Reporting Jay Lloyd
After a gallant life of action in the Pacific and many space capsule recoveries, the aircraft carrier Intrepid wound up decommissioned in Philadelphia and then looked like she might be heading for the scrap heap. But a new life was ahead as a museum ship and a major attraction just north of here in New York City. A visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum can be a convenient day trip or a weekend getaway. Be there in two hours and absorb the fascinating hands-on history of America’s infatuation with sea and space. – Jay Lloyd
Head straight to the flight deck for an eye-filling array of military aircrafts from the past. For grown-ups who built models of their favorites as kids, it’s a journey back in time that puts scale and dimension into the fantasies of youthful flight. For those who flew them, it’s pure nostalgia; one young man was captivated by the sight of machines that his grandfather had flown. There are fighters, attack bombers and rescue helicopters. Beyond the towering superstructure — where the business of launching and retrieving planes takes place — is a pavilion that now houses one of the space shuttles. Visitors also show amazement at the needle thin lines of the now-retired supersonic Concorde, a British-French addition to the collection. As of writing this piece, the Space Pavilion is temporarily closed for repairs after Hurricane Sandy took its toll.
Below the flight deck, you’ll find the busy hangar deck, where aircraft were parked and maintained during long combat tours at sea. Folded wings provide space for a meticulously preserved Grumman Avenger, a deadly torpedo bomber that was a key element in the Allied World War Two march across the Pacific. Visitors can fly a simulator or squeeze into a Gemini space capsule replica. The exhibits tell the story of the sailors and flyers who manned the ship during war and peace.
But there’s more: Alongside the Intrepid is the WWII diesel submarine Growler. Visitors can experience the cramped space that was once home to the men who wore the dolphin badge during long patrols under the sea.
WHAT IT COSTS
Adult admission is $22, seniors pay $18, veterans $15, youngsters from7 to 17 pay $17 and kids between 3 and 6 are charged $10. Military retirees and those on active duty cross the gangplank free. For all ticket and package information, cruise here.
WHERE TO EAT
Since the Intrepid is only five blocks from the heart of the New York theater district, you’ll be a short stroll away from the most restaurant-endowed patch of land on the planet. There’s no end of choices when it comes to dollars and variety. Here are a pair of my favorites:
As the name implies, this pub is Scottish right down to mugs of Belhaven ales and lagers and the impressive single malt list. The raw bar can make up an entire lunch or evening appetizer. The fish and chips is old world, and if you crave bangers and mash, you’ll be well satisfied. Pricing is mid-range.
This fine Italian eatery is very popular with the before and after theater crowd but is also open for lunch. For a relaxing dinner (if you stay overnight), wait until the curtains are up on Broadway. My favorite La Masseria appetizer and dinner is the carpaccio followed by a robust Bolognese. Entrees range from $19 to $40, however, most pasta dishes come in just under $20.
WHERE TO STAY
Close and convenient to the Intrepid is the Milford Plaza hotel. With 1,300 rooms, it’s busy, bustling and reasonably priced. The location at 8th Avenue and 45th Street is just a short walk to the museum dock, and it’s smack in the middle of the theater district.
The Times Square area is a hotel hub, so troll your own favorite online travel site and choose one from luxury to economy in your own price and comfort range.
I avoid driving to New York. Having a car in Gotham is no convenience; it’s more of a pain.
Amtrak offers frequent trains from 30th Street Station to Manhattan. A more reasonable alternative are the New Jersey Transit trains from Trenton. Both Megabus and Bolt Bus run from 30th Street Station, or you can take Bieber Bus from the Norristown Transportation Center.
From your arrival point, take any subway to Times Square and then the M42 bus westbound on 42nd Street to the river. Then walk four blocks north. You can walk from the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal Bieber Bus termination point.