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 Advice for visiting New York?

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Natch

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Age : 66
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PostSubject: Advice for visiting New York?   Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:25 pm

Well, the decision has been made and my wife and I and our daughter (a senior in HS) are going to New York for five days over spring break. We've already got plans to do the usual tourista stuff, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (a very emotional place to visit), Circle tour on boat, the usual buildings, couple of shows, play chess with the old winos around Columbus Circle, etc. I worked in Greenwich CT for five summers a while back and had a lot of friends in City, so I'd catch the train to Grand Central and spend the night at least one or two nights per week all summer. My wife wants our daughter to see the big city, but mostly to show her how to navigate a large, urban area. Guess I'll have to show her how to get bums and panhandlers to avoid you when standing in Grand Central?

Any advice from you guys? We're staying in the Theater District (Edison Hotel on 47th between Broadway and 8th) and will be there from March 20 to the 25. Cheap restaurants? Unique tobacco shops? Any undiscovered gems of things to do you can pass on? Anyone know what the smoking laws are in NY these days?

Natch
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HistoryMajor

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:36 pm

Smoking laws suck, as far as I know. You may be able to find a cigar bar, but my understanding is they'll cost you an arm and a leg...

The only unique tobacco place I can think of is Nat Sherman...though I don't really know anything about them, since none of their products are available in Canada. There are likely a few Davidoff stores around, I would imagine, but other than that I am not much help...


Linky

Nat Sherman
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Puff Daddy
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:43 pm

I'd make sure I visited the Connoisseur pipe shop operated by the pipe carver Ed Burak.

http://connoisseurpipeshoponline.com/

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pipemaker

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:00 am

My advice would be to stay out of dark alleys at night..... and probably in broad daylight as well.

Mike B.
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Doc Manhattan

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:08 am

I can field the smoking laws question: Nowhere inside that's open to the public, with the exception of a few cigar bars and tobacconist lounges, and smoking rooms of a hotel. Outside, public streets are fine, as is anywhere paved in a public park. No "20 ft rule" here... yet. There are also some places where it's... peri-legal to smoke, i.e. odds are nobody's going to hassle you about it. That would be the beaches and greenspaces in the parks, outdoor Metro-North stations (NOT elevated subway stations though... subway officers are ticket-happy) as well as "sidewalk café" extensions of restaurants.

Tobacconists: De La Concha on 6th Ave (now owned by Davidoff, IIRC), Barclay-Rex, 51st & Lex, (nice lounge there), and Nat Sherman (which ain't what it used to be since it moved to the other side of 42nd and 5th).

For cheap restaurants, it depends what you want to eat. But a good rule of thumb is any neighborhood that you wouldn't dare go after dark in 1981 usually has a booming restaurant culture... Hell's Kitchen, LES, St. Mark's, W. Village.

A good cheap day out, if it's your thing, is to wander the art galleries in Chelsea, then gorge yourself on food from Chelsea Market (9th Ave. at 15th.) And if you go to the Met. Museum, save your passes and trek up to the Cloisters in Washington Hts., both for the museum and the park.

And... there's four other boroughs, too. Anything particular you want to do?
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Justpipes
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:25 am

Jeff,

Jo and I visited NY back in October and had a blast! Believe it or not one of the best treats was going to Coney Island and eating hotdogs at Nathan's out on the board walk. They've really cleaned that place up! We also had a great time just riding around Brooklyn one day watching all the people. We usually go to Little Italy but didn't make it that trip. It is a great place to vist as well as Delancey St. where all the sidewalk merchants are. Without a doubt though, one of the most moving experiences I've ever had was visiting Ellis Island. Jo's grandparents came to America through Ellis Island and we were able to research information on them and walk in their footsteps. A very moving experience! We both cried like babies! Embarassed Very Happy We also did the whole boat tour from Ellis Island over to the Statue of Liberty.

