Month: May 2013

107 Things To Know If You’re Visiting NYC This Summer

New York City, Top of the Rock

Transportation

  1. The subway costs just $2.50 per ride, and can get just about anywhere in the city.
  2. Save your metro card because it’s a $1 additional fee for a new one
  3. If you’re staying for a week, you should buy a 7-Day Unlimited Pass which is good for unlimited subway and local bus rides for $30.
  4. The subway runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
  5. When waiting for the train, stand behind the yellow platform edge strip.
  6. Don’t try to hold the door on the subway. People will hate you.
  7. Don’t block the doorway on the subway. People will hate you.
  8. Let people off the train before getting on.
  9. If all of the subway cars are crowded except for one, which is empty, get on the crowded car.
  10. You read that right, don’t get on the empty car. There’s a reason it’s empty.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings
  12. Trains usually run local or express, so if you are unsure you may want to ask a person or choose a local train
  13. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going before you swipe your card, you can’t get a refund using the subway.
  14. It can become very crowded on the trains. You will be surprised of the capacity.
  15. If you want a taxi cab, stick out your arm
  16. Taxis tend to go out of service around the afternoon rush. Plan accordingly.
  17. When catching a taxi you should get one in the direction you are going, it will save time and money
  18. The Staten Island Ferry is free

Food

  1. The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is on July 4 on Coney Island
  2. Smorgasburg is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon
  3. Four star restaurants have long waiting lists. Make your reservations now.
  4. There are about 42 million fast food restaurants in NYC, but you shouldn’t go to any of them. At any given moment you will be within a 5 minute walk of low priced, better tasting burgers/chicken/tacos.
  5. Our dollar slices probably taste better than what you’re used to, but if you really want good pizza, the extra money is worth it.
  6. Don’t be afraid to try the pretzels at the hot dog stands
  7. Food trucks are awesome
  8. Parked! Food Truck Festival will make your taste buds dance which is usually every August
  9. Vendy Awards will be back in September
  10. Restaurant Week serves great prix fixe meals and usually lasts for several weeks in August

Music

  1. musicianCity Park’s SummerStage is totally free
  2. The New York Philharmonic will drop by parks in all five boroughs for free shows in July
  3. So will the Metropolitan Opera
  4. Good Morning America and the Today Show host free concerts every Friday morning
  5. Governors Ball Music Festival is June 7-9
  6. The Northside Festival is June 13-20
  7. Electric Zoo come to NYC August 30-September 1
  8. The CBGB Music Festival is October 9-13
  9. Blue Note Jazz Festival is from June 1-30
  10. Sunset on the Hudson is June 7th-August 23rd on Friday evenings
  11. Greenwich Village is known for having great live music

Arts

  1. The Comedy of Errors is free in the first session of Shakespeare in the Park
  2. Love’s Labour’s Lost, A New Musical is free in the second session
  3. The Intrepid is a museum on an aircraft carrier, which is awesome
  4. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has priceless pieces of art
  5. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre has some amazing shows with cheap prices, too.
  6. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is known for its unique building and is also a landmark of NYC
  7. Brooklyn Museum has some eye-catching art too
  8. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has a lineup of amazing concerts, plays, and films throughout the week
  9. If you love spoken word you will have a good time at any poetry cafes in Manhattan
  10. Harlem has some historic libraries, great dance schools, and art too.

Shopping

  1. 5th Avenue has top of the line products, and prices to match
  2. SoHo has less expensive clothing stores and trendy boutiques
  3. Chinatown has incredibly cheap prices, and products to match
  4. South Street Seaport is a great place to shop and eat on the harbor
  5. Union Square is one of the most popular places to shop.
  6. Greenwich Village is filled with designer labels.
  7. Herald Square has almost every chain store there
  8. Macy’s on 34th Street is the world’s largest department store and a registered NYC landmark.

