How to Have the Perfect Day in Midtown Manhattan

How to Have the Perfect Day in Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan is so much more than Times Square. It’s got lots of museums and tons of food options. Here’s my guide for the perfect (fully packed!) day in Midtown.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central
Grand Central

Start your day at Grand Central. It’s a gorgeous building that has been open since 1913 with 750,000 visitors passing through each day. Start in the Main Concourse and watch the commuters pass by before venturing to find some breakfast.

Gorgeous open faced sandwiches at Great Northern Food Hall

You’ve got plenty of options – I love the Great Northern Food Hall for Scandinavian options from casual to sit down. You can also check out the Market for some grab and go options or Irving Farm Coffee Roasters for delicious coffee.

Grand Central Market Midtown
Grand Central Market – it’s a traditional food market & perfect for grab and go

After you’ve eaten, head back  to the Main Concourse and grab the audio tour for $9. You can do it in as little as 30 minutes and gives an interesting history as well as architectural details you might normally miss.

MoMA

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol at MoMA

Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA) is an awesome art museum. It’s got famous artists like Warhol and Monet. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop. Admission is $25

Lunch

For lunch, check out The Little Beet for healthy options or City Kitchen for an upscale food court with lobster rolls, sushi and gourmet doughnuts for dessert. Be warned though that midtown lunch places can have lines out the door between 12-2pm.

Radio City Tour

 

Radio City
Radio City – view from the Stage

A tour of Radio City is a must. It’s a stunning theater and so cool to stand onstage. See where the animals live during the Christmas show. Meet a Rockette (and get a photo!). Tours run daily and are $26.95 each. Advance reservations are recommended.

Happy Hour (with views!)

Have happy hour at the rooftop of La Quinta. It’s got great views and is a hidden gem. There are deals everyday from 4-7pm and might be the cheapest drinks you’ll ever find in Manhattan.

Dinner

For dinner, you have to go to Carmine’s. Everything is served family style and is absolutely incredible. So grab a bunch of friends or prepare for a lot of leftovers. If you’re not too full, order the Titanic. Like the name suggests, it’s pretty epic.

Broadway show

After dinner, see a show. I may be biased, but you can’t come to New York without seeing a Broadway show. With 41 theaters, there are so many options and even if you think you’re not into theater, give it a try. Here’s my guide to getting tickets here.

Times Square

After the show, head to Times Square. It’s best at night so you can really admire all the lights and the people watching should be pretty good. But don’t spend too long, it’s a bit overrated.

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How to See the Tony Award Winning Shows

How to See the Tony Award Winning Shows

ICYMI, the Tony Awards were this past Sunday. They’re a celebration of the past year’s Broadway shows and a celebration of all things Broadway. It’s also a huge marketing tool for all shows – whether they win or not. Here’s how you can see this year’s top shows:

 

Best Musical

Dear Evan Hansen

Courtesy of show’s website

Check out the Tony performance by Ben Platt (who also won Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical) here.

 

If you can wait, you can buy tickets on the website. A new block starting in January 2018 was just released so that will be your best bet.

If you can’t wait, try the digital lottery. It opens online at 12:01am on the date of the performance (except Saturday evenings) and closes at 10am for matinees and 3pm for evening performances. You can buy up to 2 tickets for $40 each. 

Or you can try for standing room but you will need to arrive before the box office opens because lines do start the night before (yep, people sleep out on the street for tickets). You can get up to 2 tickets for $42 each.

Dear Evan Hansen also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Book. 

 

Best Play

 

Oslo (Hurry! Show closes July 16th)

Photo from Playbill

Your best bet is to buy tickets  between July 2nd and July 16th. Thanks to the Tony Awards, the show extended an additional two weeks. So you can easily buy tickets to any of the performances during those dates.

If you’re looking for cheap tickets, enter the digital lottery the date before the desired performance. The lottery is drawn at 10am the day before and winners can buy up to 2 tickets for $39 each.

On TodayTix, tickets are currently on sale for $59 each and up. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.