It will be an awesome trip for you and your family!
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Benjamin Button

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:26 pm

First off, you are staying in a great area. You could be there a month and not see all you wanted to. Stay away from Times Square for food. There is a lot of commercialized places (Applebees, TGIFridays, etc...) that charge WAAAY more than they should for the same food you can get in your home town and one of those places. Bubba Gumps isn't bad, but it's still a chain restaurant and a tad over priced.

If you are looking for some quaint, unique little places to hop around to for food, take a walk down 46th between 8th and 9th and you will see a ton of restaurants that offer traditional style food at a really good price. There is everything from Indian to Thai to Russian to Brazillian to classic US cuisine and everything in between.

If you like Thai: Yum Yum Bangkok - Absolutely delicious Thai, some of the best I've ever had.

If you like Brazilian: Brazil Brazil (at least go here for a caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian drink made from sugar cane)

If you like seafood: The Blue Point - amazing escargot, and really good drinks!

And on the corner of 9th and 46th (next to the Zen Palate) is a place called Breeze. It is an Asian Fusion restaurant that blends Thai and French cuisine. The drinks are outstanding, and the food is amazing.

All of these places are relatively inexpensive and offer some really great dinner or tapas style dishes that you can just snack on.

From the hundred or so times I've ventured out in the city, the best way to do it is to not set a schedule or agenda. Just go. Walk around. If you see something you wanna try, try it. See a place you want to go in, go. It's really hard to plan out a schedule of things to do and the city will dictate it's own schedule anyway.

Most important, just have fun!
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Natch

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:21 pm

Wow, great info, guys! You've hit on a number of things we want to do, and many I hadn't thought of (Nathans hot dog at Cony Island, great idea). One thing we definitely will do (as I have been informed!) is a couple of shows. I understand the half-price trailer in Time Square is now a permanent building? I also understand that you get in line a couple hours early before it opens for that days tickets? Anyone know how/where to get tickets at a decent price? I've used the concierge at the hotels in the past, but it's hit or miss as to the quality and price of the seats. Does anyone know when they open in the morning?

We booked the flight and hotel dates last night, so we have four full days to do whatever. My teenage daughter is thinking Macy's and fashion shopping, but my Mastercard is thinking strolls in Central Park and subway rides. Also, one morning I've got to go out to Jamaica Bay at sunrise and do some birding (best spot on East Coast of North America) while the girls sleep in or go shopping.

Thanks again, and any other suggestions?

Natch
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Doc Manhattan

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:36 pm

There are 3 TKTS (half-price) booths--the Times Sq. one opens in two "waves", 10-2 on Wed & Sat for matinee tix, and 3-8 every day for evening tix. Here's the whole info page. Some shows also do their own day-of-show cheap tickets for a select block (no more than 20 seats), so that's a possibility.

If you do Ellis/Liberty Is., you'll obviously have a great view of the statue and skylines, but if not, the Staten Island Ferry is free and gives you a different but also great view.
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JJPHOTO

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:06 pm

Natch, we've been up there three times and enjoyed it all. We're big foodies so that's usually the highlight of our trip. Some of our favorites were:

Tao - a japanese restaurant not too far from where you're staying

Nobu West - japanese again, best sushi I've ever had

Babbo - Mario Batali's restaurant downtown across from NYU, there's a nice wine bar around the corner, think it's called Otto's

Mandarin Court - it's a little dim sum place down in Chinatown that's great for lunch

Remi - Italian restaurant pretty close to where you're staying. It's reasonable, not too crowded, and the food/wine is excellent. We hit this place every trip.

There's a ton more, but won't go into all of that...

A cool place to go see if they'll give you a tour is the new Hearst Tower just north of the Theater district. It's an amazing building, and all the "green" stuff they've done in there is pretty unreal.

We also spend at least a half day just roaming around Central Park. It doesn't cost us anything and we always have great memories from our time in the park.

