By Sergey Kadinsky
This year, Sukkos occurs at the same time as the changing colors of the leaves. If you’re at home or visiting family members in the suburbs, there’s plenty to see around the city and its vicinity. Some of the places below are perennial favorites, along with new attractions that will impress your loved ones. Even some lifelong New Yorkers may not know about the places listed below.
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Located inside a building designed for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, its top attraction is the Panorama of New York City, the largest architectural model in the world. If you have relatives coming in from out of town and there is no time to take them on a tour of the five boroughs, the Panorama will suffice. I’ve done this for my family members. Instead of sitting in traffic to visit Manhattan, your Panorama visit should be followed up with a group photo with the country’s largest globe, the unofficial symbol of our borough.
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street, Corona
The New York Hall of Science hasn’t been fortunate in the past couple of years, being forced to close by the pandemic and then having its basement flooded by Hurricane Ida last year. Last month, the popular interactive museum closed for a much-needed renovation. It will reopen on Oct. 15 with guest of honor astronaut Jeannette Epps. The new exhibit to see will be Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering, on the use of devices to help people with mobility. For the children, the Rocket Park mini-golf course is included in this renovation.
Louis Armstrong House Museum
34-56 107th Street, Corona
This museum defines the term “neighborhood celebrity.” From 1943 until his death in 1971, this townhouse was home to the world’s leading jazz musician, one who gave free lessons and bought ice cream for local children. The inside is nearly untouched from the day of his death. A guide pushes a button and Satchmo’s voice gives you tidbits on his life along with a few tunes from his cornet. It’s as if he never left the place.
Across the street from the historic house is a wall of undulating glass that will host exhibits, events, and archives.
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park
Sure our borough has plenty of green rooftops, community gardens, backyard plots and windowsill spices but the largest and last true farm in the borough is in Floral Park, taking up 47 acres. In operation since 1697, this farm has livestock, heavy farm machinery, planting fields, and a vineyard. Events on its calendar include a children’s carnival, antique motor show, and a Native American pow-wow. Fall activities here include the corn maze and pumpkin picking.
King Manor Museum
150-03 Jamaica Avenue
In the heart of downtown Jamaica is one of the oldest mansions in Queens, home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The park surrounding the King Manor is a 12-acre remnant of a 160-acre farm that belonged to Rufus King, the Senator, diplomat, antislavery activist, who died in the 50th year of this country’s independence. The interior takes us back to the late 18th century, when Rufus King lived here.
37-01 Bowne Street
The oldest standing dwelling in Queens, it dates to 1661, when Quaker colonist John Bowne settled in Flushing. He famously stood up for religious freedom when fellow members of his faith authored the Flushing Remonstrance addressing the Dutch authorities. Nine generations of Bownes lived in this home until it became a museum in 1945. Visitors can experience how they lived, with period furniture and guides explaining what Flushing was like as an outpost - unimaginable in the dense neighborhood that it has since become.
Lewis Latimer House
34-41 137th Street
Imagine a self-taught genius born to fugitive slaves who worked in the labs of Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram Maxim, and Thomas Edison. Lewis Latimer’s name did not appear on their patents, but he made their world-changing inventions possible. When he wasn’t tinkering with inventions, he painted, wrote essays, and lived in this Flushing house that was preserved and relocated to a park.
405 Klapper Hall at Queens College
Fort Totten Park
A pristine peninsula at the borough’s northeast tip surrounds a preserved Civil War fortress. Feel the breeze of salt air from the Long Island Sound as you walk through the tunnels connecting the fortress with the park. As the park still shares the peninsula with a National Guard Reserve base and a Fire Department training academy, you may still pass by companies of young recruits jogging to humorous rhymes barked out by their drill instructors.
Harbor Defense Museum
230 Sheridan Loop, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn
In the past two centuries, many of the city’s hills and points contained forts to keep the British from returning, and to keep other enemies from threatening our city. The last active military base in the five boroughs is Fort Hamilton, under the Brooklyn landing of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. On its grounds is the Harbor Defense Museum inside an old masonry fort. Exhibits on display include items relating to the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776, the history of Fort Hamilton, and the story of Angelo Rizzo, a Brooklynite who served in World War One, having been trained at Fort Hamilton. The museum is free, and open Tuesdays through Fridays by appointment. One can call them and then feel like a VIP as you stroll on an active base within the city.
Maritime Industry Museum
6 Pennyfi eld Avenue, Fort Schuyler, Bronx
At the tip of Throgs Neck, underneath the bridge that shares its name, where the East River widens into the Long Island Sound, is a pentagon-shaped fortress with a museum inside it. The museum contains maritime memorabilia such as ship models, navigational tools, and vaulted tunnels where cannons used to stand to protect the northern approach to the city. Like the other fortress museums, this one is also free of charge, open on weekdays.
