So, she'll get to meet my family, and live in the squalor with us (setting expectations low helps guests to feel pleasantly surprised), but in addition to three days of being surrounded by books, authors, and people who love books and authors, Carrie is going to see New York City for the first time.
We've lived here in Connecticut for almost 6 years, and we love it. We love our small town, the country roads, the four seasons, but living within 70 miles of New York City is another reason that we absolutely adore where we currently live.
In preparation for attending the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, the heart and soul of publishing (isn't it?), Carrie has checked out some New York picture books. Check out her reviews over at 5 Minutes for Books. I tagged on a review for another really creative picture book featuring New York City as well.
There may be certain sights that you think you can't miss, and yes, if you have time, it's worth seeing the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, etc, but my love of New York City is in just experiencing the city.
Especially if you only have a few hours of free time if you are considering a conference or something, here's what I recommend. Get out. Walk around. Eat some local food. Some of my favorite NYC activities:
- Times Square -- of course! Just walk around. It's great in the daylight and at night. If you are looking for a place to take a load off and have a drink, there are plenty of places here for you to do this. The McDonald's on West 42 St (near Broadway) has a lot of seating on the second floor and floor to ceiling windows. There are a few Starbucks here as well. They can be crowded, but we've found that if you venture a block or two outside of Times Square, you can sometimes get a seat. There's one we like to go to that might be a 7th and 50th.
- Several locations in New York (Times Square, Bryant Park, Grand Central): Crumbs cupcakes. Yum. I'm a bit of a coffee snob, and used to go to Starbucks to get my coffee to accompany my cupcake, but
- Walk down 5th avenue -- from Times Square to Central Park (it's quite a walk). This is a must if you are there at Christmas when all the stores are decorated, but even if not, it's a nice way to experience the sights and sounds of the city.
- If you're hungry (are you beginning to understand me?), one of Amanda's favorite New York Experiences is to eat a "street dog." Stop at any cart and get a $2 hot dog. You can also get a pretzel or in some places k-bobs or gyros.
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and it's another chance to take a load off (we do a LOT of walking when we are there). You get a great view of lower Manhattan as you float away, and you go right by the Statue of Liberty. It's about a 20 minute ride. When you dock on Staten Island, you have to get right off and walk quickly back to the departing ferry, and you ride right back. Otherwise you get stuck in the terminal waiting for the next one.
- Ground Zero -- it's not worth seeing. There's nothing there. Everyone wants to see it and somehow give tribute, but it's a big construction site with a big fence around it so you can't even see in. However, if you do plan to ride the ferry, you aren't far from this area, so it would be an easy detour if you have your heart set on it.
- I'd be remiss if I don't mention Broadway shows (linked to all the ones I've seen). I love Broadway, and if you have time (and money) it's a great NY experience. You can stand in line at the TKTS booth to get a discount day of show, but you can get year-round discounts by signing up at Playbill.com. Giving them your email address authorizes you to use their discount codes. You can buy tickets in advance. It's awesome!
- And bookstores, I must mention bookstores too. The Strand is awesome. So great. They have new books, and then in the basement some discounted books (I have sort of figured out that they are promo copies, not ARCs but finished ones, that people sell). It's in Union Square, which is also a fun place to hang out and people watch (are you beginning to understand me?). Not too far away from The Strand (you can walk it), is an excellent children's bookstore: Books of Wonder. They sell cupcakes there too. I'm just sayin'. In addition to these unique stores, there are Barnes & Noble stores all over town, most of which contain a Starbucks Cafe inside, and sometimes have more seating than the others, so if you need to rest, get caffed up, or duck out of the heat, cold, or rain, it's a good option.