Where will the road take YOU?

Destination Diaries

 

 

 

New York City

New York City truly has so much to offer that sometimes the idea of a visit can be completely overwhelming. You may be planning a weekend getaway, a week long stay, or perhaps a more extended vacation. Some potential “visits” have turned into a new home for many, not able to pull away from the many dreams that New York City can fulfill. 

Be sure to arm yourself with the most valuable tool from the very beginning.  I am talking about the CityPASS, of course!

citypass

Never guess if you are getting the best "deal" on museum tickets again.  CityPASS completely takes out the guesswork by including the city's best attractions, all in ONE ticket book for ONE price.  Visit the Empire State Building Observatory, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metroplitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim Museum, and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line Cruise.  

edison

Finding the perfect hotel in New York City can be way beyond overwhelming. It can be mind blowing. There are so many decisions to make, and so many things that must be taken into consideration.

 If this is a short getaway, your hotel will be very important to you. It will be where you spend some time for relaxation. It will be close to an attraction or two that may be the sole purpose of your visit.

 If this is a longer vacation, full of sightseeing, your choice for accommodations becomes even more important. If a visitor has never been to New York City, it is difficult to even comprehend the sheer enormity of it all. It could take hours to get from Point A to Point B, and even a taxi could take 30 minutes to go a few blocks during rush hour. Fortunately, a lot of attractions are within walking distance, and the subway is fast, comprehensive, and affordable. Taking all of this into consideration, finding that perfect "home base" for your sightseeing should be Number One on your "To Do List". Remember that it is often more important to be in the middle radius of what you wish to see and do, rather than just to be next door to one or two museums.

And in the Big Apple, nothing can be more in the middle of it all than Times Square. This is the area where the ball drops on New Years Eve, where tourist attractions and swanky museums abound, and where you can eat to your heart's content in neighboring Hell's Kitchen. You are also just steps away from the Theatre District, and box office hits like Wicked.

 While your options are still seemingly endless, it is nice to search for a property that offers a few extra touches, rather than merely a small room on a noisy street. My top pick is the Hotel Edison.

 The Hotel Edison is a staggeringly gorgeous hotel, decorated in the same Art Deco style as Radio City Music Hall. Built in 1931, the building exudes a historical radiance, but within, all of the most modern comforts await.

 The rooms in the Signature Collection at Hotel Edison come equipped with flat screen televisions, complimentary WiFi, upgraded mattresses, and fabulous Frette linens. The rooms are being renovated with a contemporary flair, and they offer such little extras as plush bathrobes and iPod alarm clocks. To ensure that your stay is in one of the luxurious, remodeled rooms, just make sure to upgrade to the Signature Collection.  It is well worth it!

However, there are several room choices at the Hotel Edison, ranging from classic rooms to signature terrace suites. Yes, you can even splurge and be afforded a view of Times Square!

The Hotel Edison offers wonderful amenities to their guests. They can arrange airport transfers, and they have a wonderful concierge staff to book dinner reservations or secure tickets for the hottest plays on Broadway. They can even pre-arrange museum passes for MOMA, the Met, or the Museum of Natural History. Or want a double-decker bus tour? Yes... they can do that, too! Amazed yet?

 Hotel guests may even use the business and fitness centers, or take advantage of valet parking.

And every Friday in the magnificent, warm lobby, you may take part in the complimentary wine and cheese reception. Yes... you read that correctly. You may relax in the beautiful decor while sipping a glass of delicious wine. Alright... I am SOLD!

 Hotel Edison is located at 227 W. 47th Street, right in between 8th Avenue and Broadway. I would be hard pressed to find a more ideal location. Everything in Times Square is literally steps away, including access to the subway to take you anywhere else your feet can't. It is also a quick walk from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

 Visit them online, or call 212-840-5000 to make your reservation today!

 

hudson

Now, we must not neglect an aspect of a city that will truly languish in our memories… and our taste buds… for years to come. Yup, you are exactly right. I am talking about FOOD!

