This past Saturday my family decided to kick off the winter break by embarking on a Stray Boots Urban Game in New York City. What is Stray Boots, you ask? It is an excellent family experience that is half scavenger hunt and a half walking tour with your cell phone as your guide. We love receiving expert knowledge but are not big fans of being tied down to a tour. This urban game which is available in fourteen cities allows you to “let your boots stray with your cell phone leading the way.”
Stray Boots offers thirteen different game zones. Since my niece was visiting from Louisiana, we decided to choose the Bryant Park and Grand Central: Movers, Shakers & Skyscrapers since the area had the greatest number of major NYC attractions. Here are some highlights of our adventure as we found sites by answering questions and completing photo-op challenges!
We began in Bryant Park and received our first clue via text message after entering our activation code. Our first task was to look for the man Bryant Park was named for and happened to be sitting pretty on the east side of the park.
Searching, we looked for the plaque on the statue for the middle name to answer the question and then learned that William Cullen Bryant was the driving force behind two other New York City landmarks – Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Moving on, we headed up 6th Avenue to 43rd Street and made a left answer another clue: What theater was once home to the League for Political Education?
The Town Hall hosted many political speakers, such as 1st Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she spoke in defense of FDR’s New Deal.
Another clue leads us to dbBistro Moderne, and we found out that you can eat one of NY’s most expensive cheeseburgers, stuffed with Foie gras. Since we needed to know how much it cost, we headed into the restaurant to ask one of the waiters. We learned that it was $32! We soon discovered that the $32 burger was just a drop in the bucket compared to eating at NYC’s most expensive restaurant, Masa, a Japanese restaurant in the Times Warner Center. Dinner there can cost $300 to $500 per person!
Across the street from dbBistro Moderne, was the Royalton Hotel established in 1898. As we searched to find what color the old telephones were in the lobby, we learned that the building was one of the first buildings in NYC to enable street-level passage from one block to the next.
When we arrived at Grand Central Terminal, we had to find something that was worth $10-20 million! It turned out that the clock that sits on top of the information booth is GOLD…who knew? We also discovered that Grand Central Terminal is a very romantic place! The Biltmore Room was called the “kissing room” since passengers coming off long-distance train rides like the Knickerbocker met there. Another romantic area was the rotunda outside the Oyster Bar, which has a whispering corner that is a popular spot for marriage proposals!
I was surprised to find out that after living in New York for almost twenty years that I was not aware of Library Way! Library Way has 96 plaques in the sidewalk on 41st Street that contains the quotes of 45 writers. After we had found a quote by Thomas Jefferson, we headed to the NY Public Library where we answered clues in the Periodical Room and the Rose Main Reading Room.
The scavenger hunt took us about three hours to complete and at times it felt like the Amazing Race when we ran into other people also playing the game. This game is perfect for families! Kids learn things without even realizing it, and the game truly was interactive and SO MUCH FUN! We can’t wait to check out some of the other game zones in the future!