Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day – Here’s Where You Can Sample Some of the Best in New York City

Dining outdoors is fun but chilly. You need to pick your menu carefully so food stays warm. Think piping hot French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon and a bowl of spicy chili to stick to your ribs. Your drinks of choice need to stand up to the cold as well. Fortunately, winter is a time to imbibe hot toddies, a beverage famous for its abilities to ward off shivers and the flu, attend to nascent coughs and sniffles, calm a sore throat and provide an overall feeling of warmth. A hot toddy, also known as hot whiskey in Ireland, is typically made with a base of whiskey or rye (or even rum) enhanced with water, honey, herbs and spices. It’s served hot in a glass or mug that will warm your hands as well. The hot toddy is so popular, in fact, that it has its own holiday on January 11, but feel free to order these at any time. They’re just what we need to stay comfy (and healthy) outdoors during the long, dark winter ahead.

Here are six choices in New York City that will keep you toasty through these chillier months.

MANHATTAN

Upper East Side

Amali - Lovers and Liars

Amali (115 E. 60th St.) takes a traditional hot buttered toddy and gives it a Mediterranean twist with peach brandy, Rockey’s liqueur, hot orange saffron tea, honey and butter. If you’re not familiar with it, Rockey’s liqueur is a delicious blend of green apple, pineapple, green tea, black tea, and citrus inspired by classic, clarified milk punch. Pair this with the restaurant’s black cod gyro, their labneh flatbread or any of their pastas, for a mini trip to Italy and Greece. The drink is called Lovers & Liars for reasons that you’ll have to figure out after you’ve had a few.

Theater District

Haven Rooftop

Haven Rooftop above the Sanctuary Hotel (132 W. 47th Street) in Midtown has put together an inventive Hot Toddy menu with versions like Apple Cheer Hot Toddy with lemon, cinnamon syrup, black tea, apple cider and bourbon; Bailey’s Hot Toddy with black tea, agave and Bailey’s Irish Cream; and Hibiscus Hot Toddy with black tea, hibiscus syrup, lemon, agave and bourbon. The drinks pair well with Haven’s eclectic menu of small plates, pizzas and steaks. To warm you up upon arrival, Haven offers a welcoming non-alcoholic shot of hot chocolate or hot tea, a wonderful option, too, if you’re observing Dry January.

East Village

Kissaki - Tokushima Toddy

Putting a Japanese spin on a hot toddy, elevated sushi favorite Kissaki (319 Bowery) features the Tokushima Toddy with Maker’s Mark, passionfruit, yuzu, sake, apple caramel and ginger beer. While hot sake is just so mundane, adding it to a Hot Toddy makes a lot of sense. It also goes surprisingly well with cold sushi and sashimi like chef’s creative nigiri and futomaki fat rolls.

The mixologists at cocktail mecca Death & Co. (433 E. 6th St.) have also embraced the Asian spirit, adding Japanese whiskey with dashi kombu, soup stock made with dried kelp, to their toddy. While bar seating isn’t currently offered, you can order the drink via Tock or Caviar from Death & Co.’s to-go and delivery menu. If you choose to dine on your balcony or in the park, The Super Cult Toddy is guaranteed to keep you happy.

BROOKLYN

Williamsburg

Ainslie

Italian sensation Ainslie (76 Ainslie St)  has a Sip, Stir, Cuddle hot toddy from mixologist Jessica Dure, made with Vecchia Tres Botti brandy, rye whiskey, Amaro Montenegro (from Bologna), honey, lemon, baking spices and Angostura bitters.  This is just the right drink to sip in their outdoor sidewalk patio or in their expansive beer garden with its open roof. Pair it with Ainslie’s shareable saltimbocca pizza, with just the right amount of prosciutto and sage adorning the melty cheese, or the lasagna with Bolognese sauce and linguine vongole.

Ten Hope - Todd’s Hot Date

Nearby, Ten Hope Outdoor Garden (10 Hope Street) offers a hot toddy called Todd’s Hot Date made with brandy, bourbon, date molasses, lemon and clove perfect for enjoying on the open-air, vine-laced patio. The Mediterranean restaurant’s flatbread with zaatar oil is a perfect accompaniment.  Naturally, there are heaters throughout to keep you toasty on the outside, too.

