Category Archives: NYC

Manhattanhenge: The Beauty of the Grid and Sun

Manhattanehnge3New York City was one of the first modern cities to embrace the grid plan. The streets are divided into parallel axes from north to south and then east to west – making it easy to trek across the city using cardinal directions. The lower portion of Manhattan does not follow this grid system (which is why it’s the most common area in which to get lost – even if you live here!)

While the Manhattan grid makes getting around the city considerably easier, the grid also allows for a natural phenomenon twice a year – Manhattanhenge (so dubbed in 2002). Twice a year the full sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan grid at sunset creating a beautiful sight that attracts more and more viewers and photographers each year. The phenomenon can be viewed by facing west from any street in midtown Manhattan. 42nd street tends to be the most popular, with some folks viewing from as far east as possible to get the full spectrum, and some choosing to go further to the west for a close-up view.

Manhattanhenge1This year Manhattanhenge will happen on May 28th, 29th and 30th around 8:18 PM and July 11th, 12th and 13th at 8:24 PM. The middle dates will always have the most impressive display, with the full sun positioned exactly between two buildings. The surrounding dates will afford you a view of half the sun – still spectacular, but not quite as majestic.

Happy viewing!

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Filed under New York InSight, New York Sightseeing, NYC, Out on the Town

New York City on a Shoestring

by Louise, Community Manager

Think a trip to New York City isn’t in your budget? That may not be true! We’re specialists at working within a budget, so we know all the tips and tricks for making an NYC vacation affordable. Here are a few of them:

Plan a trip in January or February

Between the post-Holiday lull and the unpredictable weather, rates in New York are by far the cheapest in the first two months of the year. Sure, you might have to deal with some cold temperatures or snow, but with all the great indoor activities available (shows, museums, restaurants) and plenty of climate-controlled tour buses in which to explore the sights, plus our nifty underground transportation system, you can still have a fantastic time!

Stay in Long Island City or Brooklyn

Bonus to staying in Long Island City: Check out this view!

I know, I know – the inclination is to want to stay in Times Square. But seriously: Times Square is loud and expensive. It’s great to stay there and be in the center of the action, walking distance to lots of places, but will it ruin your vacation if you stay a little out of the way? Not at all! The NYC subway system is safe, clean and reliable and will get you from point A to point B in less time than you think. Long Island City and Brooklyn are both great areas to stay, will save you a ton of money, are quick trips to central locations, and will give you a look at REAL neighborhoods of NYC, where people actually live. Seriously, nobody lives in Times Square.

Check Out Free Stuff

Nobody is going to pretend that New York doesn’t cost money, but there are actually a number of museums that you can visit for free either all the time or on select dates and times. The American Folk Art Museum and the Museum of the American Indian are always free, for example. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is free on Tuesdays, MOMA is free on Fridays from 4-8 PM, the Whitney is free on Fridays from 6-9 PM, and the Frick Collection is free on Sundays from 11 AM – 1 PM. And these are just a few examples!

Consider Off Broadway Shows

Avenue Q, a Tony-winning Broadway show, now plays Off-Broadway

I just wrote a blog about this recently, but Off Broadway shows can often be just as high quality as Broadway productions and sometimes are even more lovely and original. Plus, they are much less expensive to see than Broadway shows. So if you want to catch a show but Broadway is going to break the bank, check out the Off Broadway offerings – there may be something just as wonderful or even better to see!

Take a Food Tour

Okay, so I’m partial to food tours because I’m obsessed with food, but if the budget is tight and you’re going to spring for one guided tour, make it a food tour. Why? It’s a guided tour and a meal in one! Most food tours are great neighborhood tours, and you’ll learn about the history of an area from a knowledgeable guide while getting plenty of snacks to boot!

Go For a Walk

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of NYC’s best walks!

So this may not work if you do come in the winter, but if the weather’s nice nothing beats a good, long walk in the city. You never know what you may find, from unexpected outdoor markets to incredible street performers to remarkable public art. Plus, it’s free to take a walk AND it’s a very healthy vacation choice to make. Here are a couple of walks to consider:

  • Head down to the financial district and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. You’ll end up in the fantastic Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn where you can find great playgrounds, stunning views, delicious ice cream and the occasional flea market.
  • Go to the Upper East Side and enter Central Park around 72nd street (or 86th if you’re feeling ambitious) and walk south until you reach the exit at 59th street, then walk down 5th avenue and do some window shopping at all the famous shops.
  • Head to the northernmost entrance to the Highline Park (30th street between 10th and 11th avenue) and walk to the southernmost end (Gaansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District), stopping plenty along the way to admire the beautiful flowers and greenery as well as the fantastic views of the city. Bring sandwiches and drinks and have a picnic along the way!

