Archive for the Category »New York «

Feb
13th
  Five Things to do with Kids in NYC During the Storm… or Springbreak

I can’t think of many more family friendly metropolises than New York City. Whether snow or shine, there are plenty of interesting and fun activities to melt away any winter blues (and little town blues according to ol blue eyes…)

While most of these are captivating places to visit during this current storm, you can also check them out during upcoming spring break. And even though a couple of these classic suggestions may seem obvious, there’s more to them behind the doors that you may need to explore.  Go ahead. Let your vagabond shoes stray.

NY Skyride

NY Skyride

New York Skyride

This visual stimulation takes you off the top of the Empire State Building and on a flight over Manhattan. Located on the second floor of the Empire State Building, this attraction is $29 for adults and $19 for children.
www.skyride.com/

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tour through centuries worth of art. Ranging from Egyptian art to present day, kids can learn all about ancient cultures. There are all kinds of special programs and talks for children, and even special ones for teens. The museum is open all week, with tickets at $25 for adults, while kids 12 and under are free. However, if you get a New York Pass, your admission is free!

Also – if traveling to exotic locations exploring art and culture with an educated guide is your idea of a great trip, look into Travel with the Met – The next organized tour goes to Copehnagen in the spring.

www.metmuseum.org/

Museum of Modern Art, NY

Museum of Modern Art, NY

Museum of Modern Art

Though it may seem like an obvious attraction, the MoMA also has film screenings every Friday, which are free for children under 16. Check out www.moma.org/visit/calendar/films for film schedules.

Good Morning America

Good Morning America

TV show tapings

For a unique- and free- travel experience, attend a taping of a popular TV show. But beware! The wait for tickets is often a long one, so write to the studio in advance. Check out www.nycgo.com/tv-show-tapings/ for schedules.

 

Accomplice, NY

Accomplice, NY

Accomplice

Take the most unique tour in New York! A city wide theatrical scavenger hunt, part theater, part game…you can take your family through the most famous landmarks, all while searching for clues.  Participants are looking for actors, who give them clues to find the next actor. Though there is no prize, the fun and unique experience is rewarding enough. This is more pricy, however, at $65 a ticket.
www.accomplicetheshow.com/

Tips:

Beware of the traffic! New York is famous for crazy driving. Keep a close eye on your young ones to keep them safe.

 

 
Nov
21st
  Culture & Cash-Free for Kids When The Climate is Crummy

Whatcha gonna do next week in New York before and after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade?

photoHow about a little culture for the kids? It’s a terrific indoor activity when the weather turns cold in New York, whether you are there for Thanksgiving or later this winter: MoMA. New York’s Museum of Modern Art. What I LOVE about it is that it offers a sophisticated environment, yet still reaches out to children.

IMG_1334I understand it may be hard to get your kids excited about going to a museum. I’ve tried all the tricks with my own. But MoMA offers many activities to keep kids engaged, from ages 4-14.

kids-wall.sm_You can take tours that are divided into age groups – for instance, there are free tours for teens and parents only. I like this idea because your teen is able to engage differently than a five year old, so will presumably get more out of it.

These age specific tours encourage discussion & interaction & are available certain Saturdays and Sundays – no tickets are required. It is first come first serve at 10 AM – so show up early.

ArtCard_MOVEMENT_BOCCIONIMoMA is really smart about sneaking in fun while looking at art -  there are all sorts  of printed guides available for kids with games, puzzles,  even bingo where you have to find items in paintings in order to get “five across.”  MoMA also has kid-friendly audio tours.

These are just a few of the family–oriented activities… to learn about all of them go to: www.moma.org/learn/kids_families/index

photo
Let me say that the art at MoMA is more interesting for young kids too – bright, big pieces from Monet…

photo_2to Matisse. The structure itself feels less formal than other museums because of the big windows and large open spaces.

photoAnd adults can get lost here for hours. There is a really interesting exhibition there now until January 26 – Called “American Modern – Hopper to O’Keefe”

photoIt is a small show – won’t take you more than an hour or so, and curated so thoughtfully, it really makes you appreciate how history of the time period  influenced the art.