You Won’t Miss Halloween as Much This Year with This IRL Treat at the Empire State Building

You don’t need to visit New York City this Halloween, nor even leave your home to have a true New York City trick-or-treat experience. This year, the Empire State Building is making its recognizable tower lights interactive for Halloween. On October 31 at 8pm, the iconic landmark takes Hasbro’s ESB Simon® memory game to new heights with a live game on the façade of Empire State Building. Your ticket to the fun — without leaving your home — is at www.Simon-Live.com where you can access the fast-paced game.

Simon Lighting

World-renowned production and lighting designer Marc Brickman and his team at Tactical Manoeuvre developed ESB Simon® using the world-famous tower lights as the pattern maker. You can prepare for the Hallow-IN event by visiting the website in advance to practice your skills to play.

So, grab your trick-or-treaters, costume up (yes, seriously) and enjoy a different kind of Halloween this year.

Here’s how it works:

  • Log into http://www.Simon-Live.com with your touch device (phone, iPad, computer) and click on “Let’s play” and wait for a game to start.
  • Watch levels of the Empire State Building flash in an increasingly complex series of blue, green, yellow and red colors and tones. Tap the building to correctly repeat the pattern. The longer you play, the more complex the sequences.
  • For every correct answer, players climb further up the Empire State Building. Each wrong answer knocks you down. Your objective is to make it to the top of the building and the leaderboard. You can keep playing until the game is over.
  • If you’re lucky enough to actually have a view of the Empire State Building, you can both play AND watch the display live on the building.
  • Up to 100,000 people can play at once, and the game will be live on the Empire State Building from 8pm – 9pm.

Need to brush up on your memory skills? Practice using Infinite Play mode ahead of Halloween night. But, unlike the Halloween game if you get one wrong answer in Infinite Play mode, your game is over.

Six Farms for October Fun within Driving Distance of NYC

Oh, wonderful October. It’s the time for pumpkin patches, Oktoberfest, the inevitable corn maze, and, for the family, apple picking and hayrides. With trick or treating still under discussion and venues opening and closing with changing rules and regulations, it’s a good idea to call before you go anywhere during this unusual year. If possible, try to book an event with your own pod so you can enjoy a masked experience without the worry of stranger social distancing.

Riamede Farm

NEW JERSEY

Two farms in Morris County, New Jersey invite you to their farms this month, a mere 80-minute drive from New York City.

You can book a private wagon ride at Riamede Farm in Chester, New Jersey weekdays in October for a tour of the farm’s pumpkin patches and apple orchards. If you prefer to meander on your own, the farm is open to visitors on weekends as well and you can grab some pumpkins and gourds to decorate your home. A Farm Pass is required for entry and must be purchased in advance.

Riamede Farm

122 Oakdale Road, Chester, NJ; 908-879-5353 www.riamede.com

Alstede Farms goes maze crazy this October with a sunflower maze, evergreen maze and a corn maze, all designed to drive you just a bit crazy while soaking up the crisp fall air. You can pick your own apples or opt for a tractor-drawn wagon ride, too. If you’re starved for something to do at night, they even have an evening hayride on weekends. Live music follows by the bonfire with hot apple cider, food, wine, and s’mores kits to refresh.  Book tickets in advance online.

Alstede Farms

1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, NJ; 908-879-7189 www.alstedefarms.com

LONG ISLAND

The North Fork of Long Island turns October into a musical event at Harbes Family Farm. Just an hour and half from New York City, the Mattituck farm treats you to scenic hayrides complete with singing. Weekend activities add pig races and a family favorite, the Barnyard Adventure area with farm animals, sport zones and mazes. Ticket information is available online.

