Title: new york region
Preparation: Initally planned to join the 9 days tour called Meidong tour with Chinese guides. their schedule are very good and can save us a lot of planning. It covers New york, philadelphia, washington DC, Corning meseum, Niagara falls, thousand islands between US and Canada, Boston. So booked flight to new york and back from Boston. Later friends in that region invited us to stay in their houses and recommend us to tour on ourselves to get more freedom and can stay longer in places we enjoy. With their recommendations regarding where to go, i was able to spend minimum time planning and booked hotels and rental cars before we took the flight. My kids prepared their daily change clothes in slider ziplock bags. when they take out one zipbag, it has top,underwear, pants and socks. Most of us prepared 4 set of changing clothes since we can stay at friend house doing the laundry. My kids pack their own stuff in their own backpack and they are responsible for his own bag in the whole trip. So Our luggage are four backpacks with changing clothing and small gifts to friends. I did not purchase the new york city pass since I still booked one day new york city tour. On day 1, we arrived new york at evening and got to the hotel near the empire state building with night view to the building. then we found a steak house nearby to have a wonderful new york style steak meal. After dinner, we walk to time squares, just a few blocks away, 10 minutes walk. Actually no square there, just narrow streets. Neon ads are good too. then we walk back to empire state building at midnight, no line at empire state building and we got the electronic tour guide device with multilanguages. the view at top is spectacular and with the electronic guide, it helped us easily recognize the famous sights and their introduction. highly recommend to go to time square and empire state building at night. Go to resort then Lodge section, then general Opinion for what we did daily.
General opinion: On day 9, drove all the way to Boston, we visited the china town and had lobster dinner there. Was quite disappointed at the narrow and small china town, nothing compared to china town in Houston. got to hotel to get some sleep and get ready to fly back early morning. Overall, very satisfied with the tour. With the help of friends, we saved a lot of money and time. Next time, will go to a broadway show in new york and took public buses for street scenes. New York city is actually small and convenient with a map and subway. Definitely would stay longer in washington DC for the free great museums. Next time would stay in Canada side for Niagara state park and also visit some Canadian cities nearby. For parents and anyone just want to get an overview of the region, joining the chinese tour is also a great way. It would be easier and more flexible for families with kids to tour on their own. Another thing is to plan early.
Attractions and activities: On day 2, we checked out from hotel and took a taxi to china town to meet the tour guide. Taxi is about the same price as subway with 4 passengers. we had a breakfast there. The van was full with 12 tourists. then we got to narrow new york streets to wall street, copper bull, 911 memorial location. Before we went to ferry to the liberty statue, each tourist needs to purchase a package to include any 3 sights, then the tour gave your the tickets to the sights and he will arrange drop off and pick up location and time. The package was about $90 per person and was cheaper than paying at the window. Every one went to the ferry to watch liberty statue. our next is aircraft museum, and tour told us the pickup time. and then he sent others to other sights. after that, we went to time square to get day view. and watched believe it or not museum there. Family can separate to small groups if having different interests. After the day is over, we took train to new jersey to a friend house. The subway and train was very convenient in new york. We had dinner with friend family and they took us to the nearby university to have a tour. On day 3, we took train back to new york and toured new york metropolitan museums and central park by ourselves. On day 4, in the morning, we picked up the van and headed for Washington DC. On the way visited free liberty bell museum and got to a friend house. we did laundry here and take a rest. On Day 5, our friend served as our guide and we took subway to the washington DC. The sights are very close each other, white house, lincoln memorial, museums. All museums in washington DC are free and great. we did not have time to visit them. My kids likes the museum visited and next time we should give at least 4 days in washington dc to visit the museums.
Lodge: On day 6, we left washington DC and drove to Niagara falls. we stopped at cornings meseum and watched the shows making a colorful glass vase. This is a must and fun and on the way to Niagara falls. So be sure to stop. arrived Niagara falls in the evening and had a night views of Niagara falls. Recommend booking a hotel near Niagara falls like us to allow more time at the scenes and better rest. Since we did not plan to go to Canada side due to the tight schedule, but would recommend a hotel with fall views in Canada side since it was cheaper and better views at the falls if given more time. On day 7, the ferry and the cave of the winds are must. it is better to go to the cave of the winds and then ferry since a pair of free shoes can help not getting your shoes wet. The ticket package at the Niagara state park may save some but we had no time to buy it at the park since it needs to get to certain building during open hours. Buying on line before travel would be great. The travel distance between US and Canada is just a bridge. We wanted to save the time and stayed all the time in the US side. in the afternoon, we headed toward thousand island in the US side. On day 8, headed to thousand island and took the boat tour on the US side. the guide gave history and introduction to small islands and the very expensive houses on the islands along the way. the view at the Canada side is better. I would not go to this again next time and would like to allot more time in new york, washington DC, and Niagara falls.