8 Great “Destination Wedding” Venues in the US

asiseeit_fayette_headshotMany couples tying the knot these days are not only looking for different kinds of ceremonies and receptions, but unique and memorable locations as well. More and more weddings are veering away from the traditional ceremony and reception, and instead heading toward what is known as the “Destination Wedding”. Typically these types of weddings result in smaller numbers of people attending, but allow for couples’ friends and families to experience an unbelievable day to remember.

Here are some of the most popular “Destination Wedding” ideas happening around the U.S.:

Central Park- NY, NY

The Wedding of Evan and CherylNew York City is arguably the most iconic city in America, so why not select a weekend afternoon in the ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ to exchange wedding vows? Though the venues in NYC are seemingly endless, perhaps Central Park is the most ideal location for a wedding. Nestled between the busy city avenues and skyscrapers, sits the tranquil beauty of this green-filled park. With nearly a dozen locations available throughout the park, the Conservatory Garden, the Pond, and the Boathouse are three annual favorites for weddings. It should also be noted that the famous Tavern on the Green is currently under renovation and inquiries about its expected time of re-opening should be checked on a regular basis. It’s important to know that there are fees, applications, and certain restrictions that go along with having a wedding in Central Park; for example No alcohol, amplified music, or tents are permitted in the park. For more information and to download an application visit the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation’s website at www.nycgovparks.org/.

Mall of America- Minneapolis, Minnesota

moaGetting married in a mall? Yes, believe it or not, America’s largest mall plays host to hundreds of weddings a year, having had more than 5,000 performed since its opening. With over 4-million square feet of building area, 520+ stores, and a twenty-five ride and attraction amusement park built inside, it’s no wonder that more than 40-million people visit the MOA every year. But a wedding, really? The fact is the Mall of America has several venues to accommodate just about any style and budget. The MOA even has… (Move over Elvis…) The Chapel of Love! Catering to those who can’t get enough of ‘retail America’, the chapel has photographers, hairstyling, dresses and tuxes, and more all at your disposal. And they of course take all major credit cards. Find out how to book your nuptials by visiting www.MallOfAmerica.com .

Grand Canyon

grandcanyonFor a more rustic approach to tying the knot many couples are venturing to one of the country’s great natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. Some of the more popular ways to celebrate the big day in that area is to be helicoptered in and dropped off onto the peak of a mesa, or ride the historic Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona that winds through the magnificent canyon with all its colors and beauty. The helicopter rides range in price as well as duration. Bridal parties can view the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas from high above, as well as take in remarkable sunsets as they come and go from the majestic Grand Canyon. Staying more down to earth, the Grand Canyon Railway excursions offer a slower pace, yet still a memorable wedding day. Bridal parties can reserve their own 1923 rail car or mingle in with other passengers. Full-service wedding packages are available and an outdoor wedding permit is required by the National Park Service by calling (928) 638-7841.

Monterey and Carmel, California

MontereyDotted along the Pacific coast sits some absolutely incredible venues for a one-of-a-kind wedding. Carmel and Monterey, California offer breathtaking backdrops for a bride and groom’s magical day. From Monterey’s rocky cliffs to Carmel’s soft sandy beaches, this region gives couples a variety of spectacular venues to choose from. From Stewart’s Cove to Carmel Beach, and Cypress Point at Pebble Beach to the Monterey Stone Chapel in the Redwoods, this area of the Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of “I Do’s” each year. Booking reservations at a specific area requires timely planning and flexibility of venues and dates, so couples are encouraged to make their plans as soon as possible. www.MontereyWeddings.com is a great place to view all that is offered for weddings in the region.

Rocky Mountains- Colorado region

rockiesIt’s widely known that for skiing enthusiasts there perhaps is no better place to be from mid-autumn to late-spring than the ski trails of Colorado. So it only seems natural that for those who happen to be planning a wedding and enjoy fresh Rocky Mountain powder Colorado is a perfect destination for them. Of course the summer months in the Rockies are also ideal for a memorable wedding. Perhaps the most popular location in the region is Aspen. With an array of hotels, restaurants and activities, Aspen is built for special events. Other Rocky Mountain venues that are perfect for weddings are Golden, Denver, Breckenridge, and Vail, Colorado. Whether winter, spring, summer, or fall, the Rockies offer fun, adventure, and endless memories for brides, grooms, and their families and friends. Finding a location and time of year to suit the soon-to-be-newlyweds in the Rocky Mountain region will take some research and maybe even a couple “fieldtrips”. A great online resource to get your magical day planned is appropriately titled www.RockyMountainBride.com .

Atlantis- Paradise Island, Bahamas

atlantisLike Muhammad Ali knew boxing, the Beatles knew rock n’ roll, and Michael Jordan knows sneakers; with fifteen locations situated around Paradise Island, Atlantis knows weddings. Whether it’s a sunrise or sunset ceremony, a flower-filled or sandy beach backdrop, or a reception for twelve or five hundred, Atlantis at Paradise Island has it covered. From barefoot casual to over-the-top elegant the possibilities are endless for one’s storybook wedding. With the serenity of the Caribbean rippling in the background couples can exchange vows at the secluded Cove Beach. For those looking for a little more ‘wow-factor’ in their ceremony and reception a reservation at Ripples may be just the ticket. Surrounded by a Mayan-style décor and breathtaking water features, a wedding at Ripples will have guests talking about it for years to come. A complete guide to weddings on Paradise Island can be found at www.Atlantis.com . Here visitors will be reminded of what to ask and what to expect when planning a destination wedding in the Bahamas. And remember, U.S. citizens are required to have a passport in order to return to the U.S. (which when you think of it, may be a great place to get stuck for awhile).

Epcot- Disney World, Florida

epcotFor generations Disney World in Central Florida has been thought as a childhood destination. But today the land of Mickey is playing host to nearly two-thousand Cinderella-like weddings each year. Though Disney offers dozens of places to hold a ceremony and reception, I think the most unique venues can be found at a place that may not come to mind right of the bat– the Epcot amusement park. Epcot’s World Showcase takes visitors on a trip around the world, with an incredible attention to detail paid to each country’s highlights. It is here that a bride and groom can choose to be married alongside an English countryside, next to a cascading Canadian waterfall, or with a replica of Rome’s Trevi fountain set as their backdrop. From flowers to cakes, and ceremony to fireworks-filled reception, the wedding planners at Epcot will be there to assist the happy couple every step of the way. Wedding venues at Epcot’s World Showcase can be found within the countries of Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, China, Germany, Japan, and Morocco. To start making plans for your Epcot destination wedding visit www.disneyweddings.com .

Fenway Park- Boston, Massachusetts

kimberly + blake | fenway park wedding | boston, massThere are sports fans across the country that would go to the ends of the earth for their favorite team or player. Perhaps there is no place in America where this is truer than in the city of Boston, where fans do just about anything for their beloved baseball Redsox. Having been crowned World Series champions three-times over the past decade, there is no hotter ticket in sports today than that with the Boston Redsox logo attached to it. With all of that in mind, many fanatic couples try to make the Redsox part of their wedding day in any way possible. Whether they decorate their reception hall with red and blue flowers, or have their bridal party decked out in home and away uniforms, some fans just want their favorite team part of their big day. On the other hand, more and more couples are taking their fanaticism to a whole new level; “upper deck level” that is.  The Boston Redsox, like many other sports franchises across the country, are now catering to their over-the-top fans by opening sections of the stadium for wedding ceremonies and receptions before, during, and after the game. Fenway Park’s history and charm can now be captured on sunny afternoon or starlit night during a Redsox home-stand or even while the stadium is vacant. Brides can say their vows from the famed Green Monster, or overlooking homeplate from the EMC Club, which seats up to 300 guests. So warm up your vocal chords for a rousing rendition of “Sweet Caroline” and contact the management of Fenway Park at www.Redsox.com  to book your upcoming wedding.

So from a ballpark to a mall, or an island to a mountain top, the U.S. has some amazing venues for those couples looking to create a once-in-a-lifetime wedding memory. Where will your dream wedding be?

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Summertime Fun in New York State

asiseeit_fayette_headshotThroughout the northeast, Summer is always welcomed with open arms, ready-to-spend wallets, and a desire to wear bathing suits whenever and wherever possible. With its four distinct seasons, from Memorial Day to Labor Day those in the New York State area attempt to squeeze every available sun-shining moment into their schedules.

