October 13, 2009

Time to Share Your Wealth of Knowledge

A few weeks ago, Bart and I started discussing Thanksgiving in great detail.

For the last two years, we've spent it with friends in Austin. It required a total of five minutes of travel, practically no cost, and allowed me to volunteer for the fun parts (dessert, sweet potatoes, turkey), and then lay around on Ralphie's living room floor. I am a little heartbroken not to be repeating the festivities this year.

Sadly, plane tickets to Austin for Thanksgiving would have cost $1200. Sorry, Texas friends, we don't love you quite that much. Or at least our savings account doesn't.

Instead, we've decided to go to New York City for Thanksgiving. We can get there for a fraction (and I mean FRACTION) of the cost it would be to fly somewhere, we can priceline a hotel, and basically just live it up.

This is the part where you come in. I know that lots of you have visited New York numerous times or have even lived there. Tell me what we should see, where we should go, where we should eat, what areas to stay in (or avoid at all costs), etc. If it's about NYC, I want to know it.

(Also, for the last three years, Bart has spent the morning of Thanksgiving raking the leaves in our front yard (we had two enormous trees), stacking up a dozen bags or more for the garbage man. I have a feeling he won't miss that bit of the festivities at all).


  1. My favorites from my last two trips were: The Red Mango and Little Mermaid (then again, if you haven't seen Wicked yet.....)

    Also, you can get a "drive by" view of the statue of liberty for free on the Staten Island ferry.

    Have fun! It reminds me of the Thanksgiving when I went to Vienna instead of stayed at the London center to partake of the feast. Sometimes, there are some things that are more culturally awesome than food.

  2. I've been to NYC a number of times, but I still don't feel as if I've found any "must sees." I enjoy it, I just haven't gotten off the beaten path.

    Central Park is awesome, but depending on the temperature you may or may not spend your whole day trying to avoid being outside.

    My main reason for wanting to go back is to go to Max Brenner - a restaurant that pretty much revolves around the idea of chocolate.

  3. I love New York. Been there twice after Thanksgiving and the weather is nice and chilly and the decorations for Christmas are up.

    Union Square Cafe is a favorite of ours. MOMA and Guggenheim are great museums. Of course the Met and all of Central Park.

    Wicked was great on Broadway. Still want to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

  4. Go to Serendipity and have the frrrozen hot chocolate! Make reservations now! Also, do a horse and carriage ride thru Central Park. It's slightly cheesy, but so much fun. There is a great Mexican place called Iguana that I love, it's at 54th and Broadway.

    Have so much fun!

  5. I did Thanksgiving there with my Mom the year before Dan and I got married. We got a better deal by staying in a hotel in Jersey City then taking the Path train into the city.

    I thought little Italy had a very romantic feel and is worth going to for dessert if nothing else!

    Definitely go to Central Park to see it with the fall colors. The tree will be up at Rockefeller Center and, of course, the parade is worth seeing part of. We love Nuts for Nuts. That's most of what I can think of that's outside the obvious. Oh. If you just want to see the Statue of Liberty and don't care to actually go ON Ellis Island, you can take the Statten Island ferry for free.

    We're going to Manhattan this weekend. I'll let you know if I discover anything groundbreaking. :)

  6. eat lots of pizza. brave the wait for grimaldis - its the best pizza in brooklyn, and thats saying something. go to brooklyn, period. it has the most adorable little neighborhoods (fort greene, cobble hill, boerum hill, park slope (where i lived), carol gardens, brooklyn heights) walk the brooklyn bridge from brooklyn to manhattan. go ice skating but not in central park or rockefeller. try washington square park or bryant park instead - less people and less expensive. go see the tree at rockefeller and go at night so you can see all the buildings on 5th ave lit up. astoria, queens has the best greek food - its a trek on the train, but if you like greek food its worth it. central park is awesome, but so is prospect park in brooklyn. see if your trip coordinates with free days at the met or natural history museum or any of the other neat educational places - almost all of them offer free or "donation" admission once a week. use the PATH go to hoboken in new jersey - its an adorable little town with fantastic views of the city. go see columbia's campus, its beautiful. definitely see a show on broadway, but otherwise stay away from times square. its big and bright and loud and touristy and there is a 97% chance something will get stolen. for mexican i suggest los dos molinos on the UWS - they have three locations in the US, 2 in arizona and 1 in nyc... can't go wrong there. and just walk. nyc is a fantastic place and you will find something cool/new/interesting to see if you just walk and explore. im sure ill think of more neat things to do. email me if you have any questions!

