Guest Post: The “Best” Food in New York: Eating Along the Gray Line

Murray’s Cheese Shop

We’re often asked, “Where can I find the best…?”  Every New Yorker has a differing opinion on food, but frankly, some opinions are better than others.  That’s why we asked Arielle Mark of the excellent NYC Food Days blog for her opinion.  She’ has lived–and eaten–in New York City for years, so if anyone knows the top picks, it’s probably her.  Without further ado, here is an exclusive guest post from Arielle Mark:

“Where can I find the best…?” can be a very tough question indeed!

From pizza and hot dogs to award-winning wines and celebrity chefs, New York City has got everything a food-loving visitor could desire.  The Big Apple is a big star when it comes to fine dining, and has a rich history of food innovation, from a pioneer of molecular gastronomy to the birthplace of Animal Crackers.  But the sheer number of restaurants in Manhattan alone–and more pop up every day!–can be overwhelming for tourists with time constraints, visitors on a budget, or anyone who wants to taste the best New York has to offer.

If you ask a million New Yorkers–or eight million, for that matter–their opinion on “the best,” and you’ll get eight million different answers.  Everyone has their favorite spots for brunch, or a secret bakery tucked away that bakes the tastiest pastries they’ve ever had.  Even recommendations can be overwhelming!  But fear not, and worry even less: you may not hit every James Beard Award-winning bistro, or the most celebrated dive bars in town, but you can enjoy a meal at some of the most unique and interesting restaurants in New York–all within a few blocks of every Gray Line New York bus tour route!

The Gray Line Bus routes have been designed to show you the best attractions in Downtown Manhattan, Uptown, and Brooklyn, with frequent stops to let you visit each attraction and see the city at your own pace.  So not only can you hop off the busses at any time to take in the Manhattan sights, but the tastes as well!  Some of the most notable restaurants in Manhattan are only a few blocks from the Gray Line hop-on, hop-off points along their bus routes, so while you’re scoping out Central Park or snapping pictures of the skyline, heat out and chow down on some of the best and most interesting foods of New York!


Where NOT to watch the 4th of July Fireworks in NYC

Last week we gave you the 4 best places to watch the fireworks in NYC.  The list may have seemed a bit obvious, (ok, it was as obvious as it gets) but there were quite a few people who had asked for specifics (streets and tours) so we gave them.  And while many people may think that finding a spot to watch the fireworks is easy, don’t kid yourself.  There are many places that you may think are great for watching the show, but are either closed or have obstructed views.  So here is part II of our Where to Watch the Fireworks series: Where not to watch the 4th of July Fireworks in NYC:

Photo: Shutterstock

Battery Park

Battery Park has been put on the “not a viewing area” list.  Whether this means that the area will be closed to viewers or that the show won’t be able to be seen over the Financial District buildings doesn’t matter.  You just shouldn’t go there. (Battery Park City is also “not a viewing area”)

Hudson River Park Piers (except pier 84)

All Hudson River Park piers (except pier 84) will be closed during the fireworks show, so don’t try to find a spot there, either.  Yeah, it’d make for great viewing, but there’s no getting around the fact that they’re closed.  (Even if you’re feeling rebellious, don’t try to sneak into one of the piers.  You know security will be tight all day. You’ll just end up getting arrested, and a jail cell is definitely not a good place to watch the show.)

The East side of Manhattan

Maybe there’s a cool party on the east side or a bar with a great drink special, but heed this little piece of advice: There are some really tall buildings in New York.  If you find yourself a ground level on 2nd Avenue, you’re probably going to have an obstructed view of the show, at best.  This may seem obvious, but think about it while you’re making you plans.