When one thinks of New York City and food, many images come to mind. Myself, I picture eating a hot dog as I walk through Central Park, or gazing through the windows in Chinatown trying to decide which door to open. As with everything else in New York, this too can be extremely overwhelming.

Let’s try to take the guesswork out of what could turn into a regular Tuesday lunch, and do something a little more exciting, educational, and even more romantic. As I searched the city for such a thing, one fantastic, yet totally different, option emerged.

So, imagine the most romantic, elegant, exciting night possible… and you will be envisioning a dinner cruise on the Bateaux New York.

bateaux

Pulling up to Chelsea Pier, the first glimpse of the ship is literally breathtaking. The European-inspired cruising vessel is unforgettable. Enclosed almost completely in glass, the reflections of the city lights offer a teasing preview into what will surely be a night to go down in the books.

This is like no other dinner cruise that I have ever experienced.  The extent of luxury and first class service is unsurpassed. From the check in to the seating process, everyone was treated like visiting diplomats or royalty.

The Bateaux offers a diverse selection of cruises to fit any size party, celebration, budget, or time restriction. Brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktail, moonlight, and charter cruises are available, all with the same beautiful views and the same immaculate service... whatever your budget or party size.

Speaking of the views, the word that comes to mind is “Wow”! The ship sails along the Hudson and East Rivers, with the most breath-taking scenery imaginable. On any given cruise, you will see the following:

route


And wait... we haven’t even talked about the food!

Be prepared to experience a wonderful, plated dinner, offering several selections from appetizers all the way through to the dessert. And let me tell you from experience, the lobster bisque is fantastic! While I am not typically a lobster fan, this definitely changed my mind. Blended with Crème Fraiche and a snip of Sherry, this could actually cause one to forget the views! Of course, the entrees are fierce competition, ranging from a wonderful oven roasted salmon to tangy beef short ribs and several tantalizing options in between.

bisque

Sigh… and then the dessert arrives. The Bateaux truly knows the meaning of New York style cheesecake, garnished with fruit, daring each lucky guest to devour every bite. However, the warm valrhona chocolate torte provides noteworthy competition, and should not be underestimated.

The brunch and lunch menus also offer plated service, boasting other delectable offerings, with the same views and the same unparalleled views.

And what lovely cruise would be complete without entertainment? Once again, the Bateaux delivers. The stirring sounds of jazz, blues, and other classical melodies add to the already perfect ambience, whether dancing the night away, or choosing to linger table side with a glass of wine.

bateauxband

 

Yes… and the wine! The Bateaux offers a vast wine list, perfectly paired with a nice choice of high standard liquors. I would definitely suggest the bar package that is available, offering beer, wine, juice, soda, and premium brand liquors.

 Other dining enhancements are also offered, covering everything from roses to keepsake souvenirs.  The Bateaux truly thinks of everything!

Speaking of everything, the Bateaux New York can also host your special function or occasion. Imagine the wedding of your dreams, sailing down the Hudson, with every detail executed to perfection!

 The Bateaux New York pays more attention to detail than any river cruise I have ever experienced.  From booking a reservation to sadly bidding farewell upon debarkation, this is a wonderful experience that should not be missed.

You can find additional information about Bateaux New York at www.bateauxnewyork.com, or by calling a friendly representative at 1-866-817-3463.

The next time your travels take you to New York City, do something different! Dine in elegance on the Bateaux New York, and see and experience Manhattan in a beautiful, new way!

Speaking of "different", do not leave new York without experiencing Sleep No More.

snm macbeth

I am not really sure how to begin this.  I am not really sure how to end this.  I am even perplexed by the pieces that fall in between.  The enigma that is Sleep No More can not be personified with mere words... but I will tell you this:  it is brilliant.

Housed in the eccentric McKittrick Hotel at 530 W. 27th Street, in New York City's neighborhood of Chelsea, the building itself is foreboding, to say the least.  Rising into the night, whispered promises of the macabre float through the air like autumn leaves.

