Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Christmas in NYC

I ♥ New York City through all seasons, but the Christmas holiday is my favorite times to be out and about in the city.  To borrow a line from the Rockettes, it is “spectacular”.  I know Thanksgiving is next week and most of you are probably thinking can we at least enjoy the turkey and pumpkin pie before we start thinking about christmas carols and Santa?  I know by approaching the topic I am just like the department stores that have been decorated with tinsel and lights for the past month, but I can’t help it because I am officially in the spirit since I spent part of the afternoon in the Bloomingdale’s Christmas Department on East 59th street this past Saturday.   To be perfectly honest Santa arrives at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next Thursday, so it is definitely time to start getting in the Christmas spirit.  Here are my favorite picks to enjoy a family friendly Christmas in the Big Apple.

Broadway Christmas Shows

The first Broadway show I ever took my son to was Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas and is a must see if you have kids.  If you want to add to the Dr. Seuss fun, make sure your family checks out The Grinch Holiday Workshop at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.  The interactive experience allows them to walk right into the scenes of the holiday tale.

My son’s first Broadway Play … wow that was only 6 years ago, he was so little.

This year there is also two other great musicals on Broadway which happen to be based on my favorite Christmas movies.  A Christmas Story, The Musical brings Ralphie to the stage and Elf is back this year with Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld)  as Santa.  If you are looking for a classical play and not a musical, A Christmas Carol is playing at The Player Theatre in Greenwich Village.  Whatever show you decide to see, make sure you check for discounted tickets at theatermania, goldstar.com, playbill.com or broadway.com.

The Holiday Train Show

As you can see  from the pictures below, it’s been a while since my son and I have visited the train show at the New York Botanical Gardens.  He used to be fascinated with trains, specifically Thomas the Tank Engine.  The Holiday Train Show has trains traveling through NYC landmarks like Yankee Stadium and Radio City Music Hall and the structures are made from all natural material like twigs, bark and pine cones.

The Holiday Train Show when my son was three.

The Holiday Train Show also offers special programs like puppet shows and rumor has it that Thomas and Friends™ will be making a special appearance.  Another fun family event offered is the Gingerbread Adventures where kids can step inside a child-sized Gingerbread playhouse and they can decorate their own gingersnap cookie.

Ice Skating by the Christmas Tree

The Rink at Rockefeller Center

There are a few places in the city where you can lace up your skates and hit the ice.  If you want to brave the crowds, there is of course the most famous of them all, the Rink at Rockefeller Center.  I personally would recommend Wollman’s Rink in Central Park or Citi Pond at Bryant Park. If you ice skate in Central Park, you will find yourself pretty close to the Le Parker Meriden Hotel.  In addition to being known to serve one of the best burgers in the city, the hotel also is home to the Gingerbread Extravaganza.  We went last year and the Gingerbread houses were amazing and all the proceeds support City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization.

Gingerbread Extravaganza

Last year we also went ice skating at Bryant Park. Like the rink in Central Park, it is much larger than the Rink at Rockefeller Center.  The restaurant Celsius is also much more affordable than the restaurants that surround the rink at Rockefeller Center.  You will find that Bryant Park is like a winter wonderland with a hundred boutique shops and there is also a charming carousel for the kids to enjoy.

Ice Skating at Citi Pond in Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Annual Holiday Shows

There is one show that is synonymous with Christmas in NYC and it is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular:  The Rockettes Celebration.  This year marks the 85th anniversary of the show and if you have never seen it, make sure you put it on your things to do list this holiday season.  Last year I took my god-daughter and even though it was a gift for her, it really was a gift for me when I saw her eyes gleaming when she watched the show.

Last year at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas spectacular.

For as long as I can remember (at least the twenty years that I lived in New York), the New York City Ballet performs George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ at Lincoln Center as a limited engagement over the holidays.  I went many years ago, with a date that didn’t realize that there was no dialogue in a ballet.  That memory still makes me laugh, but I also have fond memories of being delighted that I was seeing one of my most favorite ballets. Even though it has been a while since I’ve seen the performance, I am willing to bet that anyone who loves the ballet will enjoy the dancing snowflakes.

The Nutcracker – Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

Macy’s Herald Square

After  the Thanksgiving parade is over, Santa spends the holiday season on the 8th floor at Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street.  There you will find Santaland® which is a Christmas Village with twinkling lights, candy canes and snow-capped mountains and of course lots of holiday goodies.  There is no better place to sit on Santa’s lap and whisper in his ear your wish list.