Come on.  You’re thinking about watching from inside your apartment?  What’s the fun in that?  You don’t get to hear sounds of the crackling fireworks or feel the cool air of a summer night on your skin.  Maybe I’m romanticizing it a little bit, but the Fourth of July Fireworks show is more than just pretty lights in the sky.  You need to get all senses involved to fully capture the spirit of the night. (The exception to this rule is if you’re in a really tall, really cool building with big windows.  I bet the view from 60 stories up it awesome)

Ok, so you’re probably thinking to yourself that this list was obvious too, and it was.  Don’t stand behind big buildings or in places that it’s illegal to stand.  But it was still necessary to put out there.  You know that one of your friends will suggest watching from one of these locales, so if this helps even just a few people, I’ve done my job.  Enjoy the show and celebrate responsibly (since you’re probably working on Thursday).

(UPDATE: The High Line will close at 6 p.m. tomorrow, so don’t go there for the show)

Know of any terrible places in NYC to watch the fireworks? Or good one’s for that matter? Let us know in the comments!

**Correction: the original version of this blog stated that the Hudson River Piers were all closed, when in fact it was meant the the Hudson River Park Piers are closed. 

Catch a Ride to the Woodbury Common 4th of July Summer Sale!

From June 29th until July 4th, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets will be ringing in summer with their annual 4th of July Sale!  You can shop at over 220 designer and brand name outlets at the world-famous Woodbury Commons, and with this sale you can enjoy extra savings on top of the 25-65% off that you normally see!

We run bus transportation to and from the outlets, so don’t worry that they aren’t in the city.  We have buses leaving Port Authority as early as 7:15 a.m. and returning to the city as late as 9:26.  Take advantage of the great summer sales at Woodbury Commons and book your trip now!

Outlets include:

  • Burberry
  • Coach
  • Dior
  • Giorgio Armani
  • Gucci
  • J.Crew
  • and more!

*Get hundreds of dollars in additional savings with a complimentary coupon book when you book your trip*

Book a day trip to Woodbury Commons

Visit for more info on the sale

This Weekend in NYC: NYC Pride Parade

Each weekend, we like to tell you what’s up in New York.  This way, when you finish your bus tour or you’re just hopping off, you’ll know what to do.  Here’s what’s happening this weekend in New York City:

US Air Guitar Championships: New York City Regional

Tonight, the Bowery Ballroom will host the first stage of what many call the most exciting invisible music competition on earth.  Test your skills against the best local air guitar talent and if you are lucky enough to win the Regional, you get to compete for the national championship in Denver in July!  If you are crowned US Air Guitar Champion, you then get to compete for world domination in Finland in August.  But if you don’t head over to the Bowery Ballroom tonight, those dreams will never come true.

Pride Parade

On Sunday, New York City will host the world biggest celebration of gay pride.  The March, which has taken place every year since 1970, will feature Cyndi Lauper as its Grand Marshal.  As you may know, Cyndi is a Gray Line New York Ride of Fame inductee, so we are very proud of her this weekend!

SmorgasBurg gets a SmorgasBar

Arguably the best Saturday afternoon market that New York City has to offer is just over the East River in Brooklyn.  SmorgasBurg is a great way to spend the afternoon in Williamsburg with tons of local vendors.  This weekend, SmorgasBar opens up, providing ice cold beer for the inevitably hot dog days of summer.  Stop by, check it out and tell us what you think.

If you have any weekend tip or just some questions looking for suggestions, email us at 

Where to Watch the 2012 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC

image: Shutterstock

Spending the Fourth of July in New York City is one of those magical moments you’ll never forget.  Watching the bright colors exploding over the Empire State Building and the brilliant NYC skyline is an image that is so beautiful that 50 years from now it will still be burned into your mind.  Everyone in the world should get to experience it at least once in their lifetime.

One of the most common questions that tourists and residents alike have been asking is about a place to watch.  Where should I watch the 4th of July fireworks from?  Well, we’ve done the research for you, so here is our list of the best places to watch the Fourth of July firework show in New York City:

4. Riverside Park

Macy’s has said that the barges that will shoot off the fireworks will be positioned from 18th street to 48th street on the Hudson River.  This means that the further north you go, the less likely you are to get a good view.  Riverside Park is definitely a downgrade from the block party that will be Twelfth Avenue, but if you can get a spot at the very south end of the park may be worth checking out.  The NYC Parks Department will stop letting people in at 4 p.m., so get there early.

