Having lived in New York all throughout my teens, I got to experience some of the most amazing things. I don’t live there anymore but still go back whenever I can.
I can’t wait to share my adventures in the Big Apple with you!
The City That Stole My Heart
From Queens and Brooklyn to the Upper East & West Side, Chelsea, Soho, Little Italy, and The Village in Manhattan… New York City is such a vast and incredible place to explore.
You could live there for years, as I did… and still not experience it all. It’s a place to go no matter your budget, background, or interests… Probably why there are a million and one blogs about New York City… and you can bet that they all read a little differently.
NYC is one of those places that’s all about perception. As the slogan goes… “I ❤ NY”. I really do. It has always had a special place in my heart, still does.
The City That Never Sleeps
As an aspiring child/teen actor, I’d spend countless hours running from audition to screen test to rehearsals around “the city that never sleeps”.
Having hustled in from the suburbs of Long Island at ungodly hours, I used to think that that term was because you had to wake up so early to get there. 😂
“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless…”
Simone de Beauvoir
FACT: Real Girls Have the Most Fun in Cities
I was quite literally pounding the pavement. Can’t tell you how many trains, cabs, and subways I had to take when running alone couldn’t get me where I needed to go.
The only time things were calm was when my mom and I had our foodie times together. I have so many fond memories with her in the city. We’d try out new culinary delights at restaurants all up and down Manhattan and Brooklyn.
NYC got its nickname, “Big Apple” from a horse racing column in a local 1920s newspaper. The phrase was used to describe the big money prize won at horse races in the city.
A Colorful Adventure in NYC…
As an adult, my fascination and undying love affair with the Big Apple hasn’t wavered.
Many weekend trips are still spent roaming around and finding new, fun things to explore.
One such weekend brought me to an Instagram worthy pop up that is The Color Factory. Although, I heard about it the old fashioned way through one of my besties. John & his husband had recently been married and took a trip to the city. The pictures they shared were so much fun I had to try it myself.
So a hop on the train from Boston and my adventures began.
The Color Factory is a rush of colors as the name implies.. mixed with tons of hands on (pre COVID) touching & feeling. An interactive playground for all. Age limit does not apply.
You can even jump around in the ball pens. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to push the kids out of these fun contraptions at McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese? Come on, you know you have. 😉
Well, fortunately for us all… they have an adult friendly version.
You start out in one room and either through a tunnel, one of 6 different doors, or a contraption in the wall… you transport into the next room until you’ve went through the whole thing like a maze. It’s the closest thing you can get to Willy Wonka’s factory.
A big bonus for me was that snacks are featured all throughout the walk through self guided tour/facility. They start you out with goodies as soon as you walk in the door.. literally. Right when you walk in, you’re handed a mochi ice cream ball just to get you going.
More than 2,500 of the 3,250 crosswalk buttons in New York City function essentially as mechanical placebos. They haven’t worked since the late 1980’s.
Then, you walk under colorful strips of fabric until you reach your first stop, a conveyor belt of different flavored macarons coming from a hole in the wall to keep the sugar rush going till you reach the next room..
The treats and souvenirs were like little rewards for completing the games and lil history lessons at the stops. One could argue all this fun is educational. You can spin on a color wheel, learn about the history of colors.
Or, just pose for that perfect shot for the “GRAM”. It was super crowded but you didn’t feel rushed. You don’t have to ask a stranger to take a photo of you and your friends. Just pose, a camera in the wall snaps the pic, then you type in your email and Color Factory sends the photos to you!
But, I couldn’t pop in the city for just a pop-up…
Next stop, the worst hotel I ever stayed in. I’m sorry but the reviews on this are cray-cray. Yes, I know reviews are subjective. If the Color Factory was a Willy Wonka maze, this hotel is one step up from human rat maze.
Yes, it was clean. Yes, it was conveniently located…that’s where my agreement with the reviews will end. Literally the smallest rooms I’ve ever seen.
That’s what I get for booking last minute. As I said, the reviews on Hotels.com were complimentary. I remember thinking “this is smaller than a kid’s bedroom”. I thought it was a joke at first..
Fortunately, we had plans that night… so off to The Great White Way! Of course, one of the fabulous plays by the incomparable Bob Fosse.
Broadway and I go wayyy back. 😉 My love for these shows is nothing short of over the top.
We ended up seeing CHICAGO not the 2nd time.. or even the 3rd time.. but the 4th time!
