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Day in New York City - Staten Island Ferry

How to Spend a Day in New York City

New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. The city brings in millions of tourists each year, both foreign and domestic. There’s no denying why this city is so popular. With such a rich and diverse culture, in addition to the breadth and depth of activities to choose from, New York is a great place for a visit.

There are countless ways to spend a visit to New York City. Leafcanoer, Daijie, recently shared a leaf titled “My Favorite Spots in NYC”, highlighting some of her favorite places to visit in the city. With so many things to do in the city, you can easily spend days or months exploring New York. But if your time is limited, here are five suggestions for spending a day in New York City.

Day in New York City - Central Park

Central Park
Start the day off with a walk through Central Park. Originally built in 1857, the park covers 843 acres of land across the central part of the island of Manhattan. Central Park offers a wide selection of attractions and activities for any visitor, all year round. Among the more popular attractions are the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Conservatory Garden, the Lake, and Strawberry Fields. Museums line the eastern border of the park, so you can easily spend hours soaking up history, art, or science.

Rockefeller Center
Once you work up an appetite, head over to Rockefeller Center for a bite to eat at one of the cafes in the area. Comprising of 19 commercial buildings, Rockefeller Center covers over 22 acres between 48th and 51st streets. The complex was originally built by the Rockefeller family in the 1930s. It now has grown to 14 Art Deco style buildings and five towers. Visitors to Rockefeller can enjoy watching a taping of the Today show, take a tour of Radio City Music Hall, or go ice skating at the skating rink.

Day in New York City - Rockefeller Center

Chinatown
Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through Manhattan’s Chinatown, which is home to the largest population of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere. Consisting of approximately 90,000 to 100,000 people, the neighborhood encompasses parts of Little Italy and a large part of the Lower East Side. Chinatown is filled with shops and restaurants offering food and goods from not just China, but other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Wall Street
When evening hits, head down to Wall Street to catch dinner and drinks with the city’s bankers and financial geniuses. Running across eight city blocks, Wall Street stretches from Broadway to South Street. It is home to both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. While visitors can no longer visit either of the stock exchanges to see the trading in action, they can walk along Wall Street and learn about the history of New York’s financial district. Many companies offer walking tours of the district, and visitors can learn about popular sites such as Trinity Church and the Federal Reserve Building, which are also located in this neighborhood.

Day in New York City - Wall Street

Staten Island Ferry
End the day with a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which shuttles passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island. Operating 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week, the Ferry is a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You’ll also be able to see views of the Lower Manhattan skyscrapers and bridges.

If you can only spend a day in New York City, the above itinerary is a great starting off point for future exploration of the city. However, if you have more time, take the opportunity to spend some time in each neighborhood in Manhattan and beyond. There are so many hidden gems in New York. The best part of traveling to New York City is discovering these gems.

To explore more of New York, check out the rest of Daijie’s leaf, or download the Leafcanoe app.

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Touring the World with New York Restaurants

New York is a city known for its cosmopolitan feel. Home to people from almost every country in the world, a trip to New York can expose you to virtually any culture imaginable. A great way to learn about another culture is through food, and in New York, global restaurants abound, from small hole in the wall restaurants, to large five-star dining establishments. Leafcanoer travelfreak recently shared his top places to eat and drink in New York in his leaf titled “The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Drinking in NYC.” Here are some highlights from that leaf, to get you started on your own global tour of New York restaurants.

Caribbean Flair
El Malecon, located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, has been serving up Caribbean food, particularly from the Dominican Republic, for over 30 years. The restaurant is famous for its rotisserie chicken, but diners also enjoy their mofongo, flan, and seafood. El Malecon prides itself on serving home-style food. For an introduction to Caribbean cuisine, El Malecon is a great starting point for New York restuarants.

New York restaurants - El Malecon

Authentic Yet Unconventional Chinese
Evidently, the best Chinese food is not in Chinatown, but rather, in Queens! Fu Run Restaurant in Flushing, Queens is famous for their traditional Chinese dishes originating from the Dongbei region of northern China. More rustic in style than the Szechuan style of cuisine typically found in most Chinese restaurants in the United States, one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is the Muslim lamb chops. The rest of their menu offers a selection of dumplings, noodles, and rice dishes, as well as meats and seafood. Fu Run Restaurant has won critical acclaim from publications like Serious Eats and the Village Voice.

