Englishman in New York!!

Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:21 PM
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Englishman in New York!!


My wife and I are in our late 20s and we will be visiting New York for the first time on 08-25-04 for one week. We will be staying in two hotels, one in Time Square and one off 5th avenue. We have a few questions to ask.

1. When is the best time to visit the Empire State Building. We have been told that it is best to go at sunset and is it wise to get tickets on-line before we leave. Is this correct?

2. We have heard that the Statue of Liberty is now open to the public, we were wondering if it is possible to obtain tickets in advance on-line?

3. We intend to see a Broadway show and have decided that we would like to see Fiddler on the roof. Would it be wise to purchase tickets in advance? The top end of the ticket range costs $100 which is equivalent to £65 whilst in London the top tickets cost £45. In London the best time to see a show would be Friday and Saturday evening. What would be the best time to see a Broadway show?

4. What would be the best place to have a pre or post theatre meal near to the Minskoff Theatre at 200 West 45th street?

5. As our Hotel does not serve breakfast, where would be the best place to have breakfast or brunch?

6. Where would be the best place to shop for designer clothes? Can you recommend any good shops?

7. We have heard that there are tours of Ground Zero, is this correct? If so, where can we join such tours?

We have asked a lot of questions!! Hope
you can help.

Many thanks

serpico is offline  
Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:44 PM
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Welcome to NYC, serpico.
First, yea, it's sad how expensive Broadway is. I spend a couple weeks a year in London and LOVE theatre there probably as much or more than Broadway, and especially love the far cheaper prices. I'm not sure why you say the best time to see a show is Fri. or Sat evening. Just like in London, those are the two nights when tickets are hardest to get or the most expensive. You can go to the following websites, register for free and get many advance tickets at discount prices:
I just checked and saw that there are discount tickets available for Fiddler on the Broadway Box website for most performances except Saturday night, through October. You can book right on line. You may know what you want to see, and I haven't seen the current production of Fiddler, but it hasn't been so warmly received as shows like Hairspray or even Wicked. Wonderful Town is also a great show if you like classic musicals -- and tickets are now available at discount on the above sites for that.

Sorry, to say the NYC TKTS booth is far less accomodating and user friendly than the one in Leicester Square.

As to dining -- wow, that's a big open field.
You may know Joe Allen's in London, and the one in New York on 46th (on what is called Restaurant Row) is the same and very popular with theatre folk AFTER theatre -- which I think is the best time to eat. The former manager of Joe Allen's opened his own place, just a little more upscale, right next to The Producers on 44th -- called Angus MacIndoe. It's great also especially for after theatre. You might pop into the classic Sardi's near by BEFORE the show for a drink at the bar, but I'd pass on their dinners.
There are tons of other dining options. Post something about the type and the price and we can really help you out there -- or do a search her for Theatre Dining and click New York and you will be overwhelmed with the responses.
Breakfast in the Times Square Area? There are a couple of good smallish places on 8th Avenue around 44th to 46th. Daniella Trattoria (I think that's the right spelling of Daniella) between 45th and 46th is good. I forget the name of the coffeeshop place on the west side of 8th right on the corner of 44th, but it's very good too. I'd avoid a place called Roxy's in Times Square. When I showed the lipstick on my dirty glass to the waitress she got in a huff and said it was permanent. I wiped it off with my finger and showed it to her, and she stormed off and refused to serve us.

Can't help you much with most of the tourist attraction questions. But tourists are now only allowed on the island at the Statue of Liberty and into the base, not up into the statue, so I'm not sure if that would be worth it to you. Frankly, I'd consider hopping on the Staten Island Ferry for cheap and pass it going both way on a round trip, especially if the weather's pleasant.

But have fun in "The Big Apple".

By the way, not to get personal, but why are you and your wife staying in two hotels? Wouldn't it be nicer if you both stayed in the same one??? Sorry, just joking.
Patrick is offline  
Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:52 PM
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Just thought of a place I sent Brit friends visiting NYC -- Virgil's Barbeque. They liked it so much, they went back three times. So if you want something rather uniquely American -- reasonable, and actually good, you might try it -- open for lunch or dinner or late for after theatre. It's on 44th just east of Times Square/Broadway.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:58 PM
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I'm pretty sure I heard that the Statue of Liberty had been reopened to visitors (but not all the way to the crown). serpico, you might check the National Park Service website for info about advanced tickets:

obxgirl is online now  
Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 06:01 PM
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What designer clothes are you looking for? Discount of remainders? the latest? A lot of the traditional designers have shops on Madison Avenue - or you can get things in the bettr department stores - Bloomies, Saks, etc. For trendier stuff you might head downtown - but if you give names I'm sure someone will know where the best deals are.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Hello serpico,
When we went up to the top of the Empire State Building, it was over an hour wait just for the elevator, thankfully we already had tickets which you can purchase on line at esbny.com. Otherwise it would have been another hour just to buy tickets.
We arrived at around 8:00pm and were told that if we had been there at 6:00-6:30 pm that the lines would have been much shorter. I don't know if that is true all the time though.
Here is a phone number you can call once you are in NYC that will give you visibility and waiting time to get to the top of the ESB:
1-800-692-8439 OR

As for the Statue of Liberty, go early in the morning to avoid long lines. The problem is not lines for tickets, but the line to board the ferry, if you get there by 8:30 am or so, you should be able to avoid that.

