A Christmas Story, Acqua Beauty Bar, American Museum of Natural History, 40/40 Club, Il Mulino Restaurant New York, Il Mulino Atlantic City, The Lion King Musical, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, The Mark Hotel, The Marriott Marquis, New York Rangers and New York Knicks, Patsy’s Restaurant, Rock of Ages, Taste of the Nation.
A Christmas Story (at Madison Square Garden) The beloved story by Jean Shepherd, set in the 1940’s in a small town in Indiana, comes to life yet again as it celebrates its 30th anniversary. Last year it was on Broadway, this year it’s in the iconic Madison Square Garden. How fitting that two classics are together. This is the entertaining musical adaptation of the film. Tony-winner John Rando directs beautifully, with lots of innocent humor. Just in case you’re not already familiar with the story, it centers on 9-year-old Ralphie Parker. Ralphie, more than anything, wants a Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model BB gun for Christmas and he will do anything to get it. There are lots of obstacles in his way on his quest, but the number one obstacle is his mom and dad. Ralphie tries lots of silly antics to get what he wants, but none of them seem to work out, as he gets resistance no matter what he tries. In one scene, he writes an essay in school about the BB gun and thinks his teacher will tell his parents how wonderful a job he did and how much he deserves it. In another scene his mom asks him what he wants for Christmas and he downplays his request to avoid appearing desperate. His journey takes him around discouraging teachers, the Queen Mother of Dirty Words (the f-bomb), a pink set of bunny pajamas (ugh) and unfriendly Santas. One of our favorite scenes was in the schoolyard, where one boy dares another to stick his tongue onto the pole’s freezing metal. We all got a kick out of that one. And let’s not forget about the one-legged lamp which has a ‘Rocketteish’ kickline number of its own, showcased with a row of ‘one-legged lamps.’
Jake Lucas, who plays Ralphie, has the perfect singing voice for this part. Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”) is Shepherd, narrating the tale. John Bolton has returned, giving us plenty of chuckles with his energetic performance as Ralphie’s long-suffering father. Erin Dilly portrays Ralphie’s long-suffering mother. Caroline O’Connor is Miss Shields, his teacher. There are plenty more actors in the cast and they all do a splendid job. Oh, and it would be a shame to leave out the two attention-grabbing dogs, Pete and Lily, that run across the stage here and there for a good laugh.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming holiday spectacle to set the mood for the season, this is the family show you will want to see. With its showstopping musical numbers and adorable scenes, “A Christmas Story” offers songs and silliness for children, many of whom are already familiar with the 1983 film version. For grown-ups, it’s a chance to enjoy this piece of holiday history.
Acqua Beauty Bar (www.acquabeautybar) Acqua Beauty Bar is the new spa haven of New Yorkers in-the-know. Whether you want to pop in for a quick manicure, or day-long indulgences, this is the place to go. Located near Union Square on 14th Street (near Fifth Avenue), this serene day spa has everyone lining up to polish their tips, toes and everything in between. Armed with the ancient philosophy of 'inner beauty is outer beauty,' holistic needs are just as important as aesthetic ones. You'll fall victim to their to-die-for treatments, whether it's a facial, pedicure, massage or a delicious body polish.
When you first strut into their pristine, yet cushy waiting area, you are overcome by a sense of calmness--a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan; it feels very much like a secluded spa hidden in a lush garden (close enough with all the exotic plants and flower arrangements). You are greeted by the receptionist who asks you to make yourselves at home. Combining minimalist décor with an Asian influence, the space is trendy but never overbearing. Aquamarine blues and pastel greens highlight the beauty bar here and there, and glass walls line the spa in various places as partitions. Walls are accented with pressed flowers, and paper lanterns decorate the modern hideaway. The overall look and vibe is "pool-like"--a spacious, watery retreat.
If you happen to arrive early (it's courtesy to arrive at least fifteen minutes before an appointment), take the time to browse the products. Shelves are stocked with products by Burt's Bees, YonKa, Aromapharmacy, Lafco, OPI lacquers and the world famous Epicuren line, among others. Flip through the Acqua Beauty Bar "Menu of Services" and you'll find yourself hungry for everything. Depending on how much time you have to spare, services range from fifteen minute manicures to one-hundred twenty minute long facials. My advice is 'everything in moderation.' Whet your appetite with a manicure and pedicure, then a facial (the Acquacuren Facial works instant results!) and work your way into a Hot Stone Massage. If you're stressed from everyday troubles, ease them away with a package instead. The "Garden of Eastern Delights" gets your one-hundred eighty minutes which includes a Body Scrub, Shiatsu Massage, Acqua Mist Facial and a Gift Bag. Other delicious delicacies: Brown Sugar Glo, Peppermint Blast (both Body Therapy treatments), Salt Scrubs (choose from Tropical, Mango, Green Apple, Mocha Soufflé, Lemon or Mint) or the Seaweed Ocean Wrap, among others. Everything on the Menu will catch your fancy.