And then... you enter.  You are immediately ushered to something eerily reminescent of a hotel check-in, at which point you are given a playing card to symbolize your "room key".  The "hotel guests" are then sent into the now famous Manderley Bar, where a beautifully re-created lounge scene is in full swing, with libations available for purchse, before your numbered card is called, and you begin, well... the most intoxicating night imaginable.

 

What comes next is a myriad of forbidden fantasies, spread as deliciously as any buffet, with temptations around every corner, down every darkened hallway, and hidden in every night stand drawer.  Sleep No More takes each visitor on his own private journey through nearly one hundred rooms and scenes, all offering choices and scenarios that can either be followed, or discarded for a more interesting development in the next hidden space.

snm attorney

Try as one might to make this a group effort, it is nearly impossible, as each guest must don a mask upon entering, as well as stumble through this massive labyrinth... in absolute silence.  This proves much more difficult than it seems, for in each new zig and zag in this plot based on a twisted Macbeth, it is often almost painful not to ask questions, or to share a secret that was whispered in the forest maze.  However, do not fear, because all other forms of communication and investigative methods are highly encouraged, including touching props, digging through file cabinets, or sampling gumdrops in the candy store.

The scenes that may be viewed are completely invigorating... ranging from an elegant dance in a ballroom, to bizarre rituals and bloody baths.  One never knows what to expect at the McKittrick Hotel... culminating in what can only be described as the most surreal moment ever offered by the performing arts.

snm front desk

So what exactly is Sleep No More?  That answer is quite complicated, because it can mean so many things to so many different people, quite dependent on the paths chosen and the mindset possessed during the experience itself.  However, if pressed, I believe that it is equal parts art at its most tragically beautiful, terrror within its strongest and wildest grip, and absolute pure, unadulterated imagination.

Experience it for yourself.  Or are you afraid of the dark?

If your taste runs to something a bit milder, New York City will not disappoint.

If anyone has ever been to New York City, you are fully aware that you will walk more than you have ever walked in your entire life.  Even if you purchase that nifty subway pass, you will walk to the stop, go down the stairs, to go back up the stairs to... guess what... go back down them again.  

Take a day to give your feet a rest, and spend the best three and a half hours you will ever experience on a bus on the New York TV & Movie Sites Tour.

movie tour hotel

This will be an afternoon that you will not soon forget, as you find yourself in the exact locations where Friends, Smash, Ghostbusters, I Am Legend, Gossip Girl, Serendipity, Breakfast At Tiffany's, and hundreds more were actually filmed.  You will see clips shown on monitors inside the bus, from television series or motion pictures that used these locations for scenes that you have grown to love.

movie tour ghostbusters

Not only will you see these locations, but several times during the tour you will be invited to disembark from the bus and actually pose for pictures, explore the area, or grab a snack around the corner from where Heath Ledger lived.

And... who knows when you will be surprised by actual filming in progress, all of which your tour guide will explain and point out... in a very excited manner.  Our guide for this tour was Roseanne, and she was just a wealth of knowledge about the industry, and even made us privy to a few television shows that were filming across the city that very day.  She also gave us black and white cookies.  She is my new best friend.

This will be one of the most exciting days you will ever spend in New York City!  Take the tour, and imagine yourself in the movies!  You may visit online to book today!

Now, On Location Tours also offers a host of other tours for you to choose from.  I had to indulge my guiltiest pleasure, and sign up for one.

gg bendel

With Gossip Girl in its final season, this is definitely the time to take this tour, and find yourself in the exact places where your favorite GG moments have transpired.

On Location Tours, the world's largest television and movie site tour company, has put together an amazing trek across Manhattan, in a comfortable tour bus that shows memory-jogging clips from Gossip Girl, right before you pull up to the actual filming locale. 

gg met

See the Met steps where Blair held reign over her minions, visit the Empire Hotel where Chuck Bass was king, or see where it all started at the Constance Billiard School for girls.

