One Day in New York City: Visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
If you only have one day to spend in New York City you have a major predicament on your hands. There is so much to do in the city that I couldn't even begin to list everything to see and experience. There are world class museums, wonderful restaurants, Broadway shows, shopping, Central Park, Times Square, Little Italy and on and on it goes. It's enough to make your head spin. We've done a number of day-trips into New York City over the years and each one has been a totally different experience. Our most recent trek was a long but very productive day.
If you live in southern New England the preferred way to get into NYC is from New Haven, Connecticut via the Metro North train. The station in New Haven is right off of the highway and has plenty of easy parking. From here it's about two hours into Grand Central Station. We have driven into NYC in the past and it is rarely a pleasant experience not to mention the fees to park for the day. Do yourself a favor and take the train. Besides, coming into Grand Central Station is a destination in and of itself. It's where our day in the city started and ended.
We took an early train, 6:45 am, which got us into Grand Central Station just before 9 am. After meeting up with our niece, our tour guide for the day, we headed off to the Oxford Cafe for breakfast. Eating in New York City is all part of the fun and the experience, and we enjoyed a great breakfast in a local neighborhood cafe. My sister and brother-in-law were spending the weekend in NYC and we got to enjoy breakfast with them before heading out for the day.
Our mission for the day included the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, a visit to the B&H Photo Video store, and a visit to the Chelsea Market, preferably in that order. Mother Nature was not cooperating on this particular day and seeing as it was raining in the morning we decided to head to the enclosed Chelsea Market until the rain passed. A rainy day in NYC can mean only one thing for an indoor urban market, crowds, and it did not disappoint. Never-the-less, it was an interesting experience.
The Chelsea Market is a fairly new entity in NYC, in existence for just 20 years or so. Yet in that short period it has become one of the premier food courts in the city. You can find just about anything here from a giant chocolate King Kong to a traditional Korean soup. If you're looking for spices, coffee, cheese, wine, nuts, clothing, fresh fish, flowers, groceries and just about anything else your little heart desires you are sure to find it here. For you foodies out there you will have over thirty five vendors to choose from including an array of international offerings. After wandering in and out of many of the shops and sampling a little of this and a little of that we headed to the next stop on our day.
From the Chelsea Market it was off to the B&H Photo Video store. I had always imagined B&H as a small corner camera shop and it actually did start that way many years ago. But with discounted pricing and an advertising campaign that reaches throughout the tristate area and beyond they have blossomed into a superstore of tourist destination proportions. This place has everything you could ever imagine when it comes to cameras and related electronic equipment. With so much to check out we must have spent at least an hour browsing the store.
By time we exited B&H it was time for the main event, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The rain had stopped by now and we headed west toward the Hudson River where the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier is moored. For years I had wanted to visit the museum, even more so since the arrival of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. With the British Airways Supersonic Concord and the A-12 Blackbird also on display it's enough to get any aerospace enthusiast excited.
The Intrepid Museum offers plenty to see and do for everyone. On the deck of the ship are the static aircraft displays, which include a number of military airplanes along with a number of helicopters. The airplanes span decades of development and range from the high flying Blackbird, which flew at 80,000 feet while conducting reconnaissance missions to a Russian MIG and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, currently in use around the world.
At the far end of the flight deck is the shuttle pavilion, which I might add requires a separate entrance fee. The first thing that struck me upon entering the pavilion was how big the Shuttle is. When you see them on television they somehow appear much smaller than they really are. Up close and in person they are huge. I must admit it is extremely impressive. The pavilion contains so much information on the shuttle program that you could easily spend a couple of hours just here. It was a fascinating chapter in our space program history and I encourage everyone to visit one of the shuttles that are located across the country in various museums.
Current Space Shuttle Locations:
- Enterprise: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY
- Atlantis: Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida
- Discovery: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia
- Endeavor: California Science Center, Los Angeles, California
Not to be overlooked on your visit is the fact that you are on an aircraft carrier. How cool is that? The Intrepid was commissioned in 1943 and saw action in World War II and Vietnam. You can actually go up to the bridge, which offers an interesting view down to the flight deck and the aircraft on display. Here you can also see the control rooms and the living quarters from where the officers ran the ship. There are plenty of museum staff here to answer any questions you may have and they will be happy to share the ships history with you.
When done in the tower don't forget to go down to the Exploreum deck just below the Flight Deck where there are numerous displays and interactive exhibits. It's like another entire museum down here and if you are bringing kids with you on your visit this is the place for them. There are even two flight simulators down here called the G-Force Encounter. There is a $9 fee or three for $24, which really isn't too bad, but with a fairly long line we decided to skip the experience and headed out to see the British Airways Concorde.
The Concorde is located on the pier adjacent to the Intrepid and it casts an imposing figure. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to tour the inside of the airplane but walking under the aircraft and looking at the size of the engines and the landing gear was pretty impressive. Also at the pier, or in the water docked to the pier is the submarine Growler. The Growler is a guided missile submarine and came to the Intrepid Museum in 1989. On your visit you may want to tour the Growler as soon as you arrive to avoid long lines later in the day.
We spent approximately two and a half hours at the Intrepid and easily could have spent longer had the rain ended earlier in the day. Plan on spending a minimum of two to three hours here, possibly longer depending on your interest level. As we departed the Intrepid we headed back into New York City in search of food before concluding our day at Grand Central Station for the ride home.
Our trek into the heart of Manhattan took us through Times Square, which is always a sensory overload. I really don't have much to add about Times Square. If you like crowds, traffic and bright lights then this is the place for you. I do not so we continued on our way.
A big thank you to our niece, Drianne, for being our tour guide for the day and helping us navigate the subway system. Without her guidance we'd still be wandering aimlessly around New York City. That's her in the photo above on the left in white.
If airplanes, aircraft carriers and submarines are your thing I am certain you will find the Intrepid very interesting and educational. With the Space Shuttle Enterprise now on permanent display here it makes the visit even more worthwhile. I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of New York City and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. I'm sure you will have an equally worthwhile experience no matter how you choose to spend your day in the Big Apple.
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
W 46th St & 12th Ave
New York, NY 10036
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm. Stays open until 6 pm on Weekends and Holidays April through October.
General Admission to Intrepid, Space Shuttle Pavilion and Growler:
- $33 for adults, $31 for seniors, $24 for children
- Also available: G-Force Simulator, $9 per rode or 3 for $24
- Audio Tours: $5
- Guided Tours: $15-$20
© 2016 Bill De Giulio