Example of Acquacuren Facial. Shortly after you arrive, you are led down a dim hallway into a room with a mini dresser and a tiny chaise to put your clothes and purse. After undressing and slipping on the single pair of soft cotton capris, you lay down on the treatment bed. The room is dimly lit and accentuated by the soft sounds of a waterfall (which nearly lull you to sleep!). They use the Epicuren products and the goal of the Acquacuren facial is to counteract the signs of aging but, no matter what your age, benefits are reaped. Enzymes and bee propolis (Epicuren only uses wild bee propolis from Brazil) moisturize stressed skin, exfoliate and stimulate collagen production. Intermittent massage of the arms, neck and chest make this treatment even more relaxing--every step of the process was explained and my comfort level taken very seriously. You will be glowing when you’re done! Once the facial is complete, you change back into your clothes and are greeted outside your door with a cool glass of water, which was a really nice touch!
Top notch is the Deep Tissue Massage. Curtain decorations adorn the massage rooms and relaxation music floats through the air. Using firm pressure and essential oils, this massage gets into your skin and relieves tension all over your body. If you have tightly wound muscles, this massage will undo any knots. Highly addictive, the Deep Tissue Massage is intensely relaxing yet leaves you feeling invigorated and refreshed. Sixty-minutes long, the time will just fly by--this one should be a weekly indulgence.
Next up: the Acqua Pedicure and Manicure. I have to mention the chairs used for the pedicure. Actually, it's not a chair--it's like a Lay-Z Boy recliner with a built in massager. Granted, most spas have these, but this one just seemed to be more relaxing than most, adding to the overall comfort and luxury of a pedicure. This signature, AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid-based) pedicure is brilliant--six steps to ensure your footsies are nothing short of perfect. A soak, scrub, masque, massage, pushback and color application makes this pedicure a reason in itself to make the trip to Acqua. Feet go through a lot and after you've had the Acquacuren Pedicure, you're walking on air. Once the polish is applied, your feet are slipped into flip flops and you can then carefully make your way over for the Acqua Manicure which is a five-step AHA-based manicure which uses superior moisturizers and gentle exfoliants. Most manicures moisturize but this one implements light reflexology massage, adding to the spa experience.
Their Orchid Pedicure is to die for. This tropical extract based, eight step deluxe pedicure includes a soak, callus softening, dry foot buffing, AHA sugar scrub, pushback, masque, massage and colour.
In addition to these beauties above, they do the best eyebrow waxing around - almost painless which was very surprising. Other treatments include: Custom Acid Peels, Medi-Lift, Organic Microdermabrasion, Bye Bye Eye Bags (sounds great), Cold Stone Therapy, Hot Stone Therapy, every Waxing you can think of, Body Scrubs, Bronze Leafing (forget about the sun, this does the trick with no harmful UV rays), Fantasy Tan (an airbrush machine is used to spray a tanning solution on your body and it looks just like a natural tan) and much more.
Acqua Beauty Bar is simply fantastic. Already an A-lister among spa-goers, Acqua is becoming a staple of New York City. You will definitely be wowed by the exceptional staff who takes everything into consideration, making the entire experience comfortable and refreshing. Set up a "reservation" for a seat at Acqua and be prepared to completely satiate every desire of your beauty palate.
American Museum of Natural History (http://www.amnh.org) This has been one of my favorite, personal treasures from New York City since I was a small child. This museum always mesmerized me. I walk inside and feel so nostalgic about life. The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition. The Museum is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which serve as a field guide to the entire planet and present a panorama of the world's cultures.
As you start off at the Grand Gallery, just inside the 77th Street entrance, (a gathering place for visitors), you are greeted by a 63-foot-long Great Canoe that hangs suspended from the ceiling. The canoe provides a dynamic focal point to this hall. The Grand Gallery is also home a colorful ancient ammonite, a spectacular stibnite, a rare slab of jadeite jade, and a case of ancient trilobite fossils. Each gorgeous. If you want a quick bite, now or later, the Café on One is just around this corner.