This is an expert tour, and not just for females.  Our tour had people of all ages present, watching the clips and snapping pictures through the huge bus windows.  Our guide, Paige, was knowledgeable about all things Upper East Side, and was an expert storyteller.  I truly felt immersed into the lives of the elite, ready at any minute to be whisked away to a high society gala.

And there is not only "window gazing" going on from the bus, but the tour actually stops at several locations so that the attendees can get out, stretch their legs, realign their headbands, and have their photos taken just like Blair and Serena.  One of the stops was at the Empire Hotel, where a reality show was being filmed at that exact moment in the lobby bar.

gg empire

Spontaneity is one of the wonderful things about this tour, where our guide was poised and ready at any moment to point out any filmings that may have been in progress.  After one stop, she even passed out macaroons, Blair's favorite.

I would definitely recommend taking this tour if you are even remotely interested in the world of Gossip Girl.  It was fun, fascinating, and full of information on your favorite characters. 

Visit online to book your tour today.

XOXO

(I couldn't resist.)

emerald

Manhattan is full of magic.  It is truly a place where dreams are fulfilled and stars are born.  And there is no better way to take a peak into the world of Broadway than by attending Behind the Emerald Curtain. 

Visitors will get a beind-the-scenes look at Wicked on a tour that is led by none other than Wicked cast members! 

For those of you out there that find yourself humming Wicked showtunes on a daily basis, this tour will make your head spin!  You will have the opportunity to view memorabilia and costumes from the addictive musical... including pieces worn by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth in its original run. 

Even if you have never seen Wicked, the information that you will take away applies to any production, and it will give you a first-hand look at the many details that go into developing a Broadway play! If you are even remotely interested in the theater, this is a MUST DO!

For additional information, please visit them ONLINE.

 

scavenger
 

I have been fortunate enough to visit New York City many times.  I have been to the major museums, the Statue of Liberty, and I've been to various street markets that ended in my luggage exceeding the weight limit at the airport.  In short, I thought I had experienced the best of New York City.  How wrong I was! 

A friendly concierge pointed me in the direction of Watson Adventures, and New York City will never be the same to me again!  Watson Adventures hosts a plethora of scavenger hunts that possess an almost "Amazing Race" adrenaline quality, that sends teams on a hunt throughout various areas of the city... searching for clues... running down sidewalks... and having the absolute BEST adventure imaginable!

I attended the Ghosts of Greenwich Village Scavenger Hunt... which led teams to cemeteries, eerie buildings, and some of the haunts of the Village's most famous inhabitants.  I wish I could say more, but you MUST be part of the hunt, so I won't give away any clues! 

And this is just one of many hunts that Watson Adventures offers.  Imagine running about the Museum of Natural History, or Grand Central Station! 

This is by far the most FUN experience that is offered in New York City.  Grab your flashlight, a few friends, and be ready for... well, ANYTHING.

For additional information, please visit Watson Adventures ONLINE.

  And by now some more food is in order. 

 

turnstile
 

So if you have ever been to New York City, you have inevitably eaten from a food cart... even if it is just grabbing a hot dog as you run to the subway.  But with the food cart craze sweeping the nation, your mind may often wander to query where to find the best carts in the city, and what types of foods can you expect to find at these extraordinary eateries. 

Well, Turnstile Tours has made that simple!  Join them on a lunch tour that delves deep into the food cart industry in either Midtown or the Financial District.  And while you will most definitely leave this tour completely full and planning a late dinner, you won't just sample delicious foods from a vast array of vendors, but you will get an education on just what is involved in setting up a food cart. 

I opted for the Midtown tour, and it was literally like a jaunt from one country to another, munching on tasty ethnic foods, NYC staples, and desserts that have evolved into full meals.  These food vendors range from immigrants to successful chefs, and hearing their stories is nothing short of miraculous and inspirational. 

If you are hungry, but want a little more than just your average fast food lunch, then this is the tour for you!

For additional information, please visit them ONLINE.

