Tuesday Travel: New York CityPosted by MomOnMars on August 21, 2012
This summer, we flew to New York City. Twice. Once for the Origami USA convention; the second time for the mecca of all blogging conferences, BlogHer.
Heading to NYC is not unlike a trip to Disneyland…so much to do…so little time. In June, we stayed at the Affinia Manhattan – great prices, tiny, tiny rooms (compared to Texas). In August, we were at the Hilton New York. Much bigger rooms and really nice staff.
Our first stop, first trip was the Statute of Liberty, but without much time, we didn’t want the long tour. Instead, we chose a 30-minute drive by on what had to be one of the most fun boat trips I’ve been on in ages. Take The Beast – but be ready rock out to some awesome tunes, laugh and get really, really wet.
After a tour of the Empire State Building (go all the way to the top – it’s worth it), we stopped by Eataly, a grocery/restaurant/bakery/deli/cookware marketplace. Our first stop there was rather unsuccessful – we were starved and the place was packed with at least an hour wait at seated restaurant inside. But it looked so good, we put it on our list to visit again, and we were a little luckier. No wait. After some amazing gnocchi from one of the five restaurants inside, we picked up a couple of mouthwatering mini-desserts to take back to the hotel. So. Scrumptious.
But maybe not as scrumptious as our visit to Il Gattopardo during our August trip. Tiny little Italian restaurant near 53rd and 6th. If they don’t serve them to you, be sure to ask for the arroncini di risk…a little round ball of perfection.
A must-stop for us was FAO Schwartz to see the giant piano featured in the movie, Big. You can buy one of your own for a mere five figures. Meh…not so impressive. More fun was watching the singing clock and posing out front with a dressed up toy soldier who had quite the attitude.
And what trip to NYC is complete without visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s every bit as impressive as you think…more so. But you won’t get through it all in one day. My first surprise was at the entrance where we were told the price and then asked to pay whatever we could afford. My second was at the cafe where we stopped for a quick bite. Two different items on the menu were no longer available, and there was nothing Twirl would eat (not particularly child-friendly). She started to tear up, but to my surprise, neither the waiter nor the manager (who stopped by later to apologize for being out of food) offered to bring her any crackers, bread or chips. No Southern hospitality here. It was our only negative experience during the entire stay. So definitely go to the Met, but eat before you go.
A great place to grab a bite is Ellen’s Diner. The food isn’t the best, but the entertainment is awesome. All the waiters are actors and actresses waiting for their big break on Broadway..and they sing the entire time you’re eating. Our waiter sang Frank Sinatra. Tips for the waiters go to help fund their acting and voice lessons. Just don’t expect to be able to have a conversation during dinner – not that you’ll want to.
Because you can’t go to NYC without some shopping, my daughter and I took a short trip over to SoHo and Canal Street. No back room knock offs for me (I’m not that brave), but we did stop by the Scholastic Store which was the most colorful bookstore I’ve ever been in. With the perfect touch of whimsy, a message in chalk on the sidewalk leading into the store welcomes you.
And we had our colors read at Lush. I learned that ambition is a strength or a weakness for me (actually, it’s a double-edged sword, IMHO). I’m seeking calm (always). And motivation is my talent. Not sure how all that plays out in real life, but it was a fun exercise. More fun were the exploding bath balls. Now THAT’s fun.
One last you-gotta-walk-into spot is Radio City Music Hall. We had purchased tickets to see Cirque du Soleil, something I’ve always wanted to do. The show, Zarkana, was stunning. But the venue was Magnificent, with a capital M.
Here’s what we learned.
- Pack light because you likely won’t have much space to live even out of your suitcase.
- Don’t forget to put your chargers in your carry-on just in case, say, you get stuck at the airport for six hours because of delayed weather. Yep - that’s the voice of experience.
- JFK was a much easier airport to navigate than La Guardia.
- Don’t plan meals around tourist spots…they’re just too crowded. Instead, ask your concierge or read hyperlocal bloggers for tips on off-the-beaten-path-but-awesome
holes in the wallsrestaurants.
- Do not take anything but a yellow cab, and especially not the guy in the black Escalade who stops his car and yells at you that he’s a “legal” limo. He probably is a freelance driver, but he might not have insurance, and he certainly isn’t legal and that ride will end up costing you ten times as much as a real cab. Okay – let’s just say I learned that one the hard way, too.
- Always carry your umbrella. Because as soon as it starts raining, there are no more cabs. (I still can’t explain that one.)
As a hyperlocal blogger, I’m a big fan of searching out local bloggers when I travel – they usually know what’s going on in their backyards. I found some great blogs to help us in planning our trips. For your reference, here are four blogs I found that I loved.
If you’re an overachiever: NYC Bloggers – A Exhaustive – and exhausting – List
If you are looking for activities for kids: Mommy Poppins
For some interesting places that may not be there for long: Vanishing New York
Cool architecture and insider tips: Scouting NY