One of my favorite pictures of my Dad. This picture was taken in Santaland at Macy’s in 1994 proving that Santaland is not just for kids.

Also on the 8th floor is Macy’s Puppet Theatre.  Here your little ones will be able to enjoy Miracle on 34th Street..at Macy’s.  This 30 minute musical will delight all ages and your family will definitely leave in the Christmas spirit.

Before leaving, make sure you check out Macy’s famed window display.  It has been a tradition since the early 1870’s.  With the most windows of any department store in the city, I am sure there will be a window display that will appeal to every member of your family.

Have you been to New York City for Christmas?

 What is your family’s favorite tradition?

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Firefighters in chest high water putting out house fire in my coastal town on the south shore of Long Island during Sandy 10-29-12 Credit: Caryn Jenkin

One of my favorite circa homes in town 

Yep, my car is under that tree

My friend  Gail, from high school posted the following quote on Facebook last week  by Albert Clark.  “In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”  Despite the unusual circumstances that many people have experienced in the Northeast, I am happy and it has to do with gratitude.

The last two weeks have been challenging, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I have been blessed with overwhelming feeling of  gratitude. I am grateful that I no longer live in the house on the water that I resided in for eight years that took in three feet of saltwater and debris from the canal.  I am grateful that the big red oak tree on the corner fell on my car and not my house.  Speaking of my house, I am grateful that it didn’t go up in flames during the storm like three homes in my town and the 80 homes in Breezy Point in Queens.  I am grateful that I was only without power for a week compared to those families that still do not have power.  I am grateful that I live in a generous community that has reached out to so many in need which turned into a lesson for my son that didn’t require any traveling.

The first couple of days after the storm, I had no idea about how the storm affected neighboring communities in New York City and New Jersey.  Once the power and cable resumed I was shocked and saddened as I sat in front of the television and read stories online.  I quickly realized that many of the places that my son and I visited just this past summer like Coney Island, Atlantic City and Cape May were on the list of the devastated communities.  I also learned that the HMS Bounty, which we boarded on Memorial Day weekend sank in Sandy’s wrath in of all places off the coast of the Outer Banks where we spent a week only two months ago..

The crew of the HMS Bounty was so friendly and really made it fun to learn about maritime education.  Fourteen crew members were rescued, but sadly Claudene Christian was not rescued in time and neither was the captain, Robin Walbridge.

HMS Bounty in Greenport, New York (the tall ship’s home base) this past May.

These revelations definitely made me pause with sadness, but at the same time I realized  how grateful I was that we were able to experience these places before Sandy erased the historical charm of America’s first and longest boardwalk in Atlantic City or America’s First Amusement Park in Coney Island.  In addition, I  am truly grateful that the crew members that we met on the HMS Bounty were rescued after enduring what must have been an unbelievable frightening experience at sea.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk this summer.

Coney Island this past summer – grateful for the memory of such a happy day.

Coney Island after Sandy …all the electronics that made the Wonder Wheel go around sat under water.

I also look forward to Ellis Island and Lady Liberty opening again once the significant storm damage has been repaired.  The Statue of Liberty was once again illuminated this past Friday offering a beacon of hope to all those that literally are picking up the pieces of their lives.

Visiting Lady Liberty before she was closed for renovations and from super storm Sandy.

I pray for all those that were affected by what was ironically

dubbed as the “perfect storm”

and hope that they still can find something to be grateful about

and once again experience happiness.

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Welcome to Coney Island

When I told my thirteen year old son this summer that we were headed to Brooklyn to take in some history, I received his expected moan as he said “Mom, enough with the history trips already”.    I just laughed and told him to call a friend to join him, because this history lesson revolved around roller coasters and thrilling rides.

Coney Island is just a stone throw from Manhattan.   Okay, not really, it is the last stop on both the D and F subway lines, but well worth the trip.  If you haven’t been there in the last two years you might have a different opinion, but since the renovations in 2010 it is a really fun place to spend the day.  The best thing about Coney Island is the atmosphere that places like Disney World, Six Flags and Busch Gardens can’t replicate.  Coney Island has many attractions like the New York Aquarium, the Brooklyn Cyclones (Met’s Farm team), the Coney Island Circus Side Show, and the Coney Island Museum.  Our mission however, was to spend the day at Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and then end the day chowing down at Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs.

