Get Out & About: NYC Events this September

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In my opinion fall is New York’s best season, it’s the perfect time to wander around and enjoy the city. You could also head up to the Hudson River Valley and go apple picking or on a wine tasting tour – basically, it’s the most ideal time to enjoy the best of New York, it’s when I consider myself the luckiest to live here. This month, the season of social activities kicks off with some great events, so if you’re not too busy during New York Fashion Week or too exhausted after it you’ll definitely want to check these out*:

Weekend Getaways with the MTA LIRR -

Montauk Tour

Getting away has never been easier thanks to the MTA! My family usually goes on an MTA getaway every fall. Heading upstate for apple picking, and wine & cheese tasting adventures while surrouned by the beauty of the Hudon Valley region is the highlight of my autumn. This year Long Island is looking like a great destination too! Right now Gilt City is offering discounted tickets for a Montauk Tour, Wine Country Tour, and Oyster Festival – don’t miss out. Kick off cooler weather with a perfect day adventure (prices $3-67, more info here).

Gilt City Warehouse Sale: Brooklyn Edition -

Gilt City Warehouse Sale

Sip on SOTO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo Japanese Sake and snack on Twinkies (um, how ideal does that sound?) as you shop through Gilt City’s warehouse sale. Merchandise waits for you to snap up at up to 80% off retail, featuring designer brands like Valentino, Tibi, Sandro, Derek Lam, Helmut Lang, Tom Ford, John Varvatos, and more! The sale takes place from Friday September 9th to Saturday with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available. Get your ticket here!

Pig Island -

Pig Island

Pig out at the annual Pig Island celebration! On September 10th join fellow foodies at the Erie Basin Park in Red Hook for this porky celebration featuring all things pig. Dine on decadent beer and pork samples from New York’s best chefs, brewers, hard-cider makers and vinters. General admission for one is just $75, and $150 for two. Take a pal and go hog wild! Details here.

US Open 2016 -

The US Open 2016

This Tuesday, September 6th, go where all the cool kids go – to the US Open! The final Grand Slam event of the season takes place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing NY, where you might catch a glimpse of tennis royalty like Serena or Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal. Score 40% off upper promenade admission on Gilt City here.

LUCKYRICE Moon Festival Cocktail Feast -

LUCKYRICE Event NYC

Hit the town on September 16th at the LUCKYRICE Moon Festival Cocktail Feast. Held at the Bowery Hotel, this raved about event offers a delicious way for event-goers to enjoy Asian inspired Bombay Sapphire East Gin cocktails from top New York mixologists. Make it a girls night out with VIP admission and enjoy an additional hour of sipping and tasting. Tickets on sale here.

The New York Coffee Festival -

The New York Coffee Festival

This is my kind of event. NYC has a passionate coffee culture, as evidenced by The New York Coffee Festival. Featuring over 70 artisanal coffee purveyors and gourmet food stalls, this will be the NYCF’s second year – it’s a perfect event for any coffee fan! Score 40% off VIP admission – that means all day access and priority access at the entrance (because nothing should keep you from a good brew) as well as other perks – on Gilt City here.

The Great Big Bacon Picnic -

The Great Big Bacon Picnic

Because one pig event wasn’t enough, The Great Big Bacon Picnic in Williamsburg is another chance for you (and a friend or two) to celebrate all things bacon! Top-shelf spirits and craft beer will be served alongside bacon delicacies from over 100 local chefs, brewmasters, and distillers. Saturday, September 24-25th | 3 sessions | tickets on sale here!

Refinery Rooftop’s Beach House Party -

Refinery's Rooftop Party

On Saturday, September 10th join Refinery for their Rooftop Beach House Party in midtown. Toast to the end of summer with specialty cocktails while snacking on tasty treats like sliders, ceviche, grilled steak, scrambled eggs, and more. Tickets here!

*While all of these events feature Gilt City links, this post is not sponsored by Gilt City, I just find Gilt an excellent way to find and save money on NYC experiences. Speaking of saving money, use my link to get 25% off your first purchase!

6 Ways to Welcome Spring in NYC

One second it’s pouring rain, and the next it’s gorgeous and sunny out – weather like this can only mean one thing – spring has finally come ‘round! It’s time to call up your bestie, emerge from winter hibernation, pop on your sunglasses and get brunching. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite ways to welcome in warmer weather here in NYC! What are your favorite spring spots?

Take a stroll around Central Park…

 

: @marysitz

A photo posted by Central Park Conservancy (@centralparknyc) on


I know, it’s the most overused recommendation ever. But it’s overused for a reason, we’ve lived here our entire lives and make time to stop by every season, it’s just that gorgeous. Pack up a picnic basket or a light snack and meander on one of the park’s many paths. Feeling a little more adventurous? Head up to 105th street and Broadway to the Conservatory Garden for a real spring treat. The six-acre formal garden opens at 8am and shutters at dusk.

