CITYSIGHTS NY BLOG

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Museums and Attractions

  • Visiting Museums in New York City

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    New York City has hundreds of famous, top-notch museums, providing exposure to a broad range of history, art, culture and education. Although it is an expensive city, it can be quite hospitable to tourists and locals, such as offering a free museum day. In fact, many of its premier museums, attractions, performances and galleries are free or offer pay-what-you-wish alternatives. If you are really seeking a bargain, try no- or low-cost admittance to venture into the unknown or even return to a favorite exhibit, gallery or piece of artwork.
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  • 3 Toddler-Friendly Attractions in New York City

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    Many people assume that a trip to New York City is only for adults. With bustling streets, Broadway shows and gourmet food at every turn, it is the ultimate travel destination for those over 18, but it can be just as enjoyable for families with young children. Planning is the key to a fun, fulfilling trip, and there are plenty of stops to add to your itinerary, from the American Museum of Natural History to stops at some of the most popular tourist attractions.
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  • 6 Best Things to Do When You’re Traveling Solo in NYC

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    It doesn’t matter if you have a full week in the Big Apple, or just a few hours on a layover flight. The important thing is that you’re in the big city and you have time to explore. The city that never sleeps won’t disappoint, but it’s a good idea to have some things planned so you make the most of your solo time in the city. New York is, perhaps arguably, the entertainment capital of the world. Consider visiting world famous NYC museums, head on a sightseeing tour or experience some of the best cuisine on the planet by dining NYC style. No matter what you do, prepare yourself for the trip of a lifetime.
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  • Enjoy Your New York City Museum Visit with Your Kids

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    The Big Apple is home to some of the most impressive museums in the world. Take advantage of the enthralling exhibits, amazing artwork and vast cultural displays on your next trip to the city. Museums provide a fascinating journey for the whole family as you discover hands-on learning and encourage curiosity. Here’s a few of the best New York City museums to engage the whole family. Bonus: the parents are sure to have just as much fun as the kids.
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  • How to Rock the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour

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    If you are planning a trip to the Big Apple, make sure to experience one of its icons with the Radio City Stage Door Tour. Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theater in the world, and its marquee stretches over an entire city block. Over 300 million people have visited the Music Hall to see movies, concerts, special events and stage shows.
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  • Get an Insider’s View of NYC

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    There are literally hundreds of ways to see New York. A cruise along the East and/or Hudson Rivers can offer you a glimpse of some of the city’s most popular attractions from afar. You can learn the details of New York’s rich history and culture while riding along on a hop on/hop off bus tour. If you have the money, you can even jump in a helicopter and see some spectacular views that few will ever get to witness. Yet while each of these tours offers a unique view of the Big Apple, none can provide you with as immersive of an experience as the one you get on the best walking tours in New York City.
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  • Experience the Performing Arts Like You Never Have Before at the Lincoln Center Festival

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    Visiting the renowned Lincoln Center during the Lincoln Center Festival is one of the best ways to enjoy top-notch entertainment while adding some culture to your life. The impressive Lincoln Center buildings span across 16.3 acres of property in New York and house 12 different arts organizations. From dramatic plays to mind-blowing puppetry, you can find practically any type of entertainment you desire at this grandiose performing arts center. If you plan to join a bus tour group while visiting New York, be sure to pick up a New York City Explorer Pass that will give you free reign to choose the Lincoln Center as one of your optional preferred destinations.

    2015 Season Details

    The year 2015 promises to be an exciting one for the Lincoln Center Festival. Guests will be treated to incredible performances by a wide variety of artists and genres. A few acts in the pipeline for this season include:

    Druid Theatre Company: This talented group prepares to bring some of Shakespeare’s works to life with masterful performances of Henry IV parts I and II, Henry V and Richard II, all combined into one narrative by Mark O’Rowe. Garry Hynes will be directing the group.
    Danny Elfman: Your favorite music from Tim Burton films will soon be played and sung in breathtaking harmony by a full choir and orchestra. Past events featuring Danny Elfman’s multimedia celebrations sold out, so get your tickets quickly!
    National Ballet of China: Prepare to experience the same ballet that was originally staged for President Nixon when he visited China in 1972. This remarkably colorful performance features bravura choreography by Li Chenxiang, Wang Xixian and Jiang Zuhui. As one of the most popular ballets in all of China, this is one event you don’t want to miss.
    The Cleveland Orchestra: Once again, The Cleveland Orchestra prepares to awe and amaze with their vigorous performance of Strauss’s Symphonia Domestica and Beethoven’s “Pastorale”, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

    Many other artists are scheduled to perform at the Lincoln Center this year, so take a look at the 2015 schedule and determine which show you would like to see while in New York. Then, be sure to add the Lincoln Center to your New York City Explorer Pass.