Georgia O'Keefe "Farmhouse Window and Door"

Georgia O’Keefe “Farmhouse Window and Door”

You’ll see works by Georgia O’Keefe that are unlike her more well-known floral pieces, and other paintings that have been in the museum’s storage. It has received mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it – and sometimes can’t relate with those esoteric analyses from art critics.

photoOne of my favorite places in the museum is actually NOT in the museum – it is the outdoor sculpture gardens.

photoTIP: The museum opens to the public at 10:30, but mornings in the sculpture gardens are free from 9-10:15. I had a coffee and read the NY Times there one morning. If it is bad weather, there is a chance it will be closed, however.

My only complaint with the museum is that  to eat lunch in the cafe,  there is usually a long line at lunch time. Plan ahead. If you simply want a latte, go to the sculpture gardens.

TIP: A great date would be UNIQLO Free Friday Nights – From 4-8 every Friday the museum is free.

TIP: MoMA offers one free admission to active members of the US Military with valid ID as well as free admission for military families with dependent cards.

TIP: Head across the street to the MoMA store for some unique holiday gifts. The costume jewelry there is beautiful.

MoMA is at 11 W 53rd St.  Kids under 16 are free! Adults are $25…   It will fuel your passion.

 
Oct
22nd
  Travel Tip Tuesday: How To Save Big Bucks Getting From Airport To Your Destination

One of my road rules is to never fly in or out of New York (or any other metropolis) during rush hour. It can be unpredictable and add undue stress to your trip. But on a recent trip to the Apple, I had no other choice because I needed to make an event. I would have never made it taking a cab or car from the airport into the city – it was that close.

That’s how I discovered NJ Transit.

EWR AND NEC TERMINALThe trick is to fly into Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.  At Newark, the AirTrain Network makes frequent stops at all the airline terminals, rental car facilities, etc. But… it also connects to NJ Transit which has rail lines to take you to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.

AirTrain comes every three minutes, except on Sundays, and it takes about 10 minutes to get to NJ Transit from your terminal.

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If all goes smoothly – no delays, etc, you can be at Penn Station 40-45  minutes after starting at the airport.

Although you can’t always count on it taking 45 minutes or so to get into the city – always plan for more time just in case – what you can count on is saving money. While a car may cost you $70 to go to the airport or into the city, the train costs a mere $12.50! Round trip that is a nice savings. If you want to stay on the budget route, take the subway from Penn Station to your next destination for $2.50.

photoGranted, if you are out for comfort, or have a lot of luggage, you may want that car or cab. The train isn’t uncomfortable at all, it just involves some shlepping  However, I love the rush of a train station – I’m energized by the hustle bustle, the great people watching, and all the street performers doing their thing underground.

Tip: Buy your round trip ticket on the first leg of your trip so you don’t have to wait in line on the return portion of your trip.

Many other cities offer train service that is cheaper and convenient – BART in the Bay Area, or the “L” in Chicago.

http://www.panynj.gov/airports/ewr-to-from.html

Happy Travels!!

 

 
Oct
11th
  Hotel of the Week: $200 A Night In New York City!

Despite the uber-expensive hotel rooms that proliferate New York City, there are some very affordable, AND clean hotels that are easy on the wallet. You just need to know where to look. Some of these hotels aren’t on the travel planning websites, but some are. I found one I would revisit on Expedia.

When I was in New York last week, hotel rooms were booked solid due to the United Nations meetings.

The Franklin Hotel

The Franklin Hotel

And I am glad, because I discovered the lovely Franklin Hotel on ….THE UPPER EAST SIDE. I know you’re thinking – say what? An affordable hotel in that zip code?

The Franklin Hotel, NY

The Franklin Hotel, NY

Yes my friends – The Franklin is around $240 a night for a single room with king or queen bed. ( The price may vary a little bit depending on supply and demand.) For that amount, you could dip into the rest of your hotel budget and eat at Balthazar every night. It is located on 87th and Lexington – near subways and cute shops.

photoLet me tell you about the Franklin – I do admit I was  a little let down at first. The photos on it’s website make it look super splashy. Real life? Not so sexy, but European charming. So when I walked in the small lobby, I was worried to see the room. European charming can sometimes turn dowdy.

First, though, I was told, I should grab some wine and cheese in the complimentary happy hour in the sitting room. Huh. I grew more pleasantly surprised by the minute.

photoThe room didn’t disappoint – I was relieved. Nothing fancy, but modern, simple, and like I said, clean and quiet.

photoLet me just say though – calling it small is kind. The room left no excess space – only one person could definitely brush his or her teeth at the sink at a time, as it wasn’t part of the bathroom, and practically butted up against the bed.