Also, program the number for Carmel car service into your phone. They're about the same price as a cab ride from LaGuardia into the city. Also, they've come in handy when we've been somewhere and couldn't hail a cab.
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Justpipes
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:52 pm

Natch wrote:
Also, one morning I've got to go out to Jamaica Bay at sunrise and do some birding (best spot on East Coast of North America)
Natch

Great idea Jeff! I did that while I was there back in October along Rockaway Beach. When you are there it is hard to believe that you are in NYC!
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adauria

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:28 pm

As the resident former-Staten-Islander, let me add that if you find yourself downtown (say, to see the World Trade Center, Battery Park, or to take the ferry to the Statue and/or Ellis Island), hop on the Staten Island Ferry located at the southern end of Manhattan (follow Battery Park or Broadway). Avoid it at rush hour if you can. Take a ride on the ferry to SI and back again (I spent 23 years of my life on that Island and, unless you are there in the Spring and want to catch a minor league baseball game there's little to do for a tourist).

Round trip will cost exactly $0 and take about an hour. You will pass the Governor's Island, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You'll also get a nice view of lower Manhattan and the whole harbor. If the weather is nice, sit outside. Get up and move around the boat for the best views at different times. Don't eat any of the food if you are on a ferry that has a concession - you will be sorry (though the new terminals on either side are pretty nice).

As for the area you are staying, I used to work about 2 blocks from there. All of the advice you've gotten so far is good. De La Concha is my favorite cigar shop, but Barclay Rex is great too (I prefer their Broad St location and lounge). Don't eat in Times Sq, but do visit - it is something to see. Also if you play a musical instrument make sure to check out the shops on 48th St just to the east of Times Sq.

Have a good trip. NYC is pretty safe these days, but the further west or east you go (as a generalization) the sketchier it gets. Use common sense. Remember that people who want to talk to you or accost you are invisible. Don't give money to anyone on the subway. Etc. etc.

Oh, and do get out to Katz's for a nice Pastrami on rye (there are a few other places like that that are also OK) - that's a real NY food I've had trouble getting good outside of the city.

-Andrew
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skaukatt

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:53 pm

Hey Natch,

Any time's a great time to visit NYC! You have already received a ton of great advice but allow me to add one more point of interest to you. If you absolutely must enjoy your pipe while dining, then you would not go wrong with a visit to the restaurant that the NY Pipe Club calls home, Florio's Grill and Cigar Bar. You can enjoy a nice Italian style dinner and enjoy your pipe. Here is some info:
http://newyork.citysearch.com/profile/7113284/new_york_ny/florio_s_grill_cigar_bar.html
http://newyork.citysearch.com/profile/7113284/new_york_ny/florio_s_grill_cigar_bar.html

Too bad you you weren't going to be here in NYC a week earlier, you would have been able to join us on Tues. March 10th at Florio's for our March monthly meeting and the NY Show (albiet in Newark, NJ) which is on the 14th.

Enjoy your stay!!!

Lou, NY
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Irene Adler
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:57 pm

New York is one of my favorite places. Though I haven't spent much time in the city, I did live up in the Adirondacks for a short while, and practically grew up in Northern NY. If you plan to have your own vehicle while you're there, you might consider spending one of the days on a road trip to Niagara Falls. It would be a whole day affair, but it's a trip well worth taking if you and your family are up for it. There are tunnels that take you underneath the falls, and a ferry that takes you to the pool beneath them, and the dining and shopping there are fantastic. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Niagara Falls

Also, you might consider taking your daughter to Broadway if she likes musicals. It's closing down and this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her, considering that it may not be around much longer. But that's assuming you guys enjoy theatre. I know not everyone does.

Definitely try to take her to ground zero. It's a modern piece of history that she'll actually be able to remember, unlike the memorials to things before her time. And I'm pretty sure it's free...which is always a plus in these not so financially great times. :-)

As far as food and whatnot go, I really couldn't tell you. I was a little girl the last time I was in the city. They have a fantastic zoo in the Bronx, but seeing as how your daughter is in high school, it might not be quite so much fun for her as it would have been a few years back. Granted, I still love the zoo and can't wait for my son to be old enough to enjoy seeing all of the different animals so that I will have an excuse to go. :-)

Hope that helps, at least a little. Let us all know how the trip goes!
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Natch

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:04 am

Thanks for the suggestions, Irine. I went to graduate school in Syracuse and backpacked most of the Adirondacks over the years. Niagra Falls is one of the most stunning places on earth and I hope to take the family there some day, but we can't make it this trip. We're looking at least two if not three plays while there, a major reason for the trip. Probably wait on line at one of the half-price booths the day of for tickets, but we're looking at other options as well. Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Fantastics (which we've all seen several times) and a few other options, (mostly some off-off Broadway odd-ball stuff) we're considering. West Side Story and Hair are opening this March, but ticket prices for big-name, new runs are way out of our price range!