Now on to the exhibits. Our favorite: The Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. This hall highlights the drama of the undersea world and its diverse and complex web of life in a fully immersive marine environment. The hall is home to one of the Museum’s most celebrated displays—a 94-foot-long, 21,000-pound model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling. Every time I see this whale, I get the same feel. Utter excitement, pure joy, and awe. This creature was in the ocean about 3.5 billion years ago that the first life on Earth arose. Today, the planet’s oceans are home to an amazing diversity of life in a wide range of habitats, from tropical coral reefs to the frigid polar seas. Still, many parts of the ocean are poorly known, and less than 5 percent of the deep ocean has been explored. For every new species, there may be hundreds more yet to be discovered. The 29,000-square-foot hall features models of more than 750 sea creatures, ranging from tiny green bubble algae to computerized glowing jellyfishes. The hall also includes high-definition video projections, interactive computer stations, hands-on models, 14 classic dioramas, and eight ocean ecosystem displays that transport visitors from the profusion of life in the Indo-Pacific coral reefs to the bioluminescent fishes in the eerie darkness of the deep sea.
Another favorite of mine is Mammal Halls – in particular African Mammals and Asian Mammals. The Akeley Hall of African Mammals showcases large mammals of Africa. At the center is a freestanding group of eight elephants, poised as if to charge, surrounded by 28 habitat dioramas. These life-size dioramas provide a unique glimpse of the diverse topography of Africa and its wildlife, from the Serengeti Plain to the waters of the Upper Nile to the volcanic mountains of what was once the Belgian Congo. As in all of the Museum’s habitat dioramas, each scene is a re-creation based on the meticulous observations of scientists in the field in the early 20th century and the on-site sketches and photographs of the artists who accompanied them. They feature animals set in a specific location, cast in the light of a particular time of day. They are so realistic and jaw dropping.
The Hall of Asian Mammals focuses on large mammals from India, Myanmar, and Thailand. Animals featured in the hall’s dozen habitat dioramas include the water buffalo, leopard, hoolock gibbon, and rhinoceros. Also represented are the banting, black buck, chinkara, chital or axis deer, guar, sambar, swamp deer, wild dog, and thamin or Eld’s deer. Like the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, this hall features a centerpiece grouping of freestanding elephants, encouraging comparisons between the two types—the Asian elephant being generally smaller than the African elephant and having smaller ears and a higher forehead. Many of the animals represented in this hall are threatened by poaching and loss of habitat. In fact, in the 1990s, two Asian mammals, the Siberian tiger and the giant panda, were placed in the case featuring endangered species in the Hall of Biodiversity.
Next on our list is Fossil Halls: One of two halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing, the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features fossils from one of the two major groups of dinosaurs. The ornithischians are characterized by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone, which is thought to have helped to support the enormous stomachs that these dinosaurs needed to digest the masses of tough vegetation they ate. Within the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, exhibits explore two evolutionary branches within this group: the genasaurs, which are defined by the development of inset tooth rows that form cheeks, and the cerapods, identified by an uneven covering of tooth enamel. These traits may have made holding and chewing food easier. Together, the two halls of the Koch Dinosaur Wing feature about 100 specimens, 85 percent of them fossils, rather than casts. These 100 specimens are just a small fraction of the Museum’s collection of dinosaur fossils, which is among the largest and most scientifically important of such collections in the world.
The Hall of Primitive Mammals, one of two halls in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives, traces the lower branches of the evolutionary tree of mammals, including monotremes, marsupials, sloths, and armadillos. The roots of the mammalian line reach back almost 300 million years. Some of the very early mammal relatives dominated the landscape millions of years before dinosaurs appeared, and most of these species became extinct. During the age of dinosaurs, most mammals were not much bigger than small rodents. It was after the extinction of the large dinosaurs that the great diversity of mammals arose. This hall highlights the development of such key mammalian physical features as the synapsid opening in the skull, a large hole behind the eye socket for muscles that extend to the jaw; three middle ear bones; and the placenta. These traits correspond to eating, hearing, and reproduction, and each trait represents the splitting off of an evolutionary branch. Animal groups represented in this hall include monotremes, multituberculates, triconodonts, edentates, and extinct relatives of mammals, such as the Dimetrodon and glyptodonts. Some living animals from these groups, such as the egg-laying mammal platypus, a monotreme, are called “living fossils.”
We could go on but there is just too much to see and take in. You might not get to absorb everything in this museum in one day, but make sure you give yourself a nice chunk of time to take in as much as you can. We’re sure you’ll be back again to see what you missed. Don’t come to the city without visiting this wonderful museum.
