Broadway has some amazing shows entering previews in the next two months and we could not be more thrilled! What is especially neat about this round of shows is that most are original musicals and plays. We have seen a lot of jukebox musicals and revivals this past year and it is always a treat to see something new. Up first, a show that has been taking the British theatre scene by storm the past few years:
Six tells the story of Henry VIII six wives as if it were a pop concert. Each wife sings about their misfortune and abuse at the hands of the notorious monarch and whoever has suffered the most will be named the lead singer of the band. It is history retold as a reality TV singing competition with six powerful female leads. It premiered in 2017 at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest and has been running in the West End the last few years and is making its way to Broadway this Winter. Music, lyrics, and book are by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.
Set at a town meeting in the fictional small city of Big Cherry, acclaimed American playwright Tracy Letts gives us this timely political piece. Letts also stars in this play alongside stage and screen mainstays Ian Barford, Blair Brown, and film star Armie Hammer. The Minutes is directed by Anna D. Shapiro. She and Letts were behind the smash hit August Osage County and this reunion is highly anticipated.
Another West End transfer getting a lot of buzz this season is Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen. Besides doing well across the pond, the show is coming straight off a sold out run at the Atlantic Theatre Company. Hangmen is about a professional hangman on the day hanging is abolished and the unforeseen events that stem from that groundbreaking decision. This show stars Dan Steves and opens mid-March but will be gone mid June so be sure to grab your tickets early!
Diana is a biographical musical about Princess Diana’s life and her relationships with the media, the royal family, and the public. Coming off a great run at the La Jolla Playhouse, Jeanna de Waal and Joe Hartampf will reprise the roles of Diana and Charles. The book, music, and lyrics are by Joe Dipietro and David Bryan and directed by Tony winner Christopher Ashley. Anglophiles will want to make sure to not miss this new musical.
Rob McClure has gigantic (ladies) shoes to fill, playing the role of Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire in this new musical based off the iconic Robin Williams film of the same name. Coming from a highly regarded run in Seattle, Mrs. Doubtfire is sure to draw a big crowd this winter. With music and lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Karey Kirtzpatrick and John O’Farell, the show is also directed by Tony winner Jerry Zaks. It is sure to be a riotous good time.Read More
But NYC is always a good time and there are a lot of benefits to visiting in February and March. Even if the temperatures are frigid, there is still plenty to do. Here are some ideas for your next winter trip!
It seems like the activity you would want to do least this season but winter is one of the best times to go to the Statue. It can be very cold but since there are way less people visiting each day, it is a breeze to get on and off Liberty Island. If you can find a clear winter morning during your trip, you will get some of the most amazing photos- with less people in the background too! It is always best to go in the morning, but most times of year you need to be there by 9:30 AM at the latest otherwise it turns into a zoo, but in the winter you could go a bit later and sleep in a little more. A few things to keep in mind for a smooth trip: the boats leave every forty minutes so try to be where you need to be a few minutes early, otherwise you run the risk of having to wait for the next one. Bundle up since it can be windy on the island but other than that you can have the place mostly to yourself. The Ellis Island Museum admission is included with your ticket and is indoors so it’s a great place to spend a chilly day. With much less people around the museum tends to be more impactful and you can see everything much faster.
Chinatown is a popular destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike. In the summer, wait times at popular Chinese restaurants like the Nam Wah Tea Parlor and Joe’s Shanghai can be very long. During the winter though, you can almost always get a table anywhere. The streets in Chinatown are old and very narrow in some spots, it fills up very quickly and it can be frustrating getting past all the people. In the winter it’s much easier to walk down the street. You will notice a lot less tourists and more locals. Also steaming hot noodles, egg drop soup, and dumplings just taste better when it’s cold out.
It seems obvious, but museums are a great place to spend a cold afternoon. If you have always wanted to see classic museums like the Museum and Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art it really is best to go in the off season. In the summer, people end up forfeiting tickets they purchased since the line to get in to redeem them is simply too long. It is still a good idea to avoid the weekends since many more people come out, especially the NYC families taking advantage of the slow season. Also consider going to one of NYC’s lesser known museums, there is one for every kind of person on your trip. The kids will love any of the 5 boroughs children’s museums (Staten Island has a really nice one if you feel like being really adventurous!). History buffs will love the New York Historical Society, NYC’s oldest museum. Of course there are plenty of art museums; consider the Guggenheim or the Museum of Modern Art if you have never been. Some other off-the-beaten-track options include the NY Transit Museum (for subway aficionados), The Morgan Library (great for art and architecture), or the Science Museum. No matter what you choose you will not be dissapointed!
If you notice a snowstorm in the middle of your trip, fear not. NYC gets snow frequently but we typically do not get many inches at once. While it can be messy to get around and it is probably not the best day to go to Times Square or to the Statue of Liberty, it’s the best time to go to Central Park! The park is amazing and worth a visit any time, but it is magical walking around in the snow. Even if it’s cold you will see a lot of people out, but while lots of people in one place can be a recipe for frustration anywhere else in the city, Central Park is big enough for them all and it’s so fun to people watch. You can see kids and cute dogs playing in the snow. It is the only place that is any fun to walk in the snow!
