Greetings, all! It’s no secret I love to make local recommendations (I recently popped over to Cassie’s new blog adventure to chat about Queens eateries) so my heart positively pitter patters when I see the excitement start to grow for those bloggers heading to NYC for BEA. With over a month to go, I’m kicking off the BEA Part of It blog series (coming up on YEAR 3 — ah!) with a few friendly faces from around the interwebs and a little guidance on how to make the most out of your NYC getaway.
In the past, I’ve focused on beer & Broadway, caffeine & spirits, and more Broadway (are we sensing a theme here?), but I really wanted to focus a lot on budget this time around. NYC, like any desired destination, can be super hard on the wallet but there is certainly a way to have a blast and not feel like a pauper. (Let’s be real… I’ll be talking about beer and Broadway again because who would I be if I wasn’t?!)
Here we go…
your caffeine fix: Gregory’s. This coffee shop has plenty more locations than it did three years ago, and all of their pastries are made fresh. The best cup of iced coffee out there is the perfect way to jump start your day of sightseeing.
the highline. The Highline is an old railroad tack turned park, and it’s the perfect place to a) take a book and read b) chat endlessly c) discover there is actually some green in New York City. I love this spot for its views, the people watching, and how it almost feels like walking through a forest. It extended last year and you can walk from 14th Street to 34th Street — nice way to avoid the usual crowds on the street. Plus you can buy a lovely paleta or enjoy a brew. (Be sure to have some cash for the vendors.)
lunch break: Empanada Mama. Warning: the location closest to midtown is pretty small but waiting is so worth it. The food is delicious and it’s amazing how inexpensive it is. I wouldn’t necessarily go drinking here but they do have margaritas and fresh iced teas.
happy hour: The Pony Bar NYC. Last year during BEA, my two best friends from college were visiting and I met them here for happy hour. A true craft beer bar, they have a revolving selection and happy hour (4:20pm – 5:20pm) means all beers are a dollar less than usual. Worth checking out, for sure.
book stop: Book Off. Are we ever tired of books? I think not. The Book Off is a spot that buys used books, and you can usually find some gems in the $1 section. (They even take credit/debit cards so you don’t have to worry about having cash here.) I love to wander in here whenever I get the chance… and if you are in desperate need of something, you could always go to the Barnes & Noble on 46th and 5th. (Then circle back to Gregory’s which is nearby.)
dinner. John’s Pizzeria. This seems like SUCH a tourist choice, right? It’s located in the heart of the theater district but I don’t give a damn. I love the food, the crazy crowds — it’s my favorite way to experience New York sometimes. Pizza comes by the pie, it’s not a place where you have to linger and hang out if you don’t want to, and it’s worth the wait. (Some of my favorite pizza in all of New York and I take this very seriously.)
a show. As book people, I think we all understand how important it is to support the arts. There are ways to do this affordably too. I can’t emphasize this enough — if you are going to see a show and you don’t want to wake up early for rush tickets, please buy them before you come. The TKTS line is fun but it will also eat up some very valuable time in your trip (plus you don’t always know what will be available). My first tip is to go to BroadwayBox.com, a site that lists all the current discounts. My second is to check out this rush policy list and see which shows offer up discount tickets as the box office opens or by raffle a few hours before the show starts. Last year during the same weekend, we had no problem with early rush tickets so it’s a good time for you to try it too. My current recommendations (based on what I want to see, not what I’ve seen): Gigi with Vanessa Hudgens, An American in Paris, On the Town, and The Heidi Chronicles.
be fancy. THIS IS NEW YORK. Even though I’m all about spending wisely, please don’t come to NYC without having a ritzy cocktail. It’s going to cost more than you’re used to, I’m sure, but it’s so worth it because YOU ARE ON VACATION or SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO FEEL LIKE YOU ARE ON VACATION. Two stops: Library Hotel where all the drinks are named after famous authors (there’s a rooftop bar!) and also the Broadway Lounge in the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square.
I guess I did a good job if I’m jealous of this kind of day… because I’m definitely jealous of this day. I can’t let go that easily so here are a few runner ups:
- Pushcart Coffee on 25th Street: Wine, beer, coffee, and tea in one place. WITH SNACKS. It’s sort of remarkable and adorable inside.
- Oddfellows NYC: Until we get a great ice cream place near the theatre district (please!!!), I can’t say enough amazing things about this place. Fresh ice cream, fresh cones. Hands down the best ice cream I had last summer (and probably this summer too).
- Draught 55: I’m a broken record, I know, but everyone we take to this place really likes it… the food is spectacular, the beer selection is amazing (they also have a nice cocktail menu) and if you decide to skip a show on Saturday night, the happy hour from 8pm – 9pm is the absolute best.
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Enough from me… Brooklynite and debut writer of the charming THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY Bethany Chase was kind enough to share her top recommendation to those visiting NYC too: “My favorite suggestion for someone visiting NYC for the first time would be to go to the Met Museum on a Friday or Saturday night. The museum stays open ’til nine, and it feels wonderfully transgressive to wander around past all those dark windows, and with a much thinner crowd than usual. The Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian wing at night is a truly unforgettable New York experience.”
[Note from Estelle: her book would be PERFECT for your carry-on. Don’t forget to check out my review.]
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Thanks so much for hanging out today! I hope I’ve gotten you properly revved up for your trip (at least for today) because I can guarantee the rest of the series is going to make you wish it was the end of May right now!