New York restaurants - Fu Run Restaurant

Discovering Central Europe
A trip across the bridge to Brooklyn takes you to Milan’s Restaurant, which serves up genuine Slovak and Czech cuisine. With dishes like Hungarian goulash and potato pancakes, patrons of Milan’s Restaurant love it for its hearty meals. Milan’s Restaurant also offers a selection of Czech and Irish beer. The restaurant also sells specialty Czech and Slovak grocery items, for those interested in stocking up their pantry with the flavors of Central Europe.

New York restaurants - Milan's Restaurant

Classic Vietnamese Flavors
Heading back towards Manhattan into Greenwich Village, you’ll find yourself at Saigon Shack for a taste of Vietnam. Most Vietnamese establishments are known for their pho, a hot noodle soup with star-anise spiced beef broth. However, Saigon Shack also serves up other classic Vietnamese dishes such as bahn mi sandwiches, spring rolls and summer rolls. On this culinary tour of New York restaurants, a stop at Saigon Shack is worth taking.

New York restaurants - Saigon Shack

An Italian Institution
For classic Italian flavors, head to Alleva Dairy, a New York City institution found in Little Italy. Priding itself on being the “oldest Italian cheese store in America,” Alleva Dairy has been in New York since 1892, and continues to be a popular spot for specialty Italian cheeses and meats. Though not actually a restaurant, Alleva Dairy does serve up a delicious selection of Italian sub sandwiches. The store is family owned, with its founder, Pina Alleva, having emigrated to the United States from Benevento, Italy. Many of the cheese recipes created by Pina are still in use today at the store.

New York restaurants - Alleva Dairy

With such a global selection of New York restaurants, you can virtually take a trip around the world without even leaving the city! Essentially, that is the wonderful thing about New York City. The city is so rich in global cultures, it’s easy to expose yourself to the world, just by walking around the city.

For more ideas about New York restaurants, check out more of travelfreak’s leaf, or download the LeafCanoe app to explore other travel destinations.

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Dine out without breaking the bank in Hell’s Kitchen

Once a rough and tumble quarter full of Irish immigrants and hot dog carts, Hell’s Kitchen is now a fashionable Midtown neighborhood that boasts some of the best eateries on the isle of Manhattan. Its proximity to the theater district and the famed Actors Studio has long made Hell’s Kitchen a haven for the artistically minded, and now that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has made its home there, the area is even more of a hot spot for Manhattanites and tourists alike. But, you can’t drain your wallet every time you want a night out in the city, so here is a list of some of the best inexpensive (and fun) restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen that could please even the fussiest foodie.

Empanada Mama

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While Empanada Mama on 9th Ave has a full menu, including entrees, salads, and desserts, you really need to try some of their famous empanadas. With over 40 flavors to choose from, you will be able to satisfy your appetite for something savory with the Caribbean-style pork filled Brasil empanada, something spicy with the Spicy Chicken Empanada, and something sweet with the American as apple pie USA empanada. Allergies? Fear not, empanadas come in both wheat and corn flour. Picky eaters? There is a plain old burger on the menu too. All empanadas are priced between $2 and $3 each, which will leave you plenty of cash to try one of their delicious drinks too!

Stecchino

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 Stecchino’s is known for its Italian-style burgers. While you can grab an entree here, the best bang for your buck is one of the burger plates which range between $12.50 and $14.50. These burgers range from the adventurous, The Butchers Block pork and black truffle burger, to the aristocratic, Caesar’s Palazzo with shredded romaine and Caesar dressing. Each plate comes with a generous helping of the familiar and the unexpected, and every burger satisfies. IF by some chance you are still hungry after dinner, you can always top things off with a traditional cannoli for dessert.

Merilu Pizza Al Metro

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Pizza is always the perfect choice, whether you are dining with a large group or a small one, and New York always knows how to do pizza right. At Merilu’s you can go for a plain NY Pie for as little as $12 or a Prosciutto di Param Pizza for $23, or grab one of their delicious salads or homemade Italian dishes to satisfy your appetite. The folks at Merilu’s have a huge menu for you to choose from, and even offer gluten free options, because no one should have to live without pizza. You can round off the night with some Classic Nutella.

 

 

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Top 4 unique workout routines in NYC

Even on vacation, travelers who are always on the move will be looking for somewhere to burn off their energy. In New York, a concrete jungle full of tasty cuisine, hot nightclubs and attractions to explore, it can be easy to throw out your usual fitness routine. However, locals know that there are countless places to work out that are way beyond the realms of treadmills and aerobics. Here are some fun spots to meet others while burning calories in Manhattan.