Harbes Family Farm

715 Sound Ave, Mattituck, NY; 631-298-0800 www.harbesfamilyfarm.com

In the Hamptons (the South Fork of Long Island), Water Mill is where you’ll find expansive Hank’s Pumpkin Town. You’ll know it immediately by the cars parked on either side of the road. It’s open daily and no reservations are required so be prepared for crowds and waits. You’ll find the usual family-friendly activities here: pumpkin picking, corn mazes, tractor train rides, and mega slides for the kids. After all that fun, your reward is Hank’s yummy Fall for Y’All hot apple cider topped with whipped cream, a caramel drizzle, and an apple cider donut, served in a take-home souvenir mug.

Hank’s Pumpkin Town

Hank’s Pumpkin Town

249 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, NY; www.hankspumpkintown.com

NEW YORK CITY

Yes, there are farms in New York City.

The historic Queens Country Farm Museum in Floral Park, Queens offers weekend activities throughout October. The farm, owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, dates back to 1697 and occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. Plan a visit to go pumpkin picking or navigate a maze, or hop on a hayride. The farm’s Amazing Maize Maze is designed in the shape of Van Gogh’s famous sunflower. Schedule the October 24 nighttime experience online  — the maze books out quickly.

Queens Country Farm Museum

73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens; 718-347-3276 www.queensfarm.org

An officially designated historic landmark, Decker Farm in Springville, Staten Island is New York City’s oldest continuously working family-style farm. 220 years young, the farm is a joy to visit during October with hayrides for the family that meander past costumed artisans performing 19th-century trades. For those willing to try some new-fangled activities, the farm lets you sign up for three tries of pumpkin chucking.  Purchase a timed-entry ticket for a weekend visit online.

Decker Farm

435 Richmond Hill Road, Staten Island, 917-887-0482 https://www.historicrichmondtown.org/deckerfarm

Thinking about Bringing the Kids to New York City for the Holidays: Here’s What You Should Know

With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s looming, there are more than enough great reasons to bring the family to New York City. Beyond seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, shopping for dolls at American Girl Place, or donning ice skates to twirl around the rink at Rockefeller Center, there are many things to do that will let you explore beyond crowded Midtown.

The Rockettes

New York City is a real toy box of activities for families. It’s a showplace of the world’s best: a fabulous introduction to great eats, culture and diversity and, without a doubt, fun! So get out, explore, and experience the magic of the Big Apple.

Where to Stay with Kids

Many NYC hotels are family-friendly, offering free cribs on request, high chairs, strollers and other baby-related gear. Younger ones are often free so be sure to inquire. Teens and tweens get perks, too. Specials vary by season and by week. Check out the hotel’s website for the best prices.

Gansevoort Hotel

The Gansevoort Hotel (18 Ninth Ave; 212-206-6700) in the trendy Meatpacking District will hold special appeal for older kids. The area is super-cool with interesting boutiques and the newly reopened Pastis, a perfect place to sit and watch the city’s beautiful people. The hotel itself offers all the requisite baby supplies (including cribs, diapers and bath supplies) and older kids get Sony PSPs and Nintendo Wiis to use during their stay.

The Mandarin Oriental Lobby

With a bird’s-eye view of Central Park and Columbus Circle, The Mandarin Oriental (80 Columbus Circle; 212-805-8800), welcomes kids with an age-appropriate gift and keeps them busy with children’s DVDs, crayons and coloring books. It’s also well situated at the Time Warner Center with its many shops, restaurants, and wonderful holiday decorations. And you’re close to Central Park for an easy stroll to the Christmas Market or even a carriage ride inside the park.

Eventi Hotel Livingroom

Eventi, a Kimpton Hotel (851 Sixth Ave; 212-64-4567) caters to the junior set with the Tween Trap, complimentary rentals of a range of gadgets including Instagram printers, iPad Minis, PlayStation Vita, Beats Pill Portable Bluetooth speakers, Beat by Dre headphones and night-vision goggles. It’s also a dream location if you’re heading to an event at Madison Square Garden.

The Giraffe Hotel Lobby

In the quieter Flatiron neighborhood, the boutique Giraffe Hotel (365 Park Avenue South; 212-685-7700) entertains kids with its selfie-inspiring giraffe sculpture on the roof, kids’ menus and large rooms. To make sure you soak up some of the city’s outdoor pleasures, Madison Square Park is a few minutes’ walk away with an expansive playground, dog run, and the original Shake Shack.

