New York

Signature City New York

Get an insider’s perspective on New York as you explore Ellis Island, the Met, Rockefeller Plaza and learn about the city’s transition from a Dutch outpost to an American icon.
Rating (5)
Program No. 8861RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 2 L 4 D
Registration, Dinner, Orientation, Empire State Building
New York
New Yorker Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 p.m. The location of our Road Scholar meeting room will be posted in lobby on an LED board across from the Security Desk. Come to the meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your envelope when you check in.

Dinner: 5:00 p.m. In the Tick Tock Diner just off the lobby of our historic hotel, we’ll have our first meal together and order from a select menu. This 24-hour diner features American cooking and “comfort food.” Dinner in the diner is included even if you arrive late. You may eat later but please attend Orientation first. Or, get takeout and bring your plate to the meeting room.

Evening: Orientation: 6:15-7:30 p.m. In a hotel meeting room, the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Dinners are early in order to have plenty of time available for engaging in evening activities as a group and individually. We will be walking a lot and using the New York City subway system that involves going up and down flights of stairs, long corridors, and often crowded conditions. It’s what New Yorkers do every day! Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After orientation, we will walk over to the Empire State Building. From the 86th floor observation deck, we’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Manhattan street grid and all five boroughs with New Jersey in the distance (weather permitting). It’s a great way to orient yourself to New York’s geography and get your first “big picture” look at the city. The Empire State Building is just three blocks away. Our group leader will escort you there and you may return on your own when you please.

NYC History, Rockefeller Center, Radio City, St. Patrick's
New York
New Yorker Hotel

Activity note: Taking the New York City subway; going up/down flights of stairs; crowded conditions. Walking approximately 5 miles; city streets and sidewalks.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll have bagels, muffins, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, cold cereals, cream cheese, jelly, butter, plus milk (regular/low-fat), orange juice, coffee/decaf, tea, water. During breakfast, we will register with the MTA for a senior citizen MetroCard (if you are 65 or over). A representative from the MTA will take your picture and a copy of your driver’s license to process your permanent MetroCard application. They will give you a temporary card to use for the week, enabling you to ride for half price. A few weeks after you return home you will receive a permanent card in the mail — your official invitation to come back to New York and ride around for half price. If you have a permanent NYC senior citizen MetroCard, please bring it with you.

Morning: We’ll be joined by an architectural historian for a lecture on the history and architecture of New York City. We’ll begin to gain an understanding of all the five boroughs it comprises — the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island — each with its own history, personality, and appeal. With our local expert, we’ll then take the subway to Fifth Avenue where we’ll make a brief stop to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral before arriving at Rockefeller Center. This remarkable complex is the legacy of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It opened in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression as both a business venture and a manifestation of the belief that public art is an act of good citizenship. The art deco motifs and sculptures were intended to signify human development in spirit, science, industry, and more.

Lunch: We’ll have vouchers for a Rockefeller Center eatery.

Afternoon: We’ll have an expert-led exploration of Radio City Music Hall, an Art Deco masterpiece. We’ll go behind the scenes and learn the history from movie palace to the concert venue of today. We may even meet one of the world famous Rockettes! We’ll marvel at the art, architecture, engineering, and learn what about it was considered a top government secret during World War II.

Dinner: At a neighborhood Chinese restaurant, we’ll have a family-style meal with choices of soup, appetizers, and entrées; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: To prepare for tomorrow’s field trips, we’ll have an introduction to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, Little Italy
New York
New Yorker Hotel

Activity note: Taking the subway to the ferry for traveling to/from the islands. Walking approximately 5 miles; city streets and sidewalks.

Breakfast: In the Tick Tock Diner, we’ll order from a select menu.

Morning: We’ll head straight out this morning to take best advantage of our time on Liberty and Ellis Islands where you may explore both iconic islands at your own pace to see and do what interests you most. We’ll begin by boarding the ferry to Liberty Island. Liberty Island features a brand new state of the art museum dedicated to the statue. It is not to be missed. Additionally, you may choose to stroll around the island while listening to the included audio guide or join up with a NPS Ranger. The Statue of Liberty was an amazing gift to the people of America from the people of France — our oldest ally — celebrating freedom and democracy. We’ve seen this national monument in countless movies and TV shows and may even take it for granted, but on the Fourth of July 1884, it was the biggest event in the country. Years later, these words of poet Emma Lazarus were added: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” With the opening of the new museum, our tickets do not include entry into the pedestal or the statue. If this is something you would like to do, these tickets may be arranged separately, in advance of the program and at your own cost via the NPS exclusive ticket seller: www.statuecruises.com. Be aware that choosing to arrange this for yourself will require a great deal more time on Liberty Island and will necessarily reduce your time on Ellis Island.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. Both Liberty and Ellis Islands have cafeterias, with larger facilities and selections available on Liberty Island.

