^^ It’s been a rough couple of weeks over here, my friends, but taking a stroll around the Central Park Reservoir always seems to calm me down, even on an overcast day.
I’m back today with a guide to fun (and somewhat funky, I’ll admit) places to listen to music in NYC. Of course there are plenty of concert halls and traditional places to catch your favorite band, but again, I’ve gone for a bit of the unconventional here. Some of these places offer live music as a backdrop, for others it’s the main event, but either way, listening to music at any of these “venues” will definitely give you something to talk about the next day.
Where to Listen to Music in NYC
- The Subways: One of the most amazing things about this place is that music is absolutely everywhere. You don’t always have to pay for it — you don’t even always have to want it! — but it’s there, all the same. The subways here are seriously alive with the sounds of music. From solo singers to Mariachi to 10-piece bands, you might be surprised with the talent you’ll be subjected to just when trying to get from one place to another. If you’re seeking out the music, try some of the big stops like Grand Central, Union Square and Times Square. Those are always happening.
- Terminal 5: This place is also somewhat sentimental for me and Chris [as was The Highline on my ‘Things to Do in NYC’ list] since it’s where we met and got engaged, and it’s also the only traditional music venue I’m putting on my list. Besides the amazing artists that perform here [we've seen Gogol Bordello, La Reux, The Gaslight Anthem and many others], they also have a fabulous rooftop where they sometimes throw parties or sponsor events. I particularly love the open floor plan of this place, and the two levels make it really easy to get a good spot to watch all the action.
- Fat Cat: Oh how we love Fat Cat. Come to this awesome little bar in the West Village to play some pool, scrabble or ping pong, drink some PBR (it’s so cheap!), and listen to some really amazing jazz music. Plush couches and chairs make this venue so comfy, too.
- Philharmonic in the Park: Of course you could listen to the Philharmonic play on a stage … but where’s the fun in that? This event is seasonal, of course, as it takes place only a couple times of year, outside, under the stars in Central Park (and a few other parks in other boroughs). If you’re visiting during the summer, I highly recommend looking up the schedule for performances (found here), and grabbing a picnic to camp out on the lawn and listen. It’s an experience like no other. [Read more about our own experience with Philharmonic in the Park last year right here.]
- Cafe Wha: In Greenwich Village there sits a small and dark little venue called Cafe Wha … that is absolutely amazing. I have to admit that we haven’t been back here for years — maybe since Chris’s sister was here a couple years ago because she absolutely loves it. If you’d like to check this place out, you might consider calling ahead of time and making reservations, because it gets pretty packed. [Also of note: this place and Terminal 5 are the only places on my list so far that charge.] Another thing to keep in mind — this isn’t a place you come to chat. It can get pretty noisy once the band starts playing, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something to provide a more low-key atmosphere.
- STOMP at the Orpheum Theater: Okay — if my other options here are somewhat unorthodox, this one takes the cake. Technically, STOMP is so much more than music — it’s performance art. The theater is located in the East Village [you may recall, Chris and I took in a performance as part of our one-year anniversary celebration], and the performers act out the entire “story” using props like trash cans, brooms, mops, etc. It’s honestly pretty amazing, and totally worth seeing. The things they can make shopping carts do — I can’t even use a shopping cart properly when I’m not trying to make music with it!
- Dying to try: Jazz Standard: It’s not that I’m totally in love with jazz or anything, but this city has such a rich history of it [and Carrie and Big make it look so fun on that Sex in the City episode!], I’d really love to try out a jazz place — and this one looks amazing. They’ve got two earlier sets — one at 7:30 and one at 9:30 — and then a later one for the real jazz fans that starts around 11:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out the site ahead of time to buy tickets.
And that about sums it up, my friends — my list of amazing places to take in some music here in the city. Hope it helps! Up next week: some of my favorite places to caffeine up!
Bis bald, all!
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
- 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.
- 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.]
- 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?!]
- 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.
- 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.
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I mean … enough said, right?
- 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!
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.
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.]
^^ From the top of Belvedere Castle.
^^ A birds-eye view of the Great Lawn.
^^ That structure over to the right of this photo is Delacorte Theater,
where they put on Shakespeare in the Park productions.
^^ Tiny Judy, down in the bottom right of the photo. I love this one ;)
^^ Sweeping skyline views from the Met rooftop bar and cafe.
^^ Happy Father’s Day everyone!
Hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! We spent it giving the apartment a seriously thorough cleaning (we’re talking moving the couch, picking up the living room carpet to vacuum under it cleaning …), visiting with Chris’s uncle who’s in from Australia, watching a Mets double-header with said uncle, our nephew (his first baseball game!), my sister and bro-in-law, and having a picnic/strolling around Central Park.