Unfortunately (or perhaps not, considering the cost of parking the car in Manhattan!) we're flying into Newark (saved almost $150 in air fairs for the three of us) and taking a shuttle to our hotel. From there on it's subway, buses, and a few cabs and of course hoofing it.

Thanks also to all the "locals" for your advice, and one more question if I may. Transportation options? Subways work well, but a friend who was there recently said they bought a couple day pass on some sort of tourestia double-decker bus and used it to ride all over the city. Also, the best price I've found so far for a shuttle from Newark into the Edison was $51 for the three of us. Other options or advice on easy and cheap tsp. options to get around?

Thanks again,

Natch
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Irene Adler
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:54 am

Natch wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions, Irine. I went to graduate school in Syracuse and backpacked most of the Adirondacks over the years.

You're welcome. :-)

What school in Syracuse? I have a cousin who's doing his undergrad up there. :-) I was accepted to Houghton (which isn't all that far from there) but traded in an education there to move closer to my boyfriend (now husband and father of my beautiful baby boy :-) ).

:-) It's a small world.
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Doc Manhattan

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:55 am

For transit, you're not going to beat the price and flexibility of the bus/subway network. It's $7.50 for an all-day pass, or $2 per ride a la carte, with a 15% discount on passes over $10. HopStop and Google Maps both have integrated the MTA system, so you can get step-by-step "take this train to here then walk here" instructions (including planned service changes on HopStop.) I have no experience with the tourist loop buses, but the price of the Gray Line Bus ($44 for two days access to the whole system) is pretty high compared with the transit network.

Getting from Newark Liberty Int'l to New York can be done cheaper via the AirTrain monorail/New Jersery Transit commuter rail connection... but it's a hassle and you're minding your bags the entire time. I would say the extra $15 or so for the bus door-to-door is totally worth it.
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adauria

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:53 pm

+1 on the subway system as your best value in intra-city transportation. The sell Metrocards to pay your fare. If you are going to be taking more than a ride or 2 per day, check into the unlimited options (I believe they have a "fun pass" which works for a single day and a 7-day unlimited option), or you can just put cash on the thing if you aren't going to be riding the subway too much. Walking around Manhattan is always a good option, though, if the weather isn't particularly brutal. You'll always find interesting things on the way to where you're going.

-Andrew
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for visiting New York?   Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:49 am

I haven't been to NY since 2001, but I loved the time I spent there. (All told, about three weeks or a month spread over several visits) I've never done the SI ferry, but I do remember coming into the harbor onboard an aircraft carrier for fleet week.* We were on deck, and I was lucky enough to be on the side facing the city. The ship passed by the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of Manhattan. We had a stunning view of the WTC (this was in June or so. It's odd to think that that was one of my last views of those towers), and all of the island. Replicating that trip would definitely be worth a few hours.
Lombardi's is a must-visit if you like pizza. Canal Street is worth a visit, and you really must spend some time near Washington Square park. Near there is the Village Chess Shop, which should be on your list if you have any interest at all in that game. The tables and players featured in Searching for Bobby Fischer have been moved out of the park an into that store. If you want to be obliterated by a grizzled old Russian guy, this is the place to go.

New York has a nearly unlimited number of tourist destinations, but you should consider taking an afternoon just to walk around the city. Brooklyn, especially Sheep's Head Bay and Bay Ridge, is a great place to get a feel for how people actually live in the city.

*If you were at fleet week in 2001, and remember a bunch of Marines beating the crap out of each other in a martial arts demonstration, you have seen me.
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