Luna Park

The original Luna Park was open from 1903 to 1944.  It recently reopened in 2010 and many of the rides pay homage to the original parks, Steeplechase Park and the first Luna Park.  As soon as we arrived we loaded up our Luna Cards with  Luna Credits (40 credits- $35, 60 credits – $60 & 125 credits – $100).  The Luna Credits were valid at Luna Park, Scream Zone, and the Cyclone Roller Coaster.  We were able to use the cards for rides, games, and food.  The boys loved the Scream Zone and did a lot of screaming themselves on the Soarin’ Eagle and the Steeplechase. The Steeplechase was ridiculously fast and it was cool to know that this ride was based upon the original mechanical horse ride over a hundred years ago.  The only thing that was missing was the attendants were not dressed in jockey uniforms like years past.

Soarin Eagle


The Coney Island Raceway which is also in the Scream Park just opened this year.   It was a great track and my son gave it a ten when comparing it to the many other go-kart tracks that he has dragged me to over the years.

Coney Island Raceway

The Luna Park Rides were divided into high, moderate and mild thrill rides.  We focused on the high thrill rides and the Brooklyn Flyer (swings), The Tickler and Wild River were our favorites.

Electro Spin

Of course the grand daddy of the rides was the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster which was declared a NYC landmark in 1988.  2012 marked the 85th Anniversary of the cyclone, so of course we had to celebrate by riding the landmark.  All I have to say is that I thought The El Torro was scary at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, but the first drop on the Cyclone brought back the same frightening feeling 10-fold. In addition to the rides, there were plenty of games in Luna Park, and both boys came home with many angry bird prizes.

The Grandfather of the American Roller Coaster

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

This amusement park is sandwiched in between the Scream Zone and Luna Park. The Luna Card is not accepted here since it is under different ownership and you can buy tickets at one of the booths in the park.  Deno’s has a great kiddie park with 17 rides and four adult rides including the famous Wonder Wheel.  The Wonder Wheel was built in 1920 and is 150 feet high.  No matter if we were looking at the Atlantic Ocean or the skyline of Manhattan, the views were amazing.  The boys also had a great time on the bumper cars and I loved the Thunderbolt mainly because it brought me back in time to the days I visited Pontchatrain Beach in New Orleans when I was young.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel

Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs

You can’t go to Coney Island without eating a hotdog from Nathan’s Famous. Charles Feltman actually invented the hotdog in Coney Island in 1867, but it was a Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker that opened up a small hot dog stand in 1916 that now is the home of the “World’s Best Hotdog”.  Ninety-five years later my son, his friend and I ended our exciting day of thrill rides and games with an original dog and a cheese dog just like the many generations before us that flocked to Coney Island for some family fun.

It’s time for the original

The original and a cheese dog

Have you been to Coney Island?  What was your favorite thrill?

Both amusement parks are open on the weekends through the end of October.

If you want to get the full educational lesson, click this PBS website before visiting America’s First Amusement Park.

The fun never stops at Coney Island!

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At Yankee Stadium

Major League Baseball never was a big part of my life growing up.  Mainly because New Orleans didn’t have a Major League Team.  Plus I grew up with all girls and a Dad that would rather be fishing than watching sports, unless it was the New Orleans Saints.  I first became a Yankee fan early in my sales career when I lived in NYC  and would go to games with clients.  In 1998, my world was turned around and I met my son’s father who worked for the Yankees.  I met him the day before opening day and was married a couple of weeks after the Yankees won the 1998 World Series in San Diego.  Although the marriage was short-lived, I have an awesome son and some pretty cool Yankee memories, like flying with the team on their private plane, victory parties with celebrities and riding in the ticker tape parade.

Of course my son was not around for all that excitement, so I am glad now that he is older he has had an opportunity to make his own memories of the New York Yankees. Since we still are fortunate to know people in the organization, my son has had the opportunity to experience the classic tour and the Inside Experience.  The classic tour is $20 per person which includes monument park and the museum. There is also a lunch option, so we enjoyed steak with our names branded on the bone at NYY Steak ($55 per person).   If you are not into steak, there is also the choice of the Hard Rock Cafe’.  The Inside Experience is a more costly tour at $600 per person which includes meeting a player.  Additional tours include the Twilight Tour & NYY Steak and the Party City Birthday Bash Tour.


