Family friendly cities: City fun in NYC
New York City may not seem like the likely choice when considering where to go for your family vacation, but there's more than enough to explore in a weekend getaway. New York City is full of wondrous activities for the whole family.
Super-tall, super-cool sky scrappers
Kids always “ooh" and “aah" when they see tall buildings. Manhattan's are tall enough that even adults will express the same sentiment. The two worth the trip to the top for the views are the Empire State Building, the world's tallest building when it opened in 1931, and One World Trade Center, the current height leader in the Western Hemisphere. Elevator rides to observatories in both buildings are free for kids under six, and the views are well worth it. Then there's the Statue of Liberty, accessible via ferry from Manhattan's Battery Park. She isn't nearly as tall, but her message of welcoming immigrants to a free land, reinforced inside Ellis Island's National Museum of Immigration, is as relevant as ever. It's recommended to purchase tickets well in advance for these experiences.
Museum fun for all ages
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Met may not be as exciting for many younger kids, but there are many Manhattan museums that are fun for all ages. The massive American Museum of Natural History made famous by “Night at the Museum," features 40 halls devoted to everything from mammals and meteorites to amphibians and dinosaurs. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum lets visitors tour an aircraft carrier, nuclear sub, space shuttle, Concorde jet, military planes and helicopters — all retired from military service. Even more kid-friendly are the Children's Museum of the Arts where kids create side-by-side with working artists, and the five-story Children's Museum of Manhattan where youngsters learn, create, play and dance. All of the above mentioned museums are located on Manhattan's West Side.
Brooklyn Bridge & a free ferry ride
Walking on the pedestrian/bike promenade level of the Brooklyn Bridge is an Instagramable treat — above the car traffic, with an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty. It's only 1.3 miles across, so most kids have ample energy for the walk. Another free thrill is found less than a mile from the bridge in Lower Manhattan — the Staten Island Ferry, which departs every 20 to 30 minutes. The one-hour roundtrip journey gets close to the Statue of Liberty on its path across New York Harbor.
Climb, skate & bowl at the piers
Chelsea Piers is a paradise for sports-minded kids. Numerous sports facilities are available for drop-in visitors of all ages at this Manhattan sports and entertainment complex, which has taken over piers once used by cruise ships. You and your kids can bowl, climb a rock wall, take swings in the batting cages, skate at Sky Rink (Manhattan's only year-round ice rinks), or tee off at the putting green or driving range. Yes, there's a driving range right in the heart of Manhattan, where you can crush the ball 200 yards straight out over the Hudson River.
Playtime in the park
Central Park comes alive in the summer and on holiday weekends, when free Shakespeare performances and concerts are plentiful. Daily options at the park include 21 playgrounds, a carousel, rowboat rentals and a zoo. The most popular summer activity is to bike or roller skate around the park, and this year, the experience will be even better with the announcement that all park roads except those that are easily crossed on footbridges, will be banned to traffic 24/7 starting on June 27. Bike rentals are available in the park and nearby.
If you go
United Airlines offers numerous daily flights to Newark International Airport and New York City's LaGuardia Airport from many cities. MileagePlus Rewards can help cover your hotel room once you arrive. Go to united.com or use the United app to plan your Big Apple family getaway.
If you can't get to Mars, what's the next best thing? Apparently Iceland. A team of renowned explorers and researchers recently journeyed to Iceland to test a Mars analog suit in a Martian-like environment.
The United sponsored expedition, led by The Explorers Club — an internationally recognized organization that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space — and in partnership with Iceland Space Agency, involved the team venturing inside the Grímsvötn volcano and across the Vatnajökull ice cap. The group traveled to the remote location and lived for six days in the Grímsvötn Mountain Huts and endured harsh weather conditions and unstable terrain.
Helga Kristin Torfadöttir, Geologist and glacier guide, using the LiDAR system to map the ground and test the suit's capabilities on the glacier.
The objective of the mission was to explore the potential of concept operations at the Grímsvötn location while testing the suit in an arctic environment similar to what would be found on the surface of Mars. "This mission was an important test of the design of the MS1 suit, but it was also incredibly helpful to understand the how to conduct these sorts of studies in Iceland," said Michael Lye, MS1 designer and NASA consultant and RISD professor. "No matter how thoroughly something is tested in a controlled environment like a lab, studying it in a setting that accurately represents the environment where it will be used is absolutely essential to fully understand the design."
The suit was designed and constructed by faculty and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with input and guidance from members of the HI-SEAS IV crew and NASA's Johnson Space Center Space Suit Engineering team. At 50-60 lbs, the suit is similar to what a planetary exploration suit would weigh in Martian gravity. The suit was originally designed to be used in the warm climate of Hawaii, however the martian climate is much closer to what would be found on top of the glaciers in Iceland. The data collected will inform the future of habitat and spacesuit design that can be used to train astronauts on Earth.
Today, we remember the colleagues, customers and every single victim of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I know each of us in the United family marks this difficult moment in our own way. Still, we all share a common commitment to honor how our brothers and sisters left us and also celebrate what they gave to us during their lives. We remember their professionalism and heroism. We cherish their camaraderie and friendship. We carry with us the examples they set forth, especially in the heroism and bravery displayed by so many on that terrible day. Above all, we understand a simple truth: While thousands of our fellow human beings lost their lives in New York City, Arlington and Shanksville, the attacks of September 11th were aimed at all people of peace and good will, everywhere. They were attacks on the values that make life worth living, as well as the shared purpose that make us proud of what we do as members of the United family: connecting people and uniting the world.
We may live in times scarred by discord and disagreement, and we know there are those around the world who seek to divide us against one another. But, on this day – above all – we come together, as one. We affirm our core belief that far, far more unites us as citizens and fellow human beings than can ever divide us.
Let us embody that belief as we go about serving our customers and one another – on this day and every day – as we continue to help building a world that's more united. Let that be our memorial to the sisters and brothers we lost, eighteen Septembers ago.