  7. No advice from here; I've never been to NYC. Actually, I was thinking that if I was Bart, how much I would miss the annual leaf raking. I love the smell, the colors, the textures, the air. I would rather rake leaves (if the weather is nice) than cook. Any excuse not to cook you know. LOL

  8. We will miss you so much this year. I can't believe tickets cost that much. Holy Moses. But I am so flattered that you looked it up because that means the thought crossed your mind to fly here. Awwwwe. *tears*

  9. ok, I can not begin to tell you how jealous i am that you are going to new york for thanksgiving.... that is a dream of mine! sorry you wont get to go to texas as always but like you said live it up!

  10. You should just come visit me instead.

  11. I love that NYC is so close to Boston! I always go the first Saturday of December to soak in the Christmas spirit!

    Here's my Top Ten list of things to do:

    Dessert at Cafe Lalo (where Meg R. and Tom H. met in "You've Got Mail")

    Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

    Riding the carousel in Central Park

    Eating cupcakes (lots of places to choose from though I think Magnolia Bakery is over rated)

    Buying fabric at PurlSoHo (coolest/smallest fabric store that is SO New York)

    Manhattan Temple

    The Staten Island ferry (ride it over to Staten Island and back -- it takes about an hour and is free)

    Grimaldi's Pizza (in Brooklyn right near the Brooklyn Bridge)

    The Tenement Museum (I haven't actually been but have heard it's really great)

    Empire State Building (beautiful view)


  12. So here is something I regret not doing while I was in New York (my cousin and sisters let me sleep while they went and did this. They later told me about it and I was soo sad I missed it!):

    In Times Sqaure, there is a Charmin store. Go inside and use one of their bathrooms. Apparently, they clean each bathroom after each use, you get this huge selection of toilet paper, AND they cheer for you when you come out.

    Who wouldn't want to do that?!

    I also recommend seeing Wicked, going to the Manhatten temple, and spending some time in the subway. Also, you can do a dinner cruise around the harbor! I highly recommend it!

  13. Oh my gosh, PLEASE take Pricilla's advice and go to the Charmin store. I nearly died laughing just reading that comment.

    And go buy a purse.

  14. The Macy's parade is always FREEZING, but you may want to check that out. But you'll have to see the Christmas Decorations on 5th Ave. I haven't been there in nearly 10 years, but I really enjoyed central park, grand central station, times square, china town, italian...

  15. For you, Janssen, I'd recommend going to the New York Public Library. It's pretty fantastic. Not only for the cameo in Ghostbusters, but it's a pretty cool building and the reading rooms are pretty great!

  16. I sent Merrick a huge list before her trip. I should send it to you too!

  17. nate and i went there and stayed with jenae and seth for thanksgiving a couple years ago. we just did the basic touristy things- ferry to the statue of liberty, ellis island, the met., empire state building... it's all fun!!! we were too chicken to brave the cold for the macy's parade, but i sorta wish we would have gone. just to say we've been there. :)

    but one thing i would definitely recommend is the rockett's christmas spectacular show at radio city music hall. we all went and we LOVED it! it's just cute and clean--- good family fun and at the end they do a live nativity. seriously, in NYC they started reading out of Luke 2. we were amazed. everyone should go just to support them. and it's super good!!! and radio city is so "historic", it was so fun to be there and see it all decorated for christmas.

    have fun!!!

  18. Finally delurking to comment. I've lived in the city since 2000 so here are my suggestions (plus I fully endorse Shawna's recommendations -- great mix of everything!):

    Brooklyn -- definitely check out Brooklyn Heights and the promenade as well as the other neighborhoods Shawna recommended. Very quaint and charming.