I don't know if there are tours of the World Trade Centre site anymore. It is truly a construction site now, so you will be paying your respects from a distance.

Have a wonderful time in NYC.
atilla is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 09:27 AM
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#3 - You are correct: theatre tickets are 50% higher in NYC than in London - can't help you there.

#4 Agree with Joe Allen's for after theater dinner recommendation - I've had great meals there and love the ambience and convenient location - make sure you reserve a table.

#5 For the Times Sq hotel, stroll along 9th ave between 45th and 55th: you'll see lots of casual, inexpensive options for breakfast (and any other time of day). 5th ave is long; where on 5th ave is the second hotel??

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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 09:47 AM
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I don't know of any ground zero tours. There is an exhibit, I beleive in the winter garden (battery park city) with the new design for the area. There also is an exhibit at St. Pauls church (on Broadway, a few blocks north of the WTC site).

For nice shopping, the department stores mentioned are good choices. ALso check out soho, primarily broadway and w. broaway between houston and spring sts. ALso PRince and Spring sts between broadway and w. broadway. If you want designer discoutns check out Century 21 (across from WTC site) and daffy's (many locations).

For breakfast, there are small delis and coffee shops all over the place. For a nice weekend brunch, many of the good restaurants offer them. I here Balthazar on SPring st has a great brunch. There are many others as well that have been mentioned here. Try doing a search on 'NYC and Brunch'.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 10:03 AM
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I would suspect that any organized tours of Ground Zero would be met with some very harsh criticism here in NY and likely is perhaps part of some other tour like GrayLine. The area still attracts numerous tourists and the fencing around the site has an exhibit about the history of the location. But, it really resembles a construction site at this point (although, it is certainly more than that in a larger sense.)

In terms of the Empire State Building, certainly sunset or night would provide the most interesting views/photo opportunity.

For designer clothes, certainly the big department stores like Sachs, Barney's and Bergdorff would be a logical choice. Many of the top designers also have their own locations that are usually on 5th Avenue on the Fifties or Madison in the 50 and 60's.

In terms of pre-theater dinner, really depends on budget and taste. For reasonable, the Virgil's suggestion isn't bad. Certainly the barbeque will be uniquely American. For a bit higher end, I've always like Rene Pujol on 51st and 8th for Classic French or Rachel's American Bistro for a more moderate place.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 11:02 AM
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In case you don't know, your trip will partially coincide with the Republican National Convention to be held at Madison Square Garden (7th ave & 33 st.)Aug 30- Sept 2. With heightened security in that area and in general, most NYers are leaving the city and many who work there are being encouraged to take time off that week. IMO, the city will wind up being empty and it will be great time to sightsee. So with that info as a backdrop

1. By buying tickets on line you avoid the initial ticket buyer's line but will still have to stand in line for the elevators which can be long. If you don't mind seeing the view at night, I'd go late (ever see the movie "An Affair to Remember" when they're supposed to meet at midnight, or "Sleepless in Seattle" that refers to it?) ESB is open til midnight. Last elevator goes up at 11:15pm.

website http://www.esbnyc.com/index2.cfm

2. For SOL read the info here. You can make a reservation. This may be new. And there are 2 options of tours listed. I had read that you can only go into the base. http://www.nps.gov/stli/pphtml/planyourvisit.html

3. I agree with Patrick. Use one of the discount sites like Broadwaybox.com and buy tickets ahead of time. It's not as cheap as the TKTS booth but you're assured of seeing what you want and you can charge them on a credit card. The TKT booth only accepts cash. BTW, Fri and Sat nights are most expensive and generally most crowded. I personally prefer a weeknight. Consider seeing some off Broadway while you're here. Check listings on the playbill.com website. Theatermania often has good discounts.

4. I think Joe Allen (and a lot of the other places on restaurant row) is a good option for casual, good food. There are so many restaurants of every type of food and price. Menupages.com is a good search engine and has menus for virtually every rest. in the city.

On 45th between Broadway & 8th ave. is a place called Sam's that has similar food/ambiance to Joe Allen's although I haven't been there in a while. There's a good Italian called Trattoria Trecolori also on west 45th a block east. And John's Pizza on west 44th gets written up a lot. It's in an old church.

5. You don't give location details on the hotels but virtually every block or so there's a decent coffee shop, deli or Starbucks type place. One of the more famous breakfast places is Normas in the Le Parker Meridien Hotel on 58th off Fifth. Portions are large and prices are high but everyone raves. It's also good for burgers.