Get cooking!

Cooking School

I love cooking during the spring. The weather is still friendly for baking, and there is an abundance of ingredients available at the farmer’s market to experiment with. Right now Gilt City has two excellent offers for the culinary inclined – learn to make doughnuts, buttery risotto, or Malaysian curry (among other dishes) at Chanterelle Cooking School in the Lower East Side.

Or, if you’ve already mastered the doughnut, you can also head over to Bhagavat Life, a center for holistic living where you’ll learn how to prepare vegetarian cuisine as well as the ancient principles of healthy living. Learn more here.

For the blushing bride…

Brides

I hear spring is the busiest season when it comes to walking down the aisle. On March 31st Brides Magazine is hosting a wedding photography workshop with expert wedding photographer, Brian Marcus. The workshop with teach you all of the insider secrets to the perfect poses – that way you can get your big day pose down pat. Hosted at Condé Nast’s One World Trade Center Photo Studio, the workshop will also feature mini hair trials by Eva Scrivo Salon and mini makeovers by Rouge New York.

Better with brunch!

Ristorante Morini

Sometimes I prefer to let someone else do the cooking for me. Luckily, NYC is chock full of amazing brunch spots. I recommend Bar Primi, Dominique Bistro, Catch, and Ristorante Morini. I love to look to Instagram for brunch/lunch recommendations, so tag me (@nyctalon) if you find a great spot too! My advice, keep an eye out for local deals, it’s a great way to try a new place. Right now you can score a three-course lunch for two for only $50 at Ristorante Morini, I just ate there and it was amazing, check it out here.

And a dash of entertainment…

Gwyneth

Hang out with Gwyneth Paltrow at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 12th. The award-winning actress and author will be sharing her new book “It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook”. When you go through this link, you can also score a one-year membership with the Hudson Union, as well as preferred seating, with your ticket purchase.

Do something eventful!

From street fairs to festivals, NYC turns out for the spring. My favorite events are cultural and food events (naturally). The Village Voice is hosting their first annual Brunch Eats Breakfast-For-Dinner Food Event, tickets just started going on sale today – pick them up here and enjoy mouthwatering brunch dishes all aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Flight Deck! Sounds like an event that is not to be missed!

You could also catch MasterVoice’s Dido and Aeneas on April 28th and 29th, featuring Kelli O’hara, Victoria Clark, Elliot Madore, Anna Christy, and Sarah Mesko – I also hear that the gowns for this performance were designed by Christian Siriano, I bet they’re gorgeous! Tickets on sale here.

You can also pop in to any one of NYC’s amazing museums – I’ve been planning to go to The Frick Collection for ages and I’ve decided this is the year that I go, so I might just see you there!

What are you favorite places to stop by during springtime?

10 Things to Know Before You Go to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Universal-Studios-Islands-of-Adventure-Tips

1. Refillable Cups

At Islands of Adventure, when you purchase a souvenir Butterbeer cup, it costs less to get a refill of Butterbeer in that cup than if you were to buy an additional disposable cup of Butterbeer. Also, refills of any soda (in your souvenir BB cup) throughout the park are $0.99. However, your best bet is to go straight to the gift shop on the left when you enter the park and buy a refillable cup there. When I was there they were selling a tall Alien (Men in Black) cup for around $11 – this cup holds far more liquid then the tiny Butterbeer cup and also costs only $0.99 per refill!

2. Food –

I’m sorry, I love Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, but I found that the food there is complete rubbish. That’s not to say that it was horrendous, but it certainly lacked much in the flavor department. I don’t know if that’s because they have the conundrum of serving a wide range of palette’s from around the world, or what, but I disliked the food, and further disliked having to pay for a sub-par meal. I recommend that you bring your own snacks, go to the in-park Starbucks, or look for options out of the park for eating. I hate to say it, but this is my honest advice. However, if you end up throwing caution to the wind, go for the meal plans advertised upon entrance to the park – you really will save loads more with those – we did!

3. Express Pass –

I went to the park in June and although we fiercely debated it we’re so glad that we didn’t pay extra for express passes. Lines were never more than a half hour wait for us, however, a friend visited the park in July and experienced significantly longer lines. I think if you’re going during the busy season (July-August) and can afford it, go for it.

4. Arrival –

If you have fast passes because you’re staying at the Universal Resorts (or if you purchased them) then yes, you’ll want to be there about an hour earlier than the advertised time. When I was there they let fast pass holders in at least an hour before regular admission. If you don’t have a fast pass, I’d say get there around 9am. We arrived at the parks about 8am, were let through the front gate and then had to wait an hour after fast pass users were let through to the rides.