Visiting the library, a typical rainy day activity you can do at home turns into an adventure in NYC. Next to Bryant Park and very close to Times Square and Rockefeller Center the New York Public Library is easy to find. It is a massive building with two larger than life lions at the entrance. Inside you can find the real stuffed animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh. You can also find beautiful art and several rotating exhibits. You might even see some oddball artifacts like George Washington’s recipe for beer and Charles Dickens’s favorite letter opener! If you have never visited this amazing NYC landmark before, this winter could be the perfect time!
“Don’t be super concerned with the cold weather,” says Liz, a tour guide with Top Dog. “We keep moving, our stops are short and interesting, you won’t be standing there shivering while the guide drones on about history. Our groups are smaller as well and we can tailor the tour to what the guests are interested in. We often get some of our best feedback during the winter.”
“Visited Lady Liberty and Ellis Island on a cold, cloudy, rainy day. We really enjoyed the trip. Low crowds and no trouble seeing everything we wanted to. Liz helped us beat the lines, told us where to stand on the boat for great statue views, and taught us a lot about both sites. And she’s smart and fun. Happy we booked this tour.” – Eric L.
“Patrick our tour guide was welcoming, informative, and entertaining during our tour of the 3 New York neighborhoods. The history was interesting even with the wet and cold weather. We were introduced to “cronuts” and the delicious dumplings. Thank you Patrick – we definitely recommend your tour.”
On a nice weekday afternoon I decided to join many other tourists and New Yorkers for a stroll through Central Park. I spend a fair amount of time in the park as a local, but it is never enough! The park is amazing in every season, I even got lost in it during a snowstorm a few weeks ago! That being said, spring is one of the best times of year to visit since the temperature is more moderate than the summer or winter. This time there was a nice breeze and the plants were just starting to bloom in some areas. The next few weeks seem like they will be perfect for visiting of the city’s greatest treasures! Here is some of what I saw this time on my walk in Central Park.
I began my walk at Grand Army Plaza which was buzzing with activity from people meeting up to others trying to catch cabs. The biggest change I noticed was the horse and carriage stand being moved from off of 59th st to just inside the park. People seemed to have no trouble finding them and cars were not as close as they were before, they seemed to have a bit more space in general. I saw a few families hopping up into the carriages and trotting off into the park which is a classic Central Park activity. I continued on into the park past the beautiful pond. People were taking photos of some birds enjoying the water. From the pond, I encountered what was once known as the children’s area of the park. I walked through the former Dairy, past the chess and checkers house down the 65th street traverse to the grand Carousel.
Although I really wanted to, I decided not to ride the Carousel and left it for the families and kids, although there were a few adults riding solo. This carousel is fourth in park history. The original is said to have been powered by a live donkey and horse, trained to start and stop on command. The next two were destroyed in fires. The current one was found in an abandoned Coney Island trolley terminal and dates back to 1908 and was restored in the ‘90s. The Carousel is especially popular with children and couples of all ages on dates. Check it out when you come visit! I decided to walk uphill to an area known as the Mall next.
Not for shopping, but originally for showing off, the term mall refers to a formal feature of a proper (European) park; a long promenade where people would gather to stroll. This was an important part of being considered a member of the American upper class; you would leave your carriage and walk amongst the common folk, which set this mall apart from the ones found across the pond. Today it is a still a place where people from all walks of life gather. The other day was no exception, I saw people from all over the world posing for pictures, looking at the amazing bronze statues scattered down the promenade, and browsing the photos and posters for sale on carts and tables set up throughout. The shade from the American Elms made it a little cooler than the rest of the park but it was still plenty warm from the sun peaking through the branches. Walking through the mall you cannot help but feel like you are in a movie, since so many have been shot here including Home Alone 2, Enchanted, and Spiderman 3. At the end of the mall, I stopped to admire Bethesda Fountain and the Lake.
A trip to Central Park is not complete without a visit to its centerpiece: Bethesda Fountain. In the center of an impressive pool is a sculpture of an angel touching down on top of fountain. When I went the water was not yet flowing, it was also a bit windy so that may have been for the best. People were sitting down inside the dry pool which was an interesting site considering normally it is full of water and coins! I walked to the other side of the fountain and took a look at the Lake, which comes up right to the edge of the brick paved path.. Lots of people were boating and enjoying their time on the water, the Loeb Boathouse also seemed very inviting across the way. I decided to keep walking to one of my favorite parts of the park, The Ramble.
I have been to most areas in the park at least once, but one area that I have not explored fully, and don’t know if I ever will is the wooded area known as The Ramble. This part of the park was designed to look as natural and rugged as possible, while still providing properly marked paths and trails. I decided to wander up a way I never had before and found myself seemingly in the middle of a forest. There were few people and the trail was a bit steep, but I got some incredible views of the Lake from above. There was also a small creek formed from the lake and some rocks. After about fifteen minutes I found myself back in the busy part of Central Park that is near the Museum of Natural History. The sounds of the city, traffic, and bikes came back all at once, and I noticed how nice it was to be tucked away in the middle of the quiet Ramble. After all that walking, especially in the hilly areas, I decided it was time to go.
