After the horrendous, unexpected excursion in the airport (read here), my family vacation was pretty sweet. We started off the trip with our cousin's wedding on Long Island then headed into Manhattan on the Sunday after their nuptials. New York City is a fabulous place (I can totally see why Billy Joel wrote a song about it), and I could probably go on and on and on and on about how every part of my family's trip was like the Sinatra song, but that would be a cliche in and of itself. So instead here's six reasons, in no particular order (but I did save the best for last), why I thought NYC was pretty awesome:
1. The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is so cool. There's really no other way to explain it. It was one of the first things I saw upon arriving in New York, granted I saw it from a couple thousand feet in the air because I was still on the plane flying into LaGuardia, but totally awesome nonetheless. I saw it as a part of a bus tour of the city (yes, I'm such a tourist) and I was thinking, "Eh, a green statue, big whoop." Then we actually got on a boat and headed out to Ellis Island and Liberty Island (Unfortunately we couldn't actually go on the islands; Hurricane Sandy had caused them so much damage that they were still being fixed up and weren't opening until the Fourth). Still, the boat took us right up to the edge of the island and there she stood, tall, magnificent, green and beautiful. I had never felt so American, just sitting there snapping photo after photo of Lady Liberty. The only other thing going through my head was the song "Proud to be an American". And boy was I proud looking up at that symbol of independence.
2. Times Square
Okay, maybe this reason for why NYC is pretty cliche, but come on. Times Square. It's so cool. It's home to the jumbotrons. The ball drop on New Year's Eve. Good Morning America. A four story Forever 21. It doesn't get any better than this guys. The lights, the people (okay maybe not the people because there's always SO MANY PEOPLE in Times Square....anyways, the lights, the theatres, the food, the photo ops. It was awesome. Kind of like, "Wow, I'm really in New York freakin' City right now." It was absolutely great.
3. John Lennon
I can definitely say that I have a wide range when it comes to my taste in music. I like what's on the Billboard Top 100, I love Indie music, I love Broadway, I love old school rock n' roll. I am a HUGE Beatles fan, and so are my mom and Aunt Rose, so when we stopped at the Dakota and the Imagine memorial in Strawberry Fields (yes, there is a Strawberry Fields) in Central Park West, I was on cloud nine. To make this reason cliche (I'm a writer, I guess sometimes I can't avoid a good cliche), there was some hippie dude sitting on a nearby bench by the memorial playing a choppy version of Lennon's Imagine. How more cliche can you get? Regardless, there was just an aura of peace (wow, I'm sounding so cheesy here) around the mosaic. It was also kind of eerie, too, knowing that John. Freaking. Lennon, the JOHN LENNON walked these same paths in Central Park West and NYC. It was so surreal to walk past the Dakota apartment building and know that I was standing on the spot where he was shot in 1980. It was also awesome to know that I was walking the same streets that Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono loved so much. Rounding the corner to see the beautiful Imagine mosaic memorial to Lennon in Central Park West was truly a great experience and walk through history that I'll never forget.
Okay, maybe talking about Broadway is a little cliche too, but it was seriously cool. My mom and I saw Newsies, a Disney-produced musical about the newspaper strike in New York City in 1899. My mom wasn't too happy about going to see it at first--she would rather have gotten tickets for Book of Mormon, Pippin or Kinky Boots, but seeing as we were in the city a week after the Tonys, ticket prices went up and shows sold out. She kept saying, "Why do we have to see something about papers? Why do we have to see Disney? Aren't you too old for Disney?" I, on the other hand, was super excited to see Newsies. I was a part of my high school's publications and since then continued my journalistic education in college (I'm going for a double major in Magazine and Graphics), so I was interested in this musical as soon as I heard about it from my friend Justin who's a theatre major.
