Best Things to See and Do in New York

Friday July 2, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 0 Comments

statue of liberty, new york, nancy d. brown, "Lady Liberty" staten island ferry

Things to see and do in New York – take the Staten Island Ferry – see the Statue of Liberty

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to  Washington Square Park – rich with history, culture and life. At the heart of the Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is a gathering point for a diverse group of artists, musicians, students, New Yorkers and visitors.

I stayed at the Larchmont Hotel and the Washington Square Hotel, next to Washington Square Park, during my June visit to attend the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference. Of course, Central Park is also stop numero uno for visitors to New York.

When I crave New York cuisine, I turn to Johnny’s Pizza, Bleeker Street Pizza or Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn.

  • Grimaldi’s is famous for its brick-oven pizzas and so good that there is always a line around the block. It’s located right under the Brooklyn Bridge and is easily accessible by Water Taxi, Subway or car. In the summertime you can grab the Water Taxi to the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge Park, order some pizza and enjoy one of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline.

To escape work I go to Central park.Sitting on one of the park benches or – in the summertime – one of the lawns – is a perfect escape from work. Whether you want to soak up the sun or people-watch, Central park is the place to de-stress.



For complete quiet, I can hide away at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although it is one of the top visitor attractions in NYC, the MET has a lot of great areas within the museum to go and hide, relax and enjoy various art forms, masterpieces and sculptures. During the summer, the rooftop is the place to be with its annual outdoor exhibits.

If you come to New York, get your picture taken at Times Square. A popular area for visitors, one can have their picture taken with the bright lights and sky high advertisements in the background, or pose with a character, such as the Naked Cowboy, who frequents the area.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at  Peter Luger’s Steak House in Willamsburg, Brooklyn, get the Porterhouse for Two (just be sure to bring a friend!)

New York  is my one stop shop for adventure, culture, diversity and vibrancy. “I want to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.”

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to any local pizza joint. Blue 9 has delicious burgers that will only run you about $5. Sweet Spring Restaurant, located in Chinatown, is a small take-out restaurant that serves up Chinese appetizers. Nothing on the menu is more than $5.

For a huge splurge, I go to  Daniel on 60th Street and Park.Daniel, owned by chef Daniel Boulud, is elegant and delicious with seasonal French cuisine and a swanky bar/lounge.

Radio City, new york, things to see and do, nancy d. brown

New York City is the place for adventure, culture and diversity.

Photo ops in New York include:

–          Top of the Rock Observation Desk

–          Empire State Building Observation Desk

–          Central Park 

–          Times Square

–          Union Square

–          Brooklyn Bridge

The best vantage points are taken at Top of the Rock. At 70 stories up you can see a 360 degree view of Manhattan’s skyline.  The iconic Empire State Building is always a must-visit for an aerial view of NYC. From the 102nd Floor Observatory you can see for miles.

The most random thing about New York is the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.  It is essentially a celebration of summer and one of New York City’s quirkiest events. Coney Island becomes packed and the boardwalk becomes filled with mermaids and various sea-creatures.

In New York an active day outdoors involves walking. You can walk anywhere in New York, including the streets and bridges. Newly sectioned off bike lanes also have made NYC more bicycle friendly.

My favorite walking route is either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge. There is something special and unique on both side of both bridges.

Take the staten island ferry in New York to see the statue of liberty and New York city skyline

Best Things to See and Do is the Staten Island Ferry to see New York’s skyline

New York’s best museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

–          The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue, along “Museum Mile” – a stretch of 22 blocks that features 10 museums – and is surrounded by Central Park.

–          The newly renovated MoMA, located in Midtown, is an impressive space with its various floors, modern design and outdoor garden area.

For a night of dancing, go to  The Meatpacking District.

Katz’s Delicatessen is the spot for late night dining. It is one of the oldest delis in Manhattan. Located in the trendy Lower East Side, Katz’s is the perfect late-night spot. On weekends it’s open until 2:45am and on weekdays until roughly 10/11pm. 

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read NY Magazine, Time Out NY.

In the spring you should attend the Bronx Botanical Garden – filled with budding flowers and exhibits.

