Tag Archive | Fun Touristy Things to Do in NYC

Sea Glass Carousel at Battery Park

Seaglass Carousel Exterior
All Photos and Video By Gail

If you are looking for cool stuff to do and see in NYC, head down to Battery Park and ride the Seaglass Carousel! I have been obsessed with riding this carousel since it opened in August, and I finally got down there this past weekend. It was worth the wait.

Seaglass Carousel Fish

On the Seaglass Carousel, you  can take a 3-minute ride inside a Fish or a Seashell, and it is the most fun you can have for five dollars. Just take a look at the video I took of my ride!

OMG so fun! The music they play is also pretty cool and festive. Since the fish light up, it is perhaps a bit more of an “Experience” (as Jimi Hendrix would say) if you ride at night.

Seaglass Carousel Sponsorship Plaque

Each fish is available for sponsorship. I think that is what this little plaque was about, which was inside my Pink Betta Fish! Ride the fish!

The Seaglass Carousel is located in Battery Park very close to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The M15 SBS Bus will take you right there. Admission is just $5 and the Carousel is open daily from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM! Get more information at This Link!

Seaglass Carousel Exterior Detail


TMZ Bus Exterior Detail 2
All Photos By Gail

I’m going to go ahead and own the fact that on weeknights when I am at home, and also coherent, I’ll turn on TMZ and watch their low rent “news” on celebrity has-beens and wannabes that I’ve either never heard of before, or wish I hadn’t. I’m probably the least Star Struck blogger on the planet, but I consider TMZ to be my primary source of worthless celebrity pandering so that I can stay in the loop about what is “popular” – you know, for the kids. TMZ is also completely hilarious and boasts the least self-aware staff of any celebrity news program, so in that way it seems very down to earth and makes you feel like you’re hearing these crazy stories from people you know pretty well. That’s probably why the show is so popular.

TMZ Bus Exterior Detail

Fans of the show will be excited to find out that TMZ, in association with On Location Tours, now has a daily, two-hour bus tour you can sign up for that will take you all around the city from midtown to the tip of the island and back again, and point out dozens of places where celebrities hangout, pass out, get wasted, film their shows, actually live, used to live, got beat up, or were deeply embarrassed about something or other. It’s pretty fun!

You’ll board your luxury, air-conditioned coach at the corner of 51st St. and Broadway, across the street from this diner:

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Our awesome tour guide was Matt Chadwick, an extremely friendly and equally hilarious and knowledgeable young man who cracked jokes incessantly but also revealed fascinating information such as:

  • Jim Carrey has an Art Studio on Perry Street
  • Ed Burns is married to Christie Turlington
  • Macy’s not only has the oldest working escalators in the country (I’ve seen them!) but also the largest collection of shoes under one roof
  • Chris Brown beat up Drake at some club near the Holland Tunnel that I already forgot the name of, because I could care less about those two. Seriously who cares?
  • Columbus Circle is the spot from which all distances to NYC are measured

Matt Chadwick Tour Guide
Matt: Our Tour Guide and Former Australian Idol Finalist

What I enjoyed most about the tour was getting to see neighborhoods in Manhattan that I honestly never go to and driving down streets that I’ve never seen before in my life. And I’ve lived in Manhattan over 20 years! But, while I was on the TMZ Tour, I felt like I was visiting a foreign land, and it made me want to go to these neighborhoods on my own, and explore.

TMZ Bus Interior
Bus Interior with Video Monitors

The entire time that the bus is cruising around and your tour guide, who will be Matt if you’re very lucky, is pointing out places where Lady Gaga used to do burlesque, the loft where Beyoncé and Jay Z live, the apartment above the now-closed Daffy’s (RIP) where Heath Ledger overdosed, and most recently, the park on lower 6th Ave. where Jonah Hill was recently spotted taking a photograph of a placenta (don’t ask), you will be entertained by hilarious and clever TMZ-produced video clips, that will further the action with additional graphics, interviews and explanations of what you’re seeing. It seems like the entire TMZ staff gets involved, so you will get to see all of your favorites, including Harvey Levin.

During our tour, Matt hosted a few rounds of fun trivia guessing games such as “Celebrity or Homeless Person?” and “The Finger or a Wave?” where the correct answer was awarded with a rare TMZ T-Shirt. So, Free Stuff! Matt really kept things rolling, and our driver was exceptionally skilled at taking very tight corners, and not killing anyone – because you know that pedestrians in New York City don’t stop crossing the street for anyone! The TMZ Tour is a fun way to spend two hours for locals who just want to get out of the house, and also a good thing to take your out-of-town friends to. Despite the fact that we saw no celebrities, I had a great time!

Where: 51st St & Broadway (exact location given upon purchase)
When: Weekdays & Sundays at 10:00 AM & 1:00 PM, Saturdays at 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM.
Cost: $49 + $3 ticket fee (Adult), $39 + $3 ticket fee (Children 11 & under)
Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Advance Ticket Purchase is Required so buy tickets at This Link!

TMZ Disclaimer

The Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour!

Manhattan Bridge (All Photos By Anne Raso)

The borough of Brooklyn, New York may be located just over a bridge from Manhattan, but that doesn’t mean most Manhattanites necessarily know anything about what Brooklyn has to offer. Movie and TV production companies know all about Brooklyn, however, especially when it comes to scouting locations that can substitute on film for New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and, well, sometimes they just want the place to look like they are filming in Brooklyn. On Location Tours, a company known for its guided bus tours of sites made famous by or featured in TV shows like The Sopranos, Sex & The City and Gossip Girl has just launched the Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour, which is a terrific way to visit and learn some history about places you see in many of your favorite TV shows and films. And hey, it’s a great way to “travel” out of the city for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon!