5. First Stop –

Be prepared, in the morning (if you arrive early) two lines will form once you’re past the entrance – one going to the left, that leads to Marvel Super Hero Island; and one to the right that is the fastest route to Hogsmeade. In the morning, after the fast pass users have gone in, a majority of visitors will line up to the right. When they officially open the park it will be like the running of the bulls to get to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And I mean that in the best sense, of course no one gets hurt or trampled or has any memorable meet-ups with a wild bull – but kids and adults alike will race with sheer glee to get to Hogwarts. Which brings me to my next “thing to know”…

6. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter –

If you plan on visiting TWWofHP and don’t want to spend a majority of your day waiting on line in Hogsmeade, go here first. Your first ride should be the Forbidden Journey, and should be done with the group/family that you came with. You’ll all get to experience the “tour” of Hogwarts and what I personally think is one of the best rides ever. Any subsequent rides on the Forbidden Journey should be done as a single rider – the side route to the single rider line can sometimes be hard to see, but it’s directly to the left of the lockers. As a single rider you do skip much of the tour, but you also spend far less time waiting in line.

Go on the Flight of the Hippogriff. Yes, it looks a bit childish next to the Dueling Dragons coaster, but it gives a great view of Hogwarts, you can take pics right by Hagrid’s house while waiting – and there’s a pretty cool animatronic Hippogriff too! Bypassing this one would mean missing out on a fun piece of Hogsmeade.

Take your time to look at everything- there is just so much detail that Universal put into TWWofHP that it would be such a shame to miss out on it. Some of the coolest things we saw were behind the glass of pretend store fronts.

7. Things to Bring -

No need to bring a massive bag here! It will definitely slow you down, as you’ll most likely need to stuff it in a locker before getting on a ride. Adults will need I.D.’s to enter the park, and of course you’ll want to bring your camera, phones, and snacks – but try to keep it light. One thing you’ll wish you thought of (and now you don’t have to, because I’m telling you, haha!) is to bring stamps! You can purchase your TWWofHP postcards at Dervish & Banges and get them stamped with a special Hogsmeade Owl Post Stamp right there. Slap on your stamps and send them off right there in the park – they have a massive mailbox right by the entrance/exit. Also, bring some quarters and pennies – many of the gift shops and bathrooms offer those penny-press machines which are cheap, fun, souvenir.

8. Price Range –

I had no idea how much things were going to cost in Universal before going, I did assume things were going to be on the pricey side as with all theme parks. While I can’t provide you with a general price point for all the items at Islands of Adventure – as most of my shopping centered around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – I can tell you wands were about $35 each, a Butterbeer with the souvenir cup was around $10, Robes were $115, a Cauldron Cake was around $5, a Chocolate Frog was $10, a Triwizard Tournament Cup was $20, and an assortment of Harry Potter themed pins and keychains ranged from around $7-15.

9. Entrance/Exit –

You can enter and exit the park as many times as you like. Which means you’ll have even more dining options via City Walk, and you can go to your hotel and return later in the day for more fun.

10. Gift Shopping –

One of my favorite features (that I took advantage of far too late) is that you can have your purchases sent to the front of the park. This is an excellent option if you don’t want your new Elder Wand getting damaged by all the water you were soaked with while seated in the front row on the Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride. All you have to do is let your cashier know that you’d like it sent up as you’re checking out. Please note that you can not send up food (like Cauldron Cakes), and it takes about two hours for your purchases to make it to the front of the park (sometimes longer in the case of rain or storms).

Please keep in mind all these tips are opinion-based on recent personal experience, and therefor are all subject to change. If you have any additions, comments, or questions just drop them in the comments section below! If you’re headed to Universal Orlando or planning a trip there, I hope you have a blast!

SEE/CHANGE Skate Date at the South Street Seaport!

I really truly love winter’s in the city, I have to admit however that until recently I had never ever been to South Street Seaport during the winter. As much as I love the Seaport during the warmer months, the idea of going when it was colder never occured to me. However, just the other day I took a few of my nearest and dearest and headed down there to checkout South Street Seaport’s SEE/CHANGE ice skating rink.

CAM01375-TWINKLE

Surprisingly, being at the Seaport was not as cold as I thought it would be. The skating rink was located out in the center of the shopping area, right beside the Christmas tree. You just had to show up, rent or bring skates, pay, and head out to the ice.

South Street Seaport

They also had a concession stand where you could buy drinks and snack. There were a few couples on ice, plenty of kids, and tons of father/daughter duo’s – they were so adorable!

SEE CHANGE Ice Skating

It was so much fun! We stayed over an hour, between ice skating, Christmas music, and hot cocoa it was what I would call a perfect afternoon. I love being able to do things like this in NYC – it’s such a special experience, and I cannot wait to head back to South Street Seaport!

For more information on South Street Seaport, SEE/CHANGE, and the ice rink, click here!

*Disclosure: I received complimentary service’s as a part of my SEE/CHANGE experience. However, all opinions are honest and always my own.