TDF: Oslo is often on the website TDF for $41 tickets. (TDF or the Theatre Development Fund is a nonprofit that gives ticket discounts to its members. For $34 a year, you can become a member too. AND you don’t even have to be a theater person to join – you can be a student, teacher, recent grad, retiree, or FREELANCER. Here’s the full list.)

TKTS: It’s sometimes at the booth and is worth checking out.

Oslo also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

 

Best Revival of a Musical

Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly!
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Watch the Tony performance of David Hyde Pierce here.

Even better, watch Bette Midley’s acceptance speech for Best Leading Actress in a Musical here.

This is probably the hardest ticket to get right now because Bette Midler. If you absolutely must see her, there is currently some good availability at the end of the year.

If you don’t mind standing, you can do standing room for $47 each for up to 2 tickets. As far as I know, people aren’t lining up the night before so as long as you arrive a little before the box office opens, you should be OK.

If you don’t mind seeing Donna Murphy (who is sharing the role with Bette Midler), you can get tickets much easier. TodayTix has tickets available starting at $39 through August. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.

Hello, Dolly! also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Best Costume Design.

Best Revival of a Play

Jitney

Unfortunately, Jitney closed in March.

 

What didn’t win but you should still see

Come From Away

Watch the full company’s Tony performance here.

Rush: You can purchase up to 2 tickets for $38 each. Arrive before the box office opens (I recommend an hour early because there are lines). Once rush tickets run out, standing room tickets are available for $32 each. The show is only 100 minutes so it’s not a bad option.

TodayTix: It’s not always on the app, but the show is currently on sale for a few dates in June and July starting at $117. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.

Come From Away was nominated for Best Musical and won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Watch the full company’s Tony performance here.

Rush: $39 each for up to 2 tickets when the box office opens. There is usually a line, so arriving early is recommended.

Digital Lottery: Lottery opens at 12:01am the day of the performance and closes at 10am for matinees and 3pm for evening performances. Tickets are $39 each for up to 2 tickets.

 

TKTS: It’s sometimes at the booth and is worth checking out.

The show was nominated for Best Musical and won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Lighting Design of a Musical. 

If you’re interested in finding cheap tickets to other Broadway shows, check out my guide here.

 

Tony Awards Pinterest Graphic

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Travel Roundup 6.9.17

Travel Roundup 6.9.17
  1. Have a whale of a time… in NYC?

Humpback whales have returned in New York after nearly 100 years. Experts say it’s due to better water quality and algae for whales to feed on. They’ve had so many whale sightings that tour companies are popping up including Gotham Whales.

Photo from Gotham Whale website
  1. Airport a tourist destination?

The world’s best airport is about to get an amusement park. Singapore’s Changi Airport just announced a plan for a canopy park with bouncing nets, a tube slide, maze and waterfall. It already has tons of amenities, ranking in the best airport in the world.

Photo from Daily Mail website
  1. Trump launching budget-friendly hotel brand

If you’re boycotting Trump products, take note. Trump is launching a budget three-star hotel brand under the name American Idea. They’ll be found in smaller cities and the plan is to retrofit existing properties.

 

  1. Swim in the Seine

Well, not quite. Paris is opening up canal pools – swimming pools adjacent to the canals in the 19th arrondisement.

Photo from Conde Nast Traveler
  1. Watch the Tony Awards this Sunday!

If you’re coming to NYC anytime soon and have any interest in seeing a Broadway show, you’ve got to check out the Tony Awards. It’s a great chance to see what shows might interest you and even better, what you need to buy a ticket to NOW before it becomes the next Hamilton.

Sunday, June 11th 8/7c on CBS

 

Photo from Tony Awards website

Travel Deal of the Week: SFO/LAX to Sydney/Melbourne, Australia for $864 roundtrip

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Review: Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden

Review: Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden

Whether you know the name Chihuly or not, you’ve probably seen his glass sculptures on display somewhere, whether a chandelier hanging in a lobby or his glass blown flowers coating the ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He’s actually been on my radar for a few years. Just last month I checked out the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg, Florida.

