Friday, August 5, 2016

A Guide To Get You Started

I've provided my readers with some recommendations of places to go and things to see. I've also provided some tips and tricks of navigating the city. However, to answer all and any questions my readers may have, I have decided to compile a master list. I've compiled everything into 3 categories: logistics, food & drink, and sightseeing. So here we go, lets get started. 

Plane, Train, Automobile 

Penn Station 
Now for anyone planning a trip, transportation is one of the first things to be sorted out. 
  1. Driving (this option is especially appealing to those that live in the Tri-State area, or anyone who can handle a road trip.) 
  2. Train (taking a train from your hometown into Penn Stations through Amtrak is a great way to relax while getting to NYC.)
  3. Flying (although sometimes a more expensive option, flying into either LaGuardia or JFK Airport is a convenient option. Plus there are low fare airlines that fly into both options.

The next thing everyone figures out is where they'll be staying. In New York the options are seemingly endless, but finding the hotel that is right for you isn't as hard as it seems. It's important to remember to check websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, and others. (Hint: these can be used for finding cheaper flights too) Some things are important to keep in mind:
  • Price (costs can get steep in NYC, so make sure you find a hotel that is in your budget, after all, how much time will you be spending in the room? It might not have to be anything fancy.)
  • Reputation (now, while I just said the hotel won't need to be anything spectacular, it is important to find one that won't rip you off or give you bed bugs, so read reviews and don't go with anything sketchy.)
  • Location (it's important that your hotel won't be hard to get to, especially if you've been out exploring all day. It might be helpful to get a hotel that is in a central location to parts of the city you might be venturing off to.)
Here are 2 travel planning sites/apps that I always find really useful: 

Getting Around NYC

Now that you've made it, it is especially important to have some sense of direction. Taxi's are always an easy way in case you really have no idea where you're going, but they can get pricy. Uber is also a great way to get around and sometimes cheaper than taxis, I personally like using it at night if I don't want to take the subway. 

The subways may seem complicated, and sometimes they can be. You don't have to memorize every single stop each one makes, but knowing downtown from uptown is always a good start. Luckily for newbies, there are apps that make riding the subways a whole lot easier. 

EmbarkNYC is my personal favorite for finding out which subways to hop on or avoid. My favorite part is that it works offline, so if you've already entered a subway station you can still use it. 

Grabbing A Bite 

This list I'm about to give you could go on and on. I'm going to give a couple options that might work depending on what you're in the mood for. 

The Comfort Diner: Yes, I am recommending a diner, but it's the diner I had been looking for, for a long, long time before I came across this one. It's got the retro look that any old school diner would have and they served me some delicious pancakes at 11pm. There surprisingly aren't many places like this in NYC which is why it made the list. It's located on the corner of 46th and 3rd, so be sure to get over to check it out. 

Black Tap milkshakes 
The Black Tap: This is the place that has received all the buzz for their outrageous milkshakes. So if you're looking to experience something that you might not get back home, go here. They've got the Instagram and Snapchat worthy milkshakes, but they've got great burgers. Their menu is unique with a load of traditional and non-traditional toppings, so if you want the classic burger & milkshake meal amped up to the max, check this place out down in Chelsea. 

Pick A Bagel: New York City is known worldwide for their bagels and you can't leave NYC without trying one. I say to give Pick A Bagel a go, they've got a dozen different types of bagels, and dozens of toppings. Everything from Chocolate Chip cream cheese to a seafood spread can be added on top of a bagel here. The possibilities are endless. If you venture to the Upper West Side, make sure to make a pit stop here. 

The Smith: Brunch in NYC can be just as amazing as it seems on television and in the movies. If you know a good spot and grab a group of friends it's always a good way to spend a Sunday morning. The Smith has a few locations in Manhattan, and their brunch never disappoints whether you choose to go sweet or savory. 

Sights To See 

  1. The MOMA, Met, Guggenheim: Especially good for a rainy day, checking out an art museum is something that everyone should do when visiting NYC. Some of the museums throughout the city have pieces that are highly coveted and their changing collections are always extraordinary
  2. Central Park, The Boathouse: You have probably seen it on TV or in a movie, but checking out the pond and the boathouse that are often used as film sets is something you should want to do. You can feed turtles and ducks on the pond, and take rent out a rowboat to enjoy a nice, breezy afternoon. The boathouse even has a restaurant built in with outdoor seating that would be a great place to check out. 
  3. Central Park Boathouse 
  4. Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty: As a little girl, I always loved taking the ferry to see both of these landmarks, but it's great for people of all ages. Climbing up the steps of the Statue of Liberty might not be for everyone, but seeing it in person is. Plus, I loved looking up my great-grandparents up in the Ellis Island registry to find out more about my heritage, it's a great learning experience for anyone. 

