Cherry Blossoms Are (Almost) Here

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Little darlings, it’s been a long, cold lonely winner, but now the cherry blossom trees are thisclose to blooming in our parks. Hooray!

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden reports that its first tree is starting to blossom. The BBG updates a map on the buds’ progress regularly, so you can plan the best time to visit.

Central Park also reportedly has a few blooms. The trees are located by the Delacorte Theater, on the southeast edge of the Great Lawn, the Reservoir, the Ramble and Bethesda Terrace.

And the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx also plays host to the Spring beauties.

FYI, you can expect the season to last about five weeks, so start planning now!

 

Five Reasons To Visit New York City In April

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April brings a little something for everyone. Here’s why you should come and stay with us next month:

1. In just a few weeks, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom. Central Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are key viewing spots, but our own Washington Square Park has its fair share of the springtime-announcing buds.

2. The Tribeca Film Festival. This year it runs from April 16th through the 27th and includes free community events like the Tribeca Drive-In, which screens family-friendly movies like Mary Poppins and Splash outdoor at Waterfront Plaza.

3. It’s opening season for baseball fans! The Yankees toss out the first ball on April 1, while the Mets get a head start on March 31st.

4. Car lovers can check out the New York International Auto Show from the 18th through the 27th. Visitors can drool over the fancy cars with no alternate side of the street parking issues to worry about.

5. The average daily temperature is about 60 degrees….oh-so-perfect for exploring the city.

Happy First Day Of Spring!

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It’s finally here, and this is–hands down–the best season to visit New York City. The locals are slowly emerging from their apartment caves. You’re not stuffing yourself and that bulky down coat into 10 inches of subway seat. Those boxy wind fortresses are slowly coming down from store fronts; gloves and scarves are being thrown into storage.

It’s going to be 54 degrees today in the city, people. I feel like Mother Nature is wagging a finger at us, saying, “See? I told you it was going to come!”

So shed a few layers and make a beeline out of your apartment or hotel. Here are a few tips on experiencing the best of what the city has to offer at this time of year:

Ride a bike up the Hudson River to the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. The lighthouse was made famous by the 1942 children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde Swift. Stop at the 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe for a beer and a burger along the way.

Head to a farmer’s market, a flea market or a street fair. Who cares if you buy anything? That’s not the point.

Check out the spring blooms on the High Line. Cherry blossoms, geraniums, tulips, and crocuses, oh my! Grab a Mexican chocolate ice pop from La Newyorkina or a brisket sandwich from Delaney Barbecue’s Smokeline to nosh on during your stroll.

Savor these extra hours of sunlight by sipping a cocktail outdoors at sunset.

Have a picnic!  Really, any park will do. Just grab a sandwich and people-watch, like all New Yorkers do. In fact, North Square can provide handy to-go picnic lunches to nibble across the street in Washington Square Park.

And finally, come visit us! We’re looking forward to seeing you!

 

 

 

 

 

Marching Forward…

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Buh-bye, February. It’s been real, but we’ve gotta go. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the city in March:

The New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show focuses on Key West, FL this year. The exhibition is inspired by a modernist Key West estate–its architecture is featured along with reflecting pools and soaring pergolas. There will be lectures, guided tours, Q&As with experts and musical entertainment. Oh–and orchids. Thousands of beautiful orchids. Runs through April 21st.

The NYC Tattoo Convention takes place from March 7th to 9th at the Roseland Ballroom, and features tattoo artists from around the world, piercing professionals, live entertainment and contests. Prizes will be given for Best Back or Chest Tattoo, Best Colored Tattoo and Best Overall Tattooed Person, among others.

The Armory Show, located on Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan is one of my favorites. The event showcases important artworks fo the 20th and 21st centuries. This year it looks to China, with a specially curated section devoted to Chinese contemporary art, featuring 16 galleries from Hong Kong and Mainland China. March 6th through 9th.

The New York International Children’s Film Festival helps answer the question, “So what exactly constitutes a kid’s movie?” Children and their parents can check out a host of unique and thought-provoking films geared towards young people. Workshops, short film programs and information sessions with the creators will round out the event. Runs March 7th through the 30th at various locations. For kids 3 to 18.