^^ When you bring a one-year-old to a baseball game, there’s not a lot of baseball watching happening.
There was a lot of crawling around on the floor and pushing toy trucks and trains around … and it was the best ;)
Our crazy, busy summer hasn’t quite kicked in yet, and it was really nice to spend a couple days lazing around the city. She sure is a beaut.
Bis bald, friends!
Hello from gorgeous Colorado, my friends!
Today we’re in Boulder. Tomorrow it’s on to Breckenridge for a night, then Denver for our last final few days. I can’t wait to blog all about it, but right now, though, I want to talk about something else. It’s a little something I like to call fate, my friends, and it involves a fateful walk through Central Park that I had last Friday.
If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I love when unplanned strolls through NYC turn into something a little extraordinary. This past Friday, an attempt to meet a friend and her son at Turtle Pond in Central Park turned into just that. After having gotten off at the wrong subway stop, I ended up needing to backtrack through Central Park for about 15 blocks to get to them.
But the day was a glorious spring one [and though the clouds threatened rain, it never actually did rain. Fate ;)], and I ended up walking right through what I truly think is one of the most amazing parts of the park.
Here’s a little bit of what I saw …
^^And of course, there were the eggs! The Faberge eggs that were part of The Faberge Big Egg Hunt —
I finally found some!
All in all, friends, I’d say fate brought me to the wrong subway station stop that Friday afternoon so I could take in the wonderfulness of the park that day.
Or else it was just my bad direction. Either way — it was fun all the same.
Bis bald, friends!
Two months down in this new year of ours, my friends — unbelievable!
Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in our neck of the woods …
^^ The views in Iceland were astonishing.
^^ Climbing the fish hut to take photos in Iceland.
^^ Chasing the Northern Lights
^^ The Gullfoss Waterfall.
^^ Watching geysirs (that’s how they spell it in Iceland) erupt.
^^ How much did I love this man and his dog in snowy Central Park?
^^ I checked out the annual Toy Fair at the Javits Center for a story I was writing.
It’s so much fun seeing all the new toys for the year!
^^ This face. Kills me every time.
Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone’s having an amazing year so far! I’ll be heading to Marathon Key with a friend for my birthday in a few weeks. With the winter we’ve been having, I could definitely go for a little bit of sun, that’s for sure.
December is absolutely the best time to be in New York City. (Well, to be fair, there’s no bad time to be here. Except maybe in the sweltering summer. Yes. I take that back. It absolutely stinks to be here in the summer.)
I digress. Sometimes, my friends, when you live in a city like New York, you get so distracted by all the fabulous holiday decorations walking to the dentist that it takes you an extra 1/2 hour to get there.
Ah well, what can you do. Here’s a bit of what I saw on my way to the dentist this morning.
^^And oh my goodness it wouldn’t be the holidays without the
Bloomingdale’s window displays! [Ed note: Please ignore
the horribleness of these photos, as they were taken with my
iPhone and I was trying to be somewhat inconspicuous.]
Bis bald, friends! And may your trips to the dentist bring you as much joy as mine did today!
As I sit here working on a passion project of mine — which, to be fair, I’ve been working on for the better part of a year now — I realized that I’ve up until this time passed up a perfectly lovely opportunity to give thanks to all the inspirational animals I’ve come across in my travels. These animals have been so much fun to meet and learn about, and I’m so grateful to them for being a part of the learning process that is traveling.
So without further ado, please meet some of my favorite animals I’ve met on my journeys:
^^ This is Shawn the Koala from the Koala Park Zoo in Sydney.
He’s the animal that started my whole project idea.
^^ This is a red panda — let’s call her Jia. This photo is from the
Philadelphia Zoo, which is sort of cheating because my real
inspiration came from the red pandas at the Central Park Zoo.
This was a better photo, though.
^^ These are pigeons. And while yes, these pigeons are in London,
let’s be honest — the real inspirational pigeons live right here in
good ole’ NYC.
^^If we’re being even more honest, my true obsession with pigeons began
when I was a toddler and my parents lost me in the Piazza San Marco
in Venice because I was chasing them. That’s why I took this
dorky photo when we were back there in 2012.
What inspires you when you travel?
Bis bald, friends!
So my summer of Central Park continued last Friday when I took a trip to the Central Park Zoo to do some research for a little project I’m working on. (Shhhhh…it’s a secret! More details to (hopefully) come later.)
Anyway, the zoo is great. It’s pretty small, so you can get everything done in a couple hours, and there are some really fun animals. Here’s a bit of what I saw …
I got a lot of great fodder for my research — so now I just need to put it to good use.
