Love, Travel

New York City – Where to Stay, Eat & Play!

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New York City is my favorite place to visit in the United States because it is filled with restaurants, museums, and just cool places to hang out.  This trip to NYC was with my family, so we decided to rent an apartment in the East Village of Manhattan.  The village is loaded with quaint coffee shops, cafes and retail stores and is a few blocks from Soho, which offers more delicious restaurants and shopping.

We stayed at the East Village Apartments, in the penthouse because of the number of people in our group and it had a outdoor seating area, which we could enjoy in the warm summer weather.   The three-bedroom apartment was spacious in size and the top floor had a nice living area and kitchen, although I didn’t cook a thing!

The first night we walked to an Italian restaurant in the East Village called, Lavagna.  The bistro type seating was fun and casual and the service was warm and kind.  The meal of wood-fired pizzas and shared plates was a nice start to our trip, but the Rigatoni with sweet fennel sausage, peas and tomato cream was the absolute winner.

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After a lovely dinner, I had always wanted to try the ice cream at the Big Gay Ice Cream shop because I had read about their delightful soft serve cones and sundaes.  Big Gay Ice Cream started as an ice cream truck originally, but now they have a two stores in Manhattan (East & West Villages) and one in Philadelphia.

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No those weren’t all mine, but yes, I tasted them all and ate the entire Berry Sundae!  Yummy!

The next day we headed to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with our CityPass, which I highly recommend.  The pass offers discounts and no waiting in ticket lines for the most popular attractions of the city.  We were on the NYC tourist circuit with the family, so we had to see several things in just a few days.

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For lunch we headed to Blue Smoke Battery Park, to grab some Barbecue before we headed to the 911 Museum.  The Patty Melt was off the charts delicious and the Baby Back Ribs were pretty tasty too.

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But, one of the cutest things I have ever seen in a restaurant, was the decorate-your-own Pig Shaped Sugar Cookie.  They bake the cookie in the oven, while you eat your meal and deliver it to the kids, warm right out of the oven for dessert.

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After lunch we headed to the 911 Museum on the CityPass.  This is the fountain in front of the 911 Museum – Reflective, Inspiring & Beautiful!

That evening we dined at Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Soho, which served casual bistro style French cuisine. The Pate was the best dish of the night.  I felt as if we were in an old school French Bistro in Paris, dining on some delicious local favorites.

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A little more NYC ice cream after dinner, so we walked to Van Leeuwen in East Village for a scoop. The ice cream is perfectly creamy without tasting heavy, love this place!  Glad they have one in Culver City, CA so we can get a scoop at home.

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In the morning, we headed to Central Park for a bike ride tour by Central Park Bike Tours.  We met our guide at the office and biked a few blocks up into Central Park and rode for 2 hours, while stopping at most of the historical sites.  Fun, fun, fun!  The Boathouse Restaurant is in the background.

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Stopped for a slice at Ray’s Pizza in Times Square on the way to The Top of the Rock!

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That evening we had the best dinner of the trip at Frank Restaurant in East Village.  My favorite dishes were the Burrata Salad, which had thick cut tomato slices, fresh basil and a huge ball of burrata.

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The Bruleed Asparagus were fantastic, caramelized in a light cheesy cream sauce – watch your tongue, it’s hot!

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Mama’s Meatloaf with House Gravy – Best sauce I have had in a long time!

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My favorite absolute favorite dish was the Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari.  This dish had delicate flavors of the sea and definitely tasted hand made.

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Oh, and the Tiramisu was delightful too!

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Some other great sites to visit in NYC are of course the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Empire State Building, especially at night.  Both attractions on the CityPass, I should work for CityPass?!

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Little Italy and China Town were just a few blocks from East Village and they are definitely worth seeing. The fresh Cannollini’s are sold right out on the street in Little Italy and Lombardi’s, the original coal fired pizza restaurant, is another great casual dining experience.  Pizza is served on paper plates and they serve an old school treat – the Wedge Salad, loaded with bleu cheese & bacon!

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For brunch on the weekends, Hundred Acres in Soho was fun and the Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes were off the charts delicious.  The fluffy peanutty cakes were dolloped in housemade jam, lovely.

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And for delicious Bagels & Cream Cheese, don’t miss Russ & Daughters in the East Village.  The pumpernickel bagels were dense and chewy and the scallion schmear was light with a hint of onion.

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There are so many great places to see in New York City and this trip was very special because I got to share NYC with my family.

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