Back in the Borough: Do in NYC

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Welcome to the third installment of my Things to Do in NYC series. This time I’m comin’ at ya with a list of some of my favorite activities in NYC. You don’t have to be a tourist to love these things — Chris and I partake in most of them on the regular, even though we live here.

There’s really no limit to the number of things you can do in this city, and this list is maybe a bit unconventional. I didn’t include things like taking in a Broadway show (always worth it) or visiting the Empire State Building (an ancient tradition). Some of these things might take some planning, and a couple of them are seasonal, but to accomplish some or most of the things here will, I promise, make you one very happy person.

What to Do in NYC

  1. Bike in Central Park: Whether you rent your bikes from one of the many stores available near the bottom entrance of the park, or just pick up a couple of Citi Bikes, biking through the park will still allow you access to some of the most beautiful areas of CP (although be cognoscente of the areas where you are supposed to walk your bike, and not ride it),  and it might just save you a little bit of time in the process. Be warned, though — biking around the outer loop of Central Park is not all fun and games. There are some pretty tough hills to tackle, my friends, especially in the northernmost  section of the park (otherwise known as the Harlem hills). Don’t be embarrassed if you have to get off your bike and walk it up in this area … I certainly did.
  2. Walk The High Line: The High Line will always hold a special place in my heart, since Chris and I stayed at The Standard Hotel overlooking The High Line the first night that we were married. But even without a sentimental reason to visit, The High Line is still pretty amazing. This public park is actually built on a set of old freight rail lines elevated above the city on the West side. It’s free to enter, and there are tons of snack and drink vendors along the walk. There’s also a fun seated section with a huge window overlooking the street where you can sit and watch the cars drive by as if from right underneath you.  After you’ve walked The High Line, stop off at the The Standard Biergarten for some drinks and pretzels [my fave!]. Another warning for you: this place gets packed, so if at all possible, I would make your High Line walk as early as possible, so that your visit to the Beer Garden is on the earlier side, as well. [Check their hours to see what suits your schedule.]
  3. Watch Shakespeare in the Park:  So this activity definitely takes some planning, but if done correctly, it can really be a spectacular day. The hardest part about this suggestion will be actually getting the tickets for admission. There is an online ticket lottery, but the chances of actually getting tickets this way are slim-to-none. In my opinion, your best bet is to camp out for them — and camping out is half the fun! As you may recall, I did this one day last summer with a friend [and I’m hoping to do it again this summer], so I won’t go into a ton more detail here.  You have to get there super early  [I’m talkin’ 4:30 a.m. early] to even have a shot at getting the tickets, but you can camp out and read, and local restaurants send out delivery men to take food and drink orders, and park performers stop by and serenade you while you wait — it’s all part of the experience. Tickets are handed out at noon [they’re free!], and the performances start around 6, so after you get your tickets you have the whole afternoon free before you have to come back for the performance. [Perhaps a nap will be in the cards?!]
  4. Visit DUMBO: Brooklyn has its own set of fun adventures to partake in, so I’m only going to include this one thing here, since visiting the DUMBO [which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass] section of Brooklyn provides you with the most amazing view of Manhattan, as well as access to a ton of other activities, like pop-up pools in the summer, Jane’s Carousel for the kids, lots of shops and restaurants and ice cream, etc. Check out more about DUMBO in this post that I wrote about my visit there last year.
  5. Ice skate in Bryant Park: If you know me at all, you’ll know that ice skating in Bryant Park is absolutely one of my favorite pasttimes. [So much so that my husband’s first ever Christmas gift to me was a pair of skates and a lock specifically to use for the lockers at Bryant Park.] Anyway, it’s not just the skating rink at Bryant Park that makes it so special, it’s the entire Winter Village. The pop-up shops surrounding the rink provide the most festive ambiance for a late-night skate, and they play old-timey music and you can stop by Celcius afterwards for a hot toddy. The rink usually opens in November and closes around February (although the shops close right after the holidays), so that’s plenty of opportunity to dust off the old skates and go for a twirl! Skating is free here if you bring your own ice skates and lock.
  6. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I mean … enough said, right?
  7. Dying to Try: A Visit to The Cloisters: A visit here is definitely on our NY to-do list. The Cloisters are technically a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although they’re actually located in Fort Tyron Park (check out directions here). I’ve heard that the grounds are beautiful, and the extension is used to exhibit the museum’s collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe. Pretty cool.

So those should keep you busy for a while! Up next: Bee-boppin’ around NYC. [AKA, the best places to listen to some music!]

Bis bald, friends!

Happy Early Father’s Day — NYC Style!

Hey friends,

As I mentioned yesterday, my dad and stepmom came into the city this past Saturday for a little early Father’s Day celebration. We had an epic day. We started at our favorite local Upper East Side brunch place, Uptown,  then took them for a tour of pretty much all of Central Park. We started at Engineer’s Gate and hit up Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond and the Belvedere Castle, as well as the Brambles, the Bethesda Fountain, the Boathouse, Conservation Waters, the Reservoir, the Great Lawn , Shakespeare Garden and the Alice In Wonderland statue.

Phew!

We topped off the tour with rooftop drinks at the Met, which has about the most amazing view of Manhattan I’ve seen yet. [Top of the Rock is pretty amazing as well … but this was a close second.]

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^^ From the top of Belvedere Castle.

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^^ A birds-eye view of the Great Lawn.