There is so much more to see in Central Park, I actually meant to visit two of my other favorite places in the park: the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and Delacourte Castle but I guess I will just have to visit them next time. If you are planning a trip there are so many other places to consider like the Central Park Zoo and The Wollman Rink! Also consider taking a tour with Top Dog Tours, we provide a lot of interesting information and will take you to some of the highlights of the park, including some of the ones I got to see this time. No matter what, as long as you get to visit Central Park you are sure to be impressed by the most popular urban park in the world!Read More
A favorite location for skyscraper designers, the Financial District (now sometimes known as FiDi) attracts as many tourists and trendy locals s it does bankers and businessmen. All this new development cannot change the fact that Downtown is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It is even older than America, having been settled by Native Americans for many generations before the Dutch established a shipping port and fort in 1625 known as New Amsterdam. Wall Street was originally as far North as the settlement extended! New York City also played a major role in the American Revolutionary War and some of these sites can still be visited today. Check out some of them the next time you find yourself Downtown.
What better place to start a historical walking tour than at a bar! It’s what the founding fathers would have wanted; during colonial times it is estimated there was one bar for every TWENTY people in the British colony known as New York. This land was originally owned by the first NYC mayor to be born in the colony, Stephanus van Cortlandt who gave it to his son-in-law Stephen DeLancey. DeLancey then sold the building to a man named Samuel Fraunces who turned it into a bar, originally called the Queen’s Head. By the 1770s, this bar was the secret headquarters for the Sons of Liberty. This bar was involved in the city’s very own “tea party” in 1773 when patriots forced a British ship captain to apologize for attempting to bring tea to New York during the tea crisis. They then disguised themselves as Native Americans and dumped his tea in the harbor, just like in the more famous Boston Tea Party. The tavern was also involved in negotiations with the British and the “Long Room” was the site of a fancy turtle feast George Washington held for his troops post-Revolution. He allegedly took each officer aside for a private word after delivering a speech of gratitude. After the war the bar served as the offices of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and War. Today it is partly a museum dedicated to the American Revolution, George Washington, and the Sons of Liberty and also has a restaurant and a whisky bar.
Not far from Fraunces Tavern is a small park and public square aptly known as Bowling Green where people would play lawn bowling during colonial times. It was also a meeting place, and is still used for gatherings of all sorts today. A lot has changed around the area, but the park is still known by the same name and looks similar to how it does today. One big difference would have been a giant gilded statue of King James III on horseback that was in the middle of the park from 1765-1776. On July 9th 1776 after a reading of the Declaration of Independence in City Hall Park just a bit further uptown, some of the Sons of Liberty came down to Bowling Green to tear down the statue and get rid of all signs of British rule. They tore down the statue, cut it into pieces, and sent a bunch of the statue down to Connecticut to be melted down into musket balls to shoot at the British! That is some pretty good revenge! Historians also believe crowns were once adorning the top of the fence posts surrounding the park and the rioters sawed them all off, and if you run your hand over the tops of one these posts, you will find it to be rough. That fence has stood the test of time! Today there is a fountain and seasonal flowers to enjoy.
Built in 1698, if this building had not been burned down once (in 1776 during the Revolution) and was damaged by snowstorm in the 1800s, it would be the longest continuously used building in New York City history. Now it is under a major renovation once again, but it still is very impressive. The large spire made it larger than any other structure for many years, people even informed travelers if they were sailing into New York Harbor to look for Trinity to know they had arrived. Although the clergy was required to be Loyalist during the war, after the Revolution, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton as well as many other prominent New Yorkers worshipped at Trinity. Hamilton even advised the church on financial and legal matters, had five children baptized there, and of course is buried on the grounds. Hamilton and his wife Eliza are the most popular graves in the site and the biggest draw for Trinity today, although they are still an active church with services that can be attended by all.
The original Federal Hall was built in 1703 and saw a ton of incredible events within its walls including the drafting of a message of protest sent to King George III in response to the levying of the Stamp Act and the libel trial of John Zenger which led to the establishment of freedom of the press, later part of the Bill of Rights.After the war, this would be the first Capitol Building for the country before the capital moved from Philadelphia and then down to Washington DC.This was where George Washington’s inauguration as the first President was held. Although this was an incredibly historic building, when the capital moved out of New York, it was determined unnecessary and the original was torn down in the 1790s. About thirty years later, it was rebuilt and served as a Customs House and Sub Treasury with millions of dollars worth of gold and silver until the Federal Reserve Bank was established in 1920. Today it is a national monument and offers rotating exhibits as well as a permanent collection dedicated to George Washington including a replica of his desk, the Inaugural Bible, and a recovered piece of the balcony he was sworn in on, the only thing remaining from the original structure.