The room is perfect for one person, could be crowded but doable for two… but if you are spending a lot of time in your room while in New York City, something is seriously wrong. This room is for people who need a clean, quiet place to sleep in an awesome, tree-lined, top-notch neighborhood.

photoThe hotel has charm, and was immaculate- even down to the shower grout (Oh yeah, I notice.) and had nice shampoos. The beds are comfortable, and there’s – FREE WiFi. Uh-huh. You know how I feel about that.

photoThe staff was incredibly helpful and nice… and the next morning? Complimentary European style, self-serve breakfast with a New York Times. Classy.

photoIt really did remind me of some of the quaint smaller hotels in which I have stayed in on budget trips to Europe. It has more personality than a generic chain.

photoLook at the doorknobs on the old elevator – inlaid with what looked like mother of pearl.

My one complaint, besides the room sizes, with which I can TOTALLY live, is that the hotel charges a “resort fee.” This is clearly no resort, no pool, or gym access – items to which the typical resort fee go.

So – basically, those free happy hours and breakfasts aren’t free, but cloaked in a “resort fee.” Just be honest, and charge me for the breakfast and don’t charge me a resort fee. (Resort fee is $12 a night)

To make things worse – and this isn’t the hotel’s fault – Expedia doesn’t tell you there will be a resort fee. Not cool.

But do check out the Franklin.  If you aren’t spending much time in your room, want a safe location, and want to put more of your trip budget into things to do in New York, rather than where you spend your sleeping hours, the Franklin is where dreams are made of….

 www.franklinhotel.com

 

 

 

 
Aug
23rd
  Hotel of the Week: Boutique Hotel With Great Design in #NY? Roger That.

hotel-roger-williams-new-york-exterior-6-1

New York in the spotlight with the US Open tournament beginning next week…. and the hotel where I’d like to stay in the Apple  next time I visit comes to mind: The Roger.

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It’s a boutique hotel; Some boutique hotels are done well, where as some seem as if they are trying to hard to be cool, but are cheaply done.

The Roger, NY

The Roger, NY

The Roger in New York’s Flatiron District LOOKS well-done… and in 2012 a whole lot of money was spent to transform the 194 rooms and public areas, so hopefully it is as great as it appears.

NewYork_TheRoger_Lobby-1024x678-849x562

I am terribly attracted to its design, and thought the photos would intrigue some of you.

terraces

Beyond the design, the other thing I love is there are a number of rooms called The Terraces that have an extra 50-300 square feet of space – outdoors. That’s right – your own private terrace on which to drink your morning coffee and read the NY Times while gazing at the beautiful skyline, hearing the hum of the city that never sleeps.

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This isn’t a hotel to which I’d bring my kids… but a friends’ weekend or a trip with your partner, Roger that.

There is a chic Parlor Bistro.. and a swanky Parlor Lounge.

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In case this hotel sounds vaguely familiar, it used to be called the Roger Williams Hotel… now, just the Roger New York. Nearby attractions include the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, and Macy’s.

I checked on rooms available August 29- Sept 5, and the price for two adults start at $263 a night, plus taxes. Start… spreading… the …news….

www.therogernewyork.com

 

 
May
09th
  Planning a Trip to NY this Summer? National Treasure Reopens and Tix Available TODAY!

Good news my patriotic travelers! The Statues of Liberty re-opens July 4 after having been closed due to Superstorm Sandy damage last October.

Tickets to visit Liberty Island can be purchased online or by phone with Statue Cruises- www.statuecruises.com. Reservations are strongly recommended.

If for some reason you can’t get tickets, the Staten Island Ferry is free, and cruises right by Lady Liberty. Not the same as visiting the island, but still an option when tickets are sold out.

 
Apr
03rd
  Good News, Bad News Eataly lovers… #Eataly

One of my favorite places in New York City is an Italian foodie fantasy called “Eataly.” I have written about it before – it is a “high end temple to Italian food,” quoting the Wine Spectator. Part market, part cafe, part wine store, the highly successful 58,000 square foot gastronomical attraction opened in 2010, and is now one of 20 locations worldwide.  The new one in Rome is more than 150,000 square feet on four floors – and built in an abandoned railway terminal. Cool.

Eataly is family friendly, but also offers chef and winemaker-lead workshops.

The epicurean empire is growing quickly – this month’s Wine Spectator features the creator, Oscart Farinetti, and says there are plans to open 17 more in the next few years – Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC being a few. Internationally, we will see one in Dubai, Brazil, Istanbul, and Canada.

