Saturday, August 16, 2014

Here are Some Tips for New York City part 1

I've been living on the East Coast for a long time now, and I can say with great conviction that if you go to New York City and only see the things that you hear about on TV, you've really missed a great city.  I know that it's customary to go to Times Square and the Empire State Building.  I know that everyone feels obligated to go to the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.  I realize all of this.  You could spend a week seeing Broadway Plays and touring 30 Rock.  It's easy to do.  It's a wonderful way to spend some time.  But, if you want to see New York, you should get out there and mingle.  See what the locals see.  They like to go out and do things to.  You should learn from them.  I do.

It's summer, and I've made a point to talk about beaches, so let's start with Coney Island.  It's old, it's famous, it's a landmark, and it's one of the places that I highly recommend you go when in New York.  Coney Island is found at the end of the yellow and orange subway lines in the very south end of Brooklyn.  Always take the subway.  There are maps of the subway for sale in places like Grand Central Station on the lower level at Hudson News for $5.00 if you need a hand with directions.  Coney Island has been through a lot of changes in recent  years.  They were hit by a superstorm and had a turnover of landlords on the premises.  What has come out of all the havoc, amazingly is a new and improved Coney Island.  You still have Nathan's and the Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone and the Circus Sideshow, but you also have a whole lot of new rides and attractions.  There's no end to the fun, the food and the view.

If you spend time on this beach, you will see a lot of things.  You will see people from all over the world.  You will see some great kites, great sights, and a lot of ships passing by.  New York is one of the busiest ports in the world, and it all passes right by the beach at Coney Island.  While you're pondering whether or not you should take a ride on the world famous Cyclone Roller Coaster, take some time to visit the New York Aquarium, which sits right at the end of the main boardwalk.  There are lots of things to do at Coney Island, although, if you wanted to shoot the clown, you missed it.  I was a bit disappointed, because that was the craziest carnival game I ever heard of, but it is gone.  If Coney Island isn't quite enough beach for you, hop back on that train for a few stops and stop and Brighton Beach.  This one, known as Little Russia or Little Odessa for many years is quite a beauty too.  In addition to the beach here, the whole area is signed in Cyrillic and most of the folks are from Russia.  Here you have Russian gifts, Russian Food and the National Night Club.  If you like drag queens, stick around for the show.

Now, once you've been to the beach, head on back toward Manhattan.  But, stop in DUMBO along the way.  This is only a blue line trip away on the subway.  Check your map. Home of one of the best parks in all of New York, DUMBO or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Organization, is a little community that sits right under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  This place is a great place to stop for a snack or meal and take in some art galleries.  They also have a great park that runs underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and has some views like none you've ever seen.  The views of the Manhattan skyline are breathtaking and the views of the bridges are amazing.  They have an antique carousel in the park too that's a can't miss.  But that's not even the main attraction here.  My favorite activity in the city is to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge.  You just can't get a better view of New York.  It's an amazing walk, and I recommend it almost more than anything else in the city.

So, you've landed back in Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. After you visit the South Street Seaport--you can't miss it right underneath the bridge--and seen some interesting shops and street performers, hop on the green line subway, head all the way to 59th street and walk a couple of blocks east.  This is where you catch the tram to Roosevelt Island.  Roosevelt Island used to be primarily a mental institution.  The Octagon is the notable remnant of that period.  Now, it's a whole city, full of luxury condos.  When you land on the tram which follows the Queensboro Bridge and has amazing views, you'll see a visitor center.  Anything you need or want to know about the island, you can learn there.  On Roosevelt Island there's a red bus.  This is how you get around.  It's free, no matter what you've read.  I like to go to the parks and the center of town.

There's a lighthouse in the park at the north end of the island.  It's great.  You can see all kinds of things from there.  But, there are walkways all around the island and you get the most amazing views of the city from all over.  It's a great relaxing way to spend some time.  If you get hungry, stop at Gristedes Cafe at the supermarket and have a relaxing sidewalk lunch.  If you own a camera, you need to visit this place.

So, Coney Island, Roosevelt Island.  Any questions?  I'll spend a little more time on telling you my great tips for New York, but these are a few.  I'll be back on this topic in a few days.

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