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Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting ever closer...

The clock on the wall tells us that we're precisely twenty-fours away from the start of NYC Spring Adventure! 

We're expecting a strong showing of people & some amazing weather. (Thanks for hearing our pleas, Al Roker). Let us know if you'll be joining us by responding on the Facebook event page

Let the countdown begin to tomorrow at 12:30. We're squirming with excitement in our Big Adventure Pantaloons in anticipation of what might be our BEST Big Adventure yet...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The New York Botantical Garden presents Azaleas Galore!

While not part of our upcoming Spring Big Adventure, this definitely fits the mold and well worth mentioning: The New York Botanical Gardens presents the Azalea Garden.

If you've not taken the trip up to the Bronx to visit the NYBS (a quick 20 minutes on Metro North from Grand Central), the Azaleas make for a great excuse to do so. Over two weekends- May 7th and May 14th- you can enjoy the explosion of color in the eleven acre park.  

Hey, looking for something for Mother's Day in NYC? I think you just found the answer.There is even a Mother's Day Picnic Package. Tickets run about $20 and there are a variety of activities beyond leaning over and staring at flowers. See more information below from Botanical Garden's Website on the doings with all things Azaleas....

The Azalea Garden represents the transformation of the Botanical Garden's historic Azalea Way into a richly layered horticultural extravaganza that celebrates the beauty and variety of these popular garden plants. 
The new Azalea Garden includes nearly a mile of woodland paths that meander through a collection of 3,000 azaleas and rhododendrons from around the world, planted beneath ancient native oaks, tulip trees, and sweet gum

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seven Facts You Did Not Know About NYC’s High Line Park

We’re just a few days away from the Spring Big Adventure! As we inch ever close to this Saturday’s Spring NYC Big Adventure, we wanted to drop some knowledge on you about arguably the most interesting and scenic park in the New York City Park System: The High Line. Built purely from community interest and some dedicated souls, we’re eager to get down to the Chelsea/ West Village/ Meat Packing District sections of town to walk the walk.

So, in advance of this Saturday’s visit, we present seven facts about the High Line Park that we think you’ll find quite, er, elevating. Some High Line trivia for you: 

1)   Some history, In 1847, NYC had street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side. "West Side Cowboys" were put in place to ride horses and wave flags in front of the locomotives rolling heavy with Cargo.  Due to endless accidents between freight trains and street traffic , 10th Avenue became known as "Death Avenue”. Yikes.

  2)  More History, The High Line opened to trains in 1934 and ran from where Madison Square Garden stands today to Spring Street. It was designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue and connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings.

   3)  When the park opened in June 2009, It attracted more than 300,000 people during the first six weeks. Now, many as 20,000 people visit the park every weekend.

   4)  Leave the football at home: Rules prohibit “throwing or moving objects of any kind—Frisbees, balls, etc”. Most because one errant softball of the side may lead a 12 car pile up as your wayward ball shatters a taxi windshield.

  5)  One section has been opened, but two more stretches all the way up 34th street to complete a 1.4 mile loop are expected to be completed. Phase 2 opens sometime in 2011. Rejoice!

6)   Stole the idea from French: The city of Paris successfully converted a similar rail viaduct into an elevated park called the Promenade Plantée. However, the American version has been such a roaring success that projects similar to the High Line are in early stages in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City and Chicago.

7)   (and most important) When one hears nature call when one is  on a 30 foot train trestle far from modern conveniences, it is good to know that restrooms are located at the 16th Street access point.

More info and details can be found here: High Line park official site 

And for all NYC Park Info, look here:New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Monday, April 25, 2011

More From The Big Adventure Mailbag

Since this post on the letters was so well received when we did this a little bit ago, The Big Adventure thought we would have another go. 

From time to time, we're lucky enough to get the wayward e-mail from people who stumble across our blog. So, while were not the foremost authority on anything, we thought we could pass on some insights. To that end, here is another sample of our answers on various New York City Big Adventure doings and happenings.

Short notice, but my anniversary is tomorrow night. I know all of the familiar tried and true standards, but I'm looking for the perfect place. Someplace that has a warm ambiance, good food, drinks and space  for just the two of us to celebrate.    -Melissa T., Brooklyn, NY

Romance? Ah, under the right conditions, thy name be New York City! We suggest a trip to Manhattan's East Side where you can start with small plates and recommended vintages from the Sofia Wine Bar at  242 East 50th Street near 2nd Avenue. Great ambiance, delicious (if not small) menu and a friendly, engaging staff. Intimate and affordable.