Well, long story short, my mom loved Newsies as much as I did. It won two Tonys last year, for Original Score and Choreography. The choreography! Oh it was so good! My mom wouldn't shut up about it either...She's a dance teacher so she was getting all technical on me saying how all they guys in the show had to have been trained in ballet or they couldn't have done this or that and those leaps and the tap number!!! (Yes, there was a tap number, and it was AWESOME). And the even better part? We had second row tickets on the main floor and we got souvenir newspapers from one of the numbers where they throw papes out into the audience and we could see the sweat on the actors faces and see them spit when the enunciated their words. It was SO. COOL.
After the show my mom and I went to the stage door (Newsies was at the Nederlander theater) and met the cast and got autographs and photos. And, I even got some compliments on my awesome phone case from some of the dudes. The stage door was soooo cool...not as cool as my friend who was in the city for a month on an acting scholarship and met Jane Lynch and Adam Pascal...but still an awesome experience all the same. I mean it's not often someone from Indiana is in New York at a Broadway stage door, ya know what I mean?
Me with Corey Cott, who played Jack Kelly in Newsies. Jack Kelly was originally played by Jeremy Jordan of NBC's SMASH.
Me with Kara Lindsey, who played Katherine Plumber in Newsies. Lindsey was an Original Broadway cast member of Newsies.
Me with Ryan Breslin who played Les in Newsies.
5. Pershing Square
If you don't know where Pershing Square is, then you need to watch the Avengers and Friends with Benefits. It's on 42nd street by Grand Central Station (which was right by our hotel). Being a HUGE Marvel fan, I knew it was a total nerd move when my dad booked our hotel. He specifically picked the Grand Hyatt, not for it's proximity to Grand Central or Times Square, but for the sole reason that it was right next to the bridge where the huge final fight scene took place in the Avengers. Yes. My dad is that awesome. So I can say that it was pretty awesome to be walking in the area where the Joss Whedon, Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johanssen, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo battled the chitauri and Loki. Like, no normal person does that everyday. I was lucky I got to do it from Sunday-Thursday. Then, when I was posting pictures on Facebook, I realized that the little cafe under the bridge right across from Grand Central was in the closing scene of of Friends with Benefits. Not only was I in nerd heaven, I was also in the same place where Justin freakin' Timberlake was. *cue fan girl scream*
6. Shake Shack
If there is one thing I will go back to New York City for it's Shake Shack. I mean yea, all the other stuff I saw was pretty cool, but this was by far my favorite thing about the city. Shake Shack is a burger and shake joint in the Times Square area and I swear to you it was the best experience ever. Mouthwatering delicious hamburgers. Rich shakes. Crispy fries. I just can't help myself. I've had some good burgers before, but let me tell you: I have never had a burger where I felt like I was eating something cooked by the angels in heaven. Hands down, the best burger I have EVER had. I'm not exaggerating either. The line was out the door. I felt like it was that one scene in How I Met Your Mother when Marshall goes on his quest to find THE burger of all burgers. Marshall's burger may not be a Shake Shack burger but man did I think it was a burger of all burgers. Their shakes? OH LAWD. I mean I can't be bias because the Region has some pretty good shake places (namely, Gaytes) but I have never loved a combination of beef and shake more before. It just worked. The stars align. It's a great day when you're at a Shack.
I made the mistake of following Shake Shack on Instagram, and it is pure torture for me because there isn't a Shack in Chicago yet (YET. They're getting one in 2014). The oodles and oodles of pictures they post of their burgers are almost as good as the real thing and sometimes I find myself wanting to eat my cell phone after seeing a recent post on Instagram. Yes. That sounds very weird. Yet I typed it nonetheless. But seriously. Shake Shack is the way to go for burgers and shakes.
Go ahead. Check out their Instagram and site. You won't be sorry.
And don't worry, Chicago, a Shack is coming our way soon.
Above: A Shack Instagram/ Below: My Shack experience
Honorable Mention: Grand Central Station
Okay, really, how can I not mention Grand Central?
All photos (with exception of Shake Shack Instagram photo) are property of Hannah Rose Dominiak. ©2013.