New York is a massive city so I could add so much more to this list. But just to give you an idea of how major of a city it is, here is a video I found that really puts it in perspective. 

I hope this was helpful to some of you who may not know quite where to start if you want to visit New York City. This obviously isn't a full list of everything you can see and go, but it is a beginning to help give you ideas. No matter what you decide to do in NYC, just make sure you have fun above all! 

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

That's right, baseball season is in full swing and lucky for us New Yorkers we have not one, but two MLB teams. Whether you're a Yankees fan or a Mets fan, there is no excuse not to take a trip to see either of them in action. But just in case you aren't familiar to New York baseball, I'll give you a quick run down of both teams so you're no longer missing out.

The New York Yankees:

Yankee Stadium 
Known for their pinstripes, the New York Yankees are not only a staple to New York, but of America. Formally called the Bronx Bombers, Yankee stadium is still found in the borough. Getting to the stadium is as easy as taking the subway up to 161st street.

Citi Field 
The New York Mets:

The bright blue and orange uniforms of the New York Mets call for attention. The rivalry between Met and Yankee fans is most certainly real, but of course all in good fun...mostly. Their home, Citi Field, is located down in Queens. Once again, getting to the field is as easy as taking the subway down to Willets Point.

No matter what team you're rooting for, spending your day at the ballpark is never a bad move. The hotdogs, cheering, fly balls, and home runs are just some of the reasons why Americans are so in love with baseball. So go out and see a game, try to snag a game ball, you won't regret it.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Take A Trip To The Botans

As a Fordham student, I definitely need to give our neighbor, the Bronx Botanical Gardens a shout out. They do supply the university with most of our running water, so they probably deserve their own post.

As someone who loves the outdoors, this is probably one of my favorite spots to visit. During the school year I would often choose to run in the Botanical Gardens and enjoy the scenery. It has a little bit of everything, so it's perfect for people that might have different tastes.

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory 
The Conservatory is a gorgeous green house that holds a vast number of tropical plants. Walking through is an experience, it feels like you're walking though an actual rain forest! There are even Venus Fly Traps you can see in action, it's definitely not everyday you get to see one of those.

Daffodil Hill 
My favorite part of the gardens would have to be Daffodil Hill. It is exactly what it sounds like, a giant hill within the gardens where they have planted Daffodils everywhere. There are so many that walking on the grass isn't even an option. Walking through always feels so magical and brings out the flower child in me.

Bronx River Waterfall

Finally, this gem within the gardens, was one I stumbled upon by accident. The Bronx River waterfall happens to be located in the gardens, something I didn't know until I got lost for an hour or so. To find it you have to delve deeper into the gardens and actually go through the woods. Luckily they have some really nice walking trails weaving through, so it's not a difficult journey.

 Anyone who is interested in seeing a variety of gardens and landmarks should really check out the Bronx Botanical Gardens. If you're a Fordham student, hopefully you've already been or have a trip planned. There are no excuses, it's right across the street!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shake Shack: The Inside Scoop

Now in numerous posts on this blog I've talked about finding the "hidden gems" of the city and have not spent time talking about the well known spots. Today however, I need to talk about a New York City staple, because yes it is that good.

Shake Shack, a joint known for their burgers and beloved milkshakes, has New Yorkers hooked, myself included. California has In-N-Out, but New York has Shake Shack. They have the speed of a fast food restaurant, but flavor that exceeds fast food expectations.

I'm personally in love with a Shack Burger, keeping it simple with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce. However, burger options can definitely get more exciting than just that with options such as adding bacon or having lettuce replace a traditional bun.

Meal from Shake Shack
Their crinkle cut fries are the perfect addition to any meal. They have the just the right amount of crunch to the outside, and are topped with the perfect amount of salt. My mouth waters just thinking about them!

 Their milkshakes are a whole other ball game. They have traditional flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, half & half, but they get better than that. More unique flavors such as coffee, salted caramel, and even a flavor of the week make appearances on the menu. Right now the flavor of the week is Chocolate- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which is my personal favorite, so I highly encourage all of you to try it.