Afternoon: Then, it’s on to Ellis Island. From 1892 when the immigration station opened until it closed in 1954, more than 12 million people coming to America passed through Ellis Island. This was their “golden door” to new lives. Today, the descendants of these immigrants make up almost half of all Americans. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration tells the story of where people came from and what their experience was like. Many went first from Ellis Island to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at one time the most densely populated neighborhood on earth. The museum includes numerous exhibits, an included audio guide, NPS Ranger-led walks, a documentary film and the family research center where you may choose to look up the historical documents that pertain to your family's history through Ellis Island. We’ll meet on the front steps of The Ellis Island Museum to take the ferry back to Manhattan as a group, followed by a short stroll through the Financial District, the oldest inhabited part of the island. A subway ride will take us to Little Italy for dinner.

Dinner: We'll dine in historic Little Italy tonight where a selection of traditional pasta dishes will be available to us. Gluten free pasta is available. Coffee, tea and water are included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Before we return to the hotel, we’ll have some independent time to explore this iconic neighborhood. For those with a sweet tooth, authentic Italian pastries and gelato are available steps away from the restaurant. We'll return to the hotel as a group around 7:30pm, with the rest of the evening at leisure.

Theater District, Times Square, Free Time
New York
New Yorker Hotel

Activity note: Taking the subway; walking approximately 2-3 miles.

Breakfast: In the meeting room.

Morning: We’ll set out on an expert-led exploration of the Theater District and Times Square. There are 40 theaters in and around the area known worldwide as Broadway. There is also a TKTS discount ticket booth in Times Square, operated by the Theatre Development Fund, a not-for-profit organization supporting theatre and dance productions that enables diverse audiences to attend live performances. Most of us know Times Square from televised events on New Year’s Eve. The name comes from the old location of the New York Times. The Times Tower, built in 1905, was then the second-tallest building in the city. The first New Year’s Eve event was staged to celebrate its opening. Like the newspaper, times changed and Times Square went through ups and downs. Today, the not-for-profit Times Square Alliance works to cultivate the creativity and energy that have made this iconic public space a symbol of New York. We will end our walk in nearby Bryant Park.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch in Bryant Park, just like a native, before heading out on your own for the afternoon.

Afternoon: Those who wish to return to the hotel or explore independently are welcome to do so. We’ll then ride the subway to Harlem where a local expert will lead those who want to get a deeper understanding of the neighborhood’s past and revitalized presence. The remainder of the afternoon is free. Established in 1658, Harlem was a rural Dutch village for most of two centuries. The development of railroads fostered a growth spurt with homes for the ubiquitous immigrants as well as more affluent New Yorkers. Around the turn of the 20th century, Harlem became the unofficial “capital” of Black America, followed by the Harlem Renaissance in the arts and humanities. The Great Depression almost wiped it out and it took generations for restoration and rejuvenation to take hold. Harlem today is a vibrant, eclectic, diverse, and still rapidly changing neighborhood — that has become a top destination for foreign tourists!

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take in a show, explore on your own, or enjoy some R&R at the hotel.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York
New Yorker Hotel

Activity note: Taking the subway; walking approximately 3-5 miles.

Breakfast: In the Tick Tock Diner.

Morning: An art historian will join us to provide an overview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We’ll get tips on navigating its galleries before heading up to the museum. On the way, we’ll traverse Central Park as our expert talks about its history and points out areas of interest. Some 42 million people visit Central Park each year. Its 843 acres are managed by the private, not-for-profit Central Park Conservancy, formed in 1980 to improve and restore the park to prime condition after a period of decline. Central Park today may be America’s most famous park, providing respite and inspiration for residents and visitors alike.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. At the Metropolitan, there are choices from the cafeteria to the elegant Petrie Court Café. There are also numerous restaurants and other eateries in the vicinity of the museum. If you decide on a New York City hot dog from one of the vendors out on Fifth Avenue, your badge allow re-entry to the museum.

Afternoon: A variety of docent-led explorations are available to take you through the collections of your choosing. The Met, founded in 1870, is one of the world’s greatest museums with a collection spanning more than 5,000 years of creativity. Its artistic treasury from every corner of the world includes paintings, arms and armor, costume, decorative arts, musical instruments, photography, works on paper, and much more. There are 26,000 objects from ancient Egypt, the largest collection outside Cairo; 2,500 European paintings, one of the most extensive collections anywhere; and the most comprehensive collection of American decorative arts, paintings, and sculpture in the American Wing. The Beaux-Arts façade and Great Hall of the iconic flagship building — designed by architect and founding museum trustee Richard Morris Hunt — opened in 1902. Today, tens of thousands of objects are on view at any given time.

Dinner: At an Irish pub serving up classic fare as well as contemporary cuisine, we’ll have a plated dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: One last time, we’ll hop on the subway and head down to the World Trade Center. We’ll visit the Oculus, the new transit hub designed by Santiago Calatrava. It opened on September 11, 2017, to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Each year on that date, the skylight will open for 102 minutes — the time it took from the first jetliner striking the WTC until the collapse of the second tower. We will then proceed upstairs and outdoors to the 16-acre 9/11 Memorial, “a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.” Two reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size, sit where the Twin Towers once stood. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure after our closing session in the morning.

What’s Happening Around the City, Program Concludes
New York

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: In the meeting room.

Morning: As a final highlight, we’ll be joined by a New Yorker who’s in touch with what’s happening around the city for a closing discussion. We expect the session to end by approximately 10:30 a.m. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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