Parks

  1. Central Park is the largest park in Manhattan, but the 5th largest in NYC.
  2. Brooklyn Bridge Park has an incredible view of the Manhattan Skyline.
  3. Riverbank State Park is a great park too including a gym, pool, places to barbecue, and kids facilities
  4. The High Line is an old elevated railway converted into a park
  5. Battery Park has a beautiful water front and some summer concerts
  6. All of NYC’s parks are free to enter
  7. Bryant Park has a reading room, ping pong, games, carrousel, free ice skating and chess.
  8. Here’s a list of parks with free WiFi
  9. Washington Square Park is never a dull moment there always entertainment to watch like break dancing and artists.
  10. The parks are closed from 1 a.m. til 5 a.m. Breaking this curfew will get you a $40 ticket

5pointz

Attractions

  1. The Empire State Building has observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors providing one of the best views in Manhattan
  2. At the Statue of Liberty you can be able to walk from the ground floor all the way to Lady Liberty’s crown that provides you with an amazing view of the city
  3. Apollo Theater in Harlem is one of Harlem’s landmarks and offers Amateur Night on Wednesdays
  4. Botanical Gardens provides family activities and hands on gardening too
  5. Flatiron Building has a lobby where you can see historic photographs and notes hanging from the wall
  6. Yankee Stadium has a museum in the stadium about the fascinating history
  7. 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is a great place to view if you love spray-paint art
  8. Times Square is the heart of Manhattan favorite tourists’ places!

Other Free Things

  1. Many Museums, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have a suggested donation to enter, but you don’t have to pay anything at all. If you can afford to, you should pay the requested amount so that these museums will continue to be some of the best in the world.
  2. Oh, and you should check out The Cloisters as well
  3. Superfree Wednesday is a free comedy show at Peoples Improv Theater
  4. Sony Wonder Technology Lab is free for the kids with fun workshops on video games, movies, and music

Other Important Dates

  1. The Statue of Liberty will reopen on July 4
  2. Manhattanhenge falls on May 28/29 and July 12/13
  3. Saturdays in August, 5th Avenue shuts down for Summer Streets

Pro-Tips

  1. Even numbered streets run east
  2. 5th Avenue is considered the center of the city. Any address like E. 42nd street is east of 5th, and address like W. 42nd street is west of 5th
  3. The numbers on the lights in Central Park refer to the closest cross street
  4. When hailing a taxi
  5. If it’s sunny and raining, that’s probably air conditioner sweat, and you should move
  6. Download a city/subway map to your phone. One less awkward thing to carry, and you don’t have the “tourist” look every time you need directions
  7. It’s safe to get lost on the street on New York, it’s fun in any neighborhood and you get a chance to explore parts that a tour guide wouldn’t typically show you.
  8. If you happen to see a person having trouble standing because of age or an infant, the subway etiquette is to give up your seat.
  9. Be prepared to do the most walking you ever done in your life. Wear comfortable shoes.

Miscellaneous Tips and Facts worth knowing

  1. manhattanhengeThe 4th of July Fireworks will be on the Hudson River, not the East River
  2. Don’t forget to take pictures of things. NYC is a beautiful city and worth sharing with your friends back home.
  3. When you take these pictures, if you abruptly stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk, people like you a little less. Don’t do that.
  4. Try not to text while walking.
  5. Think of walking like driving: If you’re going to walk slowly, stay to the right. If you want to walk fast you can “pass” on the left. The same rule applies for standing on escalators.
  6. Always carry some cash. You won’t need it everywhere, but you will need it more than where you’re from (probably)
  7. Tipping for quality service is a nice thing to do, and being nice is totally awesome
  8. Remember New York City can be very expensive, so spend wisely so you can be able to see a lot of what New York has to offer
  9. New York City is divided into five boroughs-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island
  10. Streets run east/west, avenues run north/south (in Manhattan)
  11. SoHo is south of Houston (pronounced HOUSE-ton) Street
  12. TriBeCa is the Triangle Below Canal Street
  13. If you ever need help with something, just ask someone. Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers tend to be very nice
  14. Don’t worry about the cat in the bodega, it’s there for your benefit
  15. Wherever you’re from remember that the food costs doubled compare to the price at home
  16. Be prepared to see anything on the streets on NYC.