So without further delay (because I think the sun is coming out to stay), here are some ideas I’d like to share with you for your summertime fun in and around New York State.

In Syracuse, Saturday mornings are reserved for hundreds to pay a visit to the Regional Market. Now this is open nearly all year round, but it’s a nice way to spend a summer Saturday morning as you stroll through locallySYR Regional Market grown fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The Regional Market is open until 1pm on Saturdays. My wife and I usually start our Saturday out that way a couple of times during the summer. From there we head a few miles to the south, to the Armory Square district. This section of Syracuse boasts several restaurants, quaint pubs, along with specialty stores and boutiques. You can typically catch us enjoying lunch and a pint at The Blue Tusk. One of the largest attractions found in Syracuse when it’s not SU Orange basketball season is a trip to Destiny USA. Filled with hundreds of well-known stores, restaurants, and attractions, Destiny USA has something for everyone. Besides hours of shopping, this mega mall has indoor simulated golf, go-cart racing, comedy clubs, and museums. Popular eateries at Destiny USA include the Cheesecake Factory, Cantina Laredo, PF Changs, and Gordon Biersch.

Oswego Harborfest fireworks by GrucciDuring the last weekend in July the City of Oswego shows off its Lake Ontario lakefront beauty with its Harborfest celebration. From Thursday to  Sunday the city is transformed into a carnival atmosphere, mixed with great food, second-to-none free concerts, and traditionally Chamber of Commerce weather. Whether you want to taste regional wines, buy locally created crafts, take in a concert from top name acts, or just appreciate how lucky Oswegonians are to live alongside Lake Ontario, Harborfest weekend is a date you don’t want to miss.

Speaking of wine tasting, Central New Yorkers are blessed to have some of the world’s finest wines within a short drive. I enjoy taking a day, or sometimes even a weekend, to skip from winery to winery between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Part of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, these wineries have fun employees, great tasting wines, and many now have overnight accommodations and restaurants. I prefer FingerLakes mapstaying at The Inn at Glenora at the south end of Route 14 or Belhurst Castle, located at the north end of Route 14 in Geneva. Some of my favorite lunch and dinner locations are Fox Run Farms Winery (found on the west side of Seneca Lake), Stonecutters (located in Belhurst Castle), and Sheldrake Point (along the west side of Cayuga Lake). As far as wine tasting goes, I have my favorites, but wine tasting is like that of music or food taste- it varies with each individual. That being said if you haven’t experienced the Finger Lakes Wine Trail some must-see stops are Swedish Hill, Hazlitt’s, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge, Three Brothers, and Fox Run Farms. You can find great interactive maps and descriptions by Googling ‘Seneca Lake Wineries’ or ‘Cayuga Lake Wineries’.

More family-oriented travels may see you spending the day at Rochester’s SeaBreeze Amusement Park, along Lake Ontario or the Darien Lake Amusement Park, located midway between Rochester and Buffalo just off the Thruway. Located in Sterling, NY (near Fair Haven Beach State Park) is the Renaissance Faire. Open for the months of July and August, the RenFaire takes visitors back to the Middle Ages with jesters, joustings, and the beloved fried turkey legs.

Niagara_FallsIf you have a weekend or a few days to spare, expand your travels to Niagara Falls. Whether you stay on the U.S. side or venture to the Canadian side, one of the great wonders of the world never disappoints. (Remember- a passport in now needed when traveling to Canada.) Besides that big waterfall that everyone goes gaga over, both countries boast casinos and plenty of entertainment. On the Canadian side they have the famous Clifton Hill, otherwise known as the ‘Hill of Fun’, with restaurants, attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and the Hershey Chocolate store. Of course don’t forget an unforgettable ride on The Maid of the Mist, as you get closer to the falls than you ever thought imaginable. Also over the border sits the City of Kingston, Ontario is a great weekend getaway! This quaint Canadian city offers tons of food and shopping along its famous Princess Street and Ontario Street.

Heading into the northern part New York, one fun stop can include Lake Placid, with a trip to the summit of Whiteface Mountain mixed in with a casual walk down their wonderful Main Street along Mirror Lake. Bobsledding in the summer is possible at the Olympic training center located just outside Lake Placid.