But save your sheckles for a drink that's both a bit more expensive but a lot more tasty on the 26th floor at the Top of The Tower high atop the Beekman Hotel one avenue block away from Sofia on the corner on 50th Street and 1st Avenue. Old style NYC Charm meets unheralded views of the East Side, Queen and Brooklyn. "Hey, is that our house over there? I think it is!” While sipping on custom cocktails, you are as likely to see a couple celebrating their engagement as a group celebrating a 100th birthday. And the views speak for themselves 

Need another suggestion? Try dinner and drinks at the relatively new restaurant  PRINT. Located on the exact other side of the island at 47th street and 11th Avenue in the Ink48 Hotel. This is NEW School NYC and also has rooftop longue and amazing view (and trendy club people instead of old money.) Both are winners. Enjoy longingly staring into your partner's eyes wherever you end up. Happy anniversary!

If you have a question, feel free to e-mail Info@NYCBigAdventure

Friday, April 22, 2011

Presenting all the Details for The Spring Big Adventure!

The Spring NYC Big Adventure!

Since we’re only about nine days out from the Spring Big Adventure which will be descending upon several outdoor locations near you next Saturday, April 30th, we wanted to send out the complete itinerary for our day of basking in the sun, enjoying the outdoors and in general, rejoicing in Spring. This Adventure has been in the planning since Jan 23rd – which was the coldest day of winter when we were suffering through cabin fever and immensely tired of slush and gray. All of us have braved the most miserable winter in a while. Now…we celebrate spring!

We encourage you to pass the information along to anyone who might enjoy outdoor bars, rooftop locales, competitive chalk art, New York City Parks and musty old tombs (really). As per usual, feel free to  join for only part of the day or from beginning to end for an event we promise will be unique, affordable, social and distinctly NYC. 

Whether you might be attending your first or twelfth Big Adventure, we think you’ll find this might be our best. You will find more info (and a chance to RSVP) at facebook.com/TheBigAdventure and The Big Adventure Website.

The West 79th Street Boat Basin Café1:00 PM –Walk as far west on 79th Street as you can past Riverside Drive until you end up overlooking the Hudson River and Boat Basin. We’ll sit with a view of the House Boats and Riverside Park as we sip Electric Lemonade and fried perfection. The perfect place to soak in the sun and start the day.
Inaugural Sidewalk Chalk Art Competition - 2:30 PM –As we stroll through Riverside Park –one of the most beautiful and underrated parks in NYC– we’ll end up at an undisclosed location and enjoy some Sidewalk Chalk Art. It’s art guerilla style (because Sidewalk Chalk is verboten….breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law). We’ll have teams, art supplies, endless chalk and lovely sections of sidewalk to vandalize…er decorate. After everyone hones their skills and talent, one winner will be crowned the Picasso of the Park! The Salvador Dali of the Sidewalk! The Rembrandt of the Road! The Georgia O'k....you get our drift. And, yes, there will be a trophy. 
Grant’s Tomb3:30 PM – 122nd and Riverside Drive - We’ll hop on the M5 Bus and journey up to what is officially known as The General Grant National Memorial. Nothing like spending a spring day at a tomb. Seriously though, this is a very cool museum that opened over 110 years ago. Despite rich history, architecture and grandeur, seemingly few New Yorkers have ever visited. We’ll rectify that with a private tour by the National Park Service guide all dedicated to that 18th President and Civil War General with the awesome first name: Ulysses S. Grant

The Heights Bar and Grill4:45  PM– Broadway and 112thThe Heights (named after its neighborhood Morningside Heights) is a somewhat secret gem and the only rooftop bar in Manhattan north of 59th street. We’ll swing by for a drink while lounging on the top floor roof-deck patio and judge who has the best sandals in the bar.
Traversing The High Line  -6:30 PM – Entering at 20th Street and 10th Avenue- Our plan here is simple – a stroll down the most unique urban park on the East Coast at Sunset. Starting at the northern most section and ending at around 12th street, we’re going to walk every inch of the park and get it on like Ponce De Leon. Lots going on that day including a roving book cart and guides. The Big Adventure has put off visiting since it opened two years ago, but we are excited to explore.
The Standard Beer Garden8:00 PM -  Little West 12th and Washington Street – Fresh off The High Line and back on firm ground, you’ll be transported to a magical faux German land. Outside and spacious, visitors leave their Meatpacking pretensions at the door in exchange for Ping-Pong, Brats and Steins.
Ear Inn 10:00 PM 326 Spring Street near Washington Street – Ending the evening with one of New York's oldest bars where the drinks are as tasty and affordable as the history of the place is remarkable Historic Home turned Brothel turned Bar. Great to get our relaxing on after a long day of trekking. Also known as the Green Door Bar or the James Brown House. God Bless drinking establishments with three names. 