Anti-Gravity Aerial Yoga

Have you ever gone to a Circe du Solei show and dreamed of flying through the air like the acrobats? A studio on west 37th street has developed an ‘Anti-gravity” method of yoga that uses similar hammock-like materials to suspend participants in the air. They go through moves typically found in yoga, but defy the elements and work new muscle groups, reliving gravity’s tension and pull. Jump into a class and quickly learn the ropes to have a blast working out.

Indoor rock climbing at Chelsea Piers

rock climbing

This gigantic indoor rock wall can be found at a big sports complex on the water, complete with ice rink, gold club and spa, to name a few. Have the expert staff teach you climbing basics, then work toward conquering the wall, which offers more than 11,000 square feet of fun to cover.

Try movement mixed with drama

Perhaps you’d like to avoid gym-like setting all together on a trip to New York City. Join other theater goers for a unique and interactive experience at Sleep No More, a Shakespeare play set inside a massive warehouse. This is not a vigorous workout, but it is a way to immerse in a play while walking and running through a live, haunting and theatric environment. Each performance lasts three hours, which is a great amount of time to be on your feet. Follow actors and let them actually lead you by the hand through room to figure out the story.

Simply have a run at Central Park

run

The biggest and most iconic green spot in Manhattan is a haven for fitness buffs. Connect with the Central Park runner’s group to stay safe and let them show you the best routes for running. See all the beautiful scenery of this area while energizing your body and getting away from the city for a spell.

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Top small music venues in NYC

Manhattan has some of the most creative and musical residents in the world. People travel from all corners of the globe to make it big as rockstars, on Broadway or anything in between. This gives everyone a chance to showcase their talents and also be witness to some incredible live music in almost every corner of the city. No matter if you are into rock, indie, soul, hip hop or even orchestral, there is a place for you to treat your ears to fantastic entertainment.

Beekman Beer Garden

beekman

Most people do not head to NYC for the beaches, but there is in fact a city man-made shore overlooking the East River that doubles as a music venue. The Beekman has featured acts such as Eric Prydz, Moe., and even George Clinton on the past to patrons hanging out on the sand and in glowing, funky chairs outside. More energetic travelers can enjoy the massive dance space, or challenge a friend to a ping-pong or pool game on the premises. It’s located off of South St.

Gramercy Theater

Live Nation is dominating in ticket sales throughout NYC and the country – so they’ve decided to take creating concert venues into their own hands. The Gramercy Theater was born out of an old movie theater from the 1930s and re-designed to accommodate about 600 music fans at once. Some bands coming up on the calendar include Bassface, Wheatus and Switchfoot.

Living Room

living room nyc

On Ludlow Street is a little gem that has a great coffee house feel and an intimate setting. Made famous by Norah Jones, the Living Room now features relaxed, singer-songwriter acts throughout the week. Some shows are so laid-back that the singer will make up songs on the spot, so guests can be sure they’re hearing completely original tunes. During the day, kids can even get in on the fun and hear some friendly jingles from famous rockers, like Nada Surf and the Hold Steady.

Jalopy

Capturejalopy music

Big lights and exciting bands are the draw to most NYC shows, but sometimes locals and travelers also want to get away from it all. Jalopy offers this ambiance on Columbus St. with its curtained stage and charming libations served in mason jars. People who get inspired can stick around for music classes as well, with instruments available to rent in concentrations of mandolin, ukelele, guitar and fiddle.

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Famous New York City Streets

Visitors in Manhattan are almost always gazing upward in wonder at the towering skyscrapers and flashy sights to see. But sometimes the best part of strolling through this incredible city is found right on the street – actually, the streets themselves. Most people, even if they haven’t visited New York City, can name a few, such as 5th Avenue, 42nd Street and Park Street. While travelers might only know these from playing Monopoly, each iconic pathway has a rich history, reputation and beauty to explore.

Wall Street

wall st

Some compare Wall Street alongside other incredible iconic places in the world, including La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain and Abbey Road in the U.K. However, this place in New York is not exactly a tourism hub, but rather is known for being the financial epicenter of one of the most powerful countries across the globe. Its origins date back to the 17th century, when a wall was constructed in the same spot to ward off invaders in the new land.