Back in NYState are the Lake Ontario towns of Alexandria Bay, Clayton, and Sacketts Harbor. All are perfect for that much needed day-trip. Whether traveling by boat or car, these lakeside towns offer breathtaking views, fun shopping, and aBoldt Castle in 1000 Islands variety of restaurants and taverns.

If you feel like traveling a little to the southern part of the state, a great day trip or weekend getaway can be found in Cooperstown. Known of course for its Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown also is home to the Farmer’s Museum, Fenimore Cooper art museum, and the Leatherstocking golf course alongside the historic Otesaga Resort.

saratoga starting gateIf horse racing is more your guilty pleasure, check out Saratoga. During the summer months Saratoga comes alive with thoroughbred horse racing and an atmosphere of yesteryear. Saratoga is also home of SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center), which brings in top name talent in the music industry for great concerts in a perfect setting.

Of course NY City is always a fun place to make memories. Whether strolling along along Broadway or taking in views at the top of the the Empire State Building, the Big Apple is loaded with great attractions, incredible shopping and one-of-a-kind food options.

So let the thousands flock to Mickey’s Florida home or jam the roundabouts of the Cape, a trip into New York State can have you criss-crossing the Empire State and never running out of fascinating things to. The state’s traditional tourism slogan isn’t one of the most popular and long lastings phrases anywhere for nothing. This summer experience all that NY State has to offer and find out for yourself why everyone is always singing, “I Love NY!”New York Times Square

8 Great St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Cities in the U.S.

asiseeit_fayette_headshotWhen the middle of March arrives two things are a near certainty in the U.S.; one, winter is nearly over for most of the hearty souls living throughout the country; and two, everyone 
becomes Irish for a day (or in some cases, a week) for endless St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. To help you “Get Your Irish On” here are eight of the hottest, craziest, tradition-filled cities and what they have planned for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Boston, Massachusetts
The St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place in South Boston on Sunday, March 16th this year,
beginning at 1:00pm. With nearly three-quarters of a million people expected to attend, visitors are urged to take the “T” (Boston’s public transportation) into the city and maneuver from there. In Boston, think of the parade serving as this year’s ‘halftime show’ of the St. Patrick’s Day 
holiday. There will be plenty of celebrating on Friday night and Saturday throughout the historic pubs of Beantown, including severalStPats-Boston Pub Crawls and parties. Of course the celebration will 
continue in Boston, as in most cities on Monday; the actual St. Patrick’s Day, with plenty of “Wearin’ o’ the Green” and the tasting of green beer. So whether you celebrate with the ‘Southies’ or party it up near Quincy Market, Boston will surely welcome everyone Irish,
if even for the day.

Cleveland, Ohio
With its huge immigrant population, Cleveland has traditionally played host to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration to rival many cities even several times its size. Since 1867 Cleveland Cleveland_Ohio_St._Patrick's_Day_Downtown_2012has hosted a parade, and this year promises to be no different, as nearly 10,000 participants will march through downtown Cleveland on Monday the 17th. Those who can’t wait to get their holiday started can head to one of two historic Cleveland watering holes known as Flannery’s Pub or Pickwick & Frolic for some breakfast and a pint. After the parade, those celebrating the “The Luck of the Irish” can stay in downtown and stop by Moriarty’s or the Flat Iron Cafe for tasty beer and great tasting corned beef and cabbage. Various types of Irish music will heard throughout the city of Cleveland through the weekend, as area pubs will provide entertainment ranging from traditional Irish folk music to rock.

San Francisco, California
Though the west coast may not have the same history as its neighbors to the east, don’t be fooled; SanFran knows how to throw a St. Patty’s Day bash! Featuring its annual Irish Festival, localStPats_IrishDancers_SF Pub Crawls, downtown Block Parties, and parade, San Franciscans have wrapped their Irish arms around this holiday. With U2 cover band, ‘Zoo Station’, playingSF-GuinessGirl-StPats nearly all of U2’s 
popular songs in a concert at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall and the ‘Emerald Across the Bay 12k run’ being featured across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco promises something for everyone this and every St. Patrick’s Day.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
People at the St. Patrick's Day Celebration in Myrtle Beach, SCFrom 11am to midnight on Saturday, March 15th the touristy town of North Myrtle Beach will transform itself into something just this side of Dublin, Ireland, (well, kind of) as it kicks off its

annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Authentic food and beer will be available from dozens of vendors, along with a Family (alcohol free) Fun Zone for kids of all
ages. Perhaps the best part of the festival is that all the music and activities are free. By the way, when viewing the parade, be sure to check out one of the more popular parts of it, as locals show off their decorated and suped-up golf carts cruisin’ down Ocean Blvd. Yeah, that’s what I said, golf carts. And I haven’t any beer yet.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Since 1771 the City of Brotherly Love has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with its annual
parade. And this year, in following with tradition, the parade is scheduled to be on Sunday, March 16th at 1:00pm. Beginning on Friday, March 14th revelers can begin a New York City Holds Annual St. Patrick's Day Paradeweekend of bar crawls, with several to choose from each day. One of the nice parts about these crawls is the free shuttle service called ‘The Erin Express’, which is runs all day through the City of Philly. Several concerts (some free) will be held throughout the city during the weekend along with neighborhood festivals and Irish dancers.

Savannah, Georgia
What is now considered the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States will kick things off on March 7th with what is known as the “Greening of the Fountain”. Locals gets things going a week early when the famous Forsyth Fountain is filled with green water. One of the most popular festivities in Savannah is the ‘St. Patrick St.Pats-Forsyth_Fountain-SavOn the River Festival’ along the banks of the Savannah River. Continuous entertainment on multiple stages along River Street and
fantastic Irish food and beverage vendors throughout the city make this one of the hottest
festivals in the country. Nearby Tybee Island (known as “Savannah’s Beach”) has its own
St.Patrick’s Day parade scheduled to take place on Saturday, while Savannah’s parade is scheduled for Monday, March 17th. From the sandy beach of Tybee Island to the historic squares of Savannah, the hospitality of the South is on full display during its St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Chicago, Illinois
You know Chicago takes its St. Patrick’s Day seriously when nearly a half-million people line the banks of the Chicago River and watch as the river turns into a vibrant green for the nearly five hours in the afternoon of Saturday, March 15th. A parade of floats, bands, and bagpipes
continue the afternoon of fun as revelers march up Columbus Drive. Those visitors to Chicago staying in ‘The Loop’ will be close to some of the best pubs Chi-town has to offer. ????????????????????????????????????????Fun-filled pub crawls are found throughout the city and many establishments will feature lively entertainment. From Irish-step dancers to sight-seeing cruises along the Chicago River, guests to Chicago will non-stop fun during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

New York, New York
The 253rd St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on the holiday itself. For nearly 2 miles down Fifth Avenue, over 150,000 march in the annual parade. That’s right, 150,000 “marching” Irish! Local community groups, the NYPD & FDNY, along with special guests entertain millions along their path. After the parade, those wishing to continue celebrating the Irish will be able to gather at nearly any bar, on any street, in any borough of NYC. Many like to honor our Founding 
Fathers on this day with a trip to the historic Fraunces Tavern located down in the southern
mcsorleys-NYC_oldest bar in NYCsection of Manhattan. It is at Fraunces where legend has it that George Washington would often frequent for food and libations, and where he also gave his historic farewell to troops. Many
St. Patty’s Day partiers also feel a sense of, ummm, “responsibility” to visit NYC’s oldest bar on this celebration of everything-beer-holiday, and McSorley’s is the stop in the East Village.
Note- that when and if you get into McSorley’s be ready to drink many beers, and fast. If the workers don’t feel you are up to their expectations, you will be asked to leave. (No joke.) Throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, area neighborhoods will feature Irish festivals with the smells and sounds of authentic Irish food and music floating throughout the city.

So there you have eight of the country’s most popular destinations for the St. Patrick’s DayTippHill_SYR-StPats
holiday. But make no mistake about it, these United States have town after town celebrating the Irish in their own unique way. From Dublin (Ohio) to the Home of the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame University, people love St. Patrick’s Day. Whether a town paints the largest shamrock in the U.S. on a nearby Interstate and serves green eggs and ham for breakfast around town, like those in O’Neill, Nebraska, or a neighborhood that receives special permