Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day Trips to New York City

Day trips to New York City are some of my favorite little trips.  There's so much to do in that city, that you never run out of ideas.  I'm sure that around the country, people are saying the same thing about their major metropolitan areas, and you'd be right as well.  When I lived out west, I couldn't find enough to do in Detroit or Chicago either.

The thing with New York is that there is literally something for everyone.  It's also a chance to take a walk in someone else's world.  If you ever wanted to try out a new nationality, or a new lifestyle, take a trip to New York. 

One of my favorite spots is Brooklyn, and one of my favorite places is Coney Island.  There's no better place on Earth to spend a summer day.  The beach is great.  The pier is great.  The rides are great.  The people are great.  And this year, there's a favorite that was ripped from our world, but has been reincarnated with another name.  Shoot the Freak has returned as Shoot the Clown.  We thank you clown, for bringing back our one and only favorite boardwalk game.  You can also still ride the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, go to the New York Aquarium, see the Coney Island Freak Show, and in general have a great time.  It's one of those places that gets overlooked sometimes, but Coney Island is a great day trip.
Now, the trains in New York City are the greatest in the world.  I'm convinced of this.  I've ridden many subways from Moscow and Paris to Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston.  I love the trains in New York.  They go everywhere.  They go to several burroughs, and all the best attractions.  Instead of sitting on a musty old bus or getting run down by a taxi, you have to take the subway and trains.  It's the best.
Another great thing about the New York Subway is the one thing that drives us all nuts on most subways.  I love the street performers.  New York has some of the best buskers around, and some of them have regular gigs right in the subway stations.  It can be a really great way to kill some time while you're waiting for you train home.
The museums are great, and the greatest one of all is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  You'd think that you'd spend the whole day looking at paintings and sculptures, but that's not true.  There's a lot of stuff there.  They have rooms set up to look like France and centuries ago in America.  They have military exhibits and even musical instruments.  There's way more than paintings there.  It's not as exciting as some of the interactive museums around, but it's a great way to learn a lot about a lot of historical things.

One of the best things about NYC are the ethnic neighborhoods, and none is better than Brighton Beach or Little Odessa.  Russian folk have settled here for decades, and there are still places where the printed materials are only in Russian.  The locals don't really expect tourists, since this is hands down the toughest neighborhood in the city to find.  It is an interesting way to spend the day, with Russian restaurants, grocery stores, other shops, and another great beach.  More and more they are sharing the neighborhood with the folk from India and the surrounding area, but it's still just like being in Russia without all the trouble with visas.

Chinatown in New York is famous.  And, it's one of the best places in town to shop for meaningless stuff.  If you want a purse or a pair of sunglasses, this is your dream spot.  On the other hand, if you want to try some fabulous Asian food of any kind, come on down to Chinatown.  I've had Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Korean, and a whole lot more.  After I eat and shop, I like to take a walk over to Columbus Park and watch the guys playing Mahjong and the folks practicing their Tai Chi.  It's always best there in the spring when the cherry trees are blooming.

If Chinatown is something that you find entertaining, go to the center of it and you will find the world's most famous Little Italy.  If you like Italian food, you need to go there.  If you like a great atmosphere, come on a warm summer weekend night when the fronts of the buildings are all opened  onto the street and the tables and chairs are spilling out into the street.  You can eat by candlelight while being serenaded by street musicians.  It's fabulous.

Then there's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Organization).  This little neighborhood is gaining a lot of popularity.  This place is pretty, quiet, artsy, and has great food.  If you want to get away, you can go down there, browse some art galleries and high end stores, stop at a great deli and go to what has become one of the best parks in the city.  The park alone has stretched under the Brooklyn Bridge to the far side with playscapes, gardens, and even an old time carousel.  The views of the bridges and the Manhattan skyline are fabulous.
It's hip, it's edgy, it's got all the best literary agents and comic book places.  It's Greenwich Village, where it's okay to be who you are.  The clubs here cater to many different groups, yes, including the gay and lesbian community.  The coffee houses are great, the bars are cutting edge, and the music still comes on vinyl.  Beat that.

And then, there's the parks.  New York City has some of the greatest parks in the world.  Of course, Central Park is it's shining pillar.  You can do all kinds of things here from boating to biking, to checking out the zoo, and watching Shakespeare.  There's so much to do that it would be an entire blog on it's own, but it is one of the best places in any city anywhere to spend your time.

So, this is just some of the great things to see in New York City.  I'll hit you some more later with this one, because there's always so much to say.  Enjoy!

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