Bis bald, friends! We’re off to the Mets game this Friday and the Warwick Valley Winery on Saturday. Hope ya’ll have a great weekend ;)
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:
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:
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!
This weekend Chris and I had a baby in New York City.
Not our own baby, mind you, but my nephew, and even though his father was with us the entire time I have to say … the experience left us both exhausted!
We had so much fun toting Rory around on his trip into the Big Apple, but it definitely gave me a new-found respect for moms who do this with their own children every day … especially those who travel around with them on their own. We couldn’t take a cab with Rory anywhere, since we didn’t have a car seat, which meant subways all the way! The one thing I will say that surprised me was how sweet everyone was to us–even when we were at Penn State in the middle of about a hundred people all trying to push to get onto the train. People were very respectful and helpful … it kind of renewed my faith in the people of this city.
Anyway, here’s a bit of what we did and saw:
After a brief meltdown, we headed over to Turtle Pond ….
By the end of the picnic and the pond, the adults were ready for a brewsky, so we headed over to the Amsterdam Ale House. (As a side note, this is a great little bar with tons of tasty beer options, should you happen to be in the Upper West Side area …)
Rory and my brother-in-law were meant to leave after the Ale House, but we were having so much fun we decided to make one more stop and they would catch a later train. On our way to the second stop, Rory had Meltdown No. 2, though (someone was hunnnnggrrrryyyyy!!!), and it was raining, so we hopped into the closest restaurant, which happened to be Citrus. Of the many things I learned about having a baby in Manhattan this weekend, Number 1 was Baby always dictates where you will be going. Think you have plans? Think again, buddy! Anyway, the Cucumber Saketini drink at Citrus was delish, as was their shrimp quesadilla that we split, so it was all good:
Then it was time to head back to Penn Station, which meant one more subway ride ….
And then we were back to Penn Station where the adventure all began:
And that was it, my friends! I think Rory had a fantastic maiden voyage into the city, if I do say so myself. I really can’t wait for him to get just a bit older so we can take him to the museums and to the playgrounds and to a play …
I may be getting just a bit ahead of myself, though!
I’m off next Wednesday to D.C. for a baby shower–hope your summer’s going well!
Chris and I had booked a couple of bicycles through Travelzoo back around Memorial Day weekend, and only just this weekend got the chance to use them. So we picked up some coffees, took the 2.5-mile walk through the park to Broadway Bicycle and cashed in our vouchers.
The park was bumpin’ on Saturday! Despite the heat and humidity, people were out in spades. They were running, walking, biking, roller blading, playing instruments and singing. Here’s a bit of what we saw:
^^ I seriously forgot how many hills there are in Central Park. I had to take a break about 3/4 of the way through.
After our 13-mile ride (for Chris…mine was about 12 miles since I cut off the hills at the end), we headed over to Luke’s Bar & Grill on 3rd Ave. to load up on their super scrumptious Maine Lobster rolls.
Bis bald, friends! Hope your Saturday was as lovely as ours was!
Sometimes, friends, when you live in Manhattan, you get to sit under the setting sun in Central Park (along with tens of thousands of your fellow city dwellers), eating delicious snacks and drinking wine with friends while the New York Philharmonic plays in the background. For free.
Last night Chris and I joined some friends on the Great Lawn for part of the Concert in the Parks series, and I may or may not have gone a little photo crazy when it came to the gorgeous setting sun.
Bis bald, friends! Here’s to making the most of summer …
So we’ve pretty much dug ourselves out of snowstorm Nemo 2013 around here. Yesterday morning Chris and I took a snowy stroll to Central Park, and you know I couldn’t help but snap some photos along the way …
The other day my friend Carla (of guest blogging fame) and I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time—walk the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir at dusk. For the fun of it. I’ve certainly been running the Reservoir to help train for the upcoming Philly 1/2 Marathon, but to walk it at dusk—well that’s a horse of a different color.
Check it out for yourself:
So if you happen to be in the NYC area any time soon, I’d definitely recommend hitting up the Reservoir. It’s a city fave.
Bis bald, friends! Chris’s mom has sent us her update text and she’s on the plane! Should be an awesome two weeks with her.
In case you’ve missed it, New York City was in the midst of storm over the past day and 1/2 which dumped something like 21 inches of snow. Only in a city like New York can business go on pretty much as usual with all that white stuff, though. Sure, schools were closed, but with the subways pretty much running on schedule (at least the local ones within Manhattan), it was all I could do to make it to work even a little bit late.
After the craziness died down, a friend of mine suggested we take a traipse through Central Park. So we did, and here’s what we found: