Category Archives: NYC Icons

Christmas! ….in August

by Louise, Director of Operations

We may be braving some warm, muggy conditions here in New York this week, so it’s always nice to have a reminder that CHRISTMAS IS COMING! Yesterday, a few of us from the New York Guest office  headed up to the Beacon theater for a little preview of what’s to come from MSG/Radio City this holiday season.

christmaspreview1 Our hostess started out by introducing the quintessential Rockettes, who came out and performed a number from the Christmas Spectacular. I’ve never been so close to the Rockettes before, and I have to stay, the way they keep those smiles on their faces while executing insanely complicated dance moves is pretty mind-blowing. After their number, one of the producers and our hostess came out to discuss the Christmas Spectacular, and hinted at a pretty cool sounding new number this year featuring three-dimensional snowflakes that were described as being “about four feet wide.” I’m not sure of the details there…but I know that sounds like something I, for one, want to see in person!

christmaspreview2The next part of the event was by far my favorite. Our hostess brought out wunderkind musical composers Pasek & Paul, who co-wrote the music for last year’s holiday season sensation, A Christmas Story The Musical (click here to read our review from last year). A Christmas Story earned three Tony nominations and is scheduled to return for this holiday season at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Seeing Pasek & Paul is always a treat, and their enthusiasm is as infectious as the tunes from the musical version of this beloved holiday film. They treated us to a chorus from one of the songs from the musical, introduced us to two of the dogs who wreak havoc on the Parker family, and finally brought out Dan Lauria (of Wonder Years fame, who will be reprising his role of Jean Shepherd this year) and new Ralphie Johnny Rabe, to sing Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. The energy of everyone who took part in this segment was so joyful. I missed this show last year, but surely will make it this time around!

The event closed out with a preview of a brand new Rockettes show that is coming to Radio City in spring of 2014, called New York: Heart & Lights. From what we saw (and we were lucky enough to be among the first people to see anything from this show!) It will be a true celebration of everything New York City, with eight huge production numbers from the Rockettes and a story about discovering NYC. You surely want a chance to be among the first to see what will most likely become another iconic annual offering from Radio City – so mark your calendars for April 2014 and book your trips early!

Speaking of booking trips – are you thinking of coming to NYC this Christmas? Then you should read Louise’s Top Three Tips for a Spendthrift’s Christmas in New York:

1)      Travel after December 17th and before December 28th

You’ll avoid the high rates for “shopper’s weekends” in early December, and get out before the New Year’s Eve rate jumps. And you’ll see the most magical of the magic times.

2)      See a morning or late night performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The most expensive times to see RCCS are the traditional “theater times” – matinee performances at 1 or 2 or evening performances at 7 or 8. There are, however, usually performances at 9, 10 or 11 AM, and performances at 9:30 or 10 PM. These are your best bet for good seats at low prices – and what better way to start or cap off your Christmassy day?

christmaspreview33)      Do the Double Decker Bus

Don’t let the potentially cold weather dissuade you – double decker buses are still an awesome way to get around the city. The Gray Line buses are covered and heated in the cold, and the 48 hour package gets you access to basically the entire city, plus the evening tour of the best Christmas lights in Manhattan!

Using these tips you can book a two night stay in Manhattan with double decker bus tour access and Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets for under $400 per person including taxes & fees – and that’s what you would spend per night on just a hotel room in early December!

Ready to book your Christmas in New York getaway? E-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com and I’ll be happy to help!

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The Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

 by Kelly, Guest Services Manager

With Thanksgiving one week away, it’s about that time – the time to get into the Holiday spirit.  I started early this year with a trip to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is one of the most-watched live shows in the United States, with over two million people attending every year.  The show features the Radio City Rockettes, who have been high-kicking their way into America’s hearts since their first performance at Radio City Music Hall in 1932.  Known for their precision dancing and the perfect uniformity of their stunning kicklines, the Radio City Rockettes are a New York City staple.

