If you follow me on social media, you know that my family recently spent some time in New York City. A good bloggy friend, Melissa from The Staten Island Family, invited my family to her son’s Bar Mitzvah. When she first told me that an invitation was heading my way, I was really excited and when it dawned on me that it fell during my kids April school vacation I got wicked excited. None of us have ever attended a Bar Mitzvah before and I thought it would be a wonderful thing for my family to experience. And it was even more wonderful than I could have imagined. Her son impressed the hell out of us with all the Hebrew passages he read (there were a lot) and a speech he gave, which was far beyond his years.
Since it was school vacation week, I wanted to extend our trip by a few days and make the most of our visit. My husband and I go down to NYC a few times a year, but don’t usually take the kids with us. Since they came with us this time, we wanted to make sure they had an amazing time. I decided to go to my trusted resource, TripAdvisor, to see what we should do while we we there.
Did you know that you can book activities and experiences directly through TripAdvisor? It’s super convenient to be able to look through all the things they offer to do in the city you’re traveling to, read reviews while you’re there AND book whatever catches your eye – all in one spot. I mean, you are going to TripAdvisor to look at the reviews anyways, so why not take it one step further and book your experiences right on their site. It’s easy peasy and that way your itinerary will be set before you even leave for your trip (or staycation).
Once you complete your booking through TripAdvisor, they will email you a voucher which you will present once you get to your scheduled activity. Most will accept the voucher on your phone, but a few experiences need an actual printed voucher. Don’t worry because it will say in the confirmation email (with your vouchers) if something needs to be printed. I only mention this because one of the experiences I booked for us to do in NYC required a printed voucher, so I wanted to pass that on.
I have to say that I found some seriously cool things for us to do while we were in NYC and want to tell you a little bit about them in case you are heading that way. Let me start by saying there are a lot of experiences to choose from if you are planning a trip to New York City. I mean a lot. They offer pretty much anything you can think of, so take your time and read through all the descriptions and reviews carefully before you make your decision. I went back and forth about what I wanted to book a few times before I made a final decision.
One of the things I didn’t have any trouble deciding on was a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. For a set price ($32.49 each) we all got to choose an entree off of a prefixed menu, got a non-alcoholic drink, and dessert. My boys love eating at the different Hard Rock Cafes when we travel and the one in Times Square was one of the best ones we’ve eaten at. Plus, the voucher I booked through TripAdvisor included taxes and gratuity, too, so it was one less thing for me to worry about.
The menu I chose included options like burgers, salads and a few selections off their sandwich menu – and that was perfect for my family. We are pretty easy and all ended up getting burgers. There was an option to purchase meals from a different menu that had things like ribs and steak tips, but that’s not our style, so we went with trusty old burgers & fries.
I also ended up getting tickets to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, which was also located in Times Square. It made it easy to go from lunch at the Hard Rock right to the museum. I had been to the Ripley’s in Niagara Falls years ago and knew that my boys would love going to the one in NYC – and they did.
The final thing I booked was the one that won me the most cool mom points – an hour of unlimited play at Modern Pinball. My boys were in heaven as they walked in and saw all of the pinball machines lined up. They sold the experience as a one or two hour timed experience (not a set time to show up, but an hour or two from the time you walk in the door).
I booked us for one-hour of play and it ended up being just right for my boys (although my husband and I could have easily stayed for a second hour).
All of these experiences that I booked were really easy to book online. I searched by date and ended up finding exactly what I wanted on the TripAdvisor site. They offer more than 56,000 bookable experiences in 2,500 destinations worldwide and with that many experiences it’s safe to say there is something for everyone. Plus, all the reviews you went there to read in the first place are all right there so you can make an informed choice.
Book your experience online or using TripAdvisor’s free mobile app or online, like I did. TripAdvisor also has a low price guarantee: If you find a lower price for the same tour or activity within 72 hours of booking, or if you arrive in your destination and find your activity offered at a lower price by our operator, let them know and they will refund the price difference.
I am so happy with the experiences I ended up choosing and my boys loved the things I picked out for us to do on our trip. I can’t wait to check out TripAdvisor for my next vacation.