 


foodsofny 

 

Greenwich Village is an area that offers exceptional choices for dining.  It is a funky, vibrant area that just invites you in as a stranger, and sends you away as a friend... and there is no better way to explore than through its food! However, with the help of Foods of New York Tours, make the guessing game an educated decision, and breeze through the Village on a food tour that will make your head spin! 

First let me say that the tour guides are amazing!  It is so difficult to mix facts with an entertaining presentation, but it comes to them like second nature.  I learned about the culture of the area, its inhabitants, and I tasted some of the most delicious food in existence. 

This company also offers a nice selection of other tours in different areas of the city, so take a few!  They help familiarize you with the many different neighborhoods that New York City boasts, and they definitely keep you fed!

For additional information, please visit them ONLINE.

 

Now... if you are ready to find some of the most delicious, ecclectic eateries in all of New York City, head to Hell's Kitchen, just steps away from Times Square.

 
 empanada

I can see Empanada Mama a bit further down the sidewalk.  I can clearly see the sign, shining like a beacon in the night.  Can it be possible that I can already SMELL the delicious flavors, wafting out of the door and onto the street?  Well, it is definitely not my imagination, because the open door invites me into a sea of wondrous aromas, all tempting me to take a seat and order away. 

For starters, the ambiance at Empanada Mama is nearly electric.  Everyone seems so happy, as they gaze at menus or reach for plates piled high with seasoned goodness.  It's easy to see why. 

This food is FANTASTIC.  Whether you choose crisp empanadas overflowing with tasty fillings like spicy chicken and cheese steak, guacamole and plantain chips, or an avocado salad, you are in for a wonderfully fulfilling treat for your taste buds!  The entrees also beckon with selections like Arroz Con Pollo (Colombian style boneless chicken mixed with sofrito sauce, seasoned yellow rice, peas, onions and red pepper) and Palomilla A La Plancha (grilled sirloin, marinated with traditional Latin herbs and spices, with white or yellow rice, black or red beans, salad and chimichurri sauce).

If you have even a bit of space saved for dessert, the selection of sweet emapandas is amazing.  Try the Belgian Milk Chocolate and Banana, or the Caramel and Cheese.

When you are anywhere NEAR New York City, make sure to visit Empanada Mama for an unforgettable experience!

Now... while a person could live in New York City for a thousand  years and never run out of things to do, sometimes a little getaway, or a day or weekend trip is in order.

gh bus

 I think that one of the most popular getaways from the Big Apple is to Atlantic City.  There is just something about skipping away for a weekend to hit the slots, walk the infamous Boardwalk, or just relax by the pool.  Atlantic City has even become more popular with HBO's hit series, "Boardwalk Empire".

gh ac

The idea of a getaway to the gambler's paradise seems like a fantastic idea... but how will you get there?  There are a few ideas for transportation from New York City, but you have probably heard the saying that "it's all about the journey", so make sure that you choose wisely.  Even if you are with a car in the city, the trip may often run into traffic, and a lot of tolls.  I would, hands down, take a bus... but not just any bus.

Greyhound's Lucky Streak departs conveniently from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, who recently erected a statue out front in tribute to the character Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners.  I stated that this is just not any bus, and this is correct.  This is one great way to travel.  Not only are the seats comfortable and roomy, but there's a lot of space to stretch out your legs.  Free Wi-Fi is available, as well as outlets to keep all of your devices powered. This makes the trip to AC a breeze.

Besides the already low price, the great deals do not stop there.  When you arrive at the casino of your choice, you will be presented with free play to use at that property.  And don't worry about doing the guesswork as to your departure time, because the tickets are roundtrip and open-ended, meaning you can check the schedule and leave when it is convenient for you.  With so many stops and pick up locations, the possibilities are endless!

You may visit Greyhound's Lucky Streak online for additional information. Plan your getaway today!

 There is NO WAY to even attempt to include everything there is to do in New York City.  With so many options, I have tried to include a few well known, some hidden gems, and some absolutely "do not miss" tours and attractions. Whatever your taste, New York City awaits!