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If you’re making the American Museum of Natural History the centerpiece of a family getaway this fall, you’ll be in good company, not only at the museum but within the city’s hotels, which have long relied on heavy occupancy from October to December even during trying economic times.
This doesn’t mean you won’t find last-minute fall hotel deals in New York but if you’re looking to book a sure and elegant thing now, midtown Manhattan’s Buckingham Hotel will let two grownups and two children overnight in one of its one bedroom deluxe suites for rates starting at $299/night. The suite layout affords a separate bedroom, living room with pull-out couch, and a kitchenette.
The hotel will also throw in four admission tickets to AMNH’s “Race to the End of the Earth” exhibit, which chronicles a contest between two explorer teams to reach the South Pole from 1911 to 1912. If the Buckingham’s website won’t accept the promo code “race,” call the hotel and request the “Race to the End of the Earth” promotion, running through January 2.
The Buckingham is about a mile south of the museum – a crisp walk or an easy bus or subway ride away. If you prefer to be a mile north of the museum and couched in the family-friendly embrace of the city’s Upper West Side, Broadway Hotel & Hostel gives a boutique-like twist to the hostelling experience.
Play around for a few minutes at Broadway’s Web site plugging in dates from October to December – rates most nights range from $32 to $34 a head – and you’ll likely hit upon availability for the property’s “double double ensuite,” which includes two double beds and a private bathroom as well as a flat-screen TV. The room, which I saw during a site visit last fall, will run about $200 including tax and will exceed your expectations about what a family can find at a hostel. Gravy here is a tastefully decorated ground floor common area with free Wi-Fi.
If you want to eliminate a hotel stay completely, let’s deal with the big elephant – or, in this case, whale – in the room: Is the AMNH’s $129 per person “Night at the Museum” sleepover worth the hype? You betcha. The experience, available to kids 7 to 13 accompanied by a guardian, enables you to sleep (or restlessly lie awake) on a cot in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, better known as the whale room, or in one of two other halls. Activities as well as roaming access to selected museum floors are included, as are a nighttime snack and breakfast the next morning. Pack a sleeping bag and toothbrush at the very least. And if you survive the night without the dinosaurs coming to life and freaking you out, you'll like that the sleepover fee includes free museum admission for the following day.