Photo Credit:
Top of the Rock: GLNY / Kevin Lawless
Musician: Flickr /marniejoyce
5Pointz: Flickr / Nelson Minar
Manhattanhenge: Flickr / MichaelTapp

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Grand Central Terminal Walking Tours

grand central terminal

Grand Central Station is the center of the universe, at least for the 20+ million people who go through the terminal each year. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in NYC and one of the largest transportation hubs on the planet. This year, Grand Central Terminal celebrates its 100th birthday, and there’s no better time to admire the incredible building.

You can now enjoy a walking tour of Grand Central Terminal at your own pace. Try out the Grand Central Audio tour now and let us know what you think!

Photo Credit: Flickr / Nouhailler

Review: Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

flight deck

Every Week, Gray Line New York will be highlighting a “Partner of the Week” on our blog. We are going to provide a review for a new partner’s product and share our own insights and experiences. This week, our Partner of the Week is the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

If you like exploration, inspiration and excitement, the Intrepid is the museum for you. This Sea, Air, & Space Museum, all located on the aircraft carrier, The Intrepid, gives you the opportunity to learn and experience US history from the past century. Positioned right on the Harbor, I personally think the Intrepid is one of the most uniquely located museums in all of New York City because it has beautiful views of the water on one side and the city on the other.

Captain's Bridge

Captain’s Bridge

Separate from a traditional museum, the Intrepid offers indoor and outdoor experiences like no other museum I have been to. After going quickly through security, I immediately stepped onto the large pier where the ship is docked. It was a beautiful day so I did not rush to get onto the ship/museum and I walked to the end of the pier where a British Airways Concorde was located. It was cool to see because this was one of the only airplanes featured that I could actually touch and walk under.

From there I finally boarded the Intrepid through one of the four towers. This took me onto the Hangar Deck, which is all indoors and filled with countless artifacts and history. A portion of this deck is an exhibit known as the Exploreum. I felt that this is worth noting because of the hands on activities. You could sit in the cockpits of fighter jets, lay in the ships bunk beds and experience a 4-D motion ride, just to name a few. I could tell a lot of kids were especially enjoying this section but that doesn’t mean I didn’t.

wwii navy artifacts

WWII Navy Artifacts

After the Exploreum fun was over, I went outside to climb up to the Flight Deck. Here, the entire outside top deck was filled with airplanes and helicopters, each with their own bit of history. I looked at and read about Fighter Jets from the US Navy that were part of wars such as, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and World War II. At the center of this deck I was able to climb up to the Captain’s Bridge. I thought this was one of the coolest parts of the ship because even though it was small, it still seemed like one of the nicest parts. I walked through the control room and the Captain’s Sea Cabin. It felt like one of the most exclusive parts of the ship and I think that’s why it was so appealing and exciting.

After that, I had two more decks to explore- the Third Deck and the Gallery Deck. These decks were inside and completely opposite from the Hangar Deck because it was a lot more closed in, filled with narrow hallways and doorways to climb through. Here, I was able to get a feel of what it was like to be working on the ship. I saw numerous cubbies with bunks and bathrooms, the kitchen, lounge and cafeteria rooms. It was fascinating to see how everything fit, even though it was so crammed.

As I was making my way off of the ship, back onto the pier, I realized that I loved this museum because it was so unique in a way that each deck was completely different from the other. Whether it be outside or inside, or open spaced or closed spaced, this kept the museum constantly exciting and gave off a real feel of the actual boat. I enjoyed that I felt like I was on an exploration rather than formally walking through an organized museum. It is needless to say at this point, but if you enjoy exploring and are looking for an adventure, the Intrepid is the place to be.