Monument Park

If you are the ultimate Yankee fan or visiting New York City and taking in a game, adding a tour really turns a game day into an unforgettable experience.  Anyone who can quote NYY stats, trivia or history, will love the museum and monument park.  My son of course thought that watching batting practice and seeing his favorite players up close was icing on the cake before the main course which in this case was the game!

Autographs at batting practice.

Watching the game

My son’s friend impressed by the steak.

A Happy Yankee Fan

Have you ever toured the home of your favorite team?

If you are now singing “Take me out to the ball game” and want more information regarding touring the stadium, click on the following links:

 Stadium Tours or The Inside Experience

With Yankee pitcher David Robertson

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Currently at Discovery Times Square in New York City, the exhibition Terracotta Warriors – Defenders of China’s First Emperor is on display.  The good news is that this is an amazing exhibit.  The bad news is that the last day for the exhibit at Discovery Times Square is August 26th, so if you are in the NYC tri-state area put it on your things to do list for the weekend!

The Terracotta Warriors is known as one of the greatest archeology finds and it is amazing to me that Chinese emperors were buried with a full size army for the afterlife.   It is hard to believe that what is now regarded as the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World was discovered when farmers stumbled upon the site by accident. The terracotta warriors are unique and 8,000 figures have been recovered, but only nine are on exhibit.  Getting up close and personal with the life-size soldiers that guarded the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang di who lived over 2000 years ago gave us a better understanding of China’s First Emperor’s life and afterlife.

Like many of the exhibits at Discovery Times Square, the exhibit started with a brief movie that provided a great overview.  The exhibit itself, was broken down in three chronological sections, starting 600 years before the emperor’s birth and ended 200 years after his death.  The first section told the story of how the First Emperor’s ancestors rose to power.  The second section, which had many artifacts from the latest archeology discovery, focused on the afterlife.  The last section presented the life of the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

My son loved King Tut a couple of years ago and enjoyed this exhibit too.  I am sure the First Emperor would never have thought that his terracotta soldiers would travel to New York City 2200 years later.  We are sure glad they did and are happy that we were able to learn about the emperor’s legacy before they return home to China.

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Last week we stepped into the secret world of spying at the new exhibit at Discovery Times Square.  We have been to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. and loved it so much that I actually looked into the Spy-In-Training Program for my son. The price was reasonable, but my son is 13 and the program is for 14 to 17 year olds.  Since plan A didn’t work out, I decided to implement plan B and we headed to NYC instead and entered into the secret world of espionage.

I have been to many exhibits at Discovery Times Square like the Titanic-The Artifact Exhibition, King Tut, Pompeii, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the CSI: The Experience.  One thing they all had in common was a theatrical opening where you are taken back into the time frame of the exhibit.  The Spy exhibit was no different.  We were told to forget what we thought we knew about spies and were promised that we would be taken beyond the fiction of the movies and novels and uncover the fascinating truth of the world of patriots, spies, moles, traitors, and spy-catchers.

We learned that seventeen intelligence agencies contribute to the presidential daily brief each morning for the simple reason to protect our country’s interest and keep our citizens safe. Exhibits ranged from underwater secrets to the U-2 Spy Plane.  My son of course liked the Hidden in Plain Sight exhibit where everyday items were turned into devices to conceal supplies or information.  Needless to say he left the gift shop with a bank that was disguised as a shaving cream can.

I liked the exhibit on traitors, specifically reviewing the information on Robert Hansen.  I recalled that many things in this section had been on display at the International Spy Museum,  but for some reason I was still fascinated, perhaps because I still remember when the story broke on the news.  Hanssen’s handwritten letter of apology that he read at his sentencing in 2002 was on displayed.

Bug planted in the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia’s shoe in 1960.

Hanssen File

The best part of the exhibit was the interactive exhibits where we could alter our own disguises and voices.  We were able to photograph ourselves and then digitally add disguises and record a voice message and then alter them by a press of a button.

The highlight of the exhibit was the laser maze.  Here you had twenty seconds to navigate the laser lines without setting off the alarm.  All I have to say is that I won’t be cast anytime soon for Mission Impossible 5, but maybe I’ll get a call for a Get Smart sequel!