Walking back downtown, towards Fraunces Tavern but continuing as far south as you can go, Battery Park and New York Harbor sit at the tip of the island. Today known for its views of the Statue of Liberty and for leisure, battery park was originally meant for defense. The “battery” in the name refers to a battery of cannons that defended the colony since the days of the Dutch settlers. The Battery continued to be used throughout the American Revolution and was the center of Evacuation Day celebrations at the end of the war. Later on Castle Clinton was formed on an artificial spit of land in the harbor in 1811, meant to defend the city during the War of 1812, later a landfill encircled the fort, connecting it to the rest of Manhattan. It later became one of the cities most popular parks and still enjoyed by many to this day. During recent excavation in the park, a part of the original Battery Wall was uncovered and can be viewed inside Castle Clinton today. New York Harbor is just as breathtaking now as it was during colonial times. Although less shipping occurs in this harbor than in the past and the vessels sure are different than you would have seen in the 1700s it is not hard to understand the value of these waters. New York would not be nearly as important to the country without its advantageous harbor. Once teeming with sea life and beavers, later becoming the most important shipping port in the country, it makes sense the British did not want to give it up without a fight! Without the Sons of Liberty and the founding fathers, we might still have been British subjects to this day. Although New Englanders (especially Bostonians) might think they have the monopoly on Revolutionary War sites, New York offers as much history in a smaller area. Take a walk and see it for yourself!Read More
It is drastically different from all the other neighborhoods and offers sights and experiences you won’t find anywhere else. The food in Chinatown cannot be beat in terms of variety and price and there is one item sure to be on the menu at nearly any eatery you choose: the dumpling! In case you have not had the pleasure, a dumpling is dough wrapped around a filling of some kind. The varieties are endless and many cultures have their own version; whether it be the Italian ravioli or the Polish pierogi, or even Nepalese momos! In Chinatown they are usually called “dumplings” and even if they are listed under another name on the menu, the staff is sure to know what you are asking for. Planning a trip to Chinatown and don’t know where to start? Here are five of the top rated dumpling houses in the city!
Joe’s Shanghai is a legend in Chinatown for my favorite kind of dumplings: SOUP DUMPLINGS! If you have never had them before, you have to give them a try. Also known as xiao lao bao, they are a little messy, but seriously delicious! They offer two kinds of soup dumplings; crab and pork or just pork. I really love the crab and pork. Joe’s Shanghai and it’s sibling Joe’s Ginger are run a little differently than your average restaurant. You will most likely be sharing a table with other diners and they will probably assume you are their for the soup dumplings, you may even have to ask for a menu! But trust me, this is the perfect place to start off your night of dumpling hopping!
If you want to try something a little different, but very authentic, try one of their whole fish steamed, braised, or spicy!
Another great spot known particularly for their dumplings is, of course, Tasty Dumpling. These guys offer a wide variety of dumplings, hence the name. You may want to try their classic chive and pork or one of their rotating specials. I opted for the chicken and mushroom this time, which I really enjoyed. The dough is on the thicker side and the filling was savory and surprisingly flavorful. This is definitely the place to go to please a lot of people since the also offer nearly every variety in both fried and steamed. They even have frozen dumplings you can take home and make yourself!
They also have great soups, try their chicken and corn or hot and sour soup!
Wo Hop is one of the most famous Chinese restaurants in NYC. They even sell their own T-shirts! They are classic; to get inside you have to go down some stairs and all the waiters wear old fashioned jackets. Apparently not much has changed about the space since 1938, although they rotate their pictures of patrons and visiting celebrities often. Sharpie-signed dollar bills line the walls as well as graffiti! Wo Hop offers several styles of dumpling and is most famous for its wonton (aka dumpling) soup, but this time I wanted to try their pan fried pork dumplings. They were large, moon-shaped and were delicious with their sauce. Wo Hop is a legendary late night spot they are open till 7 am! These dumplings are sure to hit to spot after bar hopping in the Lower East Side!
Still hungry? Try their famous wonton crisps, they’ll give you a huge bowl for 50 cents!
If you or someone in your group is vegetarian, Chinese cuisine can sometimes be challenging depending on which restaurant you choose. But Vegetarian Dim Sum House lives up to its name. They offer a few different kinds of veggie dumplings, some fried and some steamed. I heard the steamed spinach dumplings were particularly good. They were huge! They come three to an order, but that’s all you need. You also can’t find a green dumpling a lot of places, even in Chinatown. If you are looking for one of the healthiest Chinese restaurants in they city, you cannot go wrong with Vegetarian Dim Sum House!
They also have awesome veggie spring rolls and a wide variety of healthy (and not so healthy) vegetable dishes.
It’s all in the name. This truly is a hole-in-the-wall place that serves locals, tourists, and nearly everyone who stumbles upon it for the simple reason that they are the cheapest! You can get five dumplings for $1.50, which has all of our other places beat. They are fried pork pot-sticker type dumplings but they are really tasty (actually worth much more than they sell them for) and they have been a Chinatown favorite for years. They are able to keep their prices so low because they are small and no-frills. They offer a few other things, but they continuously sell these fried dumplings all day so they are sure to be fresh.
People really just come here for the dumplings but they also offer steamed buns that tend to sell out if you want to try more!