Now, I confess…I’ve always harbored a secret desire to be a Rockette.  Sparkly costumes, perky smiles, tap dancing…I’m all about it.  However, I’ve resigned myself to watching from afar, considering I’m just too short (did you know that each Rockette must be between 5’6” and 5’ 10 ½” tall?)…and I haven’t been able to kick that high since high school cheerleading camp…and goodness knows that was a long time ago.  Even though I will never be able to join their kickline, I get a thrill every time I see the Rockettes perform.

This year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular features a little of the old and a little of the new.  Audience members can expect to see their favorite tried-and-true numbers, such as the Rockettes’ version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a live recreation of the first Christmas in “The Living Nativity,” and the amazing “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.”  The wooden soldier number is really amazing to behold – the discipline and skill that it takes to create the visual effects of this number, especially the slow-motion trust fall where each Rockette falls back into the arms of the dancer behind her, keeping the line upright and intact until the last soldier falls to the ground, are truly remarkable.  One of my favorite numbers that I’ve seen in years past is “New York at Christmas,” which features the entire cast of singers and dancers as the Rockettes tour Manhattan aboard a Gray Line double decker sightseeing bus.  As the Rockettes board the double decker bus and the action continues onstage, the sights of Manhattan whiz by behind the stage on the world’s largest flying LED screen, making you feel like you’re taking the Gray Line tour with the Rockettes!

This year’s revamped Christmas Spectacular features a few new numbers in addition to the favorites of years past.  A new storyline featuring a harried mother and her young child frantically shopping for a special Christmas present at the mall encounter Santa, who gives them a present of his own – a trip to the North Pole to play “Santa’s Video Game.”  In the game, the Humbugs have struck and have kidnapped all of the toys from Santa’s workshop.  The mother and daughter team must defeat the Humbugs to save Christmas.  As the mother and daughter battle the Humbugs, the Rockettes join in as the players being controlled in the game…all in front of the giant LED screen featuring brand new 3D graphics that have to be seen to be believed!  Ultimately, the mother and daughter team triumph, and they realize that the greatest Christmas gift of all is time spent together.  I’m not usually a huge fan of 3D, but even I’ll admit that I thought this number was fun and inventive, and I really enjoyed it.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a blast of Holiday cheer, and the perfect way to celebrate the season.  For me, no Holiday season would be complete without a trip to see the Rockettes, Santa, and Gus the camel (who makes a cameo in “The Living Nativity”) in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  Performances run through January 2nd with 4 shows daily.  Visit our website at http://travel.newyorkguest.com/Product/Details?product=product&productID=4854a21e-197a-4291-986d-3a5dac72b35b for tickets, give us a call at 212-302-4019, or you can email me personally at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com for tickets to join in the Holiday cheer.  Have a safe and happy Holiday season, and as the Rockettes sing – “Let Christmas Shine!”

 

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Filed under Broadway Review, NYC Icons, Out on the Town

Apple & New York

by Richard, CEO

There is a definite outpouring of sympathy in New York over the untimely death of the Apple founder, Steve Jobs.

In some ways, this West Coast genius had a special affinity for the East Coast city that is called ‘The Big Apple”. It was here on world famous 5th Avenue that Jobs introduced us to his special brand of innovative genius – in the products that he created and in the way he marketed them.

He will be sorely missed. First, by his immediate family and friends. But also by the legions of fans, admirers, users and competitors who eagerly awaited his ever so low key presentation of the latest must have gadget.

I think what makes Jobs so very interesting was his ability to create something that was so revolutionary, so practical, so well thought out  and then so indispensible. We never knew a computer could be like a Mac – we never envisioned what an IPhone, IPod, IPad would do for us.

Genius Mr. Jobs, right up there with Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Watson of IBM.