In the summer you should attend Summerstage – a series of free outdoor concerts in Central Park. Coney Island is worth a day for a fun filled adventure, circus-like experience. Bite on a Nathan’s hotdog while strolling the beach/boardwalk.

In the fall you should visit  Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

In the winter you should go shopping on Fifth Avenue and see all the festive lights Visit Rockefeller Center to see the annual Christmas tree lighting and for ice-skating.

New York street sign, travel writer Nancy d. Brown

There are plenty of things to see and do in New York City – honking is not one of them.

A hidden gem in New York is Governors Island – an outdoor sanctuary. The island was founded in the 1600’s by the Dutch and built for the exclusive use of Governors during the colonial times. The Island is now a popular outdoor destination for biking, outdoor exhibits, concerts, picnics, and tours of the colonial houses.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Balthazar. It’s a famous French café located in the heart of SoHo. You can sit, or take out. It’s a perfect place to gather some fuel for a day of shopping in SoHo.

Just outside of New York city you can visit City Island. It’s  the perfect day-trip. Located at the very tip of the Bronx, you can go the beach, take a swim in the Long Island Sound and eat local seafood at the Lobster Box.  

The best way to see New York is to walk or take the Hop on Hop off Bus. NYC is easy to walk; the Subway is also very easy and accessible throughout the five boroughs.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Brooklyn Bridge Park’s brand new Pier 6 Playground. One of the largest playgrounds in all five boroughs, the recently opened area is home to large rope swings, a sprinkler system, and mountains to climb. While at the park, you can also admire the views of lower Manhattan, the Hudson River, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What are your favorite things to do in New York City?

Thanks to Francisca Ovalle and NYC The Official Guide for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Thanks to these travel bloggers for their New York City Insider Tips;

Jennifer Miner and Kara Williams: The Vacation Gals

Sherry Ott: Otts World

Donna L. Hull: My Itchy Travel Feet

Wendy Perrin: Conde Nast Traveler magazine and Truth.Travel blog

Gary Arndt: Everything Everywhere

Sheila Scarborough: Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff

Tiffany Dowd: Tiffany Travels

Trisha Miller: Travel Writers Exchange

Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Mary Ann Grisham: Enchanted Travel

Johnny Jet:

Jill Robinson: Jill

Dolphin Swim and Sea Turtles at Sea Life Park Hawaii, Honolulu

Friday June 25, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 3 Comments

sea life park hawaii, dolphin interactive program, dolphin swim, honolulu, hawaii,

Kendall Brown enjoys an interactive dolphin swim at Sea Life Park Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii

Sea Life Park Hawaii Dolphin Swim

As I ungracefully paddled my way into the center of the salt water tank, I felt something move in front of me in the water. The theme song from Jaws briefly floated through my mind. I reached out to grab a flipper and was gently pulled through the water by a 450 pound dolphin.

My daughter had wanted to swim with a dolphin during our recent trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. Located in East Oahu, Sea Life Park Hawaii is about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki and has the only interactive in-depth program with dolphins on the islands of Hawaii.

Is it right for humans to hold animals captive for our viewing enjoyment?

As an animal and nature lover, I have an inner battle going on inside my brain when I visit animal parks, aquariums, wild life compounds and zoos. Is it right for humans to hold these animals and sea creatures captive for our viewing enjoyment and pleasure? While the answer to that question is a personal decision, I can tell you that places such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Sea Life Park Hawaii have a vested interest in the well being of their “family members.”

Interactive Dolphin Swim at Sea Life Park Hawaii

Our interactive dolphin swim was with Itsy Bitsy. Itsy Bitsy was born at Sea Life Park Hawaii, and at 32 years old, she is living longer than she would in the ocean. Itsy Bitsy, along with her companions, continues to provide “teachable moments” to children and adults about the different marine life and how we need to protect the ocean and their environment for future generations to come.

“If she didn’t want to interact with us,” said Sea Life Park Hawaii Dolphin Trainer, “she would swim away. It’s that simple. The dolphins enjoy the stimulation and interaction.”