Eataly fans -rejoice.

Or not? What I love about it is that there AREN’T many of them right now. I am thrilled Eataly will be coming close to me, and travelers worldwide can visit in many places soon… but will it lose it’s specialness and quality? Eataly works closely with the Slow Food movement, which values local, quality produced food. Eataly does an amazing job right now of educating foodies about regions of Italy and what is produced there.

The Wine Spectator article is a good read about the creator and his business plans. If you are a fan, I recommend it….

As Eataly’s owner himself once said – one of my favorite quotes – “Optimisim is the perfume of life”. On that note, I am hoping for Eataly’s continued high quality contributions to the gourmet and the traveler, despite it’s rapid growth… :)

 
Jun
15th
  Hotel of the Week: Inspiration for Dads and Grads

In my next life I want to be a motivational speaker. That’s if being a rockstar/singer/musician doesn’t work out :)

It’s no coincidence I realize this during the season of commencement speeches… I get sentimental as I watch my kids or my kids’ friends graduate and move on.

What does this have to do with travel? I can make that segue! One of my favorite muse-like songs has frequent metaphors referring to places to visit… Many of those places are perfect for all you great dads, and hopeful grads. As “mushy” as it is, “I Hope You Dance” inspires…it would make a good commencement speech.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.

THE FOUR SEASONS LANAI LODGE AT KOELE

An anomaly as far as Hawaiian resorts go, this is almost like a hunting lodge on a tropical island.

Masculine and strong design..with a fantastic golf course, this appeals to dads… and the relaxing beautiful setting appeals to grads.

When you stand by the ocean here, it is at the sister Four Seasons on the island at Manele Bay – inviting white sand beaches with great snorkeling and paddleboarding.

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance…

THE POINT IN NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACK MOUNTAINS

This is one place over which I still lust . On my bucket list. A six hour drive from Manhattan, it is opulance in relaxed mountain wilderness, with outstanding food and wine.

.. Creature comforts of the highest caliber mixed with the simplicity and beauty of nature…which keeps it unpretentious. It is a Relais and Chateaux getaway, & kids aren’t allowed.

There are only 11 rooms… and each one has a lake view, with an over-sized chiseled fireplace for cozy nights in the fresh mountain air.

Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth making

Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance…

CLOSE TO HEAVENS ABOVE: Jungfraujoch, Switzerland.

This spectacular spot in the Swiss Alps is known as the “Top of the World” since it is more than 11,000 feet above sea level.

The Jungfrau Railway, which leads through the heart of the mountains and up to the highest train station in Europe, offers unbelievable views of the mountain giants Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and of the longest river of ice in the Alps.

Inside the train station (the peak is called “Sphinx”), a lift takes visitors to the observation platform, from which one has a magnificent view of the mountains. The Jungfrau-Aletsch region is the first Unesco World Natural Heritage Site in the entire Alpine region.

Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along….
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder
Where those years have gone

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance – DANCE.

Do you dance?

2011

 
Mar
22nd
  The Perfect Family Travel Destination on a Spring Day

Who doesn’t love spring? Bring it on.  It is cheerful…and a great time to travel – with one caveat: stay away from spring break crowds. During this shoulder season before summer you can generally find better airfare and hotel rates, and the weather is on the up and up.

Central Park

Take New York, for example – In the mid 70s this week… and Central Park is calling my name.


Of course, one of the best things to do is go to your favorite gourmet deli, pack a nice picnic lunch and bottle of wine, and watch life unfold from a peaceful plot of grass, in the most vibrant city in the world.

I did that recently, and I have to recommend the restaurant where I picked up my lunch: Mangia on West 57th and Ave of the Americas -  right near the entrance to the park.

Mangia specializes in hearty Mediterranean – think panini on artisan bread, and fresh salads. Mangia has other locations in the city – the one on 39th St strives for all organic dishes. The cafe claims to be able to deliver anywhere in the metro area. It’s not cheap – but what in New York is? www.mangiatogo.com

Once at the park, there is always something entertaining going on… we ate near a puppeteer who had a large group of  kids, including mine,  enthralled for a good half hour.

Another attraction that the kids (and adults!) will love is the Central Park Zoo. I might have to say it could be my very favorite zoo. Set in the park, the animals appear to be living on an Ivy League campus with vine covered brick buildings. Not only is it charming, it is intimate, and doesn’t have an amusement park sort of environment.