Brasserie 1605 at the Crown Plaza – Times Square (http://www.cpmanhattantimessquare.com/brasserie-1605.html) (http://www.cpmanhattantimessquare.com/dining/brasserie1605) This restaurant was magnificent. Brasserie 1605 is located in Times Square in the Crowne Plaza-Times Square Hotel (Broadway and 49th Street). For your information, the 46-story Crowne Plaza Time Square, situated in the heart of New York's Times Square, recently completed an extensive $85 million reinvention to provide guests with an exceptional experience. Distinguishing features include extraordinary city skyline or Hudson River views from every guest room, the city's largest indoor hotel pool, restaurant and a bar overlooking Times Square's world famous light show and inviting public spaces that are evocative of a hip boutique hotel rather than a 770-room full service luxury property.
The food (spectacular), the service (impeccable) and the ambiance (trendy and classy) all get an A+. Elegant, yet accessible, this energetic restaurant serves food that can be enjoyed in a beautifully designed space. We highly recommend it for business lunches and romantic evening rendezvous. And they have a very reasonable special 3-course express lunch menu for just the drop of a hat, as well as a special pre-theater dinner menu from 4:00pm to 7:00pm daily. All of the cuisine we sampled was beautifully prepared and delicious! We started off with the Onion Soup (cheese-crusted with gruyere, mozzarella and gouda cheese) which had just the right amount of everything and it had a little zing to it (which I loved). The Mac & Cheese was made with three cheeses and cavatappi pasta and I think of it as an adult version of the kid's classic. The Steamed Vegetables alone a hearty little meal, believe it or not. Bok Choy, snow peas, shitake mushrooms, Napa cabbage, haricots vert, white and green asparagus in a scumptious red coconut curry sauce. The crab cakes in lobster cream sauce were heavenly. The Spicy Ahi Poke Tartar was the best appetizer of them all...worthy of a trip back just for it. The Firecracker Popcorn Shrimp was to die for in its chili lime sauce. The Braised Short Rib Sliders were a nice little twist on the typical burger sliders. And the steaks were cooked perfectly, with all of the best accompaniments...onion rings and baked potatoes. The best surprise of the evening was the Chicken and Waffles covered with a maple "sauce" and it was "omg" amazing. They were a mouthful, all right -- an unexpectedly tasty one. When you go, just make sure you save room for the delectable desserts. The chocolate molten cake with ice cream and apple desserts are heavenly.
The hosts are warm and friendly. The waiters are also fabulous. Always there when you need them, but never hovering. The whole place has such a friendly, down-to-earth air about it (not at all stuffy), and yet everything was very top notch. As if that wasn't enough, the prices are so reasonable (for NYC). Do not pass up a chance to eat here.
40/40 Club (http://the4040club.com) The 40/40 Club is a chain of sports bars and lounges partially owned by hip hop artist Jay-Z. 40/40 is the baseball term used to showcase the exclusive group of Major League Baseball players who have achieved the rare individual feat of recording 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season. 40/40 Club has a lot of everything… great food, playful atmosphere (no dinner tables here… just couches and bar stools – very cool), big screens for watching sporting events, an upscale clientele (including celebrities here and there), sports memorabilia scattered around its walls (including autographed jerseys and other sporting goods that were donated by sports celebrities), and dancing until the wee hours of the morning – we love the fact that you can hang out and have some dinner or appetizers, chill out for a while and watch a good sporting event on tv, and then dance the night away, all at the same place - share a few appetizers and have a few drinks – we love their wings (buffalo and bbq – delicious with just the right amount of zing), their shrimp appetizer is to die for (we ended up ordering a second plate), the quesadillas are delish, the burgers are smothered with a sauce that you can’t get enough of, and their salads are light and flavorful (love the Arugula Salad with pears and delicate flavors that are amazing). Their dinner menu is great, too – love the ribs, steak, and salmon. All cooked exactly how we wanted them and served with rosemary potatoes. Their Cajun fries are a great side and they’re seasoned perfectly. As far as dessert, the sweet potato donuts were sinful and different from any dessert we’ve had. 40/40 Club really tries to adhere private club procedures with personalized and cordial service, and you feel special being there. Our server was fantastic and so sweet, incredibly attentive, catering to our every need. The upscale club makes for a great night out.
Il Mulino NY (http://www.ilmulino.com) Il Mulino is the epitome of an Old New York Italian hangout. It’s the most authentic Italian restaurant we’ve eaten in, other than in Italy. This upscale restaurant has incredible food and a first-class reputation. We can understand why.From the minute you walk it, the experience is just as amazing as the food, it’s an event. Whether you’re out celebrating a special day, or just on a dinner date, the night will feel special. The dining room is very old fashioned (which we liked). Partial wallpaper, partial brick walls. The tables are covered with crisp white tablecloths, and the floor is covered in burgundy carpet.
