In the olden days before the internet, you could pick up lots of great tourist information and maps at various international tourism offices in New York.
Walking down Fifth Avenue on our way to JNTO, we passed the main entrance of the New York Public Library and stopped. I had never been inside the library to see the iconic Reading Room. We were there. We had to go in.
It turned out that the Reading Room was closed to the public due to ongoing repairs. I asked the lady at the information desk what other parts of the library we should see, and she encouraged us to sign up for the free building tour. So we did.
Free Building Tours of the New York Public Library
The tour guide was terrific. We got to see the Periodicals Room, the Map Room, and learn about the history of the library and the history of New York City. We never made it to JNTO, but this was a most worthwhile detour.
The New York Public Library offers free one-hour tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays (except during the summer.) Sign up at the reception desk in Astor Hall.
By the way, if you are in New York at Christmastime, the New York Public Library displays an enormous Christmas tree, decorated with beautiful birds. There were lots of people taking family photos in front of the tree.
Free Ice Skating at Bryant Park
While you are in the vicinity, you might want to try out the free ice skating in Bryant Park, which is right behind the library. There is a large skating rink and during the holiday season the park is ringed with vendors like a European Christmas market. If you need to rent skates the cost is $15. Compare that to Rockefeller Center where admission is $12 for adults, $15 for children, and skate rental is $12.
The rink at Bryant Park is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day from late October through through March 1, 2015.
Juggling Class and More at Bryant Park
Bryant Park offers lots of other free entertainment: Ping pong; juggling classes; Tai Chi; fitness club; and more.
Take a ride on Le Carrousel, which plays French cabaret music. It costs $3 per ride, or $15 for ten tickets. There is no charge for parents to ride alongside their small children.
On Saturday February 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. there will be a free Mardi Gras celebration at Le Carrousel, featuring a Cajun band and a magician.
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I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve read about the Andaz Fifth Avenue on other miles and points blogs. They all praise the view of the New York Public Library.
Next time you are passing by, I suggest you go in.
Twenty Los Angeles area museums open their doors to the public on Saturday January 31, 2015 for the tenth annual Museum Free-for-All.
The list of participating venues includes diverse art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science museums.
There are a number of top attractions participating — such as the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the California Science Center, but if I had my druthers I would head over the the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Kids love dinosaurs and what could be better than an active excavation site for dinosaur fossils? We spent half a day at the Tar Pits when we last visited LA with our then school-aged daughter. Regular admission is $15 per adult and $8 per child, so free admission is a really great deal for families!
Los Angeles Museums Participating in 2015 Free-for-All
Here are links to the museums that are participating in this year’s open houses. The Jan. 31 offer is good for general admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions.
If you manage to max out this offer, it equates to savings of more than $55 per person. Here’s the link for more information.
Some of the highlights include:
Agecroft Hallwas first built in England in the 1500s, then transported across the ocean and rebuilt in Richmond in the 1920s. The Tudor mansion is furnished with art and artifacts from 17th century England and there are manicured gardens overlooking the James River.
The John Marshall House, built in 1790 in the fashionable Court End neighborhood of Richmond, was the home of the Chief Justice for forty-five years. Listed on the National and Virginia historic registers, the John Marshall House has undergone remarkably few changes in the last 200 years.
The Poe Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscripts, letters, memorabilia and personal belongings. The Poe Museum provides a peek into early nineteenth century Richmond where the author of The Raven lived and worked. One of the structures in the museum’s four-building complex is the 1754 Old Stone House, the oldest residential structure within city limits.
Maymont, a 100-acre estate, was the home of businessman James Dooley and his wife Sallie from 1893 through the 1920s. The Maymont Mansion with 21 restored rooms offers a complete depiction of upstairs-downstairs life in the Gilded Age. The upstairs interiors are adorned with Tiffany stained glass, and frescoed ceilings and filled with original furnishings and artwork. Downstairs service rooms tell the story of household tasks and technology and the challenges of working in domestic service during the Jim Crow era. The surrounding landscape features Italian and Japanese gardens, and a carriage display as well a children’s farm and nature center.
Wilton House Museum overlooks a placid stretch of the James River. It was constructed in the 1750s as the centerpiece of a tobacco plantation by the prominent Randolph Family. An impressive example of 18th-century Georgian Style architecture, Wilton House boasts its original detailed paneling and a collection of fine and decorative arts from the Colonial and early Federal eras.
As soon as I opened the email from my husband (see picture to left), I knew a road trip to central Pennsylvania was in my future.
Factory tours are de rigueur on our family vacations. I’ve been to an aluminum smelter, a silk tie factory, a newspaper printing operation, an airplane factory, a ski-doo factory, a cheese factory and a toothpaste factory. If we ever make it to Japan, we’ll probably go to the Toto toilet factory, the Ramen noodle factory and the Toyota factory.