 

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The Farley Post Office

by Richard Williams, CEO

The Farley Steps

Here’s one more place you should visit when in midtown Manhattan – the Farley Post Office opposite Madison Square Garden. Built in the mid 1930’s, the Farley Post Office represents a step back in time. It’s a block from Macy’s, next to Madison Square Garden, and on your way to visit the Highline, New York’s newest/oldest must see.

Twenty huge columns grace the front of the entrance, creating an effect that looks a little like a side of the Parthenon in Athens. Leading up to raised entrance doors are a flight of stairs- maybe 20 /25 steps in all spread out over 75 or so yards. On a sunny morning or afternoon, the steps a good place for a stop and cup of coffee or light lunch – just watching the people passing by on their way to work and shop. Think of it as a less crowded alternative to the Metropolitan Museum of Art steps!

Named after James Farley, the Postmaster General under FDR, the building is grand in its design (Farley was the political insider of his day – he was also called ‘the Toastmaster General’ reflecting  his link to  the patronage that flowed from Washington).

It looks like soon (probably be 2020) the post office staff will move out and the entire building will be devoted to train and transit for Long Island and New Jersey commuters.   At that time the LIRR, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and some of the subway lines will share the space. Sad for the USPS to give up such a beautiful building, but good news for those commuters who crowd into Penn Station every day!

In the meantime, head to the steps of the post office.  When you get in the mood to have a drink,   a ½ block away is a true Irish pub- Tir  Na Nog ; walk a few blocks to a wonderful friendly restaurant, Arno, or head to Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse a block away on 9th Avenue

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Filed under New York Stories, NYC Icons

New York City: Off the Beaten Path!

Many think of glitz and glamour when they think of New York– especially Manhattan. The bright lights, fancy restaurants, luxurious hotels and posh nightlife are some of the main reasons travelers visit this great city!  There are so many other reasons to visit as well. New York City is the capital of self expression as well as diversity. There are so many interesting activities and attractions that sometimes get lost in the glitz of this city; some are also FREE! Are you looking to experience the city a little differently on your next trip to NYC? Looking for something other than the regular sightseeing and hotel options? This post is for you!

The Lobby of the Ace Hotel in Chelsea

The Ace Hotel defines diversity as this is not your cliché New York property!  The hotel’s decor is comprised primarily of works from local designers and artists creating a more urban/hip style. When you enter the hotel, the lobby is reminiscent of a HUGE Living room. Guests are drinking tea, coffee, “beverage of choice” and mingling in this common space. The rooms at the Ace Hotel are elegant, but simple. The Ace Hotel is not fussy, but fun!  There is a really nice shop in the hotel selling clothing that is designed by local up-and-coming designers; another one-of-a-kind aspect of the Ace!

In regards to touring the city there are many unique activities from which to choose:

If you are into Movies and Television there is a great tour that I personally took that is a great way to experience New York City from a different perspective.  The New York TV and Movie Sites Tour is 3.5 hours of fun and loaded with awesome information. Not only do you visit the actual sites, but you learn facts about the films/shows and the filming process as well. You don’t realize before you take this tour how many TV shows and movies feature gorgeous New York City.

The Graffiti Tours of New York are also different way to see the sites. The tour will teach you the history, techniques, visuals, and vocabulary needed to understand graffiti as an art form. This new tour option is a great way to see another side of the city that is truly unexpected– email me directly for more tour information and pricing.

Hudson River Skate Park

The Hudson River Skate Park is FREE! If you enjoy Skateboarding or even just watching it this is a great place to go.  I also suggest visiting The STRAND Bookstore. There are so many rare finds and interesting reads; more than 2.5 million used, new and rare books, a renovated main store and a growing author events program.

For those who like a thrill, why not take a New York Helicopter Tour over the Island o f Manhattan? It is really thrilling and the views are unlike any other! This is an eclectic way to see the “regular” but spectacular NYC Landmarks!

The Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour is also exhilarating! Pedal over the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn Heights, considered to be America’s first suburb, boasting amazing skyline views across the water and then head back across the river on the Brooklyn Bridge, gliding peacefully above vehicular traffic and stopping to take amazing panoramic photos of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and more. You explore downtownManhattan, the hub of the American financial system, plus Battery Park, South Street Seaport, Wall Street and more!

Shopping in New York Citycan range from Upscale 5th Avenue Stores, department Stores and of course VINTAGE! There are many great Vintage shops from which to choose. My Colleague Lora enjoys BEACON’S CLOSET in Williamsburg Brooklyn; read her post on vintage shopping! I enjoy What Goes Around Comes Around located in SoHo where the clothing and accessories are retro and unlike no other!

Whatever your interests may be, I am happy to customize your trip! Please contact me for assistance with your travel plans toNew York City. Call me at (212) 302-4019 or email me at JUrban@newyorkguest.com. I look forward to help you with a great, unusual itinerary of New York City!

–Jana

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Filed under Hotel Review, New York Shopping, New York Sightseeing, NYC Icons, NYC News and Information

A Perfect Day at the Bronx Zoo!

We decided to venture out to Bronx Zoo last Saturday as the weather was nice and we have two little girls under 4 who have a lot of energy to spend.

Entrance to the Bronx Zoo

We parked the car and after a quick walk in to the Zoo the first sight was buffalo grazing in the sun – the biggest buffalo I had ever seen!  From there we saw the monkeys – every kind of monkey that you can imagine.  Some of the highlights were the California Sea Lions, the crocodile and who wouldn’t love the Butterfly Farm with classical music and the fish swimming in a stream? Well, my 3 year old for one as the butterfly’s were flying everywhere.

Monkeys at the Bronx Zoo

The best part though has to be the Children’s Zoo – the slide, the boars having a little argument, the goats, the chickens, the peacocks walking around.  All of this and we didn’t even see the elephants yet!  When we went to leave and realized that we didn’t see the giraffes, lions, tigers, etc….we knew we had to go back – we bought a seasons pass which includes also Central Park Zoo, NY Aquarium, Queens Zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo. One thing is for sure: we will be busy in 2011!

The Bronx Zoo was just fantastic, very spread out and not too busy. Did you know it is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States?  It really is much larger than one would expect. Check out a map of the grounds: http://mappery.com/map-of/Bronx-Zoo-Map

We finished the day off by going to Arthur Avenue – what many people consider to be New York City’s real “Little Italy” for a perfect Italian meal – with Montepulciano wine,  delicious bread and Parmesan cheese and of course pasta! We finished it off with New York cheesecake and crème brule.

Arthur Avenue: Little Italy in the Bronx

A visit to the Bronx Zoo is recommended for anyone coming to New York City, whether you are travelling with children or not. A great way to get tickets to the Zoo is by getting a New York Pass which grants you free access to the Zoo and 55 other New York City sites and attractions. Right now get an additional 5% off our New York Passes when you book online using code GLNQO at check out: http://travel.newyorkguest.com/Activities/New-York-Pass

— Julie

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Filed under New York Sightseeing, New York Stories, NYC Icons, NYC News and Information, NYC with Kids

MoMA: New York’s Museum of Modern Art

Musem of Modern Art (Photo Credit: Terra Mrkulic)

Out of over 80 museums in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is undoubtedly my favorite. With such a diverse collection including 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects, there’s always something new and interesting to see.  Even the building that houses the collection is a marvel! Though the collection was founded in 1929, the new building that houses it was just opened in 2004.

MoMA is a “Must-See” on your next trip to New York City, even if you have been before. That’s why I included it on our list of 12 essential things to do in New York City.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so here are some of my pictures from recent visits to the museum.

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Let our team at New York Guest help you choose which activities and attractions are right for you on your next trip to New York City. We can even pre-arrange tickets for you! Just give New York Guest a call at (212) 302-4019 for advice and booking assistance.

— Terra

(all photos @ Terra Mrkulic)

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