Where to Eat with Kids

Food is a key part of any trip to the Big Apple. Where else can you try dishes from so many countries?  Skip the fast-food or fast-casual chains that you can find anywhere and visit the one-offs that make NYC so special.

Totonno’s

Coal-oven pizza was invented here, and Brooklyn offers some of the best. Try Totonno’s (1524 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn; 718-372-0606) in Coney Island after a walk along the boardwalk. Totonno’s knows just a little bit about pizza – it was founded in 1924. Or if you’re spending the day shopping or touring Little Italy, opt for a tomato pie or a clam pie at Manhattan’s oldest pizzeria, Lombardi’s (32 Spring Street, Manhattan; 212-941-7994) dating from 1905.

Jin Fong

Chinese dim sum is also a kid-pleaser. Did you know that NYC has three Chinatowns? In Flushing, Queens, join the crowd at Joe’s Shanghai (136-21 37th Ave, Flushing; 718-539-3838) for their rich soup dumplings, or in Manhattan go piece-by-piece at Jin Fong (20 Elizabeth St, 212-964-5256), where servers wheel a parade of dumpling carts to your table (hint: get there early to avoid the long lines). For the more adventurous, head to Brooklyn for a veritable Chinese feast of small plates at East Harbor Seafood Palace (714 65th St., Brooklyn, 718-765-0098).

Blue Smoke Photo: Melissa Hom

BBQ lets the kids eat with their fingers. Blue Smoke (116 East 27th St; 212-447-7733) is a great introduction with specially designed children’s portions and meals. If you’re in the middle of Times Square, Virgil’s is your go-to for kid-friendly BBQ with special menus and BBQ tastes from all around the country.  (152 West 44th Street, Manhattan, 212-921-9494). And while you’re in the area, be sure to visit the TKTS booth at West 47th Street for the chance to score discount tickets to family-friendly shows like Frozen, Aladdin, Harry Potter and Wicked

Serendipity 3

For dessert, a touristy “must” is Serendipity 3 (225 East 60th St, 212-838-3531), famous for its frozen hot chocolate, made with more than 30 kinds of cocoa. The concept makes no intuitive sense but it works, and it’s delicious. 16 Handles, a self-service frozen yogurt emporium, is a favorite among families, too, with creative toppings like mochi, Fruity Pebbles cereal, and fresh fruit.  There are numerous locations around the city.

What to Do with Kids

Staten Island Ferry

It’s a good idea to get an overview of the city to get your bearings, and you can do it for “free” by water. Splurge on a taxi downtown to the famous Staten Island Ferry. It costs nothing to grab a seat and see the skyline of New York and the Statue of Liberty, all from the warm, comfortable interior of this legendary vessel. Once you reach Staten Island, just grab the next ferry back to Manhattan.

Central Park Sculpture - Alice in Wonderland

You can create a full-day educational and fun scavenger hunt for the family at the city’s central gathering place, Central Park. Even if it’s cold outside, you’ll see throngs of local kids climbing over the park’s beloved sculptures of Alice in Wonderland, the Three Bears, and Balto, so join them! Then wander through the various playgrounds to the Central Park Zoo and Children’s Zoo (fee required), buy a ticket for a performance at the adorable Marionette Theater at the Swedish Cottage, or take the kids to watch the sailboat races at the pond.

American Museum of Natural History Origami Tree

From the park’s Western edge, it’s a short walk to the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th St; 212-769-5100). What child doesn’t like dinosaurs? But there’s much more to keep the little and big ones engaged. The wildlife dioramas are classic, a fascinating mix of educational and creepy, and the Hall of Gems is always a thrill. If it’s butterfly season, wear a brightly colored t-shirt to attract them to your shoulders. Be sure to venture downstairs to see the intricate holiday tree made of origami.

New York Hall of Science Art of the Brick; Dino. By: Nathan Sawaya

Head to the boroughs outside Manhattan for some more child-friendly attractions: the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th Street, Corona; 718-699-0005) in Queens and the Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, 718-367-1010) are musts for curious kids.