Broadway

boradway

This street is synonymous with theater and drama but it actually just means a ‘broad’ street in the literal sense. Although travelers can find many venues for shows right on this street, it also stretches for miles through the Bronx and into the rest of the state, ending near Sleepy Hollow.

Fifth Avenue

Shine up those credit cards and head to 5th to shop all day at some of the hottest boutique and designer stores in the country. Not only should guests pop into Saks Fifth Avenue for some clothes, jewelry or handbags, they can also visit other historic buildings, such as the St. Regis Hotel, the 5th Avenue Theater and the old Vanderbilt residence. More famous landmark on 5th Avenue every New York visitor should see are Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library and the Empire State Building, to name a few.

Lesser known notable streets

maiden lane

Although most of Manhattan has streets that are numbered, a few honor names of the past and provide interesting throughways to pass by when exploring. For instance, Utopia Parkway was named after the farmland was once purchased in the area, and Maiden Lane is said to be where women used to do domestic chores when New York was still a new settlement. Quaint restaurants and people watching spots now lines these routes, usually overlooked for larger roads in Manhattan.

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Give NYC theater venues a closer look

The shows inside New York’s theaters are the real draw, but many of these venues are a sight to see alone. Draped in historical significance and beautiful design, theaters that hold Broadway shows, intimate products and even the occasional movie are well worth taking a peek during a trip to Manhattan. Some even have tours specifically for the drama buffs and architectural aficionados.

The Beacon Theater

beacon

See rock and roll at its finest at the Beacon. It’s been the venue for recent Tony Awards and hosts a wide variety of concerts, such as The Allman Brothers and Duran Duran. The marquee shines bright, covered in old style flashbulbs. Some call it the ‘older sister’ to Radio City Music Hall. It has a deep history dating back to the 1920s that began with operas and musicals, especially because it boasts impeccable acoustics.

59E59

The layout of this venue is not the most impressive, but its three different theaters allow for a wonderfully intimate and unique show experience is such a large and chaotic city. Escape the streets and duck into this space, famous for its off-Broadway performances. Each space only holds a hundred or so guests, so they can have a truly immersive experience and connect with the actors. While big, flashy shows are thrilling, many wander to 59E39 for a different kind of performance.

David H. Koch Theater

theater

 

Ballet lovers and fans of classic performing arts will want to catch a show at this special area near the Lincoln Center. Since the 1960s, it’s been an iconic figure downtown, with an impressive front façade of white columns and a dramatic fountain area. Inside, note the elegant marble flooring and golf-leaf ceilings – an environment that warrants wearing your Sunday best for one of the spectacular shows on the bill. This is the official venue for the New York City Ballet.

The Ziegfeld

This is the place for flicks in the city that gives movie-goers a sense of the old school viewing pleasures. Covered in stunning red accents, chandeliers and sporting comfy seats, the features are limited and the space is often reserved for special events. Arrive a little early to admire the ambiance and watch the light fall for the film. Find it right on 6th Avenue for a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon escaping reality.

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A journey to the top of the Empire State Building

Travelers know they have really made it to Manhattan when they view it from above at the top of the Empire State Building. While it’s no longer the tallest or most modern around, it holds true to its roots and is well recognized worldwide for being a feat of 20th century design.

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What to Expect

Access is right on 5th avenue and towers over guests that enter through the glittering gold lobby. There are some lines inside and places to buy tickets for the observation deck. Travelers can get authentic souvenirs inside as well, but these can be bought more affordably on the streets too. People from all over the world come here, so it’s most likely you will where dozens of different languages talking excitedly about the experience. There is a security check too, so wear removable jackets and keep belongings to a minimum to streamline the process.

Who Will Love It

Anyone on a first or 50th visit to New York City can’t help but be blown away by the incredible panoramic views offered from the 86th and 102th floor. There are other decks to see the city from, but this is the best by far. It’s centrally located and easy to get to as well. Movie buffs will have a blast remembering countless scenes filmed at this location, including Sleepless in Seattle, Elf, King Kong and Bright Lights, Big City.

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Who Will Be Disappointed

It’s hard to be let down at a place with so much architectural beauty and history. But it can be tough to keep track of children on the observation deck, which can lead to a little stress. Tickets are very overpriced, due to its iconic popularity, so it can cost a family a couple of hundred dollars just to reach the top deck. When on a budget, this might want to be avoided, but the lobby space is free to visit.

