Let’s state the obvious…I’m not from New York City. My home is a mere 972 miles away from the city I claim to know like the back of my hand. I have been there just 5 times – 3 of which I actually remember. With that said I know New York about as well as you.
But what I do know – I love. And what I don’t know – well, I love that stuff too.
The second the wheels of that 737 meets the asphalt of LaGuardia’s runway, jarring me in my seat, a sensation wells up inside me. A feeling that wants to jump each and every turnstile that comes in between my home and me for the next few days. I’ve even been known to ask the taxi driver to drop me off at Madison and 23rd – my beloved Shake Shack – opting to carry my luggage in one hand and a chocolate concrete in the other hand all the way to the hotel.
This will be the first of many posts about where to eat, what to do, and what to see in NYC. Like I said before, I am no pro at New York City. So my number one requirement is that you explore and fall deeply in love with it as much as I have. This is merely a supplement to your excursions in the city.
I have toiled over how to approach this post. Should I categorize it by food type? Or by neighborhood? Maybe alphabetically? I even considered listing them by the owner’s year of birth…only kidding.
I finally settled on the neighborhood option – at least for now! Where better to start than the beloved Times Square?
New York City is sprawling with great food, but the more you explore the city the more you will realize that the best food is often in areas the tourist don’t get the chance to explore. This area is obviously one of the most tourist concentrated areas in all of New York, but thank goodness they have spared some great food for this neighborhood.
First on my list is Junior’s Restaurant. Anyone who has spoken a lick to me about New York City knows that I recommend this place. The location is sublime and the cheesecakes are supreme. No fail – my family visits Junior’s to both try new Cheesecake flavors and devour our favorites.
Hopewell favorites include Red Velvet and Original (above). I am not ashamed to say that we have had one mailed to us. You will understand after you set your taste buds on this one.
Next is Shake Shack. I mentioned this gem earlier, except I was alluding to another location (Madison Square Park). This place is SO good. They started out as a hot dog cart in 2001 and now have locations all over NYC, select states, and even international locations.
Shake Shack is your not so average modern burger stand with not so average hamburgers. On our last trip we waited in the rain to get one of these burgers. The trip before that – we stood in line for over an hour. Any amount of time or any type of extreme element is worth embracing just for a taste of these burgers with a side of fries and delicious concrete to wash it all down.
Now for what to do! Well Times Square may be a tourist magnet – one that can’t be avoided and neither should it be. This place is the heartbeat of NYC. It reverberates bright lights on every street corner from 40th and 53rd street and 6th and 9th avenue.
Other than soaking in each and every one of those majestic billboards – I recommend seeing a play. I have my repertoire of favorites, but here I will touch on just one.
Newsies – The Musical
I will never tire of this musical based on the 1992 film Newsies. It is upbeat, exciting, empowering, and all together spectacular. I could go on and on about it, but no rave review will fully click until you make your way into the Nederlander Theatre and relax in those red velvet seats.
Bonus tip: If you are going to be there during the week during a not-so-crowded season (this excludes Christmas and Thanksgiving) – tickets are sold around half price the day of. We have never had a problem getting tickets so it truly wouldn’t be a gamble considering the odds are ever in your favor! As far as I know this is the same for all Broadway shows – so take a chance! Live on the edge! Get those tickets the day of!
I also recommend visiting Swatch. I mostly recommend this because it is hard to come across a Swatch store. I am a teenie tiny bit in love with watches. Ok. I’m in LOVE with watches. I am confident that as soon as I walk in those doors my heart beats in sync with the click of the watches.
Last but certainly not least, where to stay in Times Square. From that first trip my family took to NYC when I was a youngster we have stayed at the Marriott Marquee. Although Times Square is not my favorite area of NYC – the beds at this place make the stay in the square very worth it. PLUS guess what is a short J-walk across the street? Juniors! Yeah, those Cheesecakes that were making you drool a minute ago. Hopewell battles have been fought (and won) to stay at this place. Location is sublime – especially for first timers. Did I mention that the beds were auuumaaazinggg? This place is definitely worth a try on your trip to NYC.
I will close with the disclaimer that I opened with – I am an amateur when it comes to New York City. I know that your list of “must-eats” in Times Square may outnumber mine tenfold. With that said I would absolutely love to hear where you enjoy eating or what you love to do in Times Square because I would love to expand my repertoire.