My traveling mom loves to hit the off-the-beaten path places in New York City .  After two days tooling around eclectic museums and landmark eateries, we hit the New York City Fire Museum. The assortment of antique firetrucks, particularly the horse-drawn ones decked out with special decorations for ceremonial parades, impressed my mother.

My favorite display in the museum is Chief, a stray dog who became the mascot of Brooklyn’s Engine Company 203. Chief bravely rescued hundreds of people alongside firefighters in the 1930s until he was hit by a car and killed. He is stuffed and mounted in a glass-enclosed nook of the museum. “Gross,” Mom declared. I think taxidermy makes every museum that much more interesting.

Another afternoon, we hit Chelsea Market for snacks. My mom, sister, and I shared a lavender milkshake with homemade ice cream and a strawberry blended milk and yogurt cocktail from the Ronnybrook Milk Bar.  Mom and I would have preferred the Chocolate Orange Peel, but my sister was not keen on a shake made with orange soda (or "pop," as they say in Chicago). There was no room in our stomachs after all that, but I could not let them leave without brownies from the Fat Witch Bakery . We arrived after 5 p.m., so the unwrapped brownies we bought to take home were half price.