Every New Yorker has a favorite Chinese restaurant and this one is mine. There are a lot of great things to pick from on the menu. The thick udon noodle dishes are very popular, as well as their chicken dishes. But they also have amazing soup dumplings and I couldn’t help but include one more spot.These soup dumplings are a little smaller and thinner than Joe’s Shanghai, but I like these a little more. They have two kinds: pork and truffle. Truffle soup dumplings are hard to come by and if you are a fan, you should give them a try!
Give anything else here a try and I’m sure you will see why I like it so much!
Now that you have some ideas, you can think about what kind of dumplings you want to try. All of these places are within a few blocks of one another so you really can try them all! There are also many other places along the way you should try out, sometimes wandering around until you stumble upon a place you like is the best way to find your new favorite restaurant. One more piece of advice, many of these establishments are cash only, so stop by an ATM along the way. Happy Dumpling Hopping!Read More
NYC offers so much for dog owners from great pet shops, the best parks, and even pet friendly bars! One of the best opportunities city pooches have to socialize would be at one of many dog runs. Dog runs give dogs a chance to run, sniff, and play with one another in a safe, fenced-off enclosure. Since most NYC owners do not have a yard and leash laws are strictly enforced, the city offers many of these dog runs and it is a gift not just for dog owners- but for the entire city alike. Giving walking tours all around NYC, we often visit parks and where there are parks, there are dogs! What could be better than exploring a beautiful park with a knowledgeable guide and getting the chance to see some local pups at play! Here are some of the best dog runs to bring your pooch or grab a bench nearby just to watch.
Let’s start off with a hidden gem. Some of the largest dog runs in the city are just 20 minutes away from Midtown Manhattan in historic Washington Heights. Here you can find several clean and spacious dog runs. J. Hood Wright Park is on the West side of 173rd st. It is a small park, but has a nicely sized dog run where both big and small dogs can play together. Many parks in the city have two areas- one for large and one for small dogs only. This is one of the best for dogs who love to socialize with dogs of all sizes. You can also find a nice playground for the kids, a recreation center, and a large grassy area with rocks to climb on. Our Top Dogs love it! The best part of this dog run though, is the scenic views of the George Washington Bridge. Here is our furry friend Meeko posing just outside the dog run!
Just a little bit further North you can find another park in Washington Heights that is often a hot spot for tourists and New Yorkers alike: Ft. Tryon Park. This park best known for the Cloisters Museum, an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a must-see for fans of Medieval art, fashion, and architecture. The park also has a natural, rugged, forest-like character, it feels like stepping back in time! It also boasts the city’s largest public dog run: the Ft. Tryon Sir William dog run. The park (and dog run) are named after William Tryon, the last colonial governor of the city. It is a full acre and has over 350 regular users! It also has a small dog area with a seperate entrance which is helpful for small timid dogs. The rest of the park is also a great place to get some exercise for both dogs and humans alike. It’s almost like getting out of the city while still being right in Manhattan. Look at Nemmy having a ball in her favorite dog run!
Union Square is one of the city’s busiest parks but has so much to see! From interesting works of architecture like the Decker Building to statues of Presidents Washington and Lincoln- even the most expensive public art installation is city history can be found in compact Union Square! It also offers some of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment options around. This is a relatively small dog run, but you can’t beat the variety of dogs that visit here. People from all over the world and from around the corner come together in this little park. It is best for the dogs who always want to say hi to everyone, no matter where they come from. On our Gramercy tour, you can learn about the history of the area and all the local highlights, while checking out some cool pups. Take a look at all these pampered pooches!
Scenic Riverside Park is one of the best places to take your dog in the city. There are long walking trails and lots of grassy patches and not just one but THREE dog runs so you are sure to find the best one for your picky pooch. Our favorite is just outside 87th st. You can find some of the friendliest dogs in the city on the Upper West Side. This park also has off leash hours at 9 AM and 9 PM just like its big brother to the east, Central Park. Since many of the dogs and owners know each other, there is a sense of comfort and ease more so than some of the other, more crowded dog runs. After your fun romp in the dog run and nice stroll in the park, you may want to visit some of the other highlights of the park: The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is a beautiful stone tower honoring those who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. It was dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 and is still historically the location of Memorial Day ceremonies. Our friend’s Diesel and Ruby took a night time stroll to see the monument and Buddy is chilling in the grass!
Our guests always comment on how incredible the dog run is in Washington Square Park. Sometimes we take a short break to use the restrooms that are conveniently located just outside the dog run, and sometimes that break ends up being a little longer so our guests can admire the amazing dogs! This is also quite a large dog run, great for big dogs who need to run around. This park seems to have the widest variety of breeds and some very interesting owners too. Take our Greenwich Village historical tour or our Ghost tour if you prefer an after dark visit to the park. You can even hear about the spirit of a ghost dog! This is our fluffy pal Fritz getting to know some new buddies!
