Archive for February, 2010

Top Easter Holiday Destinations

Easter Holiday is just around the corner and that means family and friends will be hitting the following hot spot destinations. Check out the different events that these places have in store.

Washington, DC

The White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual family event to hunt for and race Easter Eggs on the White House Lawn while enjoying storytelling and a visit with the Easter Bunny. The holiday tradition has a long history dating back to 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes officially opened the White House grounds to local children for egg rolling on Easter Monday. Successive Presidents have continued the tradition of inviting children to the White House Lawn for egg rolling and other activities and entertainment. The event is open to children age twelve and under. Families can also enjoy sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, storytelling and the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. The theme for the 2010 event is “Ready, Set, Go!” promoting health and wellness. The even takes place April 5th from 8 AM – 5PM. Contact (202) 456-7041 for more information.

New York, New York

What better way to spend Easter than gripping a cup of hot cocoa and watching the Easter Parade down Fifth Avenue? A popular Easter tradition for New Yorkers, the parade takes place each Easter Sunday from 49th to 57th Streets. Over-the-top bonnets and costumes are displayed at the event.  Many attendees dress up their noggins with incredible botanical pieces that can reach up to 4 feet tall! It doesn’t end there – pets can also be seen wearing flower bonnets. If you plan to visit New York during the Easter holiday, this is a must-see.

Don’t miss the special Easter services at the beautiful St Patrick’s Cathedral on 50th Street and 5th Avenue.

Orlando, FL

Enter the Wonderful World of Disney for an unforgettable Easter. The Magic Kingdom features its annual Easter Parade with plenty of Disney characters – including the infamous Disney couple Minnie & Mickey. Have brunch at the World Show Place Pavilion in Epcot. The location is adorned with beautiful botanicals and much Easter spirit. Also, the popular Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny appear with the familiar gang of Disney characters in the Magic Kingdom so be sure to enjoy all of the family fun Walt Disney World has to offer.


Boston, MA

Going to Boston for the Easter holiday? Check into the Marriott-Boston Copley Place. Located 5 minutes away is Easter Egg Hunt at Kool Smiles. The great egg hunt is located near the MBTA Dudley Station and fun for the little ones. Before the egg hunt, enjoy a delicious Brunch at the Union Bar and Grille. Located at 1357 Washington Street, this casual warm welcoming restaurant offers spinach and goat cheese omelets with fine herbs, grilled reuben sandwiches and their well-known Union Burgers.


London, UK

Looking for a chance of pace this Easter? Stay at the Britannia International Hotel in London! Check out the Easter egg hunt at Battersea Park Zoo. With plenty to see and do that the zoo, children can hunt for Easter eggs while checking out the exotic animals that are located throughout the great park. For those Willie Wonka fans, visit Harrod’s Chocolate Room. Buying a limited edition Harrod’s egg enter you in the chance of winning a golden ticket. The tickets entitle the holders to win a prize from a £500 gift card to a year’s supply of Harrods chocolate!

New Orleans, LA

Home of the infamous Mardi Gras – it should not come as a shock that New Orleans hosts several parades during the week of Easter Sunday. The first of many is the Historic French Quarter Parade. The Parade of carriages and convertibles leaves the famous Arnaud’s Restaurant, opened by Count Arnaud long ago. The daughter of Count Arnaud started the marvelous parade. Floats roll down numerous colorful streets, including the well-known Bourbon Street. The next parade to check out is the Chris Owens Easter Parade. During Easter Sunday, the festivities begin at the Astor Crowne Plaza with a continental breakfast and entertainment including a hat contest. Other parades to see during your stay in New Orleans is the annual gay parade and the St. Charles Easter Parade that rolls down the beautiful St. Charles Avenue. Last but not least, what’s Easter without an Easter egg hunt? Audubon Zoo features a Dinosaur Egg Hunt during the weekend of Easter. Looking for the traditional Easter egg hunt? City Park would be the location to go for a relaxing day with the family and a grand Easter egg hunt.