My son is fascinated with the world of spies and  this was one of his favorite exhibits.  We most probably will still check out the Spy-In-Training Program at the International SPY Museum next summer, but until then he will just have to pick up Thomas B. Allen’s book, George Washington, Spymaster which is on his summer reading list.

What will be your family’s next mission?  

Decipher the code to find out!


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Today I was asked by a colleague at work if I had any recommendations for broadway shows in NYC with teens.  I quickly stated with enthusiasm Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark and the Blue Man Group.  Both shows are great for boys or girls.

Why they will love them 

Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark – Teens will love this play because it is like watching a comic book come alive in 4D.   The play is action packed and teens will find themselves anxiously awaiting Spiderman taking flight over their own heads.


Foxwoods Theatre – 214 W. 43rd St.

Where to Eat:

Junior’s – West 45th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave. I know this restaurant seems a little touristy, but it is really practical when eating out with teens.  It is typically crowded, but the staff keeps things moving with speedy service.  We have eaten there several times and have always enjoyed our meal.  If you are there don’t forget to order their famous cheesecake.  Junior’s is also friendly on the wallet and is one of the few affordable restaurants in Times Square.

Astor Place

The Blue Man Group– This is a one of a kind show.  The hour and forty-five minute performance features three bald blue characters combining percussive music, art and theatre.  Teens will love it because it is interactive and they will feel like they are at a big party. Make sure to sit in the poncho zone for added fun.

The Last Act


Astor Place Theatre  – 434 Lafayette Street. NYC

After the show

Where to eat:

Paul’s Da Burger Joint – 131 2nd Avenue at St. Mark’s Place.  I stumbled upon Paul’s Da Burger Joint thanks to a recommendation from Carol at NY City Mama. This place is nothing fancy, but the AWESOME burgers and shakes and the reasonable prices make it a win-win.

All smiles after some great burgers.

Buying Tickets – You can find discounted tickets on Theatre Mania for both shows. Savings are 35% on tickets for Spiderman (Broadway) and over $10 per ticket for Blue Man Group (Off-Broadway), so don’t forget to use the Theater Mania Discount promo code when making your purchase.

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Tomorrow will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  The final destination of course was to be New York.  Margaret Brown who survived the tragedy was one of the key drivers behind the 60 foot-tall lighthouse memorial.  My son and I visited the lighthouse earlier this week when we spent the day at South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.

The memorial was erected by public subscription  in 1913 and was dedicated to honor the passengers, officers and crew that perished on that unforgettable night.  Originally, the lighthouse stood above the East River on the roof of the old Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey.  On top of the lighthouse was a time ball that would drop down the pole to signal twelve noon to the ships in the harbor from 1913 to 1967.  In 1968 the Seamen’s Church Institute moved to its current address at 15 State Street.  Thankfully,  the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was not part of the demolition and was donated b the Kaiser-Nelson Steel and Salvage Corporation to the South Street Seaport Museum.  It was placed at the entrance to the museum complex on the corner of Fulton and Pearl Street where it still stands today in Titanic Park.

My son first became fascinated with the story of the Titanic in the third grade when he checked out Titanic, by Anna Claybourne & Katie Daynes in the school library. We have enjoyed the Titanic exhibit that was at  Discovery Times Square Exhibition a couple of years ago and viewed the movie which has been re-released in 3D. Viewing the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse just added to the story for my son and served as a way to touch history while we were at South Street Seaport.

If you ever find yourself downtown in NYC by the seaport, pass by this memorial and pause and remember those who lost their lives.  While you are in the area, you can also learn more about the Titanic at the South Street Seaport Museum.   Currently there is an exhibition on the Titanic that features artifacts and also focuses on the ocean-liner’s place in popular culture.  One of the highlights of the exhibit is the original 1911 deck plan of the ship’s first class accommodations.  The exhibit is currently in the museum’s Melville Gallery which is across the street from the Titanic Memorial.

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The Conservatory Gardens
How cute is that couple in the background?

A spring day in the park.

Today was a good day.  I was in New York City.  More specifically on the Upper West Side and in Central Park, both of which feel like home.  It is hard to believe that it has been almost twenty years since I moved from a small town in Louisiana

into my first NYC apartment on W. 95th St. between Central Park West and Columbus. Surprisingly, I adjusted quickly to my kitchen in a closet, doing laundry in the basement and taking the subway to get around.  I fell in love with New York City. Everyday was a learning experience.  I loved just walking down the busy streets, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, trying a different cuisines from one of the many restaurants that existed on every block, seeing pieces of art in museums that I had only seen in books, shopping at cute dress stores and enjoying Central Park.  I did the last two today.