    The Strand book store by Union Square.

    MOMA, Met, Frick, Guggenheim, Whitney -- visit one of these museums if you can.

    New York Public Library

    Staten Island Ferry -- free and will give you good shots of the city

    Central Park -- definitely worth walking through...although Washington Square by NYU is also great. Check out Madison Square Park so you can see the Flatiron building and then keep going down Broadway to Union Square.

    Broadway show if you're into it -- otherwise Times Square is something to be avoided...look from afar to get photos, but otherwise, meh.

    Upper West Side -- lots of great restaurants and lovely architecture.

    Ice skating -- definitely avoid Central Park and Rock Center...Bryant Park (near NY Public Library) is great, as is Washington Square. Much less crowded.

    El Parador -- authentic Mexican food. 34th between 1st and 2nd. NYC is not known for it's Mexican food, but I absolutely adore this place. Family owned for over 50 years. Alex, the current owner, is delightful.

    Other great inexpensive restaurants: Black Iron Burger (East Village...7th and B) -- very inexpensive and cozy little spot. Great burgers. Corner Bistro is also good (and very well-known) for burgers. Israeli/Middle Eastern food -- Olive Tree near Washington Square Park on McDougal. Pizza -- Grimaldi's in Brooklyn is great if you can stand the wait. Patsy's (local chain and a few locations around the city) is also good for pizza. The Red Mango (which someone else recommended) is excelelnt. There are also tons of cute little restaurants in the West Village. Indian food around 28/27th and Lexington -- lots of places to try, many inexpensive.

    Depending on where your hotel is, I can send you other recommendations for restaurants nearby. My brother is a chef at a great restaurant in SoHo, so I'd also love to hook you up there if you like sushi / fish.

    But overall...just walk and walk and walk. You'll discover interesting things on every block : )

  19. Okay, Janssen. You must go to Books of Wonder. It's the most wonderful children's bookstore ever. It's on 18 West 18th St. Not to be missed!

  20. I 5th the vote for Grimaldis. Also loved walking around Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown area. I think the best part about NY is just walking everywhere and discovering things on the way.

  21. This is awesome. I always used to have to rake leaves on Thanksgiving and it sucked.

    OK, an NYC tip: if you want to go to the Empire State Building, the best time to go is literally midnight (it's open until, I believe, 2 a.m.). Virtually no line and a gorgeous view of the city lights.

  22. Surely you must know how jealous I am of this. Ah. I'll put that aside.

    Go to Serendipity and get the frozen hot chocolate. Split one between the two of you. It is soooo worth it. But the line is long, so while you're waiting for your names to be called, go check out Dylan's Candy Store just west of Serendpity.

    Walk around Central Park and revel in the trees. Breathe in and out, think of me, let your nose get cold, wear the cutest scarf/mitten combo you have and of course your cutest pea coat. Drink hot chocolate or caramel apple cider from Starbucks and just sit on a bench and people watch. There is nothing like Central Park.

    Buy a scarf or a purse from a street vendor. Of course they are cheap, but it's so much fun to have one.

    Gawk at the Rockefeller Tree and learn the history of it. It's usually a Norway Spruce from like Ohio or Connecticut every year. It's so beautiful. And take pictures of the ice skaters just beneath it.

    Walk up and down 5th Avenue and just admire the window displays. They are SO MUCH FUN. They are seriously works of art. And they're free to look at. :)

    I'd say brave the cold and go to the Macy's Parade. It's the sort of thing you might never do again so why not? Just wear like 1,000 layers and go do it. Walk inside Macy's sometime during the week and just look at the beautiful Christmas decorations. They made me cry last year when I went up for my birthday.

    Wicked is, of course, fabulous.

    Walk around 'The Village' (Greenwich Village). Just walk around. The neighborhood is sooo beautiful and quaint and what? am I really on Manhattan Island? Magnolias is overrated, but it's fun to have gone there anyway.