Travel Tips

As this is one of the top places to visit in Manhattan, travelers will often have to battle long lines and grumpy staff members. However, after the sun goes down, the lines great diminish and the observation is almost clear. Have kids take a nap and bring everyone straight to the top after 9PM for great nighttime views and less hassle. In addition, buy tickets in advance to avoid lines further and zoom right to the top.

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Tips on moving about Manhattan

When travelers set foot in New York City for the first time, it can be tempting to simply hop in a cab to get to where you need to go. However, the city that moves hundreds of thousands of people around everyday has many options for traveling efficiently and easily. The LeafCanoe app can also assist by pinpointing your location and helping you decide which method is best to utilize!

Try the massive subway system

subway

Do not be intimidated by the New York subway system. It can bring visitors anywhere throughout Manhattan and to the surrounding boroughs, allowing for cheap and thrilling exploration. Grab a pass for the day or week and use it as many times as you wish. There are free maps available at most stops to help choose which like to take.

Use a taxi app and stay prepared

When a taxi is the best option for a quick and convenient ride, albeit a little more pricey, technology can help hail you a ride. There are plenty of these yellow taxis everywhere you roam, but if hoping to make a show or dinner reservation on time, travelers can use an app to have a taxi meet them in their exact location.

Walking is always an option

walking

The sun shine all through the spring and summer in Manhattan. With easy-to-follow numbered streets, it’s fun to stroll for a few blocks to take in the skyscrapers, bustling people and exciting sounds. This also gives the chance to use the LeafCanoe app while outside to spot interesting landmarks and choose a walking route that perfect for you. Hotels in Chelsea, the Upper East Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown and others usually have plenty of things to see and do that are centrally located and within walking distance. This includes restaurants, museums, theaters and festivals throughout the year.

Avoid driving if possible

Some travelers might want to drive to Manhattan. This can work great for a road trip, but finding a place to stash the car once you arrive is probably the least stressful option. Although the island is on a grid and easy to navigate, those unfamiliar with the traffic are prone to getting lost, accidents or not finding parking space. Most high end hotels will help you with your vehicle, or find a garage that offers special rates for multiple days.

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Have a cuppa at NYC’s top tea spots

High tea tend to be a British tradition where people enjoy some high-end snacks and herbal teas in the late afternoon between meals. it gives those a chance to catch up and indulge in a light meal with friends or family. When traveling around New York City, it can get hetic fitting in all the sights to see. Taking a break for a cup of tea can be the perfect excuse for slowing down and exploring some of Manhattan’s swankiest establishments at the same time.

Cha-An

cha=an

The Brits are not the only ones who have perfected the art of teatime. Japanese culture also holds drinking tea in high regard with similar, yet exotic customs to experience as well. At Cha-An, groups of four can reserve time twice a month on Sunday to witness a traditional tea cermony, complete with a selection of drinks and sweets, like the delectable apple cakes. It can be a refreshingly new way to have a Eastern-style tea break in the Big Apple.

Lady Mendi’s Tea Salon

lady mednis

The red carpet is really rolled out for clinets who have high tea at lady mendi’s. This is the place to see and be seen as a couple over a romantic and elaborate 5-course affair. It’s drawn out with each cucumber sandwich, scone, cake and hand-steeped tea being served indiivually so you can linger and savor the moment. Arguably one of the most popular tea houses in the city, it’s more high-end than most but also offers the most bang for its buck, and can easily subsitute a meal with all of it’s complex foodie offerings.

The American Girl Place

american girl

There might be nothing more memorable on a family trip to New York than time spent with your daughter. You can treat her to an unforgettable tea service at this girl-friendly restaurant inspired by the popular dolls. Treats are named after the dolls adventures and are easy to please choices for the younger crowd. Moms, daughters, and anyone in between who wants to join in can start tea time with a warm cinnamon roll and finish with anyhitng from fruite to cakes. Tea is served, of course, but lemonade, juices and hot cocoa are also on the menu.

Tea and Sympathy

tea and sympathy

It does not get more quintessentially Biritsh than this. If you need to brush up on your knowledge of UK food items like clotted cream, Yorkshire pudding and Scotch eggs, you have come to the right place. Electic decor and a no-frills, delicious and relaxing servcie is what makes this spot a favorite among residents and guests who wander in from out of town. There breakfast, lunch and dinner menu is also impressive if looking for a bit more to nibble on.

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