12th Ave will be closed at 2 p.m.
Image: Google Maps

3. Twelfth Avenue

Twelfth Avenue and the northbound lanes of the West Side Highway between 22nd and 59th will be closed to traffic at 2 p.m. and open to pedestrians.  Show up early and hang out with the crowd as you gear up for the big show over the Hudson, but don’t bring any backpacks, coolers or lawn chairs because police won’t let you in.

2. A Rooftop

Does your apartment building have rooftop access?  Do you have a friend that has rooftop access?  Enjoy the fireworks with an elevated view from the middle of Manhattan.  Fill a cooler with some ice cold beer, grab some friends and enjoy the privacy of your rooftop for the show.  Don’t worry about showing up early to get a good spot.  Just relax and have fun.

1. Fireworks Cruise (SOLD OUT)

While Twelfth Avenue will provide an up close view and your buddy’s roof could be a relaxing experience, nothing will be more fun or spectacular than a Fireworks Cruise on the East River.  Watching the show aboard a boat from the East River will not only give you access to a bar and live music from a DJ, but it will also give you the best view.  Not only do you get to see the fireworks, but you get to see them crack above the New York skyline.  From anywhere in Manhattan, Jersey will be you backdrop, but aboard a special Fireworks Cruise, you get the best view in the world.

July Specials and Events (Sneak Peek!)

We’re only two weeks away from July and it’s time we let you in on a little secret.  We’re going to have a couple events/discounts for you to save your money and have a blast.  Let’s take a look at what’s on the agenda for July:

10% OFF the 9/11 Memorial Tribute Tour

In honor of the 4th of July, we’re giving you 10% off the 9/11 Tribute Tour purchased during the first week of July (1-7th).  Enter the code JULTRIBUTE at checkout and enjoy all of the perks of this most patriotic of packages.

Hot Summer Nights Deal

It can get so hot in New York City during the middle of July, but once the sun goes down the fun comes back out!  We’re taking $10 off the Night on the Town Tour for the whole month of July!  Any Night on the Town tour that is purchased between July 1-31 will receive this special discount.  Just make sure you type in the code JULSPECIAL at checkout to get your $10 off.

July 4th Fireworks Cruise

We’re sending out the ships for a magical evening on the Hudson to watch the always elegant Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks.  This special once-a-year event will feature a bar, a food menu and a live DJ to help set the mood.  Tickets are on sale now and going fast!

For more insider information, sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will give you the best deals in town!

This Weekend in NYC: SoupMan Makes Soup

Each weekend, we like to tell you what’s up in New York.  This way, when you finish your bus tour or you’re just hopping off, you’ll know what to do.  Here’s what’s happening this weekend in New York City:

Lobster Day Friday!

Lobster Day with SoupMan

Friday is National Lobster Day and there is no better way to celebrate than with half-priced lobster bisque from The Original SoupMan.  That’s right; the real soup seller who inspired the eternally famous Seinfeld character is going all out for Lobster Day.  50% off lobster bisque, $2 off lobster rolls, outdoor music… We even hear that there’s going to be someone in a lobster suit hanging out with the customers!  Stop by their location on 55th and 8th between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. for the best soup you’ll ever try.

*No guarantee of being served unless ‘the rules’ are strictly followed*

Northside Festival


The Northside Festival has been called “Brooklyn’s answer to SXSW,” and beginning Thursday night, it looks like and awesome time.  Venues for Northside include Brooklyn Bowl, Music Hall of Williamsburg, the Knitting Factory and more!  There’s only 12 hours left to buy an advance music badge (written at noon) so hurry.

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

So I guess Monday isn’t technically the weekend anymore, but the HBO Bryant Park Film Fest is cool and I wanted to talk about it.  On Monday night there will be a free screening of the Hitchcock classic, Psycho.  Every Monday until the end of August more great films – from Butch Cassidy to Indiana Jones – will be shown.  Here’s the full schedule