At this Santa sitting, Santa sits on you. Credit: Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square.
By Erin Behan
The tradition of sitting on Santa’s lap is so engrained in American culture that we hardly even question it: What adults don’t cherish that embarrassing childhood photo of themselves making an awkward face in a Christmas sweater on an ample Kris Kringle? Continue reading →
You can save up to 59% on Hong Kong hotels in January. To fully appreciate this modern city, take the tram up to Victoria Peak for a stunning view, (there’s a great walking path around the peak if you really want to take it all in). Or if you’d rather stay close to the ground, hop aboard the Star Ferry and cruise Victoria Harbor.
Santa Barbara, CA, is known as the American Riviera for its palm tree-lined streets, gracious waterfront and elegant shopping and restaurants. Plan a vacation in January and save up to 38% on Santa Barbara hotels. Wine lovers can make the easy 30- to 40-minute drive northeast to the vineyards and wineries featured in "Sideways." Film buffs may want to time their vacation to coincide with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival January 22 – February 1.
If you’re idea of a great vacation includes fabulous food, theater and attractions, head to the Big Apple in January and save up to 37% on New York hotels. Go early in January to enjoy the holiday decorations without the holiday crowds. And get seats to that show you’ve been wanting to see — for less — with our insider’s Five ways to get cheap Broadway tickets.
NewYork City restaurants are known for celebrity chefs and amazing meals. And now you can enjoy their fabulous food at a big discount.
NYC Restaurant Week runs July 21-25 and July 28-August 1. For ten glorious days participating restaurants offer three-course lunches for $24.07 and three-course dinners for $35. You can choose from more than 200 restaurants, including del Posto,Aquavit, Gramercy Tavern, Le Cirque, Tavern on the Green, Union Square Cafe and Delmonico’s Steakhouse (which bills itself as the birthplace of Eggs Benedict and Baked Alaska). And if you’re more of a pastrami sandwich type, Carnegie Deli is also participating.
American Express cardholders can make their reservations early through June 25 at www.nycvisit.com. General reservations start June 26.
You can find cheap flights to New York. New York hotels don’t have to be pricey. And you don’t even have to blow your budget on activities and entertainment. This summer, book your New York vacation and take advantage of all the free things to see and do in the Big Apple!
For a brief shining moment before it gets turned into condos or a theme park or any of the other developement-cetric ideas being bandied about, see Governor’s Island it as it has been for the past 400 years. And have fun too! There is a free ferry leaving from downtown Manhattan that only takes a few minutes. Events take place all summer, including the fun opening festival, folk and jazz music concerts, military heritage weekends, and dance events.
I like to take one of the free ranger-led tours and then have a picnic in one of the elm-tree shaded quads. NOTE: There are NO commercial facilities on the island so bring plenty of water! There is one bathroom near the ferry.
ONGOING FESTIVALS River to River Festival: Downtown’s biggest summer festival. All 500+ music, dance, food and film events are entirely free.
Lincoln Center out of Doors: New York’s pre-eminent cultural institutions answer to the August festival season. This year’s theme is a tribute to Soul-meister James Brown. There’s dancing, dining, and music all August long — and it’s all free.
Shakespeare in the Park: Free shows in a fabulous setting! Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. "Hamlet" runs May 27 – June 29, and "Hair" runs July 22 – August 17. Even though it’s free, you do need to pick up tickets. You can get them the day of the show at the Delacorte Theatre, or, a limited number will be available online.
DYNAMITE DRIVE-INS Ok, so it’s your rear and not your REO you park at these outdoor movie spots. Get there early and bring a picnic, and you’re in for a fun way to share your favorite films with thousands of other New Yorkers.
Bryant Park movies:
Enjoy a flick al fresco Monday nights from June 16 to August 18. The
park opens for picnickers at 5 p.m.; movies start between 8 and 9.
River Flicks: Pier 54 at 14th Street. "La Bamba," "Almost Famous," "Purple Rain" and more. Wednesdays starting (July 9th to August 20) around dusk (generally 8:30 p.m.).
For Kids: Pier 45 at Christopher Street. Movies include "Bee Movie," "The Wizard of Oz," "E.T." and "Shrek"; Fridays (July 11th to August 22nd) starting around dusk.
CONCERTS Central Park Summerstage:
Rumsey Playfield in Central Park becomes a world music stage from June
13 through August 17. Free concerts range from gospel music to dramatic
readings. The closest entrance is at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Every once in a while I discover a spot that reaffirms my choice of profession. NY Spa & Nails is one of those places.