There are over 30 dug runs in Manhattan alone. Whichever you choose, you cannot go wrong! You will be sure to see some awesome pooches. Just a few things to keep in mind: the city has a “no dogs without people and no people without dogs” rule so if you are travelling sans furry friend just grab a bench nearby and watch to your heart’s content. Also make sure if you bring your dog to make sure you scope out the situation and make sure it is safe for your dog and their size/energy level matches the other dogs. Also be a good New Yorker and clean up after them! To learn more about these fabulous parks, take a tour with your favorite dog-loving company Top Dog Tours!Read More
New York City gets a reputation for being noisy, crowded, and expensive. But there is one month of the year where that is not true. Although it may seem like a terrible time to travel to the North East, savvy tourists know February cannot be beat in terms of pricing and availability. If you want to have the place (almost) to yourself, you have to come visit this time of year.
Many tourists are scared to travel to NYC in the winter because of the cold weather. The average daily high temperature is around 32℃, which is too cold for some, but if you can brave the elements, you can enjoy a much more empty city. The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and many other popular attractions report shorter lines and wait times. So as long as you prepare and dress warm you can enjoy less hassle and get a more individual experience. Many tourists find they enjoy this time of year more than the heat of summer. New Yorkers also enjoy the extra elbow room too and are sometimes even friendlier despite the cold! The peace and quiet brings out the best in everyone.
Even though February is the shortest month of the year it is jam packed with fun events! If you are coming at the beginning of the month you may be interested in getting some great deals on hundreds of NYC eateries for Restaurant Week! You can get a 2 course meal for $26 or 3 courses for $42. Participating restaurants include the Atlantic Grill in Lincoln Center, The Brooklyn Chop House, The Bombay Bread Bar and more! Both New Yorkers and tourists alike love to get dressed up and get a great deal on a fancy meal. It only comes twice a year, this time it runs January 21st through February 8th, just in time for an early Valentine’s Day treat. If you’re coming toward the end of the month and have some children to entertain the Intrepid Museum Kids Week may be perfect for young ones interested in anything airplanes, boats, and space! It runs February 17th through 23rd. Also check out the New York International Children’s Film Festival, which offers events and workshops as well as movies from all around the world. It begins February 22nd and continues through March 17th. Of course if you need a reason to visit the Big Apple this month, there is always Valentine’s Day!
More information about these events can be found at these links:
There are so many rom-coms set in NYC for a reason: it is one of the most romantic cities in the world! You can take a walk across the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge which is breath-taking with a light coating of snow. Central Park is especially romantic this time of year and is also mercifully empty. Wander off the beaten track and you can find yourself a moment of solitude in the middle of the big city. You can take a night-time harbor cruise see the lights; many companies offer warm cabins where you can watch from indoors with a hot chocolate or delicious cocktail. Restaurants may be really busy and reservations hard to make but what is great about NYC is that even grabbing some dollar pizza in Times Square with someone you love can be just as romantic as a fancy dinner back home. Some other fun date ideas include visiting the Statue of Liberty, going to the observation deck of One World Trade, or museum wandering.
One of the hardest things about visiting NYC is securing a hotel room. They can be so incredibly expensive and sell out quickly many times of the year. Christmas, New Years, and during the summer the rates can rise exponentially. February is one of the easiest and cheapest times of year to get hotel rooms and airfare.Sometimes Valentine’s Day and the surrounding weekend can be a little tricky, especially for the most popular hotels but you are sure to find a deal if you do a little searching! Some hotels will even offer packages which include entrance to museums and top tourist attractions to entice you further. Since it is less crowded you will get more personalized attention and there are concierges who can even help plan your trip!
We get an average of 7 inches of snow here in New York City in February. Some years it is more, some is less but February usually brings us at least a little snow. You can get some amazing pictures on a snowy day, especially in the parks. Some people even plan trips to visit the day after the snow hits just to experience the winter wonderland-like atmosphere. Even if it doesn’t snow on your trip, you can enjoy another great winter activity: ice skating at one of the city’s public skating rinks! At least if you do not see snow on your trip, you can enjoy the ice all winter long!Read More
At the southernmost tip of Manhattan sits an oasis of green grass, historical monuments, and incredible views of New York Harbor. You could spend an entire day wandering around and seeing all the park has to offer, but even a quick walk is a great break from the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan. It was very cold out but it didn’t bother me or the many others out exploring one of the cities best parks! Here is just some of what you will find in Battery Park.
Battery Park is full of history! It is the home of Castle Clinton, a former military installation, now the location of Statue of Liberty tickets. Visit this circular brick building if you want to connect with the many different lives of Battery Park. There is a small museum where you can see how Castle Clinton served many purposes to New York over the generations- it was even an aquarium! Castle Clinton is now a National Park site and is perfect for the history fans. One of my favorite statues in the park is just outside: a larger-than-life sculpture called “The Immigrants” which depicts the myriad of emotions and felt by immigrants as they arrived in a new land, which for many years was right here in Battery Park. Check out some of the other breathtaking monuments the park has to offer.