Actually, this is our favorite reason to go to Il Mulino: They make you feel incredibly special by bringing all sorts of complimentary food to the table before you even order. It just gives you the feeling that they care about you, and that they want to take care of you and feed you. Never before have we experienced that kind of service.
So, to begin, you are treated with complimentary Antipasti that includes dried, cured Sausage and Eggplant, a generous bread basket with breadsticks and all, the freshest and most extraordinary chunks of parmigiano reggiano that crumbled perfectly (so good they will blow you away), focaccia, salami, amazing bruschetta with sweet and fresh tomatoes on perfectly toasted French bread with drizzled olive oil, the most delicious zucchini ribbons with just the right amount of spice, and clams. This was the perfect way to start off a meal.
Il Mulino specializes in dishes from the Abruzzo region of Italy and the menu covers most of the region, plus more. There is so much to choose from. One great thing is that you can order any pasta in a half portion which makes it fun and simple to order a few dishes for more variety. Items from the menu that we tasted: The Caesar sala was just right, with a creamy dressing and croutons; spectacular Rack of Lamb, as juicy and tender as you could ever imagine; the Polpette Al Forno (meatballs) are fabulous with the perfect balance of savory and sweet with the perfect texture; Bucatini Amatriciana is made with a sauce of Pancetta and marinara that’s fresh and delicious; Homemade Gnocchi with fresh basil pesto that is creamy and unbelievably delicious; love the Spaghetti Carbonara with the perfect combo of onion and pancetta and lots of cheese and cream – oh my; and Pollo Aromatico, not as heavy as their other choices. All amazing, amazing, amazing.
Other than the atmosphere, complementary appetizers, food as a whole, and service, I will always come back to Il Mulino for their chicken parmigiana. It’s truly the best I have ever tried. You need to taste it to get the full effect because there are only so many words to describe it. The superbly tender chicken comes in a round pan. It is pounded so thin, and perfect. Then it’s smothered with imported cheese and their wonderful homemade marinara sauce. So many flavors blended together for the perfect dish. Concentrate while you’re eating it and your head will explode into a symphony.
Top it all off, if you have room that is, with their Flourless Chocolate cake that is so rich and delicious that you will savor every single bite. Or go for the Lemon Sorbet, a refreshing scooped out lemon, filled with creamy lemon sorbet with the perfect texture. It’s airy, icy, and a great way to end your evening. This will become one of your favorite New York restaurants after your first visit and you will never leave unsatisfied. Count on it.
Il Mulino, Atlantic City , Trump Taj Mahal (http://www.trumptaj.com/dining/il-mulino-new-york-,default_viewItem_211-en.html) This restaurant has all of the same offerings as their New York location and everything you’ve come to love about Il Mulino. It’s just in a different location with a different atmosphere. Wine and dine here before going to a show, playing at some tables and slots, or before heading back to your room. If you love the excitement of Atlantic City but don’t want to miss your favorite restaurant, you can have the best of both worlds here. Like we said, you can never go wrong at the amazing Italian restaurant, Il Mulino.
The Lion King Musical (www.lionking.com) It doesn't get any better than this for a family show on Broadway. I’m not sure what I can tell you that you don’t already know about the most amazing and most fabulous musical I’ve ever seen. Maybe you haven’t heard that Julie Taymor, the director and designer for this production, is a genius who created this delight (it’s a theatrical achievement unrivaled in its beauty, brains and ingenuity, an inventive mix of music, staging and half-animal, half-human masked actors). Maybe you haven’t heard that the costumes, sets and music score (with three new songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice and a haunting African tribal number by others) are mind-blowing. Or maybe you haven’t heard that watching the faces of the cast along with the masks they wear is incredible as you feel you’re watching them as one combined face (the cast playing the characters turn into their animal counterparts before your eyes, giving their characters unexpected emotions). On the way there (I had to practically beg my colleague to go with me because he just wasn’t interested in an “animated children’s film brought to life”) I had very high expectations. The only thing I can really say is that my expectations were not only met but they were exceeded by a huge margin. From the first moment when we walked into the absolutely fabulous New Amsterdam Theatre we were already won over. Its lobbies and promenades, decorated with elaborate carvings and wall reliefs with motifs from Shakespeare, Wagner and other theatrical scenes, lead the audience into the auditorium -- an oval room ornamented with carvings of peacocks and vines, and decorated with an allegorical mural painted by Robert Blum and Albert Wenzel.