Given the Internet and plethora of people contributing to travel Web sites, it’s becoming harder and harder for this travel journalist to have a true find: A spot that is still so obscure it hasn’t been blogged to death, reviewed on TripAdvisor, advertised, or pushed by a team of high-priced publicists.
NY Spa and Nails — at 25 Thompson St. in lower Manhattan — is not only a find, its one of the special ones I’d normally consider too good to share, lest the catapult from obscurity to mainstream destroy what makes it fabulous in the first place.
It’s ideal for busy people who want a no-nonsense outstanding massage at truly bargain prices. As of writing, 30 minutes is $28 and 60 minutes a more fabulous $48.
I didn’t work up the courage to even enter until I’d walked past on three separate days and had a horrid chair massage a few blocks away.
From the outside it’s a typical New York manicure spot. Peer in the window and it looks more like someone’s apartment with two pedicure chairs stuck against the wall. Only three women work there, only one of which speaks much English, but I’ve tried to learn enough Mandarin to show my respect for these very very hardworking ladies (Thank you is pronounced: Shay-shay, and I am still working on "feet and scalp for 30 minutes please").
On April 11, New York City will be the best place to be to do some serious skiing, whitewater rafting, golfing and fly-fishing.
The state of Colorado is taking over Madison Square Park (23rd and Broadway, not to be confused with Madison Square Garden!) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., giving anyone who stops by a chance to experience a Colorado vacation.
My favorite part is the custom treat created by the best custard maker in NewYork City (The Shake Shack). Apparently, they created a special dessert specifically for the event: "Colorado’s High Altitude Concrete." This lemon verbena custard dessert will be mixed with a wild berry compote and a homemade granola.
If, unlike for me, food is not reason enough to venture forth, here are some more:
Rock climb on a challenging rock wall or try the new line of commuter bikes from REI.
That’s right — many New York museums offer free admission at specific times or on certain days. And with some of the world’s greatest art and exhibits just steps from your New York hotel, it’s easy to take it all in. Below are the details for each major museum.
Apparently February showers bring March flowers, at least if you’re at Macy’s in Minneapolis,Chicago,San Francisco or New York, where the annual Macy’s Flower Show runs from March 16 through the end of the month.
Macy’s Herald Square — a short walk from many New York hotels — features 30,000 exotic trees and flowering plants divided into five enchanted gardens, including one showcasing purple flowers and one emulating a typical Spanish jardin.
Every half hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. there’s a 20-minute guided tour, and the work of numerous celebrities will be showcased. Martha Stewart will be at the opening, and Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and others have been charged with setting a table as they would for an enchanted garden dinner party. Be sure not to miss the centerpiece of the show: a highly detailed reproduction of Macy’s historic Herald Square building assembled entirely from organic plant materials by the renowned artist Paul Busse.
If you travel to San Francisco, Macy’s Union Square store is zeroing in on just one theme: Spain. It expands on the Spanish garden theme by featuring Romanesque patio vistas, Moorish-inspired Persian gardens and striking floral landscapes, including the famed Gomes azaleas.
At Macy’s on State Street — near several major Chicago hotels — and at Macy’s in Minneapolis, the theme is Floranova. The plants, events and displays take inspiration from Latin-infused cultures including Miami’s South Beach, Mexico,Cuba and Brazil. There are guided tours by master gardeners, cooking demonstrations, family fun activities, and music and art as well.
New York Herald Square Show Gardens:
Spring Garden: Features a vibrant array of tulips, daffodils, primroses and flowering trees and shrubs. Be sure to check out our newest addition to the show, Rhododendron trees.
Conservatory Garden: Showcases whimsical plant topiaries and exotic and tropical plants, including citrus, coffee and cacao trees.
Royal Purple Garden: Shows off plants in the purple and lavender color palette, including rare Chinese redbuds, a flowering shrub with hundreds of magnificent purple flowers along the branches of the plant.
Cherry Hill Garden: Features a breathtaking variety of trees from the cherry, or Prunus, family, including tall Kwansan and contorted Okame cherry trees and flowering almond shrubs.
Spanish Garden: Reflects the look and feel of a luxurious garden in Spain. Stroll through fountains, grapevines, blooming Spanish bluebells and citrus and Monkey Puzzle trees.