6. In addition to all the excellent shopping advice you've already gotten, if you're looking for bargains, Century 21 is a discount department store with designer stuff. It's all the way downtown not far from the WTC site. It would be helpful to know what kind or which designers you want.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 12:51 PM
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Mclaurie is as usual, right on the money - I think the Times had an article about businesses are already feeling the pain of next weeks' convention. Most restaurant reservations are down and ticket sales for shows are way down. If you're patient with ground transport issues in midtown and around protest areas, you could end up finding a pretty quiet city . . .
check out the www.nyc.gov site for updates and closures and protest schedules.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 05:53 PM
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serpico, have you returned to check out this thread? Be sure to look for a current "New York trip report" posted by sclubb. It tells of their very recent experiences with many of the actual things you mention, including tickets to Fiddler on the Roof.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2004, 07:39 PM
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serpico, hopefully you will be looking at this one last time before you take off for the states. I see that you have a lot of recommendations for Broadway, but not too many on the designer clothes front. I will add a bunch of my own thoughts to that list, so here goes:

The thing to keep in mind is that shopping is organized into "zones" as is everthing NYC. For interesting designers I think you should focus on the Madison Ave / Fifth Ave designer zone, the Soho zone, and the NoLita zone, as well as the bargain shopping.

For bargains:
Someone mentioned Century 21 as a great place to shop for designer clothing. I agree. While it may not be the most luxe experience, you can certainly score designer duds for cheap. My rule of thumb is not to spend time in the handbag or shoe department (they never have great selection) but rather to spend more time on the top floor in the designer section. You can get great coats, dresses, and other designer clothing usually about 50% off (and yes they are usually from the current season).Century 21 is located adjacent to the WTC site.

You should try to find out if the Barney's Warehouse Sale is actually on while you are in NY. I just tried a google search and came up empty but calling the store might yield results. The sale is legendary, I managed to snag a Costume National leather coat for 80% off a few years ago and last year I walked out with some great cashmere sweaters and shoes.

I also believe that the Prada sample sale is on while you are in NY, but you need to register for an appointment and going to a sample sale in NY is not my idea of a vacation activity. Here is the URL if you are interested though:

For more info on sample sales and designers in general I recommend looking at the www.dailycandy.com site.

Upscale shopping
For a more luxe experience I certainly recommend Barney's on Madison Ave. Barney's is my favorite of all the department stores, not only because of the clothing but also the way in which everthing is displayed, it really is beautiful. If you continue to walk North or South on Madison you will see all the high end boutiques. Fifth Ave also offers a range of interesting stores (Tiffany's, Bergdorf Goodman, Gucci, etc).

Make sure you check out the Rem Koolhaas designed Prada store in SoHo (Broadway and Prince) while you are there pop into Dean and Deluca across the way for a coffee or an on-the-go lunch. They have great sushi and sandwiches and have a counter area where you can eat your lunch. It is also a beautiful store.

Don't make the mistake of spending too much time walking around Broadway is Soho. The strip is nothing more than a glut of Banana Repblics and Old Navy stores. You are better off spending your time east of Soho in Nolita where you will find smaller designer boutiques doing really interesting one off work. You may want to check out Yellow Rat bastard though, they have some great sneakers (SoHo is the best place for cool sneakers).

In Soho you will find some of the better American mid-price stores such as Anthropologie (all womens located on West Broadway, just keep walking west and you will hit it) and JCrew (womens and mens) as well as Club Monaco (womens and mens). There are several of these all over the city, so its best to hit them while in a specific neighborhood.

For shoes try Ootsie Tootsie Plouhound (several locations). They always have great selection. Hogan has a store in SoHo and the Tods store is actually on Madison, north of Barney's.

Other stores that are not clothing but are fun to spend time in:

ABC Carpet & Home (Broadway & 18th) six floors of super cool stuff for your home

Pearl River Mart (Broadway btwn Grand and Broome in SoHo) has every Asain nick-nack you could imagine. This emporium used to be in Chinatown but was relocated to SoHo. The new SoHo store is gorgeous and a lot of fun to poke around in.

Strand (Broadway and 12th) is a HUGE used bookstore that can be fun to poke around in. There are just SO many books to look at.

Oh and on the food front. Some cheap (and super tasty) eats:

Krispy Kreme doughnuts (several locations) get them while they are hot. These things are SO good.

Grays Papaya hot dogs (Broadway and 72nd on the Upper West Side) awesome hot dogs, open 24 hours.

Dim Sum Go Go (East Broadway and Catharine in Chinatown) everyone has their favorite dim sum place, but this one has the added bonus of Phillip Stark furniture and the waiters wear awesome t-shirts.

Grimaldi's (Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn) In my opinion the BEST pizza in New York. This is the perfect thing to do for dinner as it gives you a great reason to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which is SO much fun. The pizzeria is located right under the bridge on the Brooklyn side. And for desert you can head down the street to Brooklyn Handmade Icecream. This little trip offers stunning views of manhattan.

So much more to talk about, but I think that'll be plenty for a week in the big apple. Have a great time!
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