  We hope that you’ll join us next Saturday! If you get lost or want to track us down during the day, feel free to call or text us. If you do plan on coming, let us know via e-mail or the Facebook Event Page  so we can plan accordingly. See you in your sandals and sundress on Saturday, April 30th!

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We hope that you’ll join us next Saturday! If you get lost or want to track us down during the day, feel free to call or text us. If you do plan on coming, let us know via e-mail or the Facebook Event Page  so we can plan accordingly. See you in your sandals and sundress on Saturday, April 30th!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who IS buried in Grant's Tomb? You should go to find out.

In the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan lays Grant's Tomb also known as The General Grant National Memorial. A very cool mausoleum and museum run by the National Park Service that opened over 110 years ago. Rich in history, architecture and grandeur and all dedicated to that 18th President and Civil War General with the bad-ass first name: Ulysses S. Grant. In fact, the park service is celebrating his 189th Birthday on April 27th at the tomb.

Grant’s Tomb is also one of those NYC locations that seemingly no one has visited. Even among locals who have lived here for years and years. Even though the museum is completely free and complimentary tours are offered several times daily, it has a lower profile and is a touch off the beaten path. Another reason is that for much of the 20th Century the landmark fell into severe disrepair and there was even a movement to relocate the museum to Illinois. (wha?). But now, thanks to federal grants in the 90's, the place is in fantastic shape and is even opening a new exhibit and gift shop this very month!

Need an opportunity/excuse to change all that lack of visiting to this unsung NYC staple? That may be coming with the Spring Big Adventure on Saturday, April 30th! The Big Adventure considers this site a must visit so join us and RSVP on our Faceboook page.

Either way, it is certainly a place worth checking out. And then you’ll finally be able to answer the question of WHO precisely is buried in Grant’s Tomb. 

General Grant National Memorial
West 122nd Street & Riverside Dr
New York, NY 10027

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Best Cookie in New York City

Ever wonder who makes the best cookies in NYC? The Big Adventure prefers, enjoys and unequivocally endorses the baked goods from Levain Bakery on 74th Street near Amsterdam Ave.  
Quaint and unassuming, this Upper West Side staple has made astounding cookies for the last 15 years. We’re talking cookies that will likely change your life juuusst a little bit. A confounding mix of smooth, warm and crunchy on the outside yet soft and chewy on the inside. We proclaim a Levain Cookie to be borderline NYC dessert perfection.

Unfortunately, we’re not breaking any new ground with our love for Levain. Aside from being will known throughout the city and Long Island (A second location opened in East Hampton a few years back), they’ve also been featured on the programs "Barefoot Contessa", "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" and even Oprah. Each cookie will run you four dollars, but they are giant and meant to be shared. The good are available in four styles: Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.

Make the trip, grab a fresh cookie and split it with a loved one or random stranger. You won’t be disappointed.

Levain Bakery  
(212) 874-6080
167 W 74th St
Open till 7:00 PM every day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Big Adventure Grand Sidewat Chalk Art Gala Contest!

We’re not quite ready to unveil the final itinerary for The Spring Big Adventure but we do want to announce the forthcoming arrival of the Inaugural Sidewalk Chalk Art Competition (which will be a part of our Big Adventure that day). 

On April 30th in Riverside Park, we’ll have teams, art supplies, endless chalk and lovely sections of sidewalk to vandaliz…er decorate. After everyone hones their skills and talent, one winner will be crowned the Picasso of the Park! The Salvador Dali of the Sidewalk! The Rembrandt of the Road! The Georgia O'k....you get our drift. 

As always, quality prizes, honor and fame will be on hand for the champion of the Sidewalk Chalk Art Competition. But most importantly, it should be a lot of fun. If you can't make the day, check back here in early May for photos.

The Empire State Building Gets A Lightning Smack -Thrice!

Following up our overdose of Empire State Building information from yesterday, Friend-of-The-Big-Adventure-Dan sent this along: New York City's tallest landmark was struck by lightning three times the other night during a big overnight storm. 