Green Sea Turtles are a threatened species

Green Sea Turtles have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 200 million years.  The ancient Hawaiians called the Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii’s waters honu – the name that is still used today.  Many early Hawaiian legends tell stories that credit the honu as being the guides for the first voyagers to Hawaii.  Adult honu can measure more than three feet straight in length and weigh up to 450 pounds.  The sea turtles grow very slowly in the wild and typically don’t reach sexual maturity until they are around 25-30 years old. While the life span of the honu remains unknown, today the honu is regarded as a threatened species and is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Turtle Independence Day on the Big Island

Since 1989, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows has received 3-5 month old juvenile honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) from Oahu’s Sea Life Park and has raised them in the saltwater ponds of the resort. The honu are cared for until they grow to a size and weight that is appropriate for release into the ocean.  Mauna Lani raises the honu for 2-3 years until they grow to a minimum shell length of 35 cm. The release occurs every July 4 at the ocean’s edge fronting Mauna Lani.  Over the years Mauna Lani has released 206 honu.

The honu are gathered at the ponds before joining a procession down to the beachfront for release, proceeded by a Hawaiian ceremony.  The annual Turtle Independence Day celebration honors the honu and educates the public about the threatened Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.

Have you visited Sea Life Park Hawaii? Have you participated in a turtle release or dolphin swim program? What are your favorite things to do in Honolulu? Leave a comment below.

If You Go:

Sea Life Park Hawaii 1 (808) 259-2500

41-41-202 Kalanianaole Highway #7
Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795 USA

Related Post:

Horseback Riding at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii

Article written by and video courtesy of Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Sea Life Park Hawaii and Oahu Visitors Bureau.

Best Things to See and Do in Bruges, Belgium

Friday June 18, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

"Bruges Canal Boat"

The best way to see Bruges, in Belgium, is to take a boat trip or carriage ride

Are you traveling to Bruges in Belgium? The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to Bruges city center. The historic centre of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

At the end of a busy day,  I go to the city parks to relax and watch people.

Hoping to escape the crowds and tourists?  The wind mills of Bruges and the Beguinage are great places for peace and quiet.

When you visit Bruges, get your picture taken at Rozenhoedkaai.

Bruges and food

Everyone knows that Bruges is famous for its waffles, but when I am hungry for Bruges cuisine, I head to Cafedraal.

One of my favorite places to dine in Bruges is Restaurant Den Dyver, order anything paired with beer menu.

When visiting Bruges , this is the place for Belgium chocolates, fine lace and tapestries.

If you are traveling without a lot of money, go to the French fries stalls in front of the Belfry; the waffles are cheap, too.

For a huge splurge, I go to De Karmeliet or Patrick Devos. While the Market Square is the spot for late night dining.


"Nancy D Brown Bruges Belfry"

The entire town of Bruges is a photo opportunity. Here is Nancy D. Brown with the Belfry in the background.

Photo opportunities in Bruges are as easy as standing by the canals with swans swimming in the background, but they also include Rozenhoedkaai or on top of the Belfry.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of the Belfry or Concertgebouw.

The most random thing about Bruges is the Holy Blood Procession. While the name of the annual event is not catchy, the procession, held in May is amazing to watch. Check out my YouTube video of the Holy Blood Procession for parade highlights.

In Bruges, an active day outdoors involves walking or hiking or biking.

My favorite walking route is the route along the canal to Damme.

Bruges best museum is De Groeningemuseum.

For a night of dancing, go to another city!

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read Exit.

In the spring you should visit the Beguinage, the inner square is filled with flowers.

In the summer you should walk and bicycle in and around Bruges.

In the winter you should go to the ice skating rink on the market square and the Christmas market.

"The Madonna"

The Madonna is one of the masterpieces of the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium

A hidden gem in Bruges is Gouden Handrei, the unknown canal.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Dagelijks Brood.

Just outside of Bruges you can visit Damme.

The best way to see Bruges is to walk, take a boat trip on the canals or ride in a horse drawn carriage.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss boat trips on the canals or Boudewijn Sea Park.

What are your favorite places in Bruges?

Thanks to Liliane Opsomer  and Visit Flanders for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Related Posts:

Grand Hotel Casselbergh, Bruges, Belgium

Things to See and Do in Brussels, Belgium

Things to See and Do in Ghent, Belgium

Surrounded by horses in Bruges, Belgium