Take A Boat
If you are not comfortable taking the subway to Manhattan, and the expansion of bike lanes means fewer parking spots in the city’s business districts, you can take a boat for the same cost as a bus or subway. It is an affordable, outdoor, and scenic way to get around the city. NYC Ferry has docks in Astoria, Hunters Point South, and Rockaway Park, connecting to Roosevelt Island, East 34th Street, East River Park, Wall Street, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
My favorite route runs from Rockaway Park to Wall Street, which runs past Coney Island, below the Verrazzano Bridge, and past the Statue of Liberty on its way to the Financial District. At the tip of Manhattan, one can ride the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park, where marine life takes the role of sculptural horses. Across the street from this park is the free-admission Museum of the American Indian, where displays relating to indigenous Americans coexist with beaux arts architecture from the turn of the 20th century.
West Side Highway at Gansevoort Street
Within walking distance of the High Line and the Whitney Museum is a privately financed concrete island elevated on pilings above the Hudson River. It offers winding trails with unique views of the city, but more likely it is a place to see the fashionable crowd of Manhattanites and foreign tourists excited about the city’s newest green spot. From the southern tip of Little Island, one can see construction on Gansevoort Peninsula, a former sanitation garage that is also on its way to becoming a park, the latest addition to the ribbon of green spaces on the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
One of the world’s greatest art museums has something for everyone. In recent years, the museum brought the works and collections of seemingly unknown Americans to its halls, giving them the fame that they never enjoyed in life. The exhibit Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina displays the pottery of enslaved potters and their folk art, individual expressions from a period when they had few rights or recognition as artists. Baseball Cards from the Collection of Jefferson R. Burdick is on display through Oct. 25, with selections from his 30,000 baseball cards that were donated to the museum starting in 1947. Photographs, lithographs, and illustrations depict changing visual tastes in this American sport.
Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Two E. 91st Street
Across the street from Central Park is a Gilded Age mansion-turned-museum that celebrates graphic and industrial design. The story of its transformation from a residence to a public facility is told in the exhibit titled Sarah & Eleanor Hewitt: Designing a Modern Museum, on view through Oct. 10. Concerning the pandemic, it is not too early for museums to exhibit creative masks and distancing signs, among other paraphernalia. Such items can be seen in Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics, on view through Feb. 2023. Across the street from the museum is the Russian consulate. Expect tight security and demonstrators on this block.
A thin sliver of land between Queens and Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is a former asylum and hospital campus transformed into a neighborhood of residential towers, parks, technology campus, and a scenic state park at its southern tip. Take the F train to the Roosevelt Island station, then the Tramway cable car to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This two-mile island that is only 800 feet in width is ideal for biking and jogging, with Manhattan island on one side and Queens on the other. The newest artistic feature on this island is The Girl Puzzle, a sculpture on Lighthouse Point honoring muckraking journalist Nellie Bly, who famously snuck into the asylum on Roosevelt Island in 1885, documenting its horrible conditions.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
455 Fifth Avenue
A block to the south of the iconic beaux arts flagship building of the New York Public Library is the renovated Mid-Manhattan branch. Once a musty and uninspiring space, its $200 million postmodern transformation gave it soaring ceilings, wide corridors, bright-colored murals, and eight floors of books that includes a rooftop deck.
1 Vanderbilt Avenue
The glassy skyscraper towering next to Grand Central has the newest observation deck in Manhattan, titled The Summit. To reach it, visitors take a glass elevator with views of the city as they rise to nearly 1400 feet above 42nd Street. One can stand on a glass floor that juts out of the top floor, and see the nearby Empire State Building from a unique angle that nearly rivals its height. It’s ideal for sunsets.
Next door, inside Grand Central Terminal, there is the Transit Museum Store that offers exhibits on the history of the subway, and plenty of model trains, toys, and children’s books about it.
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
The beaux arts landmark has its permanent collection of ancient historical art from around the world, a colonial Dutch farmhouse transported inside the museum, and its ancient Egyptian collection. The exhibit Brooklyn Abstraction: Four Artists, Four Walls provides four distinct wall experiences. Animating the monumental architecture of the Museum’s Beaux-Arts Court, each artist transforms the iconic space with brilliant and subtle colors, intriguing surfaces, and wide-ranging materials.
Museum at Eldridge Street
12 Eldridge Street
The historic synagogue of the Lower East Side reopened last summer with its stunning architecture and exhibits relating to life in the immigrant neighborhood. On display at this time is Steve Marcus: Top Dog of Kosher Pop Art, containing illustrations on Jewish contributions to popular culture, such as the hot dog. The museum has a visitor’s guide for children where they can search for hidden stars and other imagery in the building’s detailed interior.
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
This center hosts five vital institutions that document the stories of Jews in America through art, artifacts, and literature: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Yeshiva University Museum, YIVO, and Leo Baeck Institute, each with their own exhibits and opportunities to research our past. The Yeshiva University museum has an exhibit on Israeli artists titled From (A)gam to Z(aritsky), on display through Feb. 2023.
Beyond The City
American Dream Mall
One American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ
After hearing about it from her classmates in school and bunkmates in camp, my family took the trip to the American Dream mall in the Meadowlands. Even when it’s not Chol HaMoed, this destination mall is filled with frum families eager to taste popular American foods with a hechsher, and satisfaction that this mall was built by the Ghermezian family, whose philanthropy sustains many educational projects in the Jewish community.