 

Last Call For Hot Chocolate!

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A few days ago I told you about a beer festival. Today, I want to turn all of you on to a fete of a different flavor:

The City Bakery, on 18th Street, has been holding their Hot Chocolate Festival the entire month of February. If you’re not familiar with this particular patisserie, suffice it to say that New York magazine feels that, “City Bakery is to hot chocolate what Katz’s is to pastrami.” Which we all know is a very, very good thing, right?

Each day, the fine folks at CB feature a different flavored mug of the yummy stuff. For instance, on Valentine’s Day they served “Love Potion Hot Chocolate”, and today they’re hawking “Peanut Butter Stout Hot Chocolate.”

If you haven’t been there, there’s still time. Here’s the schedule for the final days:

2/22: Banana Peel Hot Chocolate
2/23: Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate
2/24: Bourbon Hot Chocolate
2/25: Darkest Dark Hot Chocolate (Mmmmmmm!!!)
2/26: Rum Raisin Hot Chocolate
2/27: “Happy” Hot Chocolate

So far they’re keeping mum on the flavor they plan to feature next Friday in the festival finale. (Guess I’ll have to go check it out.)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Next Week Is Beer Week!

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Everyone knows that it’s Restaurant Week…but did you know about New York City Beer Week? Well, you’re about to…here’s the scoop:

The festival runs from this Friday, February 21st through March 2nd. Tastings, menu pairings and beer dinners will be held all week in dozens of venues throughout the city.

All sixteen local craft breweries will participate in the activities. Rockaway Brewing Company, Bronx Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery and Coney Island Brewery are just a few of the brands you’ll be tasting.

According to the New York City Brewers Guild, “The mission of the New York City Brewers Guild is to advocate for and promote awareness of its local brewing members; to increase the visibility of local beers through programs, events, and consumer education; and to foster a healthy, ethical and growth-focused craft beer industry throughout the city.”

And your mission? Tasting lots of different brews, of course!

The opening bash on Friday evening, in beautiful Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station, will feature all of our local breweries plus others from around the country.

Beer lovers should check it out!

 

It Was 50 Years Ago Today…

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Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know that today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ coming to America. (Just look at them…aren’t they adorable?) Our city is celebrating that fact with NYC Fab 50, a music festival featuring both tributes to the Beatles and tribute bands at several venues around the city:

Three Across The Universe Music Festival events take place at the Hudson Theater. The first will feature The Spin Doctors plus tribute bands Clube Big Beatles from Brazil, The Norwegian Beatles Band from Norway, HELP! from Mexico, Blurred Vision from Canada and Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra from Williamsburg.

Event 2 includes Lucy from Germany, Genetic Control from The Bronx, School of Rock from Manhattan and Two of Us from Italy.

The third show takes place tomorrow and is co-hosted by John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird from Liverpool. (“Juu-lee-aa…”), The Cavern Club Beatles from Liverpool, Morsa from Mexico, Dress to KISS from Italy, The Oh-Nos from New England, The Clover from Japan and Hal Bruce from Halifax.

The America Celebrates the Beatles: All Star Concert takes place tomorrow at Town Hall. Performers include Tommy James, Melanie, Chuck Negron, Marshall Crenshaw, Fred Schneider, Gene Cornish, Greg Hawkes, Ron Dante, Randy Jackson, Ian Lloyd, Larry Kirwan and Aztec Two-Step.

An added plus? All concert proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for New York City, Autism Think Tank and Children’s Music Fund…all worthy charites.

A few other events also commemorating the Fab Four are happening around town:

The Fest For Beatles Fans is the oldest Beatles convention and is held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel this weekend. This year will feature Donovan, Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer, Chad & Jeremy, Freda Kelly and Larry Kane. Click here for more info and tickets.

Plus, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is presenting Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles, a free multi-media exhibition this Sunday that includes memorabilia, recordings, video, photos and more. You can even leave your own impressions of The Beatles in an oral history booth. You’ve got plenty of time to catch this, as it’s on until May 5th.

 

I Hate Football. So What Now?

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Not a football fan? Frankly, neither am I. So I’m going to avoid the Super Bowl hooplah and do something (anything) that doesn’t involve watching large men hugging oval-shaped balls and tackling each other. Here are a few of my choices:

The Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival starts at 1 p.m. in Little Italy and makes its way through the streets of lower Manhattan and Chinatown. The hub of the whole party is at Sara Roosevelt Park at Grand and Forsyte Streets; there will be plenty of vendors, food and otherwise, catering to people of all ages.

The Morgan has an exhibit dedicated to The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beautiful and philosophical story in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The Little Prince: A New York Story examines the relationship between this charming book and our fair city, where much of it was written. The display also features the author’s only surviving handwritten draft.

Sunday is the final day to catch the Harlem Fine Arts Show at Riverside Church. (The exhibition runs all weekend.) This year’s show focuses on Martha’s Vineyard and features over 100 emerging and established artists from the island.

It’s Ground Hog Day! If you’re an early riser, head to the Staten Island Zoo at 7:30 a.m. and catch Chuck the Groundhog’s winter prediction. You can stay and have breakfast with him too if you’re so inclined. Or you can do what I would do and sleep in, then catch a screening of the movie Groundhog Day at noon at the Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg’s brunch screening.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Winter Jam NYC

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If you love the cold weather and all the outdoor activities that go along with it, head to Central Park tomorrow and take part in the Winter Jam, a free winter sports festival right here in the middle of Manhattan.

There will be sledding and cross country skiing and snowshoeing. (I’ve always wanted to do that. Basically because if you fall, you most likely won’t break anything, right?) There will also be lessons in skiing and snowboarding. You can bring your own equipment if you like, but there will be some available to use at no cost.

Doggie lovers should note that the event is partially sponsored by Iams, so there will be a canine salon and spa, where your pooch can get a free grooming and trim. And a Tail-gate cafe for snacks. (Get it?)

Funny enough, the Parks Dept. was spraying the area with manufactured snow when the storm hit this week–so ultimately we’ve got double the flakes!

The party lasts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enter Central Park at 72nd street and head to the Bandshell area–I’m sure you’ll see it right away.

And if you do go, please try to help those in need and bring a new or gently-used coat to donate to the New York Cares Coat Drive.

Have a great weekend!

Let’s Catch A Movie!

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Our fair city has a load of movie theaters; sadly, many of them are boring, generic multiplexes that you could find just about anywhere. But a few cinemas do stand apart from the pack…

The Paris Theatre: This old-school movie house is situated next door to the Plaza Hotel, on 58th St. Viewers take a step back in time in this single theater with an actual balcony. Yes, a balcony…didn’t think they made them anymore, did you? It’s the longest-running art cinema in the states and tends to show high-brow movies. (Vin Diesel fans will most definitely be left wanting.) Showing at the moment is Philomena, starring Judi Dench. (We do love Dame Judi so, don’t we?)

The Landmark Sunshine Cinema, on East Houston St. is a multi-plex indie theater that usually features avant-garde films. Currently offerings include Spike Jonze’s Her and Beyond Outrage, a film from Japanese action cinema master Takeshi Kitano. A cool promotion is aimed at moms and dads who just-need-to-get-out-of-the-house-oh-my-God-I’m-going-crazy…and their wee ones. Babies accompanying a parent gain free admission to the Rattle & Reel screenings on Wednesdays at noon. Just think: no babysitting fees, and no dirty looks when your kid tosses Cheerios on the person next to you.

The Film Society Theater uptown in Lincoln Center screens a nice mix of mainstream and indies, plus special themed series. Through 1/24, you can catch the New York Jewish Film Festival, featuring films from all over the world that showcase the Jewish experience. They also have a cool Dinner and a Movie deal–for 25 bucks, you get the flick, plus a glass of wine, a bag of chips and a sandwich! Beats Twizzlers any day!