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The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part V, Queens

We end our journey in Queens– known to be the ultimate New York (and American) melting pot where more languages are spoken than anywhere else in the world. An unforgettable place, tourists can simply “visit” more than a dozen countries such as Peru with Pio Pio’s mouth-watering Matador combo and a delicious Sangria (or two) to the Cheddar Bratwurst and a pint of Spaten Lager from Studio Square. Enjoy the spices, flavors and brilliant colors of Latin food? Love shrimp fried rice? What about shrimp fried rice and a side of maduros (fried sweet plantains)? Jardin de China is the place for you. Located on 37th street and Junction Blvd in Corona, this “Chino-Latino” fusion offers an array of items. From pork chops to pork fried rice and even desserts such as flan – anything goes.

While you’re in Corona, grab an Italian ice from The Lemon Ice King of Corona. As seen on the show “King of Queens”, the Corona King is no less than royalty to Queens natives. Honor your taste buds with whatever flavor your heart desires – lemon, mango, sour apple, vanilla chocolate chip. The “King” has it all.

If your sweet tooth is craving a nice hot fudge sundae topped with homemade whipped cream and toppings upon toppings – Eddie’s Sweet Shop is the place to go. 

Walking into this old-fashioned “Mom & Pop” ice cream parlor you’d hope to find Fonzie sitting in the corner booth and Richie Cunningham serving your sundae. Rum raisin, banana, butter pecan, walnut and the usual chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are just a few to name available at Eddie’s. Lavish your scoops with freshly made whipped cream, gooey syrups of all flavors and of course – the cherry on top. Soda floats, milkshakes, egg creams and real flavored colas (among other items) are found here at this treat of a spot located on 105th street and Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills.

Take the 7 train to 74th Street-Broadway to “Little India” for a taste of The Jackson Diner. When exiting the 7 train station, one this is for sure – jewelry stores are not scarce in “Little India”. Beautiful necklaces, armlets, rings and other 22k pieces are brilliantly displayed in the windows. In between you’ll find shops selling saris, Bollywood DVDs, and South Asian imports. Sweet shops and restaurants offering Tandoori chicken, vegetarian curries, and kebabs are all found in Little India – the Jackson Diner being one of them. Located on 74th St. and 37th Ave., the Jackson Diner has been a favorite to Little India. Serving delicious crispy fried potato and pea filled Samosas, tender Tandoori chicken marinated in yogurt mild spices cooked in a clay oven and beverages such as Masala tea and Taj Mahal Indian beer, you will not be disappointed for the taste and cost of these items. Lunch buffet is served daily 11:30 a.m.—4 p.m. for $9.95. The portions are large and beware the entrees are hot so be sure to request mild. Enjoy!

Don’t mind the extra calories? Behold Cherry Valley and Cristina’s. This deli has items that will feed the sinful gluttony of your soul. Located in Whitestone and conveniently located across from one another, both of these deli’s have plenty of choices that most call “heart attacks waiting to happen” just begging to feed your beastly hunger.

Frequent visitors of Cristina’s order the “Heart Attack”. Breaded chicken, spicy fries, battered onion rings, and bacon topped off with Cristina’s “special sauce” all on your choice of a roll or hero. Want something a little healthier? The Healthy Bird would be the sandwich for you. Grilled chicken, with melted Swiss lettuce, tomato, roasted peppers, oil and vinegar or balsamic vinegar on a hero (or roll if you prefer).

Across the way is Cherry Valley. A personal favorite from Cherry Valley would be the “Corona” sandwich. Chicken cutlet with bacon, cheddar, onion rings doused with BBQ sauce on a toasted garlic hero. Just reading the sandwich makes you loosen your belt by a notch, huh?

You simply cannot leave the Big Apple without having a slice of New York pizza. Alfie’s Pizza is one of the few greatest pizzerias standing that guarantees the best slices in town. Grab a hot cheesy slice for $1.75 with a side of fresh garlic knots topped with minced garlic pieces, oil and oregano for just $1 more. Alfie’s also serves Italian favorites such as Chicken Parmigiana for only $6.50 and Linguini With Red Or White Clam Sauce for only $7. There is no other place that can beat the price, flavor and hospitality. Located at 8608 117th Street in Richmond Hill, grab, fold and enjoy a slice of the Big Apple the New York way.