Finding three fabulous dresses at a tempo couture definitely put a little pep in my step, but it wasn’t until I wandered into Central Park at 72nd St. that a feeling of bliss came over me.  This profound satisfaction, happiness and joy might have had a little to do with the ice cream that I enjoyed walking thorough the park, but I think it mainly can be attributed to the flood of memories I had of being in the park over the past two decades.  Below is some of the greatest hits from the reel that rolled in my mind.

Countless Days in the Park with Perdita– Before my beloved Lexie, I had a Dalmatian named Perdita.  Living close to the park was great.  Perdita joined the “dog party” twice a day for a morning and afternoon play date.  Her two best friends were Winston, a great dane and Payton, a yellow lab.  I also remember Betty the pug.  Perdita loved all seasons and would run though massive amounts of snow in the winter and was never shy to take a dip in the lake in the summer.

Perdita in the snow in the winter of 1996.

A furry friend admiring Perdita swimming.

Bethesda Fountain – I have always thought this is one of the prettiest places in New York City and it is a great place to people watch.  The fountain is also known as the Angel of Waters and is one of the largest fountains in the city.  It is no surprise that it has served as a backdrop for many movies.

Bethesda Fountain

The Great Lawn – This 55-acre green pasture is in the center of Central Park.  I have many memories of catching some rays on the weekend, picnicking with friends and going to concerts.

I don't know the guy to the right...who said New Yorker's are not friendly!

Ice Skating at Wollman Rink – One of the happiest memories I have of Central Park is when my family visited me in New York for the first time.  We went ice skating…all of us.  I don’t really remember my family doing activities like that when I was young, but being in Central Park got us all on skates and gave me a memory of us enjoying an activity together.

My Mom and sister.

Back in the 90s.

The Boathouse Cafe’– This is a great place to have lunch especially in the summer. I often would go there with my friends that would be visiting from out-of-town. Another fond memory was seeing Blondi with my friends Monique and Dawn at the New Years Eve Party in 1997 at the Boathouse.  I still remember belting out Heart of Glass and Rapture!

Having lunch with Donna and Rebecca at the Boathouse Cafe'.

New Year's Eve 1997 at the Boathouse Cafe' with Dawn and Monique.

The Conservatory Garden– Two main memories come to mind when I think of the Conservatory Garden.  The first is taking my wedding pictures in the fall of 1998. All I am going to say about that is my friends and I still laugh about the my candid photographer and family drama.  The other memory that stands out is meeting my friend Jill when we would take a lunch break on the days we worked at Mount Sinai Hospital. She had no idea that she played an important role in the healing process of my divorce.  Thanks to her, I still enjoy the Conservatory Garden.

Monique touching up my make-up for my wedding pictures in the conservatory gardens.

All you can do is laugh.

The Conservatory Gardens really does make a nice backdrop for wedding photos.

The Zoo Visiting the zoo with my son will always be near and dear to my heart.  It is just a fun place to be and even more fun to watch his excitement.When he was little he liked the Tisch Children’s Zooand as he became older we visited the Central Park Zoo often.

Tisch Children's Zoo

My son with a Polar Bear at the Central Park Zoo.

Victoria Gardens – When the winter months come to a close, so does the Wollman Rink.  During the summer months Victoria Gardens appears and it is a fun family amusement park for young children.  This was always one of my favorite things to do with my son when he was young.

Victoria Gardens

Rock Climbing– Climbing the rocks located towards the south end of the park has always been one of my son’s favorite things to do.  He learned to conquer new heights at two and a half.  It still is one of his favorite past times when we are in the park.

Taking on the rocks at two and a half.

This past winter.

Playgrounds and Afternoon Snacks– With twenty playgrounds, there is always a place for the kids to be kids.  On a summer day there is nothing like splashing in one of the spray parks after playing in the sand.  Well maybe the only thing better is getting a tasty treat.

My nephew with a tasty treat.

My niece on the playground.

