Frigid New York City New Year’s Fun

3 Posted by - January 5, 2018 - Cravings, Walkabout

Becca and my last visits in New York were quite different, respectively. I worked 16-18 hour days on a media tour less than six weeks prior, rushing from the Wall Street Journal, to NBC, then ABC, and so on. Becca had visited a year or so prior to help with family. But we had never celebrated a New York City New Year’s.

Our NYC Chelsea Apt.She has a couple family members in the area, so we travel here relatively frequently. The beauty of the city is each time is a bit different.

And this time, we jammed eight people in an apartment in Chelsea right after the Christmas holiday for a New York City New Year’s communal. So, we knew it would be a unique experience.

The weather proved challenging (some us got stuck), but New York is always a memorable visit: (If you get out of the apartment.)

Saturday in Chelsea 

Things started out a bit rocky because LaGuardia is A MESS of construction. My mother-in-law was awesome and arranged a car service (Dial 7 Car & Limousine Service). On price, they were a lot cheaper than Uber for black car service. Think Uber X pricing. Regardless, it almost defeats the purpose of car service if you have to take an airport shuttle to the pick-up location.

Our group of eight included me, Becca and our kids, as well as Becca’s mom, sister and her husband and daughter. We all arrived early evening Saturday, Dec. 30, to a three bedroom Chelsea apartment on AIRBNB that was filled with windows and a view of Madison Square Garden (and close to Penn Station).

And the apartment was freezing! New York itself was unseasonably cold — I believe it was 12 degrees when we arrived. (The average low temperature in January for New York City is 27 degrees.) Being that this place was huge for New York, we kicked on the space heaters and headed out to the market and liquor store for a well-deserved night in from travel — and to heat the damn place up.

Bundle Up for NYC New Year's

Sunday — New Year’s Eve Day —  Day of Much Drink

As my brother-in-law slept off his hang over, I was signed up for the “early morning” Whole Foods excursion. But boy was I ever rewarded. Being from Kansas, our grocery stores don’t sell proper beer. Read: craft beer.

The selection at the nearby Whole Foods, however, was staggering. And they were doing tastings. Nothing beats New York crowds like slamming free beer in the grocery story. My reward for getting knee-capped on multiple occasions? The ever-elusive Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. Yes!

She: Yeah…while you were drinking beer, I was cleaning up spilled blueberries and keeping our niece from crashing the cart into the sea of last-minute New Year’s Eve shoppers.

And best yet … my lovely mother-in-law picked up the whole tab. Yes, including the three bottles of CBS I acquired.

NYC Whole Foods BeerWe returned to the apartment. My brother-in-law, now conveniently upright, wanted to know if I’d accompany him to his old haunts in East Village. “Yes, please. Out of the apartment I want.”

We hit “Tom & Jerry’s” and perhaps the narrowest bar I’ve visited called “Milanos.”

NYC East Village Bar MilanosNew York has everything in the world, right? Wrong. Apparently you can’t find Rose’s Lime Juice unless you work in the cocktail industry. This is a problem because my travel companions (minus me) really enjoy vodka gimlets.

My charming brother-in-law (knowing this was perhaps our last, best chance) conned the bar attender at Milano’s out of a sufficient allotment to appease the ladies.

After Milano’s, we headed back up town and got a shot of Irish Whiskey (and a bad vegan joke from the bartender) at Walter’s Bar.

She: Yet again … you are out drinking and I’m left to clean-up messes. I was Super for the day at the apartment. I plunged a clogged toilet, re-set the circuit breaker, and stuffed towels into drafty windows. It’s a good thing you brought back Rose’s.

… And American Football

At this point, we were 30 minutes from kick off of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos game. And the KC crowd really wanted to see first-round draft pick QB Patrick Mahomes play. My English brother-in-law isn’t much for American Football, but he humored us and made reservations for the whole group at Mustang Harry’s.

NYC Chelsea Mustang Harry'sLittle did we know this place was a Denver Broncos bar. Funny enough. There was only one Denver fan. And he was eating and having a drink with a former Kansas City Tight End from the 1980s era. The two had been college teammates at the University of New Mexico.

They had asked about us once we started cheering loudly for the Chiefs and we chatted for some time. Regardless of your affiliation, Mustang Harry’s was a great place to watch a game.

But … We Spend Our New York City New Year’s Eve Indoors

NYC Line of CabsWe left in the 3rd quarter of the game. About this time, the New York City New Year’s street vendors have dotted the sidewalks with racks of cheap 2018 glasses and motley kazoos.

And while others were filing out of their hotels to head to the bars or Times Square, we were running back to our apartment.

Aftermath of New York City New Year's

Our New York City New Year’s celebration? We drank, played games (of course, no one will still play Exploding Kittens with me) and alternated watching more American Football and the New Year’s countdown shows. At 10 p.m. my five-year-old niece, bored out of her mind, started to “moon” the cabs lining 30th Street. Knowing this was unacceptable behavior — even for a five-year-old — we let her shoot off the poppers.

The adults popped open the champagne and summarily marveled at the people “braving” Times Square. Rob Riggle, who was hosting a countdown show, was smart enough to get off stage as soon as the ball dropped.