It’s a feel good, toe tapping show, despite the dark murderous theme. It’s housed at the Ambassador Theater
Broadway Musical Dance Lessons
Early the next morning, with fear of claustrophobia setting in, I headed out as soon as I could squeeze between my girlfriend and the bed to get dressed. No exaggeration.
We were up and out so early… I had dance lessons with none other than the cast from the show we had seen the night before, CHICAGO. The Broadway fanatic I am, I was so freaking excited!!
Mastercard has this program where you can book these exclusive experiences. This one was awesome. I may not be able to dance but learning a number in an intimate setting with a Broadway star….Priceless…that may be their slogan, but they’re right. 😉
I had so much fun. They made the class setting very comfortable and we got to perform the number at the end with music! Followed by a 30 min. Q & A.
Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
On this trip, I dined at a few places only two of which were memorable.
The first was…
An upscale French Vietnamese restaurant on E. 57th. It was great food but incredibly overpriced. Probably why as I write this, I see that they are sadly permanently closed.
The second was…
An unexpected culinary find in a quirky little shop with every flavor of rice pudding you could ask for. It’s delicious! Happy to report that they are still in business and serving delicious sugary concoctions.
Overall, I had such a fun time in the city!! I will never stop loving New York.
If you’ve not made a stop in NYC yet, it’s something you don’t want to miss. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But, a place everyone has to experience, at least once. Who knows, you might just fall in love with the city and find yourself coming back for years like me. 😉
And now, for my favorite part…
Real Girl Reviews
The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
- Room being clean
- Conveniently located in Time Square near Broadway.
- Very cramped space
- Uncomfortable nights sleep
Overall, I value comfort when it comes to a hotel stay. Who doesn't? It was a horrible hotel experience for me. I would never stay here again. Even if I had to get a further hotel and take a taxi 20 blocks during the holidays. At least I wouldn't have to sleep in a room the size of my 5 yr. old nephew's.
This was an awesome experience. I loved how immersive the experience was for people of all ages. It wasn't just walking through and taking photos or looking at art, you got to touch, feel, & eat too. They also gave some souvenirs of your choosing.
Definitely worth the money.
They also have wheelchairs on site.
Locations all over. You can get more info and book tickets here.
This was my 4th time seeing this musical because it's sooo good! I love the music and dancing... you can't help but dance in your chair.
It's the longest-running show on Broadway and for good reason!
They're at Ambassador Theatre. Come in advance to get drinks & snacks before the show! You can buy Memorabilia afterward too!
Options to purchase tickets:
Directly through the musical's website here
3 TKTS booths in NYC:
- - Time Square (very busy)
- - Lincoln Center (much less crowded but further away)
- - Seaport
The great thing about TKTS is that you can get same day, discounted tickets for Broadway & Off Broadway shows, which is what I usually do.
Plan your day
View TKTS locations, transportation (subway & bus), & other info here.
Get the TKTS free app! You'll get live updates of shows on sale, wait times at all 3 booths, and you can save shows to "My List" to get updated when they go on sale by turning on notifications. Download app here.
This was a phenomenal, once in a lifetime kinda experience. I loved every minute of it! The classroom vibes were comfortable and the instruction slow enough that you could learn the number. We performed it at the end!
At the end, there was a 30 min Q&A with the actor/dancer leading the class and the pianist, both from the show.
Mastercard doesn't just have Broadway musical dance classes w/ cast members. You can do all sorts of experiences. Take a look here.
I would definitely do Mastercard experiences again!
Unfortunately, this restaurant is now closed. I can't say I'm shocked. Their prices were way overpriced for the portions you got. It wasn't even Michelin Star rated... That would be justified.
They have an awesome thing going on in this kitschy lil shop. More rice pudding flavors than you could ever imagine. And they have cute names too like, "Sex Drugs & Rocky Road" and "Coconut Coma".
I got the Omni which serves 3 flavors.
If you have allergies, you can take a look at the flavors ahead of time here. They're labeled GF, nut free, etc.
Pre COVID, because I have Lupus (low immunity), I always carry Clorox Bleach wipes with me and wipe down hotel rooms, trains, planes, etc. Cities are heavily occupied and also very dirty! It's an easy thing to throw in your bag. I carry the small packs of wipes in my purse and the big tubs in suitcase.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in one of my favorite cities, New York. Maybe you’ll get inspiration for your own trip!
In the end, I didn’t like my hotel but had such a great time doing activities I loved that I overlooked it completely.
Do you have a favorite city? I would love to hear about it! Comment below!
Real Girl Review strongly values truth and strives for accuracy. If you read something that doesn’t sound right, feel free to contact me and I will investigate the facts and make changes as I deem necessary. Posts are updated regularly.