Throughout the park you will find over a dozen monuments, some of my personal favorites in all of NYC in fact! There are some patriotic war memorials including the New York Korean War Memorial and the Norwegian Veterans Memorial. The most famous is the incredibley moving East Coast Memorial. It honors the 4,601 missing American serviceman who died in combat in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII. It is symbolically aligned with the Statue of Liberty and features a majestic bronze eagle and 19-foot granite slabs with the name, rank, state, and organization of the deceased. The American Merchant Mariners’ Monument, located on a breakwater in the harbor, recreates a real-life photo of Merchant Mariners in a sinking vessel after a German u-boat attack. Three sailors try desperately to pull up another that has fallen overboard. Depending on tide levels in the harbor, sometimes all you can see of the fallen man is just a hand rising out of the water. It is a dramatic and effective work of art, definitely a must see! Also find a gorgeous statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano and a plaque dedicated to Emma Lazarus. While you are monument-hopping in the park don’t forget to walk along the harbor edge and see the amazing views!
Battery Park runs along the iconic New York Harbor. While it was a bit windy while I was there, the breath-taking views make it more than worth a visit no matter when you choose to visit. If you don’t have time for a visit to the Statue of Liberty this trip, a photo with the island in the background is a necessity. During my visit I saw lots of people posing with their families and couples taking engagement photos, so a bench along the harbor is the perfect place to people watch. You can see lots of boats crossing the harbor on their way to Jersey City or Governors Island and of course you can’t forget about the Statue Cruises boats on their way to Liberty and Ellis Island! Battery Park offers lots of activities for people of all ages, but one attraction in particular is perfect for the children in your life.
Designed to replicate life under water, the Seaglass Carousel is a fun ride for you and your family. When redesigning the park, officials wanted to add light and came up with a creative idea: a colorful carousel celebrating aquatic life, harkening back to the aquarium days of Castle Clinton. It features thirty larger-than-life custom made fiberglass fish. Fun fact: it does not have the traditional center pole of many carousels; rather utilizing four turntables under the floorboards! This is a perfect photo op that kids of all ages-even the teens- seem to truly enjoy. The Seaglass Carousel can be the cherry on top of a perfect NYC outing, but before you go, I recommend taking a second to enjoy the lawns of Battery Park.
Even though it was chilly, I still saw many people enjoying the green space Battery Park offers. NYC can be so hectic. Grassy lawns are scarce downtown, and this park is an essential oasis for tourists and locals (and their dogs) alike! There are often blue chairs available to sit and relax. I decided to catch up on some reading and watch the line for the Statue of Liberty unfurl throughout the park. I hope you enjoy your visit to this legendary NYC park, you are sure to have a great time no matter how you choose to spend your afternoon!
Find of more information about all Battery Park has to offer here: https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/battery-park/highlights/page/1Read More
New York City offers countless opportunities for pictures any time of year but is particularly magical over the holidays! Many stores throughout the city have decorated storefronts and you can find an abundance of Christmas trees throughout the parks. If you are passing through on a short trip, you may also want to consider getting a nice family photo while visiting one of the sights on your list! Perhaps consider packing a few Santa hats or reindeer antlers, you never know when you will stumble upon the perfect location for your holiday card! Here are a few places to consider.
Let’s start with a classic! Central Park is always a must see in any season. Although it is extremely popular (it sees an average of 40 million visitors per year!) the park is so large and has so many twists and turns you can find a private corner to yourself and have a photo shoot. You could get a photo with the charming turtle pond or the impressive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Or maybe the kids would enjoy climbing one of the many large boulders scattered throughout the park for a more adventurous picture. There is even a castle in the park! You may need a little patience if you want a private photo with the Bethesda Fountain or walking down the long promenade known as “The Mall” since these are some of the more popular areas of the park but they are definitely worth it. The options really are endless!
Another destination that offers something for everyone is the South Street Seaport district in Lower Manhattan. It is a historical shipping port, very essential to NYC commerce, dating back to the 17th century and still is a shopping destination in its own right. Today you will still find delightful brick paved streets lined with designer stores, boutiques, and unique eateries. They also offer a holiday market during the season, perfect for gift shopping. But what really sets this neighborhood apart from the rest is its grand vista of New York Harbor. You could grab a breathtaking family photo with the Brooklyn Bridge. Perhaps you would prefer a photo of you and your bestie in front of the pretty Christmas tree, standing on a charming, historical street. You cannot beat the Seaport district for a classy holiday photo, sure to blow all your relatives away!
One of the best holiday markets in the city can be found in Bryant Park every year. There is an ice skating rink for you athletic families. There are dozens of vendors serving up delicious treats and handmade gifts. Anywhere you go in the Winter Village you are sure to find a wonderful backdrop for your family photo. Here’s a handy tip: one of the best Christmas trees can be found east of the skating rink and makes for an impressive photo. It is also much less crowded than its more famous counterpart in Rockefeller Center.
Speaking of Rockefeller Center, the number one destination every holiday season also has some incredible options for holiday photos. The legendary Rockefeller Christmas Tree is always worth getting a look at. If you come very early in the morning or late at night, you have a better shot at getting a more private photo. But there are some other cool holiday photo ops you may want to consider. How about the LEGO store? In the store windows and throughout the store you can find many gigantic lego models, some of which are holiday themed! There is also the most popular ice skating rink in the city, featuring the Prometheus statue. You are also very close to St. Patrick’s cathedral, a beautiful building both inside and out which offers countless opportunities for pictures. The fifth avenue store fronts are also a great place to window shop and may offer the perfect backdrop for the holiday card! Explore Rockefeller Center and the surrounding areas can fill even the most grumpiest person with the holiday spirit!