And of course, the most important tip of all…

Book with New York Guest

We want to help you and what’s more – we know how! We live here, we know the hotels, we know the deals, we’ve seen the shows, and we’ll work with you to create a customized plan that meets all of your needs. That’s what we love to do! Contact us today to start planning.

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Filed under New York Travel Deal, NYC, NYC News and Information, Special Deals

What’s your New York Resolution?

by Louise, Community Manager

It’s 2012! Happy New Year! Whether you rung it in in the madness of Times Square, in the quiet company of loved ones, or something in between I hope it was a wonderful way to start the year.

So here we are in the time of year when gyms flood with people swearing to work out more this year, and everyone sets up a new savings account to start taking care of their money, or any other manner of self improvement missions that seem so apt to begin on January 1st. This year, I think it would be more fun to make some “New York Resolutions” instead. I’d like to share a few of mine with you. These are the things I commit to doing in New York this year. Please feel free to share your own New York resolutions in the comments!

1. Sit in the 100 section at Yankee Stadium. I usually go to at least ten Yankees games every year, but typically I’m always in the bleachers or the upper deck. This year, I want to be close enough that if Derek Jeter happens to do another dive into the stands like he did in 2004 (I was at that game but in the second to last row of the stadium), there’s a chance he will land in my lap.

2. Eat at Momofuku Ko. There are always a million restaurant on my “to do” list, food being one of my favorite things in the world, but I’ve wanted to eat at Ko for years. I’m a huge fan of David Chang’s cook-centric philosophy and the way his restaurants are all about the food rather than the decor, and the menu is ever-changing, meaning that even once I do eat there my goal will probably just change to “Eat at Ko again.”

3. Go Birding in Central Park with my sister. New York doesn’t just have pigeons – there are probably about 200 different species that you can spot in Central Park alone depending on the time of year that you visit. My sister happens to be working towards a PhD in biology with a focus on ornithology at Queens College, and she has gone birding in Central Park dozens of times but we’ve never been able to coordinate our schedules so that I can go with her. This year I will!

Obviously I have many more, but hopefully I’ve gotten you thinking about your 2012 New York resolutions. We’d love to hear about them and what’s more, we’d love to help you make them come true! Email me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com for help planning your next trip!

 

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Filed under New York Stories, NYC

Autumn in New York: It’s good to live again

by Louise, Community Manager

I don’t keep it a secret that autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp, cool breezes, light jackets, and foliage, not to mention pumpkins, maple syrup, apples, pears, concord grapes, and butternut squash.

If you’re visiting us before the leaves turn brown and the snow begins to fall, here are some autumn delights you should seek out

The Union Square Farmers Market I may be guilty of always suggesting this to everyone, but anyone who has been will agree that I am justified! And Autumn is my favorite time to go. For one thing, the colors of the bounty are amazing to behold and you can make a serious dent in your camera’s memory card just taking photos of produce (or is that just me? Nah, it’s everyone…right?) Plus, even if you don’t have a kitchen on your visit you can load up on awesome autumnal treats like hot apple cider and of course sweet and moist apple cider donuts, maple sugar candy that will keep you awake for days but it’s totally worth it, and the freshly-harvested local honeys from the late summer that will safely make the trip home with you (just don’t forget to put them in your checked luggage).

Belvedere Castle (on 79th street in the middle of the park) If you want a stunning panoramic view of Central Park’s foliage, I highly recommend paying Belvedere (Italian for “beautiful view) Castle a visit. Open 10 AM – 5 PM from Wednesday-Sunday during the fall, it is free to visit (but relies on donations to continue operating). Inside the castle you’ll find natural history artifacts and resources for birdwatching and hiking in the park, and at the top you’ll find the highest and best view of the park available. The castle was originally built in 1869 (much older than most NYC buildings!) and since 1919 it has been used by the National Weather Service to record meteorological data – so when you hear “it’s 60 degrees in Central Park” they really mean it’s 60 degrees at Belvedere Castle.

Cookshop An amazing thing happens when the cool weather sets in here in NYC: the restaurants come out with fall cocktail menus. Few things are as satisfying as a well-made cocktail, unless it is a seasonal well-made cocktail. For my money, Cookshop (at 10th avenue & 20th street) can generally be counted upon to have some of the most delicious ones. Definitely seek out the Concord Fizz, where they muddle fresh concord grapes with organic gin, lemon juice, and rosemary syrup and top the whole thing off with Prosecco. Remember that little girl from the Welch’s commercial who told us that “purple things taste special”? Well…she may not have been speaking directly about this cocktail, but it applies.

I could go on and on about Harbor Cruises, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bronx Zoo, and a million more things I love to do in the fall but how about you start with these three and e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com if you need more suggestions. Enjoy the autumn!

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Filed under New York Sightseeing, NYC, Out on the Town