    Go to the temple. It's so beautiful (the rooms are fabulous!!), and it's right across the street from The Lincoln Center and Julliard (and Zara!) and a HUGE Barnes and Noble. There's also usually a farmer's market on the island in the middle of the street right in front of the temple that sells amazing apple cider donuts that are SO worth it. Yum. Around the corner is also a little French place called Le Pain Quotidien. This is worth the trip in and of itself. The food (esp the quiche) is incredible.

    Ah... whatever you do, just keep an imaginary miniature Becca perched on your shoulder throughout the whole thing because there is basically nothing I love more than New York City during that time of year.

  23. I've done the touristy things a few times. I think they are allowing people back up to the top of the Statue of Liberty now and that is really cool...when I went as a kid we went up into the crown. When I went most recently, we just got to walk to the top of the stand the statue is on. Lame.

    I love Ellis Island. I am a history nerd. We had a funny tour guide the last time I went, which helped. If any of your relatives came to the US via Ellis Island (a third of the US population can trace their roots to the island [not me though]), you can actually do some family history research there for free (the really detailed stuff you have to pay for though).

    I don't have any secrets other than to tell you it's not a fun thing to drive through Times Square in your car - but that's not really a secret. (I did this - unintentionally - when I was picking up my sister at Barnard. It was harrowing. Example: a cop car is in the right hand lane, stopped at a red light, and he decides to take a LEFT, when the light is STILL RED. Another example: I was driving into the tunnel, where about four lanes go down to two, and a big pseudo-semi scratches along another tiny little car right next to my tiny little car and doesn't slow or stop.)

    When I visited my sister we saw Spamalot, which was a lot of fun. We left really early and were still late because 2 of the three major subway lines were down for some reason (they went down AFTER we got on them, so then we had to transfer, and accidentally transferred to the other one that was also down...). So having a backup to the subway is probably a good idea. We ended up spending a wad on a taxi and then running in dresses and heels, good times.

    I also really enjoyed the Museum of Natural History.

  24. i have never gone to NYC besides the church history trip....but reading all these comments makes me want to go to with you =). That sounds like SO much fun!

  25. We stayed in Brooklyn. For fairly cheap. At a Holiday Inn. Close to the Subway.

    Definitely utilize the subway-day ticket for unlimited use is $7.25. Comes in quite handy!

    Go to Central Park. Look around and realize just how many movies are filmed there.

    Eat at The Atlantic Chip Shop in Brooklyn. To die for English food including some of the yummiest desserts EVER.

    Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. At night. It's AMAZING and you can do that after you see Ground Zero. It's very close.

    Just explore. That's all we did was wander from place to place. Times Square is fun, too! But don't eat IN Times Square. 2 burgers at TGI Friday's (we were starving and settled) cost us $50!!


  26. Okay, I'm stealing ideas from people because my hubby and I leave for NYC 3 weeks from today. We're staying on the Upper West Side (lower cost). Our plans include
    Central Park
    Empire State Building
    Rockefeller Center
    Times Square
    Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (history geeks)- if you want to go in the crown, you have to book it early
    Lion King on Broadway
    Walking the Brooklyn Bridge and eating at Grimaldis
    New York Public Library
    Grand Central Station
    lots of walking. My hubby, who previously lived there, says just enjoying the feel of the city.

  27. Maybe you hate it, maybe your readers hate it...but I like Letterman. Quite a bit. I don't know why, okay? I just do.

    And when I was in NYC, I was in the audience one night. It's free, and it's awesome...even if you're NOT a fan, I reckon...just because you get to see the show being made, and whoever's guest-ing it up. My visit saw Martha Stewart (pre-prison) and George Clooney.

    To get on, you just turn up at the street address, approach the guy with the clipboard, and answer his trivia question about the show....something basic that shows you've watched it before, in my (uber-limited) experience.

    Hate the show? Hate the idea? That's okay.

    /rubbing toe in the dirt

    I love it.

    - The impressed by FOUR-storeyed buildings kiwi.

  28. Well I'm just not even going to comment at all cause I'm mad that you get to go to NY in the first place.

  29. Oops- did I just comment??


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