Sunday, October 14th, 2007 at 12:16 am in Family Travel.
Traveling with children can be challenging, but the delights – a renewed sense of wonder, for one thing – far outweigh the baggage. So this Sunday, the Times travel section launches a new family feature, “Around the World with…,” a showcase of practical tips and great travel finds – wonderful, family-friendly hotels, great food, and cool sightseeing options – from the real family travel experts, Bay Area families. And we’re starting in the Big Apple and DC with the operatic Streshinskys of Kensington …
THE TRAVELERS: The Streshinsky Family ‚ÄĒ opera director Mark, soprano Marie Plette and son Evan, the young “politician” pictured above in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.
THE TREK IN A SEC: Streshinksy and Plette met at the San Francisco Opera ‚ÄĒ Plette will be back on that stage this December for Puccini‚Äôs‚ÄúMadama Butterfly.‚ÄĚ But they spent ten years in Manhattan and still have family and friends back East, so it‚Äôs little wonder that this Kensington trio spent their summer vacation in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTEL: The Streshinskys keep a Manhattan apartment, which they use when Marie is singing at the Met, and loan out to visiting friends and family, in town for the Metropolitan Opera season. But they also love the Park 79 Hotel (212-787-4900), a budget-minded boutique hotel ‚ÄĒ not all rooms have their own bathroom ‚ÄĒ on the upper West Side. It‚Äôs near the Hayden Planetarium, and 14 blocks from Lincoln Center.
** Broadway shows in New York City ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre theater people,‚ÄĚ says Mark Streshinsky, ‚ÄúSo we went to the theater. All three of us totally flipped for ‚ÄėWicked.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
** Behind-the-scenes tours of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., were made even more special by a visit to Senator Dianne Feinstein‚Äôs office. A family friend is on Feinstein‚Äôs staff, and he arranged a tour that included a ride on the Senate Trolley, the vehicle of choice for legislators zipping through the Capitol tunnels.
MOST MEMORABLE FOOD: Ollie‚Äôs Noodle Shop with several locations, including one right by Lincoln Center at 1991 Broadway ‚ÄĒ great food and great prices. New York Magazine had a nice write-up on the one near Times Square too.
The Streshinskys’ other favorite is Carmine‚Äôs, a family-style Italian restaurant with locations in Times Square and on Broadway in the 90s. Order one or two large family dishes to share. The menu includes all sorts of pasta dishes, veal, chicken, steaks and seafood ‚Äď something for every taste. Be sure to reserve dessert when you order dinner, says Mark, because they sell out early. The Streshinskys‚Äô favorite is the Chocolate Bread Pudding with whipped cream and strawberries.
1. The Streshinskys had the inside track on Capitol tours, but average Joes (and California constituents) can have breakfast with Senator Dianne Feinstein at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays when the Senate is in session. Reservations, which are required, can be made online. The senator‚Äôs staff can also help you book tours of the White House, Capitol Building, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Library of Congress ‚ÄĒ very popular, so book well ahead.
2. Book your Broadway tickets ahead of time through Ticketmaster.com or Broadway.com, or take potluck at the TKTS discount booth in Times Square. Day-of tickets are discounted up to 50 percent, and may include seats at some of the hottest performances on Broadway. The week of Oct. 1-7, for
example, TKTS had discounted tickets for ‚ÄúMary Poppins‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúMonty Python‚Äôs Spamalot,‚ÄĚ but not ‚ÄúWicked.‚ÄĚ Hot tickets go fast, lines are long (have one parent stand in line while the other hangs with the kids) and bring cash. TKTS does not accept credit cards. The TKTS windows open at 3 p.m. for evening performances daily, 10 a.m. for matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. for Sunday matinees.