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part IV, Staten Island

Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan to St. George Staten Island. Once aboard the ferry, enjoy the breeze and take pictures of the beautiful New York skyline.

Visitors of Staten Island are greeted by St. George’s scenic waterfront. The St. George waterfront is the location of the Staten Island September 11 Memorial. The historic district consists of 78 houses and one church-St. Peters Roman Catholic, the oldest parish on Staten Island-and is a mix of Victorian styles, such as Queen Anne, Shingle style, Colonial Revival, and Tudor. In the St. George area, Ruddy and Dean’s restaurant has been praised for their exceptional lunch/dinners, refreshing outdoor terrace dining area and great view of the waterfront. Delicious surf-n-turf dinner specials and premium cut steaks are all here in this low-key restaurant.

The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is a must-see for  those visiting in Staten Island. The largest ongoing adaptive reuse project in America and is considered one of New York City’s unique architectural complexes and historic landscapes. Snug Harbor provides a rich and powerful learning experience for audiences young and old. It is also a distinguished Smithsonian Affiliate. Snug Harbor is made up of the Staten Island Botanical Garden, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, The Nobel Maritime Collection – holds a collection of art that reflects the history of Staten Island, The Staten Island Children’s Museum – a hands on museum, The Staten Island museum, an Art lab and Music Hall.

Top Destinations to Visit for St. Patrick’s Day 2010

St. Patrick’s Day is an annual feast day, which celebrates Saint Patrick – the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on 17th of March. Every city, country and region in the world has their own way of celebrating St. Patty’s. Bring out the green gear, wear your 4-leaf clover pin and take a trip around the world. Discover the festivals, foods and what lies ahead!

New York

Only second to Dublin in terms of St. Patty’s Day, New York offers a few more options in terms of budget travel. The annual parade down Fifth Avenue to honor the patron saint of Ireland is a New York tradition that dates as far back as 1766. The festivities kick off at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue at 11:00 am on March 17th, with bagpipers, high school bands, and the ever-present politicians making their way up Fifth Avenue to 86th Street, where the parade will probably finish around 4:30 or 5:00 pm. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is usually televised and aired on NBC. New Yorkers have their own unique way of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, The Wearing of the Green. Green clothes, green flowers, and green hats are standard, but you’ll also find unique green beers, green bagels, green water fountains, and even a green Empire State Building. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is also a beautiful and historic place to visit during the festivities. Where to go for delicious Irish cuisine and pints upon pints? Molly’s is the place to go. Open for lunch and dinner, this is a great place to grab a bite, especially if you’ve got the craving for bangers (sausage) and mash, lamb stew or corned beef and cabbage. Molly’s also has countless of delicious beers on tap, including Guinness Stout, Murphy’s Stout and Irish Amber, and plenty of other beers to fulfill your desires.

Boston

One of the first and best cities to visit for St. Patrick’s Day is Boston. There is much Irish history in Boston. It is also likely to be one of the more spirited party cities on March 17th. In addition to the usual green beer and other alcohol-related elements that are entailed on this day, Boston also offers things like an Irish heritage walk through the city’s traditional Irish neighborhoods. The parade starts on Broadway (by the T station), continues throughout the streets of South Boston. South Boston is well known for being a working class Irish- American neighborhood. The parade finally ends in Andrews Square. Even if you’re not Irish, it is still something that you can enjoy.

Chicago

The typical scenery of St. Patrick’s Day is a sea of green. People wearing green, drinking green beer but what about a green river? If you visit Chicago, you’ll find that the whole river has turned green. It’s one of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions, and although it dates back to a plumbing mishap originally, it’s become a cherished part of Chicago’s St. Patty’s Day party ever since. St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago also features activities such as an Irish soda bread contest, a best-dressed “Irish” dog contest, and a children’s parade around the art center’s grounds. A live production by the Beverly Arts Centers’ own children’s theater group is also featured on this festive day. In addition, this event will feature food, drink, numerous Irish vendors, and live entertainment from bagpipers, Irish dancers, and a host of Irish musicians.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is home to the 2nd oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. With a dizzying array of Irish Bars, Irish people, and those who get down with the green on March 17, the party here is one of the country’s best. When in Philly, visit Irish Pub. More of a Philadelphia institution than true Irish pub – enjoy a sweeping bar, convivial scene and Beamish on tap located on 2007 Walnut St.

