Our Trip to NYC
I recently returned from a trip to the Big Apple with my wife and it was simply amazing. We did everything. We had an amazing room overlooking Central Park. We didn’t break the bank. A dream vacation to NYC has always been something I really wanted to do and it was my 10th anniversary so I figured “why not”?
I had a few things that were a must: a direct flight not from LAX, a nice room in Manhattan with a great view, and a chance to see whatever I wanted to see and do whatever I wanted to do. On top of this, it all had to be in 4-5 days and not breaking the bank. I wanted to do at least one Broadway show and one of the late night talk shows (Jimmy Fallon preferred).
With this in mind I felt it important to search out the room first and after a lot of research I decided I wanted to stay on the park with a park view. Hotels like the Plaza, the Ritz-Carlton, and JW Marriott were a minimum of $3000 just for the accommodations. However, I found a great gem of a hotel wedged right in between them and right on the park, the Park Lane Hotel. The room that I got was an executive suite with a park view. Looking at the location and the fact that regular rooms with non-views at average hotels in midtown were more expensive, I decided that I had a winner. We were not disappointed.
I then added airfare from Long Beach round trip on Jet Blue from Long Beach airport, non-stop and no red eye. Airfare and hotel was done at a price which even frequent travelers to Manhattan would say is a steal.
A great place for a fan to get there fix would be tickets to a late night talk show; we were gunning for The Tonight Show. Unfortunately, Jimmy was not taping the week we scheduled. Not to fear, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was scheduled so I got tickets, for free, for the first night of our trip.
We flew from Long Beach Airport to JFK in New York on an afternoon flight that saw us touching down at 9:45 pm local time and headed to our hotel via the Air Train and the subway. Slice of Pizza and a root beer for a late night dinner.
Woke up and had a breakfast bar and some fruit that we brought and headed down stairs for a central park bike ride. It was an amazing experience riding through the park, seeing all of the sites that we’ve only seen in film and television. Movies like Home Alone, Keeping the Faith, and Ghostbusters all feature famous scenes from the park. Next we met my brother in law and his wife at the Ed Sullivan Theater for our date with Colbert. Kevin Love, Jenny Slate from Parks and Recreation and as special double performance from the re-formed Blink 182. I also met Rupert Gee who was a regular on David Lettermen’s show.
A walk through Times Square followed then moving on passed the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park, and Eatily (An Italian market). We found dinner at a pub called The Storehouse. We capped off the evening with a late night drink at McGee’s pub which David Letterman writers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas used as their inspiration for McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother. We headed home and slept.
With brother and sister in law in town we decided on a second, longer Central Park bike ride, this time circumnavigating the whole property. We saw the walkway where The Happening told us that the trees were rebelling against us because of how we had treated them. The four hour ride also took us past the Museum of Natural History, the place the attractions came alive in Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum. Following the ride we returned to the hotel to clean up and prepare for our 1st night on Broadway. We ate dinner at the 212 Steakhouse in Eastern Midtown. Thanks to Living Social we got a $60 food voucher which made our top scale meal relatively affordable. After dinner we headed to the Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial tram that goes from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and offers great views of the city. We then headed towards Time’s Square to see She Loves Me, the Musical that inspired the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail. It was great and Zachary Levi from TV’s Chuck was super nice and even took time to take a picture with me. He stayed outside the theater for a long time taking pictures with a long line of fans and stayed until the line was exhausted. That night we walked around Time Square encountering characters from Frozen‘s Elsa to Wolverine.
*Other travelers can take advantage of the Today Tix app and get discounts to other shows they want to and they can get around the same pricing as we received to see Phantom, Le Mis, or Chicago.
Hamilton has become a world-wide sensation with 1st Lady Michelle Obama calling it “The best piece of art I’ve seen in any form in my life”. Unfortunately for a fan that means soaring ticket prices with the lowest available ticket for a Wednesday AM show. Never fear, there is a lottery every Wednesday morning where they give out 21 front row tickets for $10 each. 704 people showed for the first lottery in June of 2015. As the main cast prepares to exit, that number rose to over 5000 when we decided to go. We waited in line for several hours but the odds prevailed and we failed to secure a ticket. We did however get to see Lin-Manuel Miranda get roasted by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog as seen below.
Hat in hand, we headed back to the hotel with a waking lunch. We bid farewell to my Brother and sister-in law and headed back to Central Park, this time for the Zoo; the famous zoo where Alex the Lion performs daily in the film Madagascar. Though not as big as one would imagine, it was a fun time and we even caught the special 4-D feature featuring the cast of Ice Age. We returned to our hotel and attended the free (included in the resort fee) appetizer and drink social. It was there that I surprised my wife with tickets to Fully Committed. This was an amazing one-man show and Ferguson was unbelievable playing over a dozen characters. Afterwards we purchased tickets to the “Top of the Rock”, a viewing center on the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center (setting of the Emmy award winning 30 Rock) that featured amazing views of the entire Island of Manhattan.
This was the day to make sure we crossed important things off of our checklist before we flew home. We took a 40 minute subway ride to Brooklyn Heights where we walked the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a 600-yard long platform that looks back on downtown Manhattan. It offers glorious views of the New York skyline and only cost a subway ride.
We headed next to the world trade center complex, the site of the 9/11 Memorial and the new 1776 foot tall building One World Trade Center. It was beautiful and humbling but was way too long of a line for us to go up. We hopped on the subway to Washington Square Park featured in I Am Legend with Will Smith. There we saw the arch which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and we waded in the famous fountain. From there we walked a mile through Greenwich Village where TV’s Friends lived and where many famous people actually live. This walk too us to the High Line Park which is a 1 and 1/2 mile park built 30 feet above the ground on an old, unused subway track. Many shows have had scenes filmed at the High Line including HBO’s Girls. When we finished the High Line it was time to start heading toward the airport. We walked back to Penn Station to catch the subway to Times Square where we purchased a couple of souvenirs for the kids, stopped by the hotel to pick up our bags, and hopped on the subway to return to JFK.
It was an amazing trip and one that I would recommend to anyone who want to see what NYC has to offer.