We didn’t feel like paying for an indoor amusement park when it is sunny outside, or a water park that is only a fraction of Mountain Creek and Splish Splash. Nor did we feel that the novelty of an indoor ski slope was worth the price when we could wait a few months until the slopes of the Catskills and Poconos reopen.
For a family on a budget seeking unique thrills, the indoor skating rink, mini-golf, and candy store would be worth experiencing. If you have friends in Lakewood, Monsey, or west of the city, this mall could be a good place to meet up and have fun. Last year, the mall had a sukkah on site, and I expect one this year considering its popularity with Orthodox Jews.
Long Island Jewish History Museum
100 Crescent Beach Rd, Glen Cove
A former Gold Coast mansion on Long Island’s north shore, the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center welcomed the Long Island Jewish History Museum to its building this month. On display is the exhibit Earning A Living: 300 Years of Jewish Businesses on Long Island, which profiles over 60 businesses - pioneering farmers, manufacturers, and retailers whose success attracted more Jews to the east of the city. The founder of this new museum-inside-a-museum is Brad Kolodny, who founded the Jewish Historical Society of Long Island.
Cradle of Aviation Museum
Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Garden City
A former hangar transformed into a museum of air and space technology. Between April 14 and 20, its lobby is hosting a model train show by the Long Island Garden Railway Society. Usually one sees model train shows during the winter holiday season. For the child who likes trains, it is a welcome sight to have such an exhibit in a different season.
2245 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale
I have not visited Adventureland since I was in summer camp. Long Island’s longest operating amusement park struck me as a street fair permanently moored in place with rides that are standard across the country, such as a swinging pirate ship, carousel, and log flume. I had no idea that in 2015, it welcomed Turbulence, a new roller coaster that has become its star attraction. This new ride serves as an extra reason to revisit this blast from the past.
American Airpower Museum
1230 New Highway, Farmingdale
Within a ten-minute drive from Adventureland is the American Airpower Museum. If you live on Long Island and have been to Cradle of Aviation too many times, this former airport-turned-museum is the local alternative. More than a dozen fighter aircraft and parts can be seen at this museum.
Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Have you ever stood on the boardwalk at Coney Island and wondered what’s there to see across the bay on the New Jersey side? A few minutes off the Garden State Parkway on the drive to Lakewood is the Sandy Hook peninsula that juts into the ocean and faces Brooklyn to its north. For nearly three centuries, this spit of land has been vital to the city’s defense and navigation. On the grounds of this decommissioned military base turned national park is a lighthouse dating to 1764. Military installations at Sandy Hook cover periods from the War of 1812 through the Cold War. Between the batteries are unspoiled sand dunes and forests where one can hike for an entire day.
Edward Hopper House Museum
82 North Broadway, Nyack
On the drive to Monsey is the picturesque town of Nyack, which has the look of an artist’s village overlooking the Hudson River. The most famous painter who lived in Nyack was Edward Hopper, the realist master of subdued drama. On display are his early works, scenes of Nyack from his lifetime, and furniture from his time. The museum is a short bike ride from the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which offers overlooks and informative signage along its 3.1-mile stretch.
FDR Presidential Library and Museum
4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park
One of the best places to see the fall foliage of the Hudson valley and history relating to one of this country’s most consequential presidents. The exhibit FDR’s Final Campaign focuses on his 1944 reelection run for a fourth term, as the wartime allies were beginning to disagree on their postwar goals, casualties on the front lines were increasing, and his health was deteriorating. This was the campaign that outlined his vision for the United Nations, one of many lasting legacies of his administration.
Urban Air Adventure Park
396 Ryders Lane, Milltown
1600 St. Georges Avenue, Avenel
69 Wesley Street, South Hackensack
When rain and wind interfere with fall foliage and the temperature is too chilly for a walk, Urban Air Adventure Park offers three indoor locations in New Jersey. The family-friendly offers ample space for bouncing, climbing, virtual reality, and sports.
New Jersey State Museum
205 West State Street, Trenton
If you’re traveling to Philadelphia or Cherry Hill, the capital city of New Jersey is a few minutes off the turnpike. Like the capital of our state, Trenton is a small city defined by its political role. Another similarity is having a state museum inside a modernist building. The exhibit New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence has 95 artists depicting their responses to the world reopening after the pandemic. With its 130 miles of coastline, the exhibit Jaw Dropping World of Sharks is ideal for this state. It speaks of the fear, cultural significance, and biology of these non-kosher predatory fish.
100 Hershey Drive, Hershey, PA
Since 1906, this 121-acre theme park has been a leading attraction in Pennsylvania, where the beloved chocolatier offers a factory tour, water park, zoo, and roller coasters. Most Jolly Ranchers candies are not kosher, unless they have a hechsher, but the 105-foot high Jolly Rancher Remix coaster offers colorful theme rides based on flavors, with lights, tunnels, and music as it flips six times on its ride. On the way to Hershey, one can drive through Philadelphia, with its Revolutionary War history and the National Museum of American Jewish history; or Easton, with the Crayola factory. A short distance to the west of Hershey is Harrisburg, the capital city of Pennsylvania.