The Statue of Liberty is the top tourist attraction in NYC. Your ticket includes three short ferry rides of New York Harbor which offer incredible views and the perfect opportunity to snag a holiday photo with Lady Liberty. Consider getting some funny hats or maybe some matching sweaters and you can kill two birds with one stone: getting a great photo and visiting an incredible monument. There are many places to wander on the island, and you can get some amazing pictures with the skyline. The Statue of Liberty is sure to make an impressive addition to your family holiday card!
If you take my last bit of advice and visit the Statue of Liberty, you are also able to visit Ellis Island which is truly one of the most valuable experiences available in the city, especially for American citizens. It also happens to boast some beautiful architecture which make a fantastic backdrop for a family photo. You can also search for your own relatives that came through the island during its time as an immigration center. It is a building with a fascinating history that may very well connect with your own family’s story. It is an excellent location for a truly meaningful holiday card, because at the end of the day, the holidays are about family.Read More
We have some of the most oldest traditions and the biggest and brightest decorations. If you find yourself getting some Christmas-time blues or just want to have a great outing with your family, NYC offers some amazing opportunities for a day trip. Whether you like to shop or skate or take tons of pictures you cannot go wrong with a visit to the city during the holiday season. Take a look at some of my favorite excursions NYC has to offer!
A tradition for New Yorkers and tourists alike is just a hop, skip, and jump away from Manhattan but is more than worth a trip on the subway or Metro North. Located in the Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden is an incredible attraction any time of year. But visitors come back year after year for the Holiday Train Show. Fantastic for families with children of all ages, you can see model trains roll through a miniature NYC made out of plants! There is over half a mile of track and more trains than ever this year. They also add additional landmarks. The scaled Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, and Yankee Stadium are classics, but this year they have introduced a sailing element with two replica vintage ferry boats joining the display for the first time. This event is perfect for train enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and gardeners alike. It is a can’t miss attraction this holiday season.
You can f
ind more information here: https://www.nybg.org/event/holiday-train-show/holiday-train-show/
Another NYC classic Winter activity is ice skating. There are many places in the city that offer skating. The most popular rink is Rockefeller Center; Holiday Central here in Manhattan. Be prepared to wait, but you cannot beat skating in front of the Prometheus Statue with the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree soaring above you! If you were hoping to beat the crowds, the Wollman Rink in Central Park tends to be quieter due to the availability of other rinks during the holiday season. You can also check out the rest of the park with a cup of hot cocoa to finish up your day trip! Another fantastic holiday skating option is in the Winter Village at Bryant Park, nestled in the middle of its famous holiday market. No matter which rink you choose, you are sure to have a lot of active fun skating in the city!
Go South to find many charming holiday installations alongside historical sites for a great day trip. You can visit Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated and then walk a few steps down the road and see the stock exchange, complete with its own fabulous Christmas tree! South Street Seaport is close by as well; a historical shipping port with brick-lined streets and lots of shopping options, it is always decked out for the holidays. Zuccotti Park has a wide variety of trees complete with twinkling tea lights, it makes a great photo op! The 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street Bull, and Battery Park are also within the vicinity. You could spend a whole day exploring all this incredible neighborhood which has even more to offer during the holiday season.
One of my favorite things about the city this time of year is the wide variety of holiday markets. Taking on a European tradition of Christmas markets, NYC offers several great destinations for gift shopping and tasty treats. The most popular market is the Bryant Park Winter Village which offers over 170 vendors selling everything from handm
ade jewelry to fancy grilled cheese! It also has that skating rink I mentioned and a charming Christmas tree. They have a new pop-up food hall this year right called ‘The Lodge’ next to the rink if you work up an appetite! If you are more interested in supporting local crafters, the NY Holiday Handmade Cavalry is for you. This festival hops between various locations throughout the season and offers the opportunity to purchase something one of a kind. If you are lucky, they occasionally offer free goody bags to lucky shoppers with coupons and swag. The Chelsea Market location even boasts some tasty holiday cocktails! If you feel up to a Brooklyn adventure, the WinterFest located outside the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum, it a 40,000 square foot extravaganza with countless options for shopping and food. They have amazing mulled wine and they have a Santaland with a Mr. and Mrs. Claus who pose for photos. Other holiday markets can be found in Union Square and Columbus Circle. You could spend an afternoon visiting one or two markets or go crazy and spend a long weekend so you can see them all!
NY Holiday Handmade Cavalry will be at Chelsea Market December 3rd-9th and at the Brooklyn Historical Society December 15th and 16th. You can find more information here: https://www.newyorkled.com/event/2018-holiday-handmade-cavalcade-markets-in-nyc/
WinterFest is open through December 3rd.
Union Square Holiday Market is open through December 24th.
The Columbus Circle Holiday Market is open through December 24th.Read More