Having grown up in New York State and spent my formative years as a New Yorker it occurred to me, I had never actually considered myself to be a tourist in Manhattan. New York City has over 50 million foreign and American tourists a year. Recently, I joined the ranks and visited Ellis Island, took in a show off Broadway, garnered a bird’s eye view from the World Trade Center and had a moment of silence at the 911 memorial.
When I moved to Florida one of my first jobs brought me to New York City as a sales manager. Throughout the years I would go to the city for meetings and events but I honestly had never done the attractions. I always hit Fifth Avenue for a little wardrobe refresh, if you consider that an attraction.
This year we went to New York City for spring break. Some of the highlights included; visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the 911 memorial. We also dined at the newly renovated Tavern on the Green and ate Dim Sum in Chinatown.
We met up with my step daughter and the three grand kids who had never been to New York. Seeing the sites of the City through their eyes was interesting. I found myself wondering if they thought all New Yorkers’ were used to seeing a naked cowboy singing in the street, a dancing grown up baby and a number of furry characters roaming Time Square at all hours of the night.
Places to Go & Things to Do
New York City has a plethora of great attractions, museums and things to do. For us, we had a mixed crowd of young kids and adults so we needed to strike a balance. When choosing your hit list, pick things that cater to the majority of the crowd. The kids were interested in the Natural History Museum, some gaming attractions, Times Square and some of the more traditional landmarks such as Ellis Island and the 911 Memorial.
We started our first day with a trip to Ellis Island. Our ancestry traces back to Ireland and Germany and it was interesting to see the names and photos of boats that carried our forefathers to this country. Once we arrived we spent time in the great hall and looked at all the amazing images and faces of the immigrants who came to the United States so long ago. The thought of traversing continents and oceans in hopes of a better life or in some cases to escape dire circumstances is a central theme of our great and welcoming country. There are samples lining the entrance walls of exams immigrants had to pass, photos of new comers suspected of being sick showing bright white chalk marks on their lapels and desperate faces of women and children carrying all their worldly possessions.
The Ellis Island Ferry takes you to the Statue of Liberty. Be sure to reserve early or you won’t be able to go to the top. We went to the base and the views were inspirational looking up at Liberatas and seeing the broken chains at her feet. This flamboyant gift from France is a symbol of our liberty and the ties that bind all those who enter. After 911, the Statue of Liberty once again became a renewed symbol of hope and her true identity and meaning were a poignant reminder to us all, “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
After leaving Ellis Island we headed to the 911 memorial. This is a must see! There is no other event in my life and the life of many in my generation like 911. Staring into the reflection pools representing the two towers is truly a cathartic experience. Many memories come flooding back as I thought of where I was on that horrific day. Off in the distance one tree survived the attacks and was in full bloom on the day we visited. This symbol of life blossoming anew is truly touching.
When in New York City, bring your wallet! There are plenty of choices including some wonderful and reasonable Deli’s. We choose Tavern on the Green for a special dinner, the Moonstruck Diner for a more casual lunch and Chinatown for some amazing Dim Sum at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Other mentionable include The Oyster Bar and Cipriani’s near Grand Central Station.
The Tavern was fabulous! As we arrived and entered the bar area a swanky 40’s style band was playing. The lead singer was in character complete with a vintage dress and oversized microphone belting out classics such as Fly Me to the Moon and Mack the Knife. The dinner was amazing from both a taste and a service perspective. The ambiance was polished and harkened back to a flamboyant Mad Men era. We had a variety of dishes but the Coq Au Vin and the Rack of Lamb would be considered no less than divine. Don’t miss the Truffle Caesar Salad. You’ll want to beg for the recipe. Fun cocktails such as the Queens, Bronx and the Manhattan have you sipping and savoring every minute. There is even a kids menu with mini yummy cuisine for the smallest pallet.
Moonstruck has a great late night dessert menu and offers a quick breakfast option for all to enjoy. There are multiple locations and we never had a problem being seated even with a party of eight.
If your feeling adventurous, head to Chinatown and try some Dim Sum. Be fair warned, you will be approached to buy every kind of souvenir and fake watch known to mankind. Be careful not to go into the back alleys. Our final destination was the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This iconic restaurant has been family owned since 1920. Everything was delicious and plentiful. The sampler platter, original egg rolls and spare ribs top the list of delectable. The wait was over 30 minutes so be prepared to stand on the corner for a bit but the wait was worth it once inside.
I am usually a big planner but this trip was much more flexible. There are some great apps that help you plan at the last minute and still get good deals. Instead of waiting in line in the rain for tickets to a show, try Today Tix. This app lets you peruse shows of interest, order tickets and has a red shirt representative meet you outside the theater at show time. We saw a great show called “Fully Committed” with Jessie Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family.” He plays nearly 40 characters complete with voice accents and attitudes. The premise entails a struggling actor who works taking reservations at a fancy restaurant in New York. The show is hysterical and plays at the Lyceum Theater.
My Uber app crashed during our visit but my husband was able to load his up. This is a great benefit as they now have an Uber XL which can accommodate bigger parties for a ride. Of course the subway offers an easy, less time consuming and efficient way to get around the city.
We did encounter a bit of a snag at the hotel. Apparently, when you are between seasons some older hotels do not convert from a heating system to an air conditioning system. This caused a stifling few nights and very little sleep. To avoid the whole hot mess, ask some questions before booking with a follow up question about having in-room fans or windows that actually open.
I hope you’ll come along for my next road trip!
Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, travel blogger and speaker and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.crossnm.com