Tuesday, January 27, 2015

30 Days in NYC (Day 3) - Midtown Manhattan

This series of posts is a selection of itineraries covering 30 days in and around New York City. This isn't meant as exactly what to do if you're here for a month (it would be exhausting!). But more a great selection of things you could do while here for any length of time. Now that we've gotten a good intro to the city, let's dive into the crowds...

DAY 3 - Midtown South

Morning: After we've gotten to see the skyline from the water and from Brooklyn, it's time for the all-time classic view. Head over to 5th Ave and 34th Street. It's time to go up to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. This is, of course, one of the most popular visits in New York, which means the lines can often be massive, especially at peak times of year and on weekends. So first thing in the morning is the best time to check it out. It opens at 8 AM, and on busy days is packed by 10. So either head over early, or visit at off-peak times. Nevertheless, the view is a classic, especially the south view looking over Downtown and the Financial District. And one piece of warning, there are lots of vendors selling a variety of passes to the top, but they are often shilling crappy package deals so just avoid them and head inside.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Great list of unique shops in New York

   I'm not usually the type to simply link to a bunch of other people's lists or writings about New York City, but this one is a topic of which I'm particularly fond. One of the great charms of New York is that in a city whose essence is often defined as motion, progress, striving, and whiplash changes, there are still hundreds and thousands of small local businesses that have served their communities for generations. Some like Katz's Deli or Nathan's Hot Dogs have become international icons of New York's food and history. But scores more are famous only to their customers. They don't change their signs. They don't change their menus (much). They are passed down through generations, or sold to loyal customers who keep the ship sailing on the same course. They provide a living history, and one that continues to perform vital functions in their community. Just in my neighborhood, I can buy bread at at 40-year old Italian bakery. Buy my meats at a 50-year old butcher shop, grab a drink at a more than 60-year old Irish pub, or get breakfast at the neighborhood diner that has been under the elevated tracks about as long as there have been elevated tracks. You can't ignore New York's history and the people that have lived there in past generations because you live that history and that life everyday. So here is Buzzfeed writer's Mathew Perpetua's list of 44 unique, old, small businesses in all 5 boroughs. Not only are there some classics there, but a few I didn't even know about. Enjoy!

44 Amazing old NYC businesses

A photo posted by Shawn (@nytourguy) on

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

30 Days in NYC (Day 2) - DUMBO & Brooklyn Heights

 This series of posts is a selection of itineraries covering 30 days in and around New York City. This isn't meant as exactly what to do if you're here for a month (it would be exhausting!). But more a great selection of things you could do while here for any length of time. Day one brought us through the center of Manhattan around 23rd Street. But for the next day, it's all about the views OF Manhattan. Day 2 is off to Brooklyn...

DAY 2 - Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO

Morning: This morning is a relaxed one so no need to rush out in the morning. Start by heading to Borough Hall. These days, New York City is made up of five boroughs--counties, in fact, according to the State of New York--but it wasn't always so. Until 1898, New York City meant Manhattan island. Towns and villages of Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island were all independent. But Brooklyn was more than just a satellite. It was an independent city, home to almost a million people, and was the third largest city in the U.S. Borough Hall was built in 1848 to house the government of the newly incorporated City of Brooklyn. While unification with New York stripped Brooklyn of its independence, Borough Hall remains a symbol of Brooklyn's pride and history. Behind Borough Hall is Joralemon Street, which leads to the right to the quiet streets of Brooklyn Heights, the most well-preserved historic neighborhood in New York City. The neighborhood is situated on a bluff above the East River and first developed as a residential area 200 years ago when the world's first steam powered ferry service began puttering between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The streets at the northern end of the neighborhood, such as Hicks and Middagh Streets feature dozens of clapboard houses almost two centuries old that look straight out of a small New England town. Further south, the small alleys of Grace Court and Love Lane (yes, really!) feature rows of old carriage houses. And all through the neighborhood are beautiful brick and brownstone townhouses.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

30 Days in NYC (Day 1) - Chelsea & The Flatiron District

Most visitors to New York City realize very quickly in planning their trip that they won't see everything NYC has to offer. I've had clients staying for multiple weeks who still feel as if they'll never get it it all in. So I got to wondering, what could a whole month in New York look like? Are there a full 30 days worth of activities and sights in the Big Apple? Well it turns out there's way more than 30 days but i needed to control myself, so I decided to come up with 30 different daily itineraries. I wouldn't really advise coming and doing all 30 days at once. It would be the most tiring vacation ever! But it's a fun way to give people an idea of all the different types of places and things there are to do in New York. So think of these as 30 different suggestions for any trip. I did include a few day trips, since there is so much to see outside the city. But I made sure that there is no overlap on any of the 30 days. Each day will include activities, sights, food, drink, and entertainment ideas. So, all of New York is fair game. Where to start?

DAY 1 - Flatiron and Chelsea

   First of all, if I was planning a trip to New York, this would be the area I would pick for a hotel. There's lots of good ones around Union Square, like the W, Hyatt, Jade, or Verite. There's also many near Madison Square including a Hampton Inn, the Lex, Giraffe, and Gramercy. Chelsea has one of my favorites, the High Line Hotel, as well as the Gem, Maritime, and Dream Downtown. The reason I like these areas so much is that they have a little bit of everything. They are centrally located right between Midtown's famous landmarks and trendy downtown spots. There's lots of major brand shopping in the Flatiron District, local food markets in Madison and Union Squares, eateries running from blue-collar diners to the most prestigious restaurants in the city. There is historic architecture in Flatiron's beautiful old lofts and department stores, as well as Chelsea's historic rowhouses. And the boldest new design in the city is in West Chelsea's galleries, parks, and new condos.
   Most of all, I think this area makes a great introduction to New York because of how vibrant the streets are. Most visitors head straight for Times Square or 5th Ave when they arrive. After all, you don't come to New York for quiet charm, you want to feel the energy of the streets! And Times Square sure does have energy. The problem is, the whole enormous crowd is made up entirely of tourists and office workers. The tourists stand around gawking and the office workers hustle to leave the area. Plus there's the endless annoyance of touts, tour operators, ticket sellers, and costumed characters bombarding visitors with requests for money. So while those are iconic sights, it's not the best vibe in the city. Flatiron and Chelsea are filled with shoppers, workers, residents, and tourists doing all kinds of different things. It's the true heart of the city. So let's start the day!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Scrapple in the Apple

   New York City's history is full of tragic creative figures. Edgar Allen Poe spent the last tortured years of his life in Greenwich Village and The Bronx. Dylan Thomas drank himself into a fatal coma at the White Horse Tavern. Jack Kerouac and Jackson Pollack both became the face of new American cultural movements and both lives spiraled out of control. But few others have personified the tragic artist persona like Charlie Parker.