Pro Tips:

  • Bring sunscreen for warmer days
  • Bring Jacket for colder days
  • Exploreum for kids and the whole family
  • Bring a camera for a lot of pictures
  • Some sections you can only get to via stairs, but mostly elevators are provided

To pre-purchase tickets for the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, visit our website now: Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum Tickets

Review and photos by Megan Ryan

#GLNYchat is Taking a Break

glny, glnychat, #glnychat

Every Thursday since February we have proudly hosted #GLNYchat on twitter. It has been a great place to discuss timely topics and their relation to NYC with our internet friends and we are thankful for everyone who joined us. Today, we will be taking a break.

The chat will be going on hiatus, effective immediately. We are going to take some time off to regroup and analyze our chats so that when we bring it back, it will be better than ever. #GLNYchat isn’t dying, but rather it’s recharging.

I hope that each and every one of you has enjoyed the chats, and if anyone has any suggestions for changing the format or theme or style of the chat, now is the time to let us know in the comments. This chat is designed to benefit everyone, so don’t hesitate to make your voice heard.

What Time are the Fourth of July Fireworks in NYC? (And Other Tips For the 4th)

fireworks, 4th of july, nyc, skyline

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC over the Hudson River

Every year, New York City puts on one of the best 4th of July firework displays in the country. If you plan on spending Independence Day in NYC, here is everything you need to know:

What time do the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks begin?

The 37th annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 4th.

Where in NYC will the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks be held?

The fireworks display will be held over the Hudson River in Midtown Manhattan. The barges that launch the pyrotechnics into the sky will sit in the river from around 20th Street to about 50th Street.

Where should I go to watch the fireworks?

12th Avenue will be closed down to traffic and serves as the front row seat to the show. We would also highly recommend finding a rooftop somewhere in Manhattan to sit on, heading over to Jersey to watch the show from the cliffs of Weehawkin, or boarding a harbor cruise for the show.

What time should I go to watch the fireworks?

12th Avenue will close to traffic likely around 2 p.m. at which point people will begin lining the street. If you want a great seat, you should get there early.

What are the pros and cons to watching the fireworks from each recommended location?

  • The best view is probably from a harbor cruise on the water. Those are running for about $149 which includes some food, music, a cash bar and is an all-around fun time.
  • The closest view which is free is on the West Side Highway. You have to get there early and alcohol is not permitted on the street.
  • A Manhattan rooftop is a great choice, because it’s free, and you can typically show up 10 minutes before the show without any problem. The challenge is finding a rooftop that allows access. Also, once you find a place, it’s probably illegal to drink alcohol on said rooftop.
  • I’ve never been to Weehawkin for the 4th of July, but there is no better view of New York City than from those cliffs. Surly the fireworks won’t disappoint, though everyone from New Jersey will be trying to find a spot in Weehawkin to watch so you can expect a crowd.

Where are you going to watch the fireworks? Do you have any other tips? Let u know in the comments, and we’ll update this post accordingly.

Photo: Shutterstock

Review: Radio City Stage Door Tour

radio city, nyc, new york city

Every Week, Gray Line New York will be highlighting a “Partner of the Week” on our blog. We are going to provide a review for a new partner’s product and share our own insights and experiences. This week, our Partner of the Week is the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour

I wasn’t sure what to expect during the Radio City Stage Door Tour, but needless to say I was excited. I arrived at 50th and 6th Avenue, quickly went through security and the tour began right on time. I was satisfied with the organization of the check-in and security process because everyone was extremely nice and enthusiastic to get our group into the tour on time so there was virtually no waiting around.

radio city stairs

Radio City Music Hall Main Lobby

This tour was a guided tour from start to finish with a small group of people. The tour guide first directed us into the Main Lobby of Radio City Music Hall. Here we learned all about the interior design of the lobby, how it came about and how it got its shape, color and design. From there, we walked down the stairs into the Grand Lounge. As you can see in the pictures below, the Grand Lounge has a darker feel to it with dim lighting. I thought that it was interesting to learn that in the 1930’s and 40’s, people use to come off of the subway, directly into this lounge. The darker colors and dim lighting were used to quiet down the guests, as opposed to the red and orange colors of the inviting Main Lobby.