New York Transit Museum Photo: Marc A Hermann

At the New York Transit Museum (Boerum Place and Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn Heights; 718-694-1600), set in an historic 1936 Brooklyn subway station, kids can explore all manner of urban transportation from buses to subways and trolleys.

For some park time while in Brooklyn, the ever-expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO is a mecca for families and has terrific views of Manhattan plus a historic merry-go-round. On the other side of the river, at the tip of Manhattan, the futuristic Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park is a crowd-pleaser for all ages.

How to Get around with Children

The city is designed for walking. Most of the streets in Manhattan are laid out in a grid, so you can find your way around pretty easily. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a warm coat, gloves and a hat – you’ll be all set.

The outer boroughs are connected by far-reaching subway lines that run all day long. If you get lost, that’s half the fun. Don’t be shy about asking a New Yorker for help; rumors to the contrary, people in New York City are super helpful and love showing off their city.

If the kids are getting tired, there are lots of taxis and ride services (Uber, Lyft, Via) to bring you back to your hotel. Download the Arro, Uber, Lyft and Via apps to your phone for easy summoning.

If you’re traveling with kids, suitcases and, perhaps, a guidebook in hand, get in the queue at the airport for a yellow taxi. From JFK, there’s a flat fee of $52 to New York City plus tolls. Surcharges apply depending on the time of day. A taxi from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) will cost upwards from $35 or $55, respectively, plus tolls and surcharges depending on your final destination. A new Lyft partnership from LaGuardia has reduced the fee somewhat.  Ubers and other ride shares also service the airports.

Something Special

High Line

It helps to see the city from higher up, especially if you’re a little one. The wondrous High Line, a walking park built in an abandoned elevated train track, traces a route along the city’s Hudson River, with plantings, food carts and art. If you’re cold, you can stop off by the new Hudson River Yards and refresh at the kiosks and counters at Mercado Little Spain or duck into the shopping mall.  For another vista, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for an astonishing view of downtown Manhattan. And then walk back – you’ll get an entirely different impression of the city.

Cool Mess

Are your children budding chefs? At Cool Mess (137 East 62nd St; 212-355-9834) on the Upper East Side, you can don aprons and make your own ice cream.

Take Walks Backstage Tour

There’s nowhere better than Manhattan to give your kids an introduction to theater, TV and the movies. Are they wannabe actors? Take the kids backstage with Take Walks at the New Amsterdam Theater, home to Disney productions such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins. Here they can try on costumes and play with the actual props from some of these shows.

Older kids will love the Central Park TV and Movies Sites walking tour. They’ll recognize the Literary Walk from Glee, The Smurfs and Trainwreck; the Boathouse from Home Alone 2; the Plaza Hotel from Home Alone and the Bethesda Fountain from Stuart Little. And there are lots of photo ops to make their friends jealous.

Two Ways to Explore Brooklyn: By Foot and By Bus

Are you mystified about Brooklyn? Brooklyn is the second largest borough in New York City and holds a myriad of cultural and culinary attractions.  Here are two ways to explore it, one by foot and one by bus.

Local Expeditions

Local Expeditions are walks and bike tours curated and led by local residents passionate about a topic.

This walk through Brooklyn is perfect for theater lovers, music fans, and anyone curioous about Brooklyn’s past. The tour meets in front of BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, and ends at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky’s Shakespeare Center 262 Ashland Place (at Fulton Street), Brooklyn. http://local-expeditions.com/expeditions/the-downtown-brooklyn-cultural-district/

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Once described as a “regional attraction to rival Times Square,” downtown Brooklyn was a popular destination of shops, restaurants and theaters. It is now enjoying a revival with the Brooklyn Cultural District, Polonsky’s Shakespeare Center, and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (where you can drink and dine while you watch).

The tour is led by theater historian Cezar Del Valle and will explore downtown Brooklyn’s theatrical past, present and future. Sites visited  include those of the legendary Paramount and Fox theaters, the 14th and 15th largest movie houses built in America.

