10 Ways to enjoy a vacation to to New York City
1. Ensure your traveling companion has these qualities. Mine was/is the easiest person to travel with… (THANK YOU Permaguilt for a wonderful time!)
- Flexible, but not a pushover
- Interested AND interesting
- High energy but not high maintenance
- Fun, funny and friendly
- Gracious and appreciative
- Similar tastes in food, drinks, shows and sites
- Heart of gold with a little bit of the devilish mixed in
2. Stop to appreciate the buskers and street art, good or bad. We saw:
- The Meedles – A Beetles cover band performing in Time Square Station. Their homely appearance and blank expressions belied their talent and how much fun it was to listen to them
- Preachers in Time Square – At one point we came upon several black men dressed in black knight outfits claiming to be the real Hebrews, the REAL Jews. Two young Jewish boys were getting really bent out of shape and were sucked into their game. You can’t pay for that sort of entertainment
- Comedians – Lots of guys trying to sell us comedy show tickets but when we asked them to give us a sample of something funny they couldn’t. Another dude walked up to us and had a great personality, told us a few corny jokes and we game him some of our money.
- Subway musicians – We came upon a few musicians in the subway, a mariachi band, a guitar player rock star wannabe
- Dancers – We happened upon some street dancers – so-so in talent. They were having a blast as were the passers-by. Watching people enjoy themselves is half the fun anyway.
3. Explore the food
- I won’t detail all the places we ate, but the point is we were willing to go out and explore bars, cafes, and restaurants. Our rule was no chain food and no food we could get back home.
- You must try at least one street dog.
- If you’re going to eat pizza, make sure it’s an authentic New York pizza place…”the kind that doesn’t sell slices.” John’s Pizza in the Village is THE place in my opinion, but we also enjoyed Bleeker St Pizza last time.
- A few places had the “community table” set-up which I hadn’t seen before. It’s one big table where conversation among patrons is encouraged.
4. See Shows: Here’s what we saw
- How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying–
This is a revival of an old classic musical. The night we were there, one of the supporting cast members fell into the orchestra pit while doing a handstand in one of the dance numbers. You gotta love live theater! He was OK and made it onstage for the next number. Nick Jonas also did surprisingly well as the lead. I’ve seen Daniel Radcliffe’s Tony Award performance from the show on YouTube and Jonas sings remarkably better. He certainly dances and acts just as well too. The musical doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. It’s a fun, feel-good show with some amazing dancing.
- Jersey Boys – I didn’t consciously intend to only see shows with hot men in them, but Jersey Boys certainly gave us the hat trick of shows with hot male singers. The musical is the true story of the rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons with a surprise appearance by the young Joe Pesci. If you love their music, and I do, this show will be a thrill. I loved every second of the acting and singing. I’ve also seen videos of the original cast of this show and I believe the current cast is better, tougher looking, and sound truer to the original singers. If you don’t like musicals where actors spontaneously break out into song in the middle of a conversation, this would be the musical to see. This doesn’t happen in this show but the songs are performed in context. The staging and book of this work of theatrical art are amazing.
- Rent – This show is now Off-Broadway and we’d never seen it before so it was on our list. I have dear friends whom I respect for their talent and taste who love this show. We didn’t. I know there’s a big difference between Broadway and Off, so there’s some accounting for that, but I didn’t appreciate the music or even the story line. I think if you’re going to have a rock opera like that you need to at least make some of the “dialogue” in melodic tones but is was all so dissonant and dark. I think I missed the whole Gen X theme as well. It just didn’t resonate with me. I do love one song from the show, Seasons of Love. I might have liked it slightly better to see Neil Patrick Harris in the leading role as Mark. Our Mark wasn’t very good. Fortunately we only paid $20 each for our ticket on the 20at20 discount.
One of the best things about any city is the natural space reserved for recreation. I spent more time outside and in parks when I lived downtown than I ever did in the suburbs.
Central Park is well known, but not everyone realizes how vast and beautiful it is. A walk through the park at any season is a must. On our first night in the city we met a young friendly guy at a bar who advised us to go walk the High line in Chelsea.
The High Line is a public park completed in 2009 on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. I’d never heard of it before, but he said it was his favorite place so we took the walk. We loved it. It’s a great way to see some of the architecture from a different angle, to enjoy views of the river and to people watch.
- Cute NYC policemen
- Dark curly haired jewish men wearing yarmulkes
- Spot your celebrities. We saw: Malcom Gladwell, Gayle (Oprah’s friend), cast of Gossip Girl filming in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Chat with the other people waiting in lines.
7. See some of the serious stuff too
- 9/11 memorial – Saw this for the first time. It’s an appropriately beautiful and dramatic memorial.
- Bodies Exhibit – This has traveled around but I missed it when it was in my city. I loved it. Talk to the docents! They know their stuff. One guy chatted with us for about 15 minutes on the nuances and effects that smoking vs. smoking weed have on your brain.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – We didn’t go this time but I’ve been before. They’re worth it.
- TKTS Booth – Most people know about the booth for same day discount tickets in Time Square, but there’s also one downtown with shorter lines and you can get next day matinee tickets there too!
- 20at20 – Beginning Wednesday, January 18th, and running through Monday, February 6th, tickets for all off-Broadway 20at20 shows were only $20 each.
- Kids Night on Broadway – On Kids’ Night on Broadway, young people age 6-18 can see a participating Broadway show for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. I didn’t participate in this obviously, but I might next year.
- My flight was paid from my Reward Miles from all the traveling I do with work.
- Our apartment in NYC was FREE! It was a Home Exchange. The owner stayed in my home in CA while we stay in hers in NY. This literally saved us thousands of dollars.
- In the end the entire trip cost me food and show tickets. That’s it!
Enjoy the man-made beauty everywhere even in the most unlikely of places!
At one point we were eating lunch in a restaurant, Foleys, I think it was called. It was a converted men’s club and when I visited the restroom it was amazing!
10. Roll with the punches
- We tried to get in to see Saturday Night Live but were unsuccessful. We didn’t let it ruin our day even though we had gotten up at 5 in the morning to stand in line.
- We got stuck on the subway on Sunday trying to go downtown to the TKTS booth. There were certain subway lines that were closed and I wish I could explain what happened but I know we ended up in Brooklyn at one point. Finally we just walked out and took a cab.
- When we finally got to the TKTS booth downtown it was closed on Sunday. Make a note.
- There’s always a coffee shop or a restaurant nearby where you can pop in and warm up or cool off and develop a plan B.