New York City

New York City, The Big Apple: A mix of typical tourist spots and local gems.

My favorites of typical tourist places in NYC to visit (the first 4 on this list):
Central Park – This 843 acre section of the city has been an iconic landmark for tourism. A quick walk north of Times Square, & you can find refuge away from all the hustle & bustle of New York City streets. Wander around and take a seat on the many bleachers surrounding on-going softball or kickball games or take a stroll through the Central Park Zoo, and you’re bound to feel refreshed.

Central Park, New York CityGrand Central Station – One of my favorite landmarks in New York City. Standing at the top of the stairs, you feel a feeling of nostalgia .. even despite having a Starbucks, it takes you back in time to what New York was in the old days. It’s beautiful marble floors, and high ceilings make you feel as if you’re entering a grand ballroom for a dance in the 1800s, making it truly a sight to see.

Sorry no photo…

9/11 Memorial & Museum – 9/11/01:  The day where ordinary people did extraordinary things, is very well captured in both the memorial and museum that are located on grounds where the North and South towers of the World Trade Center once stood.
Recently opened in 2015, it is a humbling memorial of those that lost their lives in this terrorist tragedy almost 14 years ago.  It leaves you feeling both heartbroken for the loss of
these innocent lives, and proud of a city and a nation that rallied together selflessly on that day to help those in need.

One World Trade Center & Museum, New York CityBrooklyn Bridge – This passageway from the lower east side to Brooklyn is worth a walk. It provides a great view of lower east side, and if you are a photo buff like me, you will take many more photos of the this bridge and the surrounding area than you’d care to admit and have a hard time deciding which one to use as your desktop background.

Brookyln Bridge, New York CityOther honorable mentions:
Rockefeller Center – It’s tall, it’s got an observation deck where you can get pretty awesome views of the city, and it’s home to 30 rock & NBC studios.

Times Square – Home to ‘Ball Drop’ & what was home to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve is a swarm of flashy advertisements, wandering tourists, and familiar store fronts. Times Square is something you ‘have to see’ when you visit New York, but definitely not what New York is all about. If you really want to experience the Big Apple, then take my word for it.. these hot spots for food and drink will show you a taste of the real New York.

Times Square, New York CityHere’s a few local gems you should check out:
1. The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites – A hole in the wall craft brew bar with great appetizers and sandwiches, with a similar feel to Father’s Office in Los Angeles. Their are about 15 rotating taps of domestic craft brews and a variety of bottled beers you’re likely to find a good match for what you’re currently craving.  They have a good mix of IPAs, stouts, and blondes with a cider here and there as well.

2. Morimoto – Established by the famous Japanese iron chef, this modern decorated establishment in the lower east side offers a mix of fresh seasonal selections, sochu, sake, cocktails and more. If you are an adventurous eater, with a curious palate, then the omakase will leave you pleasantly puzzled and craving more (of whatever was just served to you by your waiter that sounded a little like.. huh?)

3. Katz’s deli – Made famous by the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ & ‘that scene’, this famous new york deli joint, has some of the most succulent, tender, melt-in-your-mouth, house-made pastrami & corned beef you’ve ever had.  In addition, you’ll find some great Jewish classics like matza ball soup with matza the size of a baseball & latkas hot off the flat top  PS. If you have no idea what ‘scene’ I’m referring to, then you MUST go rent or download it IMMEDIATELY and then make your way here. Try a pastrami sandwich or a corned beef reuben… you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

4. Mermaid Inn – If you like seafood (especially oysters), then make a 5pm reservation for happy hour and request to sit on the back patio. This hidden patio will make you wondering the following: “wow, am i really still in the city? … oh yea, definitely am, it’s squeezed in between 2 other buildings that were here before it” and “seriously these oysters are only a dollar a piece? how many rounds can i order at a time?… please and thank you!”

5. Cacio e Vino – This place is EVERYTHING I loved about the little places in Italy .. a small shop with homemade pasta that sticks out on the street just enough to not be in the way of passerbys.  If you haven’t filled up on oysters for happy hour @ Mermaid Inn,
then hit up this place for dinner.  It’s just 1 block from Mermaid Inn.  It has a good mix of classic Italian dishes like veal bolognese & innovative combinations like red beet gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Not to mention, our waiter looked like Javier Bardem (which my old college roommate couldn’t get enough of) & was speaking Italian to the couple seated just 2 feet from us.  This place is legit.

6. McSorley’s Old Ale House – BE WARNED of the following:
Light beer or dark beer brewed in house are your ONLY.. and I mean ONLY 2 options here for drinks.

You walk in, you can barely move & it’s overwhelming at first… Maybe not totally overwhelming if you went to a large state University and was familiar with the Friday and Saturday night swarm that was downtown… but either way, this place is packed.
Though it will look and feel like a place you can just sit down where you can, you WILL be directed by a guy in a grey suit who has ‘how to pack as many people as possible at one table’ down to a science.

You will wonder when this same guy in grey suit returns with your light or dark beer or both, how someone can physically manage so many beer mugs at the same time.
There will be lots of yelling, chanting, cheering and smashing of beer glasses
People watching is PRIME… I seriously could have sat there for hours watching