The walk ends at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky’s Shakespeare Center. Opened in 2013, this was the first major house for classical drama to be built in New York City since Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in 1965.

Tickets are $30 per person.

Polonsky’s Shakespeare Center

Foods of NY

If you’re a foodie, you will love Foods of NY’s culinary tours.

It takes a while to explore (and eat your way through) Brooklyn, so a bus tour is actually a good idea if you want to cover a lot of distance in a short period of time. If Brooklyn were not part of New York City, it would still rank as the fourth largest city in the US, with 43 distinct neighborhoods with people from almost every country. With that comes an amazing array of traditions, history, and, of course, lots of fabulous ethnic foods. https://www.foodsofny.com/foods-ny-tours-2/the-best-of-brooklyn/#book-now

Table 87 Italian Cuisine

The half-day food, history, and cultural journey traverses four Brooklyn neighborhoods where you’ll learn about Brooklyn’s immigrant past and present. Areas visited include Williambsurg’s Hasidic area, Greenpoint’s Polish neighborhood where you’ll sample kielbasa and pierogies, North Williamsburg’s hipster areas with lots of street food and pizza choices, and more. All told, you’ll have six tastings of some of Brooklyn’s most representative cuisines from Middle Eastern to Italian, from hipster to traditional. Plan to come very hungry!

KROWLEWSKIE JADLO Polish Cuisine

Pick up and drop off are in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. After getting a taste of Brooklyn, you might just want to stay there a bit longer and make your way back to Manhattan by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for its glorious views of both Brooklyn (look behind you) and Manhattan (in front of you).

Tickets are priced at $125 per person.

New York City: The Perfect City for Solo Travel

New York City was just voted one of the top cities for solo travelers. There are myriad reasons why this is the case. You’ll never be bored. You can pretty much talk to anyone here. Or you can simply blend in with the crowd and be as visible or as anonymous as you like. New York City is the king when it comes to being the melting pot.

New York Philharmonic

Personally, I find the many cultural options perfect opportunities to enjoy a solo experience. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a major play or opera as a single, look into the New York Philharmonic rehearsals, for example, an inexpensive and friendly way to test the solo waters at a cultural event.  https://nyphil.org/concerts-tickets/explore/open-rehearsals Also, a Wednesday or Saturday matinee on Broadway might feel less daunting than attending an evening performance by yourself.  Visit www.playbill.com for a full listing of Broadway and off-Broadway shows with matinee times.

Central Park

Meandering through the city’s myriad parks will let you observe, think, and relax all on your own time. And maybe you’ll find a casual food stand or restaurant there, where you can test your ability to dine alone.

I asked one of my favorite solo travelers, Shari Bayer, to share some suggestions of how to manage traveling solo. Shari is a pro when it comes to dining solo and traveling solo and can be heard sharing advice on her show, All in the Industry, on Heritage Radio Network, a weekly show about the hospitality industry.

  1. Location, location, location. When choosing where you stay, make sure it is in a central and safe neighborhood.  Check travel review sites, such as TripAdvisor. You can narrow your search to “solo” to see what other single travelers had to say about their experiences. Look for a consistency in the responses, as when many people post that it’s a “great location,” you can be confident that it will be.
  2. Plan your trip your way.  There is not one right way to travel, and when you’re going solo, you can do whatever you want without compromising your itinerary. You can sleep late and skip breakfast. Go to a museum for several hours, or only for a quick walk-through.  It’s up to you.
  3. Don’t think you have to do everything solo on your trip.  You can partake in group outings, city tours, food crawls and fun adventures where you will meet other travelers and have unique experiences together.  If you want some companionship, you can find it.
  4. Keep connected with technology. Nowadays, our smart phones can be our best friends and very useful for soloists.  From researching top city attractions to utilizing maps and posting on social media, you may forget that you’re alone with so many tools are your fingertips.
  5. Be confident in your decision to be traveling solo and don’t let anyone invade your time or privacy.  Ignore naysayers who many question why you are alone. It’s none of their business. Some people who haven’t traveled solo for themselves may not understand it, but it’s not your job to explain it.  Live and let live.

Planning a trip to NYC?