Model Boat Sailing – Between April and October, the best sailing in New York City is at Central Park’s Conservatory Water.  This was a really big hit with my son and nephew.  In the summer you can also sail these model sail boats that are for rent on Friday and Saturday night under the stars.  It is really cool to see the illuminated boats.

Sailing Away

Carriage Rides – Okay, I have to tell you I am really not a huge fan of carriage rides.  I feel bad for the horses and it is expensive.  I did succumb twice.  The first time was when my sister and kids came to visit.  I was recovering from foot surgery and it was a pretty easy way to get around the park.  Surprisingly, we learned a lot about the history of the park.  The second time was when I was in the park with my god-daughter.  Her big blue eyes swayed me and her smile sealed the deal.

A visit with the family.

Carriage Ride

I love Central park because it is a special place.  It has brought me and my family together at different times in my life and also has been wonderful oasis to gather with my friends and spend quality time with my son.

My Aunt who was visiting from Louisiana on one of the bridges with the upper west side skyline in the background.

 Do you have a favorite place that has brought your loved ones close together?

My parents in the mid 90s.

My son in the same spot in 2011.

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Did you know there are 77 floors in the Chrysler Building?

This past Saturday my family decided to kick off the winter break by embarking on a Stray Boots Urban Game in New York City.  What is Stray Boots, you ask?  It is an awesome family experience that is half scavenger hunt and half walking tour with your cell phone as your guide.   We love receiving expert knowledge of tours, but are not big fans of being tied down to a tour.  This urban game which is offered in fourteen cities allows you to “let your boots stray with your cell phone leading the way”.

Stray Boots offers thirteen different game zones.  Since my niece was visiting from Louisiana, we decided to choose the Bryant Park and Grand Central: Movers, Shakers & Skyscrapers since the area had the greatest number of major NYC attractions.  Here is some highlights of our adventure as we found sites by answering questions and completing photo-op challenges!

Ready to get started after a fabulous lunch at Bryant Park Grill

We started in Bryant Park and received our first clue via text message after entering our activation code.  We began looking for the man Bryant Park was named for and happened to be sitting pretty on the east side of the park.

The kids with William Cullen Bryant

Searching, we looked for the plaque on the statue for the middle name to answer the question and then learned that William Cullen Bryant was the driving force behind two other New York City landmarks – Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Moving on, we headed up 6th Avenue to 43rd Street and made a left to answer another clue:  What theater was once home to the League for Political Education?

The Town Hall

The Town Hall hosted many political speakers, such as 1st Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she spoke in defense of FDR’s New Deal.

Another clue lead us to dbBistro Moderne and we found out that you can eat one of NY’s most expensive cheeseburgers, stuffed with foie gras. Since we needed to find out how much it cost, we headed into the restaurant to ask one of the waiters.  We learned that it was $32!  We soon discovered that the $32 burger was just a drop in the bucket compared to eating at NYC’s most expensive restaurant, Masa, a Japanese restaurant in the Times Warner Center.  Dinner there can cost $300 to $500 per person!

Across the street from dbBistro Moderne, was the Royalton Hotel that was built in 1898.  As we searched to find what color the old-fashioned telephones were in the lobby we learned that the building was one of the first buildings in NYC to enable street-level passage from one block to the next.

Making a call at the Royalton

When we arrived at Grand Central Terminal we had to find something that was worth $10-20 million!  It turned out that the clock that sits on top of the information booth is GOLD…who knew?  We also discovered that Grand Central Terminal is a very romantic place!  The Biltmore Room was known as the “kissing room” since passengers coming off long-distance train rides like the Knickerbocker were met there.  Another romantic area was the rotunda outside the Oyster Bar, which has a whispering corner that is a popular spot for marriage proposals!

Grand Central Terminal

A VERY Expensive Clock!

Central Market where Murray started making cheese in 1940!

I was surprised to find out that after living in New York for almost twenty years that I was not aware of Library Way!  Library Way has 96 plaques in the sidewalk on 41st Street that contains the quotes of 45 writers.  After we found a quote by Thomas Jefferson we headed to the NY Public Library where we answered clues in the Periodical Room and  the Rose Main Reading Room.

Clue on Library Way

The New York City Public Library

The scavenger hunt took us about three hours to complete and at times it felt like the Amazing Race when we ran into other people also playing the game.  This game is great for families! Kids learn things without even realizing and it and the game truly was interactive and SO MUCH FUN!   We can’t wait to check out some of the other game zones in the future!

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