London

Looking for a change of pace? Head over to London for St. Patrick’s Day! Over 100,000 people attended last years St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The parade consists of a colorful display of floats, marching bands and groups representing the Irish Counties – will proceed through central London from Green Park to Trafalgar Square from midday. Trafalgar Square hosts the festival program of live Irish music and dance on the main performance stage, showcasing the best of Irish music and dance from traditional to contemporary.

Dublin

If you could be anywhere for St. Patrick’s Day and money was no object – your heart would be set on no other than Dublin. Dublin is notoriously expensive even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day but 1800Hotels can help out with great deals on accommodations. The festival features highly original and inventive street theatre troupes, artists, giant puppetry, dancers and marching bands from Ireland and across the globe. Thousands are anticipated to be cheering on the city streets of Parnell Square and continuing throughout the city of Dublin. If you’ve got your heart set on Dublin, you’re in for an unforgettable party!

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The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part III, Brooklyn

3. Brooklyn: Next stop – Brooklyn. Look familiar? Sex and The City fans may remember this from the Sex and The City movie where Miranda and Steve reunite the love for one another. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and has become an iconic part of the New York skyline. A beautiful view of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New York’s lady Liberty can be seen from the bridge.

Planning a family trip to New York during the Summer? Take the family to Coney Island! Ride the Cyclone, grab a Nathan’s hot dog and visit the Coney Island Museum along the boardwalk of Surf Avenue. The Cyclone is Coney Island’s great little roller coaster that has been running since 1927. After taking a whirl on this historic wooden roller coaster, take a tour around The Coney Island Museum. The museum has dedicated itself to the history of Coney Island with carnival props and fun facts about the great boardwalk and how it came to be.

Coney Island is also home to The New York Aquarium. The aquarium offers both indoor and outdoor exhibits with over 8,000 animals. The New York Aquarium strives to educate visitors about aquatic ecosystems and encourage visitors to support their preservation. From touch pools to penguin feedings, this aquarium has much to offer for families, friends and visitors all around.

Stop at Güllüoğlu’s for some delicious baklava. Located on 1985 Coney Island Avenue, this modernized Istanbul bakery offers 12 different types of baklava, puddings and delectable Turkish cuisine.

If you’re looking for a trip back into the 1980’s with Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde and a pint of Sixpoint Apollo Wheat draft in your hand – BARCADE is the spot for you. A huge warehouse-like space filled with games such as Galaga, Ms Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Centipede and a large bar keeps more than 20 beers on tap. Behind the bar is a giant chalkboard listing the varieties of beer (and wine) and ever-changing menus with details of what brewsky is available. Slim wooden counters between the games serve as a place to stash your pint. The music sets the 80’s mood playing indie, pop and rock such as Aswad, Blondie, Journey and many more. BARCADE is located on 388 Union Avenue.

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part II, The Bronx

Bronx: How ya doin’, Yankee fans? Take a trip to the BX and check out Yankee Stadium, home of the World Series winners, the New York Yankees. Take the Classic Tour, which lasts 45 minutes to one hour and includes visits to the New York Yankees Museum, Monument Park, the dugout and clubhouse/batting cage area. The clubhouse/batting cage area is available only when the team is on the road and during the off-season. After the tour, ditch the peanuts and crackerjacks for hickory smoked chicken wings and a New York Strip Steak all washed down with delicious, ice cold beer on tap from the Hard Rock Café located inside of Yankee Stadium.