So when I saw Chihuly’s works were coming to the New York Botanical Garden through October, I had to go. And it’s an absolute must if you’re in NYC.

 

New York Botanical Garden

The NYBG is actually located in the Bronx, accessible via Metro North from Grand Central or a subway ride + a walk. The garden itself is gorgeous and HUGE. I barely even scratched the surface as I was on a time crunch so I focused only on the Chihuly pieces. It can be done in an hour but at least a half day is preferable. There are restaurants and food trucks (or you are permitted to bring your own food on the grounds) so you really can spend the whole day there.

 

Haupt Conservatory

I started with the Haupt Conservatory. Chihuly’s Citron Sun greets you before you even enter the conservatory. The bright neon green glass swiggles stand out against the white-and-glass building. Even with other tourists around, you can get some great shots and views of the work.

Once inside, you go from work to work with great directional signage leading you from one work to another. You can expect glass flowers in water, water droplets splashing from the gardens, and even glass leaves that blend in with their natural surroundings.

In addition to Chihuly’s well known styles, the exhibit includes the new Koda studies using colored panels which create gorgeous reflections in the water, and a neon work I can’t wait to go back and see at night.

Koda panels

Reflecting Pool

Next up is Red Reeds. My photos don’t do the work justice as the red pops so much, plus it was tough to get a photo without a tourist in it. The press photo from NYBG is below so you can really see the beauty of it.

Photo from NYBG website

Native Plant Garden

You’ll first find a boat filled with colorful glass orbs. Further along the water you’ll find two different colored panels which gave me one of my favorite shots of the day. The whole area is incredibly calming with small waterfalls and green everywhere.

 

Arboretum

The blue Sapphire Star is next, on its own in a grassy area. It’s an incredible work that reminisces of a bright blue eye.

 

Mertz Library Art Gallery

Outside, you’ve got a great old vs. new with Blue Polyvitro Crystals in the fountain next to weather faded sculptures. Inside you’ll find Chihuly’s early work, drawings and a film.

I went in expecting to a see a couple of Chihuly’s works and was blown away with how they seemed to pop up everywhere. It’s an incredible exhibit by day and special nighttime events throughout this summer show the works lit up at night. It’s definitely a must see and I can’t wait to go back to check out the rest of the New York Botanical Gardens.

 

CHIHULY is running now through October 29th at the New York Botanical Gardens. Admission is $23 on weekdays and $28 on weekdays. The grounds are free on Wednesdays but you can pay $13 for access to the Conservatory.

Pinterest graphic Chihuly pinterest

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NYC: A Perfect Day on the Upper East Side

NYC: A Perfect Day on the Upper East Side

The Upper East Side of NYC is known for the home of the wealthy (and hard to get to via the subway) but is actually a pretty cool area full of museums and shopping. Check out my guide for the perfect day below.

Start at… Maison Kayser for a French breakfast (or just grab something from the beautiful pastry case). The food is fresh and beautifully presented. I’m a sucker for their avocado toast which is somehow way tastier than anything I can make at home.

 

Then… the Met. It’s an incredible museum that you could spend hours in. Get lost in multiple cultures. Famous artists include Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, and Degas. Make sure to check out the Modern & Contemporary Art wing and The Temple of Dendur (Egypt).

George Washington Crossing the Delaware River

 

Once you’ve walked up an appetite, head back to 3rd Avenue to Pizza Beach for lunch. They’ve got unique pizzas on the menu. If it’s nice out, get it to go and sit in the park or channel Gossip Girl and sit on the Met steps.

 

Then head up 5th Avenue to the Guggenheim. It’s a modern art museum where the building itself is almost more impressive than it’s artwork. Wind up the inside of the atrium while checking out famous works from Picasso, Manet, Mondrian, Cezanne, and especially Calder, whose Red Lily Ponds mobile is a key feature of the main floor of the atrium. The audio guide is free so don’t forget to pick it up at the entrance.