We took an elevator to the Upper Level Seating and sat in the back rows of the theater to take it all in as a whole. From this seat, I was able to cherish the vast, unique beauty of the theater. One feature that caught my attention that the tour guide discussed here was the acoustics designed in the theater. He explained that there was not one bad seat in the house. In addition to no columns, the walls and ceiling are designed to clearly send sound from the stage all the way to the back row. From where we were sitting, we could clearly hear the workers on stage moving around.

radio city costume room

Costume Room

After this, we were finally taken back stage to see things from behind the scenes. We were taken into the Roxy Suite, a VIP room where the performers and musicians hang out in before they perform. It felt cool and exciting to be in the same room that countless famous people have been. Also, with its colors and furniture, this room was one of my favorite features of the tour.

Down the hall from this suite was a screening room where I was given a chance to sit in original seating from the theater from 1932, and watched a short film on the history of Radio City Music Hall. A majority of the film focused on the formation of the world famous Rockettes. Right after, we were surprised with the opportunity to meet and talk to an actual Rockette.

Radio City music hall,  Roxie Room

The Roxie room

We continued our journey through hallways and stairs and came across the costume room that displayed clothes from Rockettes and other performers. It was cool to see where the costumes and clothes are made and designed, each in their own individual way. There was also a hallway near here that displayed a long timeline with information and pictures of the Rockettes and Radio City that went from 1927 leading up to today. The evolution was amazing to see laid out like that. But more importantly what I thought was fascinating was seeing how some of its history has not changed at all.

There is so much history and uniqueness in Radio City, which I never would have known before my visit. My fascination and wonder behind this theater only increased as the tour continued. I can definitely say I left there with more information than I thought possible. I have been to shows at Radio City in the past, but the Stage Door Tour offers a completely different experience.

Pro Tips:

  • This tour is completely guided and lasts about an hour long
  • Photos are welcome, so be sure to bring your cameras!
  • This tour is especially good for music and theater fans because of the history
  • There will be some minor stair climbing, but elevators will always be available
  • You get a special opportunity to meet a real life Rockette. You might get a little starstruck, so think of some things you want to ask her before you begin taking the tour

To pre-purchase tickets for the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour, visit our website now: Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour Tickets

Review and photos by Megan Ryan

Mother’s Day in NYC 2013

A Central Park picnic for Mother's Day?

A Central Park picnic for Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is coming up and if you haven’t yet, it’s time to start planning. Luckily for you, if you will be in NYC on May 12th, we have a couple of suggestions for you. Here’s the Gray Line New York guide to Mother’s Day in NYC:

For The Outdoor Mom

The mom who loves the outdoors might not be thrilled about being in the big city for her special day, but did you know that NYC has over 1,700 parks and playgrounds? As shocking as that may sound, that’s not a made up stat. Our recommendation, take mom to The High Line to experience one of Manhattan’s most unique parks, or maybe just head to Central Park for a picnic.

For The Sporty Mom

Who said the ballgame is just a Father’s Day tradition? Take mom to Citi Field for a game against the Pirates.

For The Hungry Mom

Brunch. New Yorkers love their brunch, because it’s breakfast, and it’s lunch. At the same time.

Taking your mom to brunch is as nice a thing as you can do for the woman who brought you into this world. Remember to think ahead, because Mother’s Day is one of the year’s big brunch days, so you may need to make a reservation.

For The Music Mom

If your mom is one of those people who always has music playing, than you’re in luck. The Bayou n’ Brooklyn Music Festival will last all weekend, closing on Mother’s Day.

For The Tourist Mom

You have been living in New York City for a year since you left your Ohio roots, and mom is finally coming to visit so that she can spend Mother’s Day with her favorite child. Mom has never been to Manhattan before, so you know that she’s going to want to see everything. No problem, just hop on a double-decker bus tour for the weekend. Tours include Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and a nighttime route. Mom will love you forever.

Does your mom not fit into one of these categories? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update our recommendations for you.

Photo: Flickr / patrickhashley