When the cast roams into the theatre (in three dimensions with enormous creations) via the aisles as elephants, giraffes, zebras and many other exotic animals, you hear gasps from everywhere due to the enormity of this sightseeing experience as they go into a full-throttle rendition of “Circle of Life.” You don’t know where to look because every foot of the aisles and stage are filled with art as you’ve never seen it. The costumes are award-winning and just magnificent. Just watch how the cast playing zebras use their legs as the zebras front legs as they bow to baby Simba. Check out the hyenas and the way their costumes are incorporated into their human beings’ bodies. There is an inspired performance by the actor who portrays babbling, mystical, mischievous baboon Rafiki. And Timon’s counterpart sings, dances and clowns impressively while operating a Timon-the-meerkat puppet almost as big as he is. It’s an incredible experience with puppetry and pageantry that can not be missed. Julie Taymor wants the audience to use their imagination so not every scene is complete as it was in the movie. The story itself was already grand but now it’s in a league of its own as it’s brought to life. There were many standing ovations and lots of “wows.” If there’s only one musical you’ll be able to attend there really is no other choice. It will be the most memorable, moving and original theatrical extravaganza you’ve seen in years and it will make you fall in love with the theatre all over again.
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum (www.madame-tussauds.com) Get up close and personal with your favorite celebrities in this 85,000 square-foot, five-story wax museum. The New York version of the famous London museum takes on "the face of the place" presenting New York's most famous and infamous personalities, as well as figures of international fame and acclaim. You will “meet” the woman herself, Madame Tussaud, and her earliest subjects including Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon. But first, just like its London predecessor, New York's Madame Tussaud's scores because of its open plan. Most of the wax stars are not arrayed in glass cases or plunked down in cheap dioramas. They're displayed in a garden party setting where you can mingle with them (and you will without shame and with very little dignity). You can look into the stars' eyes and declare your love. After buying tickets and taking an elevator to the top floor of the museum, you will enter a swank Hollywood garden party. You may feel a little underdressed but that’s okay. There you can hobnob with the rich and famous. The first figure to greet you, Harrison Ford, has been updated with a greying brush cut and his new earring. Then, as you work the rooms, prepare your eyes for a feast as you check out John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Woody Allen, Donald Trump, Ivana, Regis Philbin, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne (and their kids), Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Robert, Lucy, Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Albert Einstein, James Dean, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Jordan, the Presidents (including Bush, Reagan, JFK), James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, ‘N Sync, et. al. There is someone for everyone -- even a humungous Hulk for the kids. A historical section gives a peek into Madame Tussaud's personal history, with some of the actual wax death masks she made of Marie Antoinette and other victims of the guillotine. They say she had the job of digging through piles of bodies to find the heads and made death masks of every victim. Madame Tussaud's lets every tourist return from New York saying they've had their photo taken with a star and it is a must-visit for pop culture fiends. Even the most casual People magazine reader enjoys the chance to get a pic with their favorite star. The museum offers celebrity interaction without the nervous tension of wondering if you're saying the wrong thing or the fear that you're bothering the celebrity. It's a chance to get up close and personal with a simulacrum - you can’t leave NYC without visiting.
The Mark Hotel at Madison and 77th Street (www.themarkhotel.com) This is a gem on the upper east side, trendy and classy. Everything here is amazing! You will be particularly impressed by the elegance of this boutique hotel. Starting off with the location – it’s in a quiet neighborhood, away from the hustle and bustle, but yet a short distance from museum mile, a block away from Central Park, and a short walk to the very best shops. The lobby is modern and chic, the doormen are phenomenal… courteous, helpful, awesome. The concierge bends over backwards for you.
The rooms are beautiful and very spacious. You can see they put a lot of effort in your comfort and pleasure. The bathrooms are gorgeous and filled with luxury amenities like televisions imbedded into the bathroom mirrors, heated towel stands, and the best showers in New York City (don’t know how they do it but the pressure is incredible, and invigorating). You honestly feel like you’re staying in an elegant New York apartment. Complimentary internet service is included as well. Last, but not least, are the free bicycle and hotel car services, when available because they’re first come, first served. But what a nice touch that is!
The lounge is really cool but make sure you bring some fancier clothes with you, or you might feel out of place. The restaurant by Jean George is filled with "beautiful people.” The dinner there was excellent. We can almost 100% assure you that you will have a perfect hotel experience there every time because that is their main goal, and they fulfill it with pleasure and passion. The staff is key in making this hotel work and they are professional and warm. The facility is beautiful and the neighborhood is perfect. It will easily become your favorite quaint hotel in New York City.