Red Lily Ponds

 

Then head to the top of Museum Mile to the Museum of the City of New York. Start in the Basement with Timescapes, a 30 minute film about the history of New York. It’ll give you reference for the rest of the museum which houses rotating exhibits. The museum isn’t very well known but it’s a great museum and you’ll learn a lot about NYC.

Then head south for some window shopping on Madison Ave or hop the 6th train downtown. Stop at Bloomingdale’s or just take a look at the windows.

 

 

For Dinner, go to Relais de Venise. This menu has one thing on the menu – steak frites. And you get as much as you want plus unlimited salad. It’s an old world NYC place and it’s delicious.

 

 

After dinner, head to The Jeffrey for a nightcap. It’s a cozy bar right by the Queensboro Bridge with a huge rotating beer list. It’s also a coffee shop by day so it’s sure to fill your beverage needs.

NYC: A perfect on day on the Upper West Side

NYC: A perfect on day on the Upper West Side

Here’s the start of my neighborhood guides in NYC. My goal is to get tourists out to different areas of the city or if you already live here, become a tourist in your own backyard. I started with the Upper West Side which is where I spent the last couple months subletting. Enjoy!

 

Start at… Alice’s Tea Cup on West 73rd St. It’s an adorable Alice in Wonderland themed café with delicious baked goods (they’re known for their scones) as well as tea.

Get the Scones Benedict and a pot of tea (with a tea list the size of a wine bar menu, you’re sure to find something you’ll like even if you’re not a tea drinker). I’m a big fan of Alice’s Tea which is one of their signatures.

 

The go for a walk in Central Park… Enter on 72nd street and get lost. Every time I go to the park, I go a different route. Download the Central Park Conservancy app for maps, as well as audio tours narrated by celebrities. If you’d like to take a Guided Tour, check them out on the Central Park website. Tours range from free to $15.

Fall in Central Park
Central Park

Lunch… Exit the park at 80th St and eat at Shake Shack or Isabella’s, which are across from each other. Lines at other Shake Shack locations tend to be insane so if you really want the experience, go to this location. Unless it’s a Saturday, it’s pretty rare to see big lines here. Or head to Isabella’s for a sit down experience. The food is healthy and the cocktails are tasty.

 

Then head to the American Museum of Natural History. The dinosaurs are the most well-known but their other exhibits are interesting as well. Admission is posted at $22 but it is always suggested.

American Museum of Natural History

Snack… Levain Bakery for AMAZING cookies. I like to call them brookies because they are THICK. I love the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip. All cookies are $4 each. Pro-tip: Go on a weekday to avoid lines. If you do hit a line, it moves pretty quick.

Part Cookie, Part Brownie, Totally delicious

Dinner… If it’s Sunday, go to Calle Ocho for their free sangria. Order 1 entrée and you get as much sangria as you’d like. Otherwise check out RedFarm for their unique take on Chinese food. The Katz’s Pastrami Egg Rolls and Scallion Pancakes are amazing.

Pastrami… in an egg roll

Evening… get yourself to the Met or anything at Lincoln Center. Even if you’re not a fan of opera, it’s an experience. And don’t be discouraged by ticket prices – they’re often on TodayTix and tickets start at just $25. If it’s the summer, see Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte (it’s FREE!).

 

For a nightcap… Dead Poet or Manhattan Cricket Club. At the Dead Poet, drinks are literary themed. Try their potent signature cocktail which tastes like grape soda and you’ll get to take the glass home. If you’re looking for something more upscale, head to Burke & Wills and ask the hostess to take you through the green leather door. You’ll find yourself in a speakeasy turn-of-the-century parlor with inventive cocktails.

