to pick up your tickets in the Visitor Center near the Memorial. If the date and time you want to visit are taken, keep checking. More tickets are released regularly.
You'll still have to stand in line to enter but you will get in.
Getting there: The entrance is at the northwest corner of Albany and Greenwich Streets, The website has specific directions. 

Atop the Empire State Building
Empire State Building
It's become our Tower of Babel. Standing in line to get in, around, up, around again and finally out then repeating the process to finally reach the sidewalk, you'll hear all of the world's languages. The building is a fine example of Art Deco and a remarkable feat of engineering for its era, but the lure of going to the top escapes me. it's one of those things everyone wants to do at least once, though, so set aside a whole morning or afternoon if that describes you. There's only one way to shorten the wait, a CityPASS, but it will still take you more than an hour of lines, waits and elevators to reach the top.

Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island

Posing with the lady.
One welcomed, the other processed the millions of immigrants to this country and now you do both in one day. A full day. 

Getting there: The subway deposits you in front of the Staten Island Ferry terminal and the short walk through Battery Park to the shuttle boats is pleasant. The wait to board them isn't. Again, the only way to speed the process is with CityPASS, which lets you avoid the ticket lines. Expect lines to get off then more lines to get back on the boats.

You'll  pay extra to get under Miss Liberty's robes and go to the top. For my money the best show is watching the people, again a United Nations of ethnicity, pose for pictures of themselves with the iconic sculpture.

Ellis Island
I found Ellis Island much more interesting. The film is worth watching, the sound displays, especially the songs, are endearing and the realization of what it took to get across to the U.S. is mind-boggling. We come from brave, determined, desperate stock. 

If your ancestors came in through Ellis Island you can research it here but better, do your search online, www.ellisisland.org.

Carrying one one of these is the most cost-effective and efficient ways to do Manhattan.
You save money, about 48 percent, on admissions to museums and attractions, but better, you save time being able to bypass all those lines for tickets. Often there's a separate dedicated line if one at all.

Check into it at www.citypass.com.

Washington Oaks Gardens beach
Day tripping: Flagler County
For many it's the no-stop zone along I-95 between St. Augustine and Daytona. My recommendation: Stop. Here are three good places to do just that.

Florida Cracker cattle at Florida Agricultural Musuem
Florida Agricultural Museum
It's living history that crows, quacks, moos, barks, brays, meows, whinnies and oinks. Take a ride in a tractor-pulled wagon or atop a horse. Let the kids have close encounters with farm animals and see how farmers used to live. www.myagmuseum.com.
Lodge at Princess Place Preserve
Princess Place Preserve 
 See Florida's first in-ground pool and where a Russian prince and his wife once lived. Trails are easy and short for amblers or challenging to mountain bikers and the surroundings are beautiful. A nice place to picnic and wander. If you have horses, they have equestrian trails for you, too. www.flaglercounty.org/facilities.aspx?page=detail&RID=18

Koi pond at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Perfect for picnics, you have your choice of a beach with coquina rock outcroppings or oak-shaded gardens overlooking the Matanzas River. Do both but don't miss the gift shop; it's a good one. Plant sales the second Saturday of the month.

Park, Stay and Cruise from Fort Lauderdale

Parking is a part of cruise costs that most people forget to factor in. No problem with this special package.

The AAA Four-Diamond Hollywood Beach Marriott is located beachfront between the Intracoastal Waterway and Hollywood’s famous two-and-a-half mile Broadwalk of cafes, restaurants and live entertainment. 

What: The Park and Cruise Package includes overnight accommodations, breakfast for two, and complimentary covered parking while you are on your cruise. 

Where: The AAA Four-Diamond Hollywood Beach Marriott is located beachfront between the Intracoastal Waterway and Hollywood’s famous two-and-a-half mile Broadwalk of cafes, restaurants and live entertainment. Hollywood, FL.

When: Valid through Oct. 31, 2012

Price: Rates from $129. 

Fine Print:
Must mention promotional code: PCJ. j

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