Marriott Marquis Hotel – Times Square (http://www.roomstays.com/hotel/970006) The Marriott Marquis was built in 1925 and has 49 floors and 1,944 guest rooms. You can’t beat the location of this hotel. The rooms are moderately priced and a bargain in New York City. This exciting hotel is right in the middle of all of the action in New York City. Where else but spectacular Times Square and Broadway. It’s also a stone’s throw away from Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue. Get a room that overlooks the breathtaking lights on Broadway and you’ll feel like you own a piece of it yourself. Views from other rooms are wonderful as well… the Hudson River, or regular city views. The hotel is huge, but yet it feels small, personal and quaint. We love the how the elegantly-decorated rooms surround the glass elevators (each with their own Broadway lights inside) … they’re a piece of art themselves. The rooms are larger than most in the city, with flat-screen tvs and comfortable, lush bedding, and they’re really clean. The rooms are quiet too, a plus for us.
Go for their breakfast buffet at Crossroads. You won’t be disappointed. All the regulars plus a few extras… slices of prosuitto, corn bread (yum), empanadas, Naked juice (the best there is), and so much more. Make sure you visit the sky lobby at the 23rd floor – there you will be offered panoramic view of midtown Manhattan and Times Square.
Management here is the best. Considering how many people stay there each night, they are very attentive to all of your needs, whether it’s an extra pillow, a rollaway bed, or information. They’re quick to respond. If you’re in town for a short stay and want a place where the action is, the Marriott Marquis is the place for you.
The New York Rangers and/or New York Knicks (www.madisonsquaregarden.com) Welcome to the “World’s Most Famous Arena”-- there is no more awe inspiring feeling as a sports fan than the moment you exit the halls and enter “The Garden’-- the home of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion -- New York Rangers, and the 1970 and 1973 NBA Champions -- New York Knicks. Madison Square Garden is one of the oldest hockey arenas and its mystique sends chills up your spine when the home team hits the ice or enters the court to the sound of rock and roll music and dazzling lazer lights. Once the puck drops, or the ball is tossed, the action begins. The best ice hockey and basketball players from all over the world will amaze you with a combination of skill, grace and physical contact unparalleled in any other sport. The competition is fast and emotional, and the Rangers or Knicks are a team with one goal -- The Stanley Cup or NBA Championship -- the world’s most prestigious sports rewards/trophies. No true sports fan can say they’ve seen it all untill they come to the Garden where every Ranger and Knicks game takes its place in sports history.
Patsy's (www.patsys.com) This restaurant was excellent. From the ambiance to the food and the service. Perfection. From the moment we arrived, the service was impeccable. Our waiter was very sweet and the owner even came by a few times. They made us feel very welcome and took good care of us. The food choices were everything you could ask for to make for a wonderful Italian meal. And everything was delicious and the servings were generous. The marinara sauce was literally the best sauce we have ever had the pleasure of eating. Yum!!! Some of our favorites were Hot Antipasto (baked littleneck clams, shrimp marinara, eggplant rollatine and stuffed mushrooms), Stuffed Artichoke (stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic, gaeta olives, capers and anchovy), Spedino Alla Romana (layers of bread and mozzarella, fried and served with an anchovy butter sauce), Clams Casino (littleneck clams stuffed with Pimento, Parmigiano-Reggiano and onions, topped with bacon and broiled), Rigatoni FraDiavlo with crushed red peppers (delicious), Ravioli (a trio of mushroom, spinach and lobster), Shrimp Parmigiano and last, but not least, Filet Mignon Marsala.
We had three different desserts and they were all amazing...tiramisu, chocolate mousse and a fruit tarte. The entire experience was fantastic, and we look forward to returning.
The atmosphere is nice and casual, and romantic. Frank Sinatra liked this restaurant back in the late 1940's and it probably looked very similar to how it does not, which only adds to its charm. It's the perfect place to eat before or after a Broadway show, or any other day, too!
Rock of Ages (http://www.rockofagesmusical.com) This show rocks!!! We love, love, loved it!!! Although this electrifying show has been in New York City since 2008 (and before NYC it started in Los Angeles in 2005), we feel it still deserves a place on our BEST list because it is the BEST. Rock of Ages is a lighthearted and comedic, blow-up, blast-off, celebration of classic rock hits from the 1980s. The great rock music that we hope your kids will love it as much as you will because music has never been the same again. This jukebox musical showcases the glam metal bands of the 80s. Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Poison, Steve Perry and many more. This clever show took these mindblowing songs and made an entertaining arena-rock love story out of them.