Sometimes it can feel a bit crowded, especially at the sea lion show which runs about three times a day. TIP : Note the time of the sea lion shows while you are there, get your spot early, before the show starts… and if you can bring an umbrella to shade yourself and your kids, that would be helpful. On a sunny day, you are fully exposed for the duration of the show.It is a cute program, with the sea lions constantly performing – impressing both children and adults.

Don’t miss the polar bear that swims right up to the glass wall that separates you… the penguins…

and the bird aviary  -

Who knew there were so many different kinds of birds? It is so interesting.

There is also the ever too-darn-cute children’s zoo within the zoo itself. This part is more petting zoo-interactive… with opportunities to buy food to feed the goats, and sheep.

Starting March 31, the zoo will be open 10-5:30 daily. Admission is $12 for adults, and $7 for those 12 and under. www.centralparkzoo.com

Enjoy the new season….

 
Nov
29th
  How to Navigate an Iconic Travel and Holiday Shopping Destination

Black Friday… Cyber Monday.. all these terms to get you to shop! And with the news that Americans spent record retail dollars this past weekend, it looks like we’ll be seeing more encouragement to buy those holiday gifts.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be crazy. With access to the internet, you can do research in advance. And if you plan ahead (ha!), you  don’t have to rush through every store – start early.

The crowds can be annoying, but in some places, that is part of the charm – for instance, people watching on adorned and decked out Fifth Ave in New York – one of the most classic shopping and tourist destinations in the U.S., is especially vibrant this time of year.

The great thing about Fifth Ave is that there is something for every pocketbook, even though you may doubt it spotting a $700 pair of shoes at Bergdorf Goodman. That comes with the territory – New York is fashion forward, and designer driven. The best strip of Fifth for shopping is in the 30s up to 60th St.

If you have the kids, or are a kid at heart – there’s no place like FAO Schwarz…whether you buy anything or not, it is a fun place to visit. I am failing as a travel guide if I always tell you things you probably know, like that FAO Schwarz is a great place to visit, but I want  to show you inside.

What you may not know is that almost everywhere you turn in this mega toy store are demonstrations of toys that you and your kids (or not) can try. You can get hands on with remote control gadgets…

or toys to take out to Central Park.

How about this remote control floating in the air Nemo? The aisles are filled with kids just having fun with the products. Go right when it opens to avoid mobs.

FAO has toys you might not see anywhere else… and there’s a lot of them in  50,000 square feet…

The LEGO area is always cool…. and the kids love the candy area on steroids.

Right nearby is the Apple Store (under construction when I was there.) It is always an exciting and busy place, this is a store that belongs in a city that never sleeps – it is open 24 hours for your “shopping convenience.”

For the fashion focused – Bergdorf Goodman is the place. The window displays alone are reason to visit. But even though it is fun to browse, it is more for the ladies who lunch. A lot of designer labels at expensive prices. In my opinion, you don’t have to spend so much to still look chic. But this IS New York, and the place was packed with fashionistas when I was there.

Saks Fifth Ave is along the same lines as Bergdorf…

Henri Bendel was my personal favorite, and is also on Fifth Ave. BUT  – was I the last one to know Bendel doesn’t do clothes anymore?  Plenty of good stuff at that, but I miss the clothes. You will find beautiful jewelry, accessories, make up, and handbags… upscale, but you can still find items that are not outlandish. Be careful walking through the cosmetics department – you will be hounded to sample everything from overzealous salespeople.

For a more affordable holiday shopping destination, go to Zara and H and M. I love Zara – runway fashions at bargain prices. This is a European brand, so there are some interesting finds…and it’s better quality than most cheaper brands. Avoid Abercrombie and Fitch!!! It always smells like they pump aftershave through the doors…and is usually packed with Europeans and is way too crowded.

Pop in for a drink at the nearby Plaza Hotel at Fifth Ave and Central Park… or for a more casual lunch try my favorite quick cafe – Mangia on W 57th. And to really get you in the spirit, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is right off Fifth Ave… a holiday tradition for years. http://www.rockefellercenter.com/tour-and-explore/the-ice-skating-rink/

Wow. Just thinking about spending the day here transported me. Seriously, I know Christmas spirit can’t be found shopping, but all the festivities really put you in the mood. I hope your holiday season is happy and bright.