Taking Our Stray Boots Through Chinatown and Little Italy
I have always said that one of the most wonderful things about NYC is that you never know everything there is to know. And if there ever is a moment when you think you knew everything, something happens to change it or prove you wrong. It’s New York. It’s good like that.
Last November I took my family on a scavenger hunt hosted by Stray Boots. They are the creators of New York: The Game which is NYC’s first text message scavenger hunt.
Even as a New Yorker, I came across a couple of clues during the game where I had absolutely no idea what the answer was. But because I was with my “team” (i.e. my husband and three boys), we worked together and would sometimes find the answers together, other times on our own, but always excited when we got the correct one.
There are different hunts that you can do, or as they call them “Game Zones”. You can discover all there is to know in areas from Rockefeller Center to The American Museum of Natural History. The games focus on different interests as well, from the foodie, to the shopper, to the family traveler. What all players do have in common however, is a fun spirit, curious mind, and sense for adventure. One player in the team will receive challenges on their cell phone and navigate the city to complete them, earning points and learning fun facts as they go. I love that you can start whenever you want and play at whatever pace you want. This is key if you are traveling with kids especially.
All you need to do is buy a ticket, activate your phone, and go!
We chose the Chinatown/Little Italy game zone, a place my kids had never ventured to by foot, and one that I myself didn’t know too well either.
The day we went was a bit chilly and windy, but our spirits were high and we were energized by the busy Chinatown streets. The minute we got off the train, my kids started asking questions about the obvious cultural elements seen throughout the streets. This is where there not being a time limit on the game came out handy. We had time to slowly sight-see. We didn’t have to stress when the kids wanted to eat, or play in the playground, or window shop. For them this was all very, very exciting.
We stopped to taste treats, let our sight and smells of the city guide us to our next clue. The game encouraged us to walk into bakeries and try different treats and walk into small shops full of Chinese gifts and toys.
We walked past butcher shops and fish markets, where we saw the strangest looking sea life and other creatures we had never seen before. I laughed hysterically at the sight of my kids’ faces when they asked what the bucket of frogs was for! We saw fruit and vegetable vendors, and because clues we were given through the game, we didn’t just pass them by, but interacted with them and asked them questions. This was a highlight for me as they game served as an ice-breaker and comfortable excuse to approach locals and ask them about their area and a bit about their culture. People were friendly, approachable, and very helpful.
We stopped by the historical landmarks that indicated the former Five Points, something which my husband was especially intrigued with after watching Gangs of New York . Game clues lead us to areas where we could read up on the history of this part of the city and where each small street got its name.
We ventured into parks and watched as elderly Chinese men and women played poker and mah-jong. No one noticed us or cared as we walked around, observed, and took it all in.
As night started to set in, we found ourselves in Little Italy. Restaurant owners were setting up for dinner as we passed by store fronts proudly displaying Italian flags. Because it was mid-November when we did this, the streets were covered in Christmas lights and decorations. It was all very beautiful and festive. Exhausted and a bit cold, we made our way into Ferrara Cafe, a staple in Little Italy since 1892. Over cannoli and hot chocolate we talked about all the amazing things we saw and discovered through the game.
It was a fascinating day and felt as if we had traveled to another world, rather than just to the lower East side of Manhattan. By the end of it all my heart was filled with love for this city and I was emotional over the fact that we got to experience so much in one day as a family.
I don’t recall the number of points my husband said we got in total, but I think we did pretty good. Stray Boots invites you to post the pictures of your scavenger hunt on the Stray Boots Facebook page. I encourage to go on one, and if you have kids, even better. If you are from here, forget what you think you know about New York City, even I walked away with a lot of new information. And if this is your just visiting, I can’t think of a more fun, relaxed way to discover a bit of our city’s history, people, and culture, while enjoying a fun game.
This opportunity game to us through MomsLoveIt.com, a wonderful new website that seeks to increase the joie de vivre of each mom, by bringing exciting deals, exclusive perks, events and unique content to their members, all with the goal of making life better and more fun for moms. Check them out for fun perks for your family.
Disclosure: This post is based on a complimentary game with Stray Boots with paid expenses courtesy of MomLoveIt.com. I received no requirements to express a certain point of view. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.