If you don’t want to know anything about the storyline, don’t continue to read anymore. Either way, your eyes and ears will receive a treat that and the show will stay with you for a long time after it’s over. The music is the best part, and the audience really gets into it, singing along all the way. It’s a show, but also a private concert. In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, Sherry, an aspiring actress from small-town Kansas, meets Drew, an aspiring rocker who works as a busboy in a Hollywood Club, the Bourbon Room. Drew gets Sherrie a job at the Bourbon Room. In the meantime, the Mayor wants to get rid of ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.’ To generate as much money as possible before his club is demolished, the owner hires a huge rock star, Stacee Jaxx, and his band to play their last gig at the Bourbon Room. In the meantime, Drew struggles to write lyrics and Sherrie urges him to go after his dreams. As they start to have feelings for each other, neither one thinks it is reciprocal, even after a picnic in the hills overlooking Los Angeles at the Hollywood sign. Next Stacee Jaxx arrives at The Bourbon and gives an interview about his life. Sherrie is immediately smitten with him. Believing she means nothing to Drew, she has sex with Stacee in the men's room as Drew opens for Stacee and Arsenal, not knowing a record producer is in the audience. After their tryst, Stacee tells Dennis to dismiss Sherrie before the concert begins. His guitarist realizes what Stacee did and knocks him out. The record producer in the club was impressed with Drew's performance and suggests he take over for Stacee. He then offers Drew a contract, which he accepts. Sherrie seeks comfort from Drew after she's fired, but having seen her go into the men's room with Stacee, he dismisses her.
An upset and unemployed Sherrie meets Justice Charlier, the owner of the nearby Venus Club, which Justice prefers to call a "gentleman's club." She relates to Sherrie's story, saying that many of the small-town girls hoping to hit it big in LA end up making a living as strippers. Grudgingly, Sherrie accepts Justice's offer to work in her club. As the first act closes, everyone is alone – Drew, as an upcoming rock star; Sherrie, fending for herself as an exotic dancer; Regina protesting the redevelopment; and Dennis, trying to save his club.
In Act 2, Drew's rocker image is upsetting the record producer, and Sherrie is learning how things work at the Venus Club. When they meet on the street, Sherrie is embarrassed about her job and Drew is upset that his record company is attempting to reshape him into part of a boy band. They argue and Sherrie admits that she was crazy about Drew, but failed to make a move because he said they were friends. They part ways more troubled by these new revelations. A drunken Stacee arrives at the Venus Club and is pleased to see Sherrie. After being forced to give him a lapdance, she beats him up while dancing. Drew arrives to admit his feelings to her, but becomes angry when he sees the two in a suggestive position and storms off. Later Drew hears that as soon as he left, Sherrie had punched Stacee in the jaw.
The Bourbon Room is on its way to being demolished, Sherrie decides to leave the Venus Club after the scene with Drew, and everyone is in turmoil as they attempt to move on with their lives. Drew, now a pizza delivery boy, realizes none of his dreams have come true—he still is not a rock star, and Sherrie is leaving on a midnight train. Lonny arrives and explains to Drew that his life is so miserable because they are all characters in a musical and that it was their book writer who made it so. He also reveals to Drew that he serves as the show's "dramatic conjurer" that if Drew wants a happy ending, it is up to him to get the girl. After hearing this, Drew realizes that he does not need fame to make him happy, only Sherrie. He reaches her at the train station in time, and they realize that their love has survived all their trials and reconcile. In the epilogue, The Bourbon Room is spared from demolition and Stacee Jaxx, now a washed-up has-been who has been charged with statutory rape, flees to Uruguay. Sherrie and Drew move to Glendale and start a family. They say that on The Strip, sometimes the dreams with which you enter are not always the dreams with which you leave, but they still rock .
Taste of the Nation (www.strength.org) Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, presented by American Express, is the nation's preeminent culinary benefit supporting the fight to end hunger as they support anti-hunger and anti-poverty efforts. Each spring, more than 10,000 individuals, from chefs and restaurateurs to public relations professionals and accountants, come together in more than 75 cities across the United States and Canada to organize one of a kind culinary events. The events, which include food and wine tastings, seated dinners, brunches and barbeques, host more than 60,000 attendees annually. "Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation gives chefs a chance to do more than just write a check -- they show Martha Stewart how to really throw a party,” says one participant. And believe me, it’s some party.
Since 1988, Taste of the Nation events have raised $47 million which have supported more than 450 organizations working to end hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad. Last year's events raised more than $4.8 million. More than 31 million Americans are at risk of hunger. Taste of the Nation unites chefs, restauranteers, corporate partners and other concerned individuals in an effort to help solve the problem in New Jersey and other communities across the United States. This year American Express celebrates its tenth year as a partner of Share Our Strength in the fight to end hunger. YOU’LL BE THRILLED TO ATTEND ONE. There are also lots of fun gifts to win and/or purchase. Don’t miss it in your area. NYC's is in April of 2014.