Monday Shopping Madness

NYC Macy's ChristmasSo, what did we do the first day of our New York City New Year’s?

We went shopping, of course. My son, the sneaker freak (more on this later), had to see what was at Foot Locker. The rest of us wanted to see Macy’s famous Christmas holiday window displays.

But before we could manage any of that, Old Navy was having a sale. Sigh.

NYC Macy's Christmas Inside

They’re always having sale. Still, the boy swore he was out of T-shirts and Becca was refusing to wear her sister’s yoga clothes for a class the next day. So, into Old Navy we went.

Actually, I didn’t mind. I was secretly working the group towards two destinations of eat and drink, respectively:

  • Shake Shack
  • La Colombe

Many people know Shake Shack, but we don’t have a Shake Shack in KC. So, I treated the family to this most wonderful burger joint.

NYC Macy's Christmas Window Display

As for La Colombe, it was actually our kids who introduced us to the coffee company. They had started watching Dangerous Grounds on the Travel Channel years before, but they’d never stepped into a cafe. As for Becca and me, if we’re in a city where they have a cafe, we make the trek to visit.  My excuse to the family? I hadn’t tried a real draft latte. You can find them canned in stores, but I had to try that frothy, nitrous infused latte straight from the tap.

Once we finished at La Colombe, we turned the corner and saw the festive Bryant Park just across the street. The Winter Village was in full swing with people ice skating and shopping. Sadly, I had worn the troops out and they’d cried that they wanted to head back to the apartment.

NYC Dylan's Candy Union Square… But wait there’s more

My daughter and niece had been promised Dylan’s Candy Bar. Not to be denied, we compromised and hopped a quick subway ride to the Union Square shop and knocked that bad boy off the list. For the “small” shop it was still quite impressive.

Tuesday is Divide The Genders Day!

NYC Plaza Hotel Tea

As soon as this trip was booked, plans were made for tea at the Plaza Hotel. Becca is a HUGE Eloise fan and has always wanted to go. Now, with Drue, she had more than enough of an excuse.

To justify all of the cake consumption, Becca reluctantly agreed to participate in the yoga class her sister was teaching.NYC Plaza Hotel Becca and Eloise

The boys were not excluded from destination excursions. Grant is quite the sneaker aficionado so the speciality shoe store Flight Club New York was atop his list.

After more than an hour perusing sneakers (a historic retelling of each Jordan model year) … he FINALLY made a decision. And a good one at that. I owned a pair of the original Jordan 4s growing up — I could curse my mom for throwing them out.

With the shoe excursion complete, Grant and I met my brother-in-law out for lunch and then a drink at the Ace Hotel Oyster Bar (John Dory). (Who knew that Ace Hotel visit would become such a formative experience. It would soon house part of the clan.)

… Madison Square Garden Icing on The Cake

Rooftop of MSGIn the days leading up to our New York City New Year’s trip, Grant and I had been watching Stub Hub to see if we can catch the Knicks play the San Antonio Spurs. While I’m certainly not a Knicks fan, I do love basketball and attending a game in Madison Square Garden (MSG) is a bucketlist item not only for me but Grant, too.

We’d almost given up going to the game — the cheapest seat in MSG were more than Madison Square Garden New York City$200 a piece. Still, we’ve played this racket for KU basketball games. So we waited it out. And five minutes to tip, a $700 pair of tix in section 108 fell into our lap for $150 (plus service fees). We nabbed them and rushed over the arena.

We missed about two minutes of game action. It was tightly contested game, if not a pretty one. The Spurs doubled Kristaps Porzingis almost all night. And Kawhi Leonard had the quietest 25 points I’d seen in some time.

NYC Boys Watching NY KnicksWe had a great time. While MSG looks its age on the outside, inside it’s gorgeous. With a remodel completed in late 2013, the marble concourses are beautiful, offer plenty of concessions and contain a few fan experiences. Inside the arena, the scoreboard is clearly state-of-the-art and the upper level fan bridges and in-arena music stage at one baseline provide some interesting sites for the non-basketball fan.

Unfortunately Wednesday was Packing and Home … For Some of Us

Unfortunately, Becca and my mother-in-law’s New York City New Year’s trip got extended. They got caught in CycloneBomb as Twitter affectionally called it for much of the day. (Also check out … https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018)

Remember the Ace Hotel mention from earlier … that became their new home for two days (fortunately they have guitars in many of their rooms)…

NYC Ace Hotel Oyster BarSo … You Have Four Days in New York … What Do You Do?< /h3>I would gladly go back to NYC — and soon — but I’m not sure I’d do another New York City New Year’s if the weather is anywhere near that cold. I love to walk the city, and the cold made the experience a bit one-dimensional.

Next time we’re in Manhattan, we’ll FINALLY hit the Today Show and Rockefeller Center with the kids. And the beer tour will commence, as well. I’ll hop over to LaBirreria on the Eataly rooftop and then work over to …

… Brooklyn!<<<<<<< a href=”https://otherhalfbrewing.com” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Other Half Brewing and Brooklyn Brewery will be high on the visit list.

When you visit (or dream of a visit) New York, where do you like to go?

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