August 12, 2013

What to do on a rainy day?

It was a drizzly, gloomy day and we had visitors—four cousins and their parents to be exact—from outside the city, eager to spend the day with us wandering outdoors. Our original idea had been playgrounds with sprinklers, but given the weather this notion—conceived during the heat wave the previous week—now seemed far from ideal. Perhaps it was the gray skies that put it in our heads, but all of the sudden it occurred to us that that big grey thing—the Intrepid—floating on the Hudson River at 46th street in Manhattan, was actually the ideal outdoors destination on a day like today.

If the idea of spending the day on a retired aircraft carrier, docked near midtown Manhattan and refitted as a tourist destination, sounds to you anything but “outdoors,” that must because you have not yet been to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex—as it is advertised on their website. The ship is huge. As you stand beneath the Intrepid from the museum entrance you will see several flights of stairs which take you to the hangar deck and the flight deck way up on top. You can take elevators, but our kids loved bounding up the metal steps to explore what was to them essentially a giant metal jungle gym.

What’s on Deck?

Most of the more museum-y exhibits are concentrated on the hangar deck. When we were there the exhibits were being renovated, but there are several interactive displays which encourage touching and manipulating to learn how principles—such as jet propulsion—actually work. Kids can also experience what it was like to sit in the cockpit of a jet or a helicopter, or manipulate objects using instruments—as astronauts have to do—rather than with their hands.

Going up to the outdoor flight deck is a whole different experience entirely. Aircraft carriers, for obvious reasons, have very large spacious decks to provide space for planes to take off and land. For this reason the Intrepid is 876 feet (.16 miles) long and nearly 192 feet wide, and the deck contains numerous fascinating examples—from spy planes to helicopters—from the history of aviation. From the flight deck you and your kids can also ascend up into “vulture’s row,” where the sailors once managed flight operations, and you can now observe a glorious view of Manhattan.

Other Curiosities

As you may have heard, the Intrepid now houses—the Enterprise—the prototype used to conduct test flights in the atmosphere for the United States’ Space Shuttle program. Near the entrance you can also find one of the Concorde aircraft—in its heyday the only form of supersonic passenger transport in the entire world. Though both exhibits were certainly intriguing from a kids’ perspective, what really caught their collective eyes was the inflatable climbing wall located just near the museum entrance. Even on a rainy day there was a bit of a wait, so we saved this as a final treat on the way out.

Getting There

Though you can easily access the Intrepid from the A, C, E subway lines at Port Authority, or the N, Q, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3, 7, 9 lines in Times Square, we chose to walk from our apartment along the Hudson River Greenway. The kids loved walking along the river, and it never ceases to impress us how easily they cover four miles when distracted by the view of New Jersey across the Hudson.



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