    Every Vacation Needs Some Culture

    In many parts of the world, the performing arts are sadly becoming a thing of the past. However, they are still alive and thriving in New York thanks to the Lincoln Center and other buildings dedicated to the arts. If you want to infuse some culture and entertainment into your New York vacation, consider adding the Lincoln Center Festival to your New York City Explorer Pass.

  • The Imminent Arrival of Awesomeness: Kalahari Resorts and Conventions

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    New York, NY- Very few things can be classified as awesome, but Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is certainly one of them. Currently, there are two Kalahari Resorts and Conventions open: the first in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and the second in Sandusky, Ohio. On July 1, a third location will open in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, which will be a boon for East Coasters. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is unique in many ways. One is their authentically African theme. In fact, the owners, the Nelson family, traveled to six countries in Africa last October to bring back authentic items and experiences for their guests. The resort also caters to all members of the family — from the young, to the young at heart. With a mission to help families reunite, Kalahari Resorts is destined to revolutionize the waterpark industry.

    Their press release explains the latest Kalahari Resorts mission: "The demands of modern life and overbooked schedules are taking a toll on family time. On average, families are spending fewer than eight hours per week with one another. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions was created for families by the Nelson family — and they are on a mission to remove family time from the Endangered List — beginning with the opening of their grandest resort to date in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, on July 1, 2015."

    Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, recently named the World’s Coolest Indoor Water Park by Condé Nast Traveler (2014), is sure to satisfy anyone who visits their resorts. Their new resort in the Pocono Mountains will feature Pennsylvania’s largest indoor waterpark, an outdoor waterpark with a huge outdoor pool, a sundeck for relaxing, indoor/outdoor whirlpools, and a swim-up bar. It also has a 30,000 sq. ft. family entertainment center including bowling, laser tag, and arcade games, three signature dining experiences, a 100,000 sq. ft. convention center, and more. With a vast number of family-oriented activities on premises, people of all ages are guaranteed to have a great time. As Travis Nelson, spokesman for Kalahari Resorts, said: “We are passionate about creating an unforgettable experience for families — and our new resort is unparalleled to any destination on the East Coast.” Although this sounds like a strong statement, to my surprise, it may actually be an understatement.

    Here in New York City, the excitement about the new Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is palpable. I am eager to check out the resort later this summer. I especially anticipate seeing how this family resort will appeal to all ages. And based on the reports, I look forward to showing the world why everyone should go to the resort. And of course, those with families should bring their entire crews. At Kalahari Resorts, the "fun factor" will certainly be at the highest caliber and I cannot wait to experience it for myself. The hype is for real!

  • Pirates Of New York

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    When one thinks of New York City today, piracy is not the first word that comes to mind. But delve 325 years into the city’s history, and you’ll find a past rich in privateering and piracy—much of it either ignored or directly financed by New York’s colonial governors!

    In the late 1600s, sea trade flourished as ships flying under the flags of many European powers (including England, France, and Spin) pursued trade routes from the Near East to the Americas. As the American Colonies thrived, port cities along the east coast from Boston and New York to Philadelphia and Charleston became hubs of activity for traders, merchants, and yes, pirates.

    In the late 1600s, New York, while a thriving port, had to compete with both Boston and Philadelphia for revenue. Jacob Leisler (governor in rebellion, 1689–1691) entered into active privateering and piracy arrangements, using his personal funds to pay William Mason to attack French shipping off the Massachusetts coast.

    After Leisler’s downfall and subsequent execution as a traitor, governorship fell to Colonel William Fletcher. Fletcher immediately recognized the value of the Sweet Trade (as piracy was sometimes called) to New York’s economy. Since England and France were at war, it was not uncommon for one country to seize the other’s ships. “Letters of Marque” carried by privateers granted them legal authority to seize ships and cargo in the name of the Colonial Governor. Under these rules, all seized cargo was to be brought to port for proper (and legal) disposition. Of course, it was far simpler to forego the formality and resort to direct piracy. Fletcher was open to hosting pirates in New York Harbor for a fee of 100 Spanish dollars—quite a tidy sum in the 1690s.

    So, through Fletcher, piracy found a home in New York City, and the city’s many merchants, innkeepers, and tavern owners profited nicely from the illicit business. It was not uncommon for pirates to spend all sorts of coin on the streets of Manhattan—from doubloons to dinars.

    Perhaps the most famous celebrity pirate to be associated with New York City was Captain William Kidd. There’s some evidence to suggest that Kidd’s association with New York began early in his career when he may have worked as a ship’s mate for privateers sailing out of the harbor. Later Kidd applied some of his wealth to building a substantial home in the city. In 1691, Kidd married Sarah Cox Oort, an English widow who was one of the wealthiest women in New York. Kidd was also instrumental in the financing and construction of New York City’s first Trinity Church. It has been said that Kidd even provided heavy block and tackle from his own ship to help hoist some of Trinity’s heavier stones into place.

    Piracy in New York got a boost from the Revolutionary War, as seized cargo was invaluable to the struggling colonies. John Broome, a New York merchant, organized a privateering operation from his Connecticut home that raided ships in Long Island Sound. Following the War for Independence, piracy began a long but steady decline, and subsequent Governors were not so quick to turn a blind eye to the sea dogs who once strolled Manhattan’s streets with impunity. Yet it you tour the neighborhoods of Manhattan at night, you may still find a pirate ghost or two in the shadows.

  • How Broadway Got To Be "Broadway!"

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    Looking at Broadway in New York City today, one can scarcely imagine a time when it wasn’t bustling with tourists and theatergoers, shoppers and office workers. The name Broadway is so synonymous with American theater that one can easily forget that Broadway itself stretches from Manhattan’s southern tip, north through the Bronx, and outside the city into its northern suburbs. But for now let’s take a look at the theater district in Midtown Manhattan and how it got to be so famous.

    Back in the 1600s, what we now know as Broadway was a dirt path called the Wickquasgeck Trail, cut through the swamps, streams, rocks and brush by the Native American tribes of Manhattan Island. Dutch explorers noted the trail as a main north-south route along the island’s western side as early as 1642.

    In the 1800s, as Manhattan’s now familiar grid structure of numbered east-west streets and north-south avenues began to take shape, Broadway remained a principal traffic route. Its often zigzagging contour through the city, however, necessitated the creation of some rather interesting intersections, or Squares. Union Square (at 14th Street), Madison Square (at 26th Street), and Times Square (at 42nd Street) became some of the most famous. The open spaces afforded by these unique intersections drew the interest od developers (circus magnate P.T. Barnum built the Hippodrome on the site of a former rail depot at Madison Square in the mid-1800s).

    Theater culture, for which Broadway is widely known, remained sharply divided along class lines in the 1800s—with bawdy musical halls and minstrel shows for the blue collar workers ad their families downtown (now the Bowery) and classical theaters and concert halls for the white collar society uptown (now Midtown Manhattan). The theaters we know today did not begin to take root in the Midtown (Times Square area) until around 1900.

    One major development in the evolution of Broadway’s theater district was the invention of the electric lamp. Broadway was among the first major U.S. streets to get the makeover, replacing gas lanterns with an interconnected system of AC-powered streetlights. It is from these lights that Broadway earned the moniker “The Great White Way.” Musical comedies by the hundreds were staged on Broadway around the turn of the last century, man written by Tin Pan Alley composers like George M. Cohan.

    As the 20th century took shape, more theaters began to open. Many theaters were owned by consortiums like the Erlanger Syndicate and later the Shubert Brothers. Actors Equity gained standard wages for unionized actors in 1919. Light opera began to work its way into the Broadway canon as a strong demographic of middle class theatergoers emerged.

    As motion pictures became the emerging technology of the 20s and 30s, Broadway was forced to adapt, taking on ever larger productions such as the Ziegfeld Follies to entice audiences. The era of the full-scale narrative musical was ushered in by Show Boat in 1927 and proved a definitive moment for Broadway musical theater. During the war years, the musical Oklahoma! became an overwhelming hit with over 2,200 performances.

    Following World War Two, the Times Square area of Broadway began to see another sort of transformation, this one to the seedier side, as low-rent burlesque houses and adult movie theaters began to encroach on the district. By the 1960s and ‘70s, the districts was as synonymous with street crime, peep-shows, and prostitution as it was with theater. But beginning in the 1980s, Broadway’s theater district began to emerge from this darker era with increased policing and the closure of many of the low-rent businesses that had proven to be magnets for crime.

    Modern Broadway has reinvented itself as a family-friendly neighborhood, well attended both by day and night, and aglow with the lights that made Broadway famous. Hit theatrical productions continue to be the defining characteristic of Broadway near Times Square, with hits like Finding Neverland, Aladdin, Chicago, and Phantom of the Opera attracting millions of theatergoers annually.

    No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Broadway, so bring the family, take in a show, and be a part of history!