Shake Shack Milkshake

Shake Shack may be a chain, but they're a chain that I am a huge fan of, along with nearly every other New Yorker. If you have the opportunity to stop in and try their food, I recommend it, because you won't regret it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yes, It Is Possible To Get This Lost

You might be asking how lost one can get in Manhattan. It is pretty easy to get turned around, walk downtown instead of uptown, or hop on the wrong subway. We've all been there. Luckily with the Manhattan Grid, you can get yourself back on track. 

I get a lot of phone calls from friends asking "where am I?", "how do I get here?", etc. However, one phone call from a friend meeting me at my office after work was one I wasn't prepared for. 

I told my friend (the name I'll keep anonymous) to meet me at my office, located on 47th and 2nd. Not a terrible walk from Grand Central, only about 10 minutes. Now my friend is from Poughkeepsie, but has only been to the city a handful of times. She's familiar with the Metro-North, but only going home, not to Manhattan. I tell her she needs to be on Track 4 at the Fordham station and ready to take the 4:35. It would get her into Grand Central around 5 and she would walk the rest of the way to where I was. 

However, this could only go so smoothly with someone who is so unfamiliar with the city. I shared my location on my iPhone so she could get directions to my exact spot, making it easier on her. 

But no, I got a phone call that started with, "how do I get out of Grand Central, like how do I exit the building?" I was so thrown off by the question, but I did the best I could to talk her through it. Finally I just said, "find a door, walk out and text me what street you end up on." I couldn't verbally tell her how to exit the building and I was getting frustrated trying to do so. 

Eventually my friend found my office and we enjoyed the evening we had planned, but let me tell ya, I didn't know it would be that much of a struggle for her to get to me. From now on I meet her at a better location, but she proved to me it is possible to get that lost. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Rundown: The 5 Boroughs

Anyone visiting New York City should be familiar with the 5 boroughs. For anyone who has no idea what I am referring to, a borough can be defined as:
"one of the 5 administrative units of New York City".  
These boroughs are all different neighborhoods that make up the entirety of New York City. Now since it can be extremely helpful to understand each borough, I figured I would provide a bit of information about each one, so no one is blindly trying to figure it out for themselves.

Map of the 5 Boroughs 

The Bronx: The northern most borough, it is home to plenty of famous attractions such as The Bronx Zoo, Yankee Stadium and The Botanical Gardens. It is also home to Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus, which is so pretty it should be an attraction itself (but I might be biased). 

Queens: Home to Citi Field, baseball fans can come here to watch The Mets play at home. Foodies will also be happy because this borough is full of opportunities to try different cultures' native foods. 

Manhattan: The most well known borough when someone thinks of New York City. Visiting there means you can check out the famous Times Square or see a play on Broadway. However, this borough always has a surprise around the corner. 

Brooklyn: This borough is just as hip as it i depicted on TV, but everyone should experience it for themselves in person. It is the perfect place to find impromptu concerts. But if you're going for something that is in the headlines, The Brooklyn Nets can be seen playing at home. 

Staten Island: Many don't realize, but this borough is just a ferry ride away, and a free one too! It's the perfect spot for families to come for activities of all ages. Plus, the architecture and local gardens are definitely worth making the trip for. 

Hopefully, this helps give you a better idea of what each borough has to offer and can give you an idea of which ones you might want to check out the most. These descriptions are just the tip of the iceberg, so I encourage you to do some more research once you start narrowing down your options! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How To: Find The Perfect Lunch Spot

One of the first things I do when I get to work in the morning is start thinking about what I'm in the mood for at lunch. Yes, I know, thinking about lunch isn't exactly what I should be working on, but it is an important part of my day!

Here, I will show you step by step how I narrow down my lunch options to find the perfect spot each day- because yes, it changes daily.

Step 1: Make Google Maps your friend... 

Above is what appears based on my location: New York, New York. I have not typed anything in yet- just gone to on my internet browser. 

Step 2: Get Searching! 

Type in "lunch spots near me" into the search bar. You can of course change "lunch" to anything of your choosing, maybe "breakfast" or "dinner" based on what you want. The map automatically zooms in on an area near me, and restaurants automatically pop up.  

Step 3: Do Some Snooping...

Google provides details on each restaurant in your area- so be sure to take the time to check out photos and reviews! 

Google is a great tool that many people might overlook when searching for a bite to eat. However, Google keeps it clean and simple, making your search for the best place to grab a meal as easy as possible!