Cafe Moutarde

Anyone who’s done a similar tour can tell you that your tour guide’s personality and depth of knowledge can make or break the tour experience for everyone on the bus. In our case, we were blessed with a lively and knowledgeable tour guide named Amadeo, who was both approachable and friendly but completely professional. As the bus set off over the Brooklyn Bridge, Amadeo broke the ice with a trivia contest that went on throughout the tour. He’d ask a question about a movie fact and whoever answered correctly would win a prize – a Blowpop sucker! The questions – such as which actor has won the most Oscars, which movies have tied for the greatest number of awards won by a single film, and which movie a particular quote came from – were lots of fun and not as easy as you would think (although Ms. Netflix here came home with five Blowpops in my purse). As we drove through the streets of Brooklyn, a video screen mounted at the front of the bus showed a clip of the movie scene filmed at whatever specific location we were stopped at, or driving by, which was helpful for jogging the memory, or, if you hadn’t seen that particular film, helping you make the connection. Neighborhoods we visited included Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Prospect Park, Downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope, among others.

Borough Hall

Sites we visited included the Brooklyn Bridge, (“I Am Legend”), The MTA Building (“Jack Goes Boating”), Gleason’s Gym (“Million Dollar Baby”), The St. George Hotel (“As The World Turns”), Cadman Plaza (“30 Rock”), Brooklyn Borough Hall “(“Catch Me If You Can,” “Mickey Blue Eyes”), The Brooklyn Inn (“Gossip Girl”), Gloria’s Flower Shop (“I Hate Valentine’s Day), Café Moutarde (“Julie & Julia”), Park Slop Armory (“Meet Joe Black”), Montauk Club (“Boardwalk Empire”), St. Augustine Church (“Mona Lisa Smile”) and dozens of others. Our tour made three stops were we could disembark the bus to look around and take pictures (Amadeo was very accommodating in offering to take posed photographs of the tourists on our bus, making sure they had a nice souvenir of their trip). We also made a brief lunch stop at Maybelle’s Café, which was featured in the Academy Award–winning film Moonstruck as the Cammareri Brothers Bake Shop.

Maybelle’s Cafe

After our lunch stop, Amadeo gave each of us a snack-sized Cheesecake from Junior’s Restaurant, which was featured in the first Sex & The City movie. Free cheesecake!

Tour Guide Amadeo Holds Tiny Junior’s Cheesecake

The Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour was a great way to not only learn about and enjoy movie and TV related trivia about certain sites and landmarks, but also a convenient way to see new neighborhoods and a bunch of simply stunning brownstone homes. Whether you’re a diehard movie fan or not so much, if you’re one of those New Yorkers who is looking for more ways to just get out of the city and see something new for an afternoon, this tour is for you!

Fort Greene Brownstones Seen on Sex & The City

Tickets for the Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour are $42 for Adults and $24 for Children for a 3 hour tour (“A three hour tour…”) that Departs on Saturdays at 11:00 AM. Purchase Tickets for ther Brooklyn tour at This Link. Read more about other On Location Tours and how to book one for yourself and your friends at This Link.

Top Of The Rock: A Fun Touristy Thing to Do!

Empire State from Top of the Rock

I think it’s safe to say that most people who live in Manhattan don’t do very many traditionally touristy things when they are out on their own. At least that’s true for me. I’ve lived in NYC for over twenty years and, after hitting all of the famous, must-see attractions at least once (RIP The Top Of The World), the most touristy thing I do these days is go to museums. But last night I met up with a former high school classmate of mine and her family, who were enjoying their very first visit to NYC, and when they expressed a desire to hit the Top Of The Rock – the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center – so they could cross it off their list, I was in just the right mood to go along. I’m really glad I did, because it was a lot of fun!

Adult admission, at $21, is a little pricey if you’re on a budget, but wasn’t a big deal to me. While that meant that my friend and her family had to part with almost $100 (their 12 year-old saved them $7 off the adult admission), I felt like the experience was well worth 21 bucks. We visited at around 10:00 PM, when the temperature (which has been so relentlessly punishing and brutal this summer) had dipped to a merciful 75 degrees. Magnificent views aside, the steady breeze on the building’s roof deck, 70 stories above the street, provided me with first opportunity to possibly even think about wearing a sweater in nearly 3 months – it was wonderful! The deck has three levels you can visit and we spent time on all three. The top most, with its radio towers, has partially obstructed views to the east (Queens) and west (Jersey), but the only slightly less elevated levels give you full 360 degree views of a city that, after dark and with it’s innumerable lights all shining, is surely among the most beautiful in the world. The Empire State Building, lit up in red and green on this night, was simply stunning to behold, and it was hilarious to look down upon the neon billboards and Jumbotron of Times Square, having no problem identifying that area.

“Disco Room” – Not Sure What This is About But It’s Pretty Cool!

For me, my time on the deck was very centering at the end of long and busy week at my office, and it felt like an almost spiritual experience to take in the city that I love so much from a rare vantage point. On the Top of the Rock, I realized how lucky I am to live in what is really a magical place. Even if you aren’t into doing typically touristy things, I recommend you check it out while we still have the warm weather.

Top of The Rock is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza with an entrance on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues (it’s the same building that is home to NBC’s Studio 8H, where they tape Saturday Night Live). The last elevator to the top leaves at 11:00 PM, so if you get there shortly before 10:00 PM you’ll have lots of time to enjoy your visit. Visit Top of the Rock’s website at This Link for more information.