 

 

How to Get into NYC Museums for Free (or close to free)

How to Get into NYC Museums for Free (or close to free)

Always free:

The New York Public Library (free guided tours at 11am & 2pm Monday-Saturday and 2pm on Sunday)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden (weekdays December-February)

 

Always suggested admission:

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History

The Brooklyn Museum (and completely free first Saturday)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (including the Cloisters)

The Museum of the City of New York

 

Bank of America Museums on Us (free first weekend on month with BofA card):

Cooper-Hewitt

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Met
Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Met

Whitney Museum of American Art

Barbara Streisand at the Whitney
Barbara Streisand at the Whitney

Monday:

Federal Reserve Bank – free tours at 1pm and 2pm

 

Tuesday:

9/11 Memorial & Museum (5pm-close, the Memorial is always free)

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Federal Reserve Bank – free tours at 1pm and 2pm

 

Thursday:

Museum of Arts and Design (pay what you wish 6pm-9pm)

New Museum of Contemporary Art (pay what you wish 7pm-9pm)

 

Friday:

Frick Collection (first Friday of the month from 6pm-9pm)

MoMA 4-8pm

Andy Warhol at MoMA
Andy Warhol at MoMA

New York Historical Society pay what you wish 6-8pm

Benjamin Franklin at the NY Historical Society
Benjamin Franklin at the NY Historical Society

Saturday:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden (10am-12pm)

Brooklyn Museum (first Saturday of the month)

Cooper-Hewitt (pay what you wish 6pm-9pm)

Guggenheim (pay what you wish 5:45-7:45pm)

 

Sunday

Frick Collection (pay what you wish 11am-1pm)

 

How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets

How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets

I’ve been working on Broadway and off-Broadway shows since I moved to the city 5 years ago. Needless to say, I’ve seen A LOT of shows and I have rarely ever paid full ticket price. Here are my tips so you can too.

Playbill keeps a great list of rush and lottery policies for all Broadway shows here.

 

Digital Lottery

Ticket won from digital lottery
Ticket won from digital lottery for $40

A certain number of seats for each show are chosen (usually front row or limited view) and a lottery is drawn, with the seats generally between $30-40. You used to have to go in person which made entering multiple lotteries difficult. But now almost all are exclusively online so you can enter multiple at a time.

Broadway Direct and TodayTix do a lot of the lotteries but a few shows hold their own. Check the Playbill website for more info.

If you win, you’ll have about an hour to pay and then you’ll pick up the tickets at the box office.

 

Rush

You show up at the box office when it opens, wait in line, and a certain number of seats are available for purchase. For certain shows, it may be beneficial to get there even earlier as people will line up early to ensure a cheap ticket. But don’t fear because often they will give a deal to those at the back of the line.

Tickets are general $27-50 and require an ID. If you are a student, there may also be an additional rush for you with your ID.

 

TodayTix

Ticket purchased from TodayTix
Ticket purchased from TodayTix for $42

TodayTix is an app where you can buy tickets up to two weeks in advance. You purchase on the app and then meet a TodayTix Concierge agent outside of the show 30 minutes before (they’re wearing a bright red shirt or jacket so you can’t miss them) and then you’re off!

TodayTix also offers a few lottery & rush tickets to Broadway shows, plus off-Broadway and even Met tickets.

For $10 off your first order, use code AOOSA.

TKTS

I’m sure everyone has heard of the TKTS booths for discount tickets. It’s great for day of tickets, especially if you are flexible as it is first-come, first-serve. Download the app and you can see what they’re offering, as well as the wait time.

 

TDF

TDF or the Theatre Development Fund is a nonprofit that gives ticket discounts to its members. Tickets are never over $47 and Broadway shows, as well as off-Broadway, concerts, opera and more are offered.

For $34 a year, you can become a member too. AND you don’t even have to be a theater person to join – you can be a student, teacher, recent grad, retiree, or FREELANCER. Here’s the full list.

 

Now here’s the real question – how do I get Hamilton tickets?

img_4092It’s no secret that Hamilton is the hottest ticket in town. I have seen the show but I know people through the Broadway community and I did still pay a pretty penny. But there are ways for a normal person to get tickets. Here are my tips:

 

Win the Lottery – Literally. Enter the digital lottery for every performance you can. Tickets are only 1 Hamilton each (haha) or $10. You can enter at Broadwaydirect.com

Cancellation Line – Since most people buy tickets so far in advance, cancellations do happen. You can check at the box office from the time it opens until show time. Since cancellations can happen during the day, tickets are offered to the next person who walks up to the window. So you can get lucky.