This video shows the Empire Sate Building getting shocked with electricity not once or twice, but three times in thirty seconds during this monster April storm. An amazing sight for sure, but not entirely uncommon. The 1,454 feet tall building (which is all made of metal with a giant antenna that doubles as a lightning rod on top) actually gets struck almost 1,000 times each year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Big Adventure Salutes The Empire State Building

The Big Adventure brings you some quality information and details on Earth's 15th Tallest Building. The legendary 102-Story 80-Year-Old Empire State Building. Here are a few things you didn't know about New York's Finest Skyscraper.

Wanna buy a 1,250 foot tower?
The recent hubbub from The New York Times is that apparently plans are a foot so that YOU can buy a piece of the famed skyscraper. Think of it as an IPO for a landmark. The Big Adventure really likes idea of owning stock in the ESB. More info here.

Empire State Building Colors Tonight (and every night)
The Big Adventure has always found this page quite handy. Especially for when you wondering “Why in wide, wide, world of sports is the ESB blue, purple and red tonight?” This page has the upcoming schedule on the colors for the next month and past year. Settle a bet. Astound your friends. Nifty. Handy tracker here.

Bonus: For a hefty fee, you can download the application and get the building to light with YOUR own colors for a night.

Fascinating Empire State Building Trivia
To complete our Empire State Building posting Trifecta, we give you three little known pieces of trivia about this quintessential NYC landmark: 
  • The original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building (the world famous hotel now sits fifteen blocks away) 
  • One of the top stories was built with a “mooring mast” for dirigibles to dock on the building prompting what was to be the onset of a new age of aviation. However this was used only once.
  • In 2010, the ESB began replacing all of the windows with a energy-saving installations. No easy given task given the buildings 6,514 windows, but it is expected to help them save $400,000 a year.

    Need more ESB Info? For some Skyscraper-Stairmaster Mash Up action, check out The Big Adventure Post on The Empire State Building Run Up

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    The Big Adventure recommends the Lexington Candy Shop

    The Big Adventure recommends the Lexington Candy Shop on The Upper East Side. A Soda Counter/Luncheonette that revels in its authenticity. Complete with an old school feel like you're stepping a bit through time when you enter, but it's as legit as it is delicious. Especially when it comes to their homemade Sodas, Malts, Shakes, Egg Creams, Root beer Floats and Egg Creams (whew).

    Nothing forced and (likely) nothing changed since 1950. Quality short-order menu that does the job. Nostalgia run deeps and the diner is a movie scout's dream. Enjoy the Old Times Coke Bottle Display in the window and try the homemade Egg Creams and homemade Vanilla Coke. 

    The Lexington Candy Shop can be found at 1226 83rd Street near Lexington Avenue (also found on the corner of Deliciousness and Brunch)

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    More on War Horse (CBS Sunday Morning and Meet the Puppeteers!)

    Not so long ago, we told you about those crazy puppets from War Horse - a Broadway Production now playing at the Lincoln Center. It seems our fascination is being shared by the rest of the city as well. 

    Not only is the production (imported fresh from London's West End) getting favorable early reviews, an excellent piece was featured on CBS Sunday Morning on April 10th. The segment really illustrates both what a moving story War Horse is and how sensations those custom life-size horse puppets are. Pretty amazing stuff.

    This week, you can get up close with "Warhorse: The Puppeteers Speak" -Tuesday, April 12th at 6:30 PM as Puppeteers Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler discuss their craft as a medium of communication with moderator Yvette Christiansë. They will discuss puppetry as a medium of communication and advocacy. The event is Free at The John Tishman Auditorium at the New School on 12th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. 

    If you see the production, keep in mind that even Puppet Horses enjoy a nice sugar cube as a treat. 

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Spring in NYC also means Gotham Girls Roller Derby

    Along with forthcoming Big Adventures, Spring in NYC also means the returns of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby. The season continues this coming Saturday, April 16th in Brooklyn at Long Island University as the Bombshells of Brooklyn face off against the Manhattan Mayhem. First match kicks off at 7:30 PM. Matches continue on various Friday and Saturday nights throughout NYC (and beyond!) in Spring and Summer.
    There are lots of quality reasons to support Roller Derby in NYC. Personally, the Big Adventure is a big fan of the team names. Along with two mentioned above, you have The Queens of Pain,The Bronx Gridlocks and The Wall Street Traitors. 
    The player profiles on their official site are fun enough to make even the most jaded Junior High skating rink reject itch to attend a game. Plus, they even have Jeerleaders on the sidelines. Not sure exactly what a Jeerleader does exactly, but damn if they don't look intimidating.  
    We could go into more details, but come on! It is the friggin' awesomeness of ROLLER DERBY.
    For more time wasting fun, visit the Official Gotham Girls YouTube Channel here