Still not satisfied? Hop on the D train to Artuso Pastry Shop. Since 1946, Artuso’s has been known for pastries such as their beautifully crafted homemade Cannoli’s, macaroons, tiramisu, éclairs, elaborate cakes and an array of cookies from delicious chewy, almond-infused Pignoli’s to Long Apricot Sprinkle Top cookies. All of the delectable pastries your heart desires served with a smile.

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part I, Manhattan

When the phrase “Heart of New York” comes to mind, the image that immediately flashes is Time Square – the hustle and bustle of people, the “One Time Square” building with Coca-Cola’s animated ads and where the infamous Ball Drop occurs, the Broadway billboards and of course, the sea of yellow taxi cabs. The Real Heart of New York is the 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. These boroughs pump the life into New York, giving it a pulse like no other. Our tour will start off in Manhattan and end at the melting pot of the world – Queens, NY.

1. Manhattan: Manhattan has much to offer from their magnificent Broadway shows such as “Chicago” and “Mary Poppins” to simply taking a $2.25 train ride to Central Park and having a quiet picnic next to John Lennon’s memorial – “Strawberry Fields”. Drifting away from the ordinary and stepping into the extraordinary, the newest addition to New York is Tim Burton’s exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art located at 11 West 53 Street. When entering the exhibit, one must pass through a black and white creature’s mouth (you may have déjà vu – think “Beetle Juice”) and step into the world of Burton. As you walk through the exhibit, short films of Burton’s bizarre characters such as Stain Boy are shown on TV screens. Before entering the main area, a circus-like room illuminated with black lights shows Burton’s pieces in brilliant shades of neon’s with a moving carousel Burton made especially for the exhibit. The main area features strange character drawings and sculptures, clay pieces from films such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride”, and costume pieces from previous films such as “Batman”, “Mars Attack!” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Edward Scissorhands”. For the Johnny Depp fans, not only is the costume in display but also a life-sized Edward fills the costume with life. An incredible Scissorhands replica topiary is out in the garden of the MoMA as well. One of my favorite pieces on display is a comic book Burton had written as a teenager, which he submitted as a pitch letter to Disney and was soon after rejected. A piece that may tie into the anger Burton had towards Disney features a blue and white monster that closely resembles Mickey Mouse eating creativity and “relieving” himself of brown boxes. (Exhibit is open until April 26th, 2010)

Exit the mind of Burton and visit other pieces at the museum such as Frida Kahlo’s “La pelona”, pieces by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Van Gogh and plenty of other talented individuals.

After exploring the MoMA, grab a $6 platter of Halal food on 53rd street and 6th avenue.
The infamous cart serves from 7:30PM – 4:00AM and attracts hardhat workers, the white collared and even hipsters. Mind you the line is long but it is worth the wait. Enjoy a platter of chicken and lamb  (or better yet – both) served with saffron rice and a small bit of salad. Douse with either “white sauce” or “hot sauce” and delicious dices of pita bread.

“Grab-and-go” not your style? Hop on the 6 train and get off at 33rd street to enjoy delicious Mexican food at Blockheads. Blockheads provides a healthier way to do Mexican. Build your own burrito with choices such as a whole-wheat tortilla, tofu “sour cream” and plenty of salsa options. Enjoy $3 beers and vodka lemonades or one of their famous margaritas such as “The Red Nose Bulldog”. Not your average margarita to say the least – you choose your flavor and it is topped with a “Coronita” and of course, salt on the rim. Enjoy!

If food and entertainment is what you’re searching for, take the V train to West 4th street and walk down to the world famous Jekyll and Hyde restaurant. Werewolves, Frankenstein’s creation, vampires, gargoyles and other creatures are the servers so expect the unusual to occur. The walls of Jekyll and Hyde are adorned with souvenirs and trophies of Dr. Jekyll’s bizarre developments and those of his off the wall friends. The histories behind these items are summarized on plaques throughout the restaurant. Beware: much of the memorabilia has a life of its own and keep in mind that anything can happen at Jekyll & Hyde. Be prepared for the live entertainment and special effects this restaurant has in store.

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part II, The Bronx

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part III, Brooklyn

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part IV, Staten Island

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part V, Queens


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