Standing Room – When Broadway shows are sold out, standing room is offered – they’re spots along the back of the orchestra. You will be standing but you get a pretty good view and you’re still in the room where it happens. Since all Hamilton performances are sold out until eternity, standing room will always be offered. You can purchase these seats at the box office the day of, same deal as the cancellation line.

Buy Far in Advance – Tickets are released in blocks, therefore there are tickets in X amount of months that have not been purchased yet. Follow Hamilton on social media or enter your email address on the website for the latest news. When you get word that a new blocks of tickets have been released, run to Ticketmaster ASAP and grab your seats.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO:

Do NOT buy tickets from a reseller. You will pay a crazy amount of money and the show (including its creator and original cast who receive royalties) will get none of it because robots are able to scoop up tickets and charge you hundreds, or I’ve even heard thousands, over what the ticket price is and they get ALL the profit. The show is good but it’s going to be here for awhile so wait your turn, save some money and try my tips above.

4 Favorite Weekend Getaways from NYC

4 Favorite Weekend Getaways from NYC

Newport, RI – if I could live here, I would

The stunning cliff walk
The stunning cliff walk

How to Get There: Drive (3 hours)

Where to Stay: Gilded – a boutique B&B within walking distance to the town. Fun décor and delicious breakfast!

What to Do: Cliff Walk, Newport Mansion tours, relax, walk around the adorable town

The Breakers
The Breakers

Where to Eat: 22 Bowen’s (romantic dinner)

View of the marina from the town
View of the marina from the town

Roxbury, NY – town where I got married!

GORGEOUS views in Roxbury, NY
GORGEOUS views in Roxbury, NY

How to Get There: Drive (3 hours)

Where to Stay: The Roxbury Motel – THE coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Themed rooms and stunning mountain views

Amadeus' Bride - a fitting room for an actual bride
Amadeus’ Bride – a fitting room for an actual bride
The Wizard's Emeralds
The Wizard’s Emeralds

What to Do: Summer – hiking, kayaking, all the outdoor activities. Winter – skiing or staying in

Where to Eat: Peekamoose (for dinner), Phoenicia Diner (for breakfast)

2014-06-23 12.30.35

East Hampton, NY – go in the winter!

IMG_1671How to Get There: Hampton Jitney

Where to Stay: Mill House Inn – possibly the most expensive B&B I’ve ever stayed at (and that’s in the OFF season) but the rooms (& baths) are oh so relaxing, the cookie & snack bar is amazing and the breakfast is INCREDIBLE. Get the lobster frittata!

French Toast at the Mill House Inn
French Toast at the Mill House Inn

What to Do: The Beach, explore East Hampton or neighboring Hampton towns, shopping, relax in the incredible rooms, take a bath in the gigantic bathtubs

Where to Eat: Honestly, one breakfast + the complimentary snacks can last you the whole day (did I mention how amazing the breakfast is?)

 

Atlantic City, NJ – bear with me, totally trashy but so close

IMG_1809How to Get There: Bus from Penn Station (2.5 hours)

Where to Stay: Since the Revel closed (which housed my favorite spa – still to this day), stay at the Borgata. It’s off the boardwalk and has the Las Vegas feel without having to get on a plane.

What to Do: If all of the amenities of the Borgata aren’t enough, it’s an easy cab ride to the boardwalk for some great people watching or you can head to the outlets

Drinks at the Borgota
Drinks at the Borgota

Where to Eat: If you want to venture outside of the resort, check out the Irish Pub (off the Boardwalk) or Scales Grill & Deck Bar for outdoor drinking (bonus points for pet friendly!)

Drinks on the AC Boardwalk
Drinks on the AC Boardwalk