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^^ That structure over to the right of this photo is Delacorte Theater,
where they put on Shakespeare in the Park productions.

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^^ Tiny Judy, down in the bottom right of the photo. I love this one 😉

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 ^^ Sweeping skyline views from the Met rooftop bar and cafe.

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^^ Happy Father’s  Day everyone!

Back in the Borough: Shakespeare in the Park

Hi friends,

I was telling Chris yesterday that I feel like this has been the summer of Central Park. First we saw the NY Philharmonic in the park, then we took a bike ride through it, on Sunday we took my 4-month-old nephew there, and last night we partook in a long-time New York City bucket list item of both of ours … seeing Shakespeare in the Park.

Allow me to explain. You see, every summer The Public Theater provides free tickets to eager New Yorkers willing to do insane things (like get up at 4:30 a.m. to camp out in line for said free tickets) for performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The tickets are, as you can imagine, very popular, and therefore very hard to get. There’s a public lottery online—but I’m convinced no one ever wins tickets that way (at least I never have!)—you can purchase a $175 summer supporter membership and get one free ticket to one show, OR (and this is a popular one) … you can camp out in Central Park, starting at around 6 a.m., until they open their doors at noon and start passing out tickets.

Yesterday my friend Carla and I bit the bullet and just did it — we camped out in Central Park for six hours, starting at 6 a.m., to get free tickets.

And I have to say, my friends, it was TOTALLY. WORTH. IT. Honestly, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. (Of course weather is key, here, people. If you’re going to be laying in the grass for six hours, you must have nice weather, which we did. Couldn’t have asked for better.)

Anyway, here’s a bit from the morning:

^^I took this hazy Central Park path photo around 5:50 a.m. as I was entering the park. It reflects my mood nicely. Hazy.
^^I took this hazy Central Park path photo around 5:50 a.m. as I was entering the park. It reflects my mood nicely. Hazy.
^^The line pass beyond the point where we could see it. Turns out there's something called "The Rock of No Hope." Rumor has it if you try to get in line past that rock for tickets, you're probably out of luck.
^^The line passed beyond the point where we could see it. Turns out there’s something called “The Rock of No Hope.” Rumor has it if you try to get in line past that rock for tickets, you’re probably out of luck.
^^Along with the free play tickets, the New York Times was passing out this lovely book to people in the line, for free.
^^Along with the free play tickets, the New York Times was passing out this lovely book to people in the line, for free.
^^This lovely gentleman serenaded us with his flute while we waited in line. Then asked for money, which of course we were happy to give him. When we returned 8 hours later for the actual play, he was playing a saxophone. So talented.
^^This lovely gentleman serenaded us with his flute while we waited in line. Then asked for money, which of course we were happy to give him. When we returned 8 hours later for the actual performance, he was playing a saxophone. So talented.
^^At one point I took a short nap. When I woke up, this was my view. Not too shabby.
^^At one point I took a short nap. When I woke up, this was my view. Not too shabby.

Now just because this could be considered a crazy thing to do, don’t be fooled. There’s a method to the madness, people. Theater workers walk the lines every so often, keeping count and making sure no one cuts in line. (There’s no holding spots for other people, and no one was meant to join you later on, is what we were told. Going to the bathroom. That was the only time you were allowed to vacate your spot (thank God!)).

There was also a cute little delivery man on a bike who smartly handed out take-out menus from a restaurant located right outside of the park. Carla and I were all too happy to ask our neighbors to add two cappuccinos for us to the delivery they ordered for themselves at around 9 a.m.

Tickets are handed out randomly–so as long as you’re in the line before they run out, it actually doesn’t matter if you’re the first person or the last person–both are just as likely to get good seats. Unfortunately, despite our pretty amazing location in line (I’d say about 25-35 people deep), our seats were pretty high up. The theater is on the smaller side, though, so no seat is really a bad seat, per se.

So you wait in line for six hours (or at least we did), you get your tickets, then you leave and come back around 8, when the doors open. Performances start at 8:30, and there are no intermissions. That’s okay, though, because the performances are so amazing, you don’t even want a break.

The performance we saw was called ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’. The gist of it is that the King and three of his friends decide at their five-year college reunion to swear off women. When four cute girls–including the princess–show up from their past, though, things get ca-razy. (And ca-razy funny, too!)

You aren’t meant to take photos from inside the theater, but Chris went rogue and shot this one quickly:

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Is that not the cutest ever? With Turtle Pond in the background, the skyscrapers in view from the Upper West Side and the vague noises from people enjoying the park all around the outside of the theater … it’s honestly a moment where you think: “Am I really watching a Shakespeare play, for free, in the middle of Central Park?”

It’s pretty incredible.

You’re also allowed to bring food and drink into the theater, as long as you don’t take in any glass bottles. So we loaded up on sandwiches and snacks and little bottles of boxed wine–and had ourselves a merry Shakespearean Central Park night … just the four of us!

I would highly recommend this to any tourists, too. It gives you an excuse to get up early enough to start your day, and if the weather’s nice, there’s nothing better than camping out in CP in the early morning, watching everyone with their dogs running around, ecstatic, off their leashes.  Then you have your tickets by 12:30 at the latest, and you have until 8 p.m. to spend the rest of the day however you like. And you can end the evening with a magnificent (free of charge!) play.

What can be better than that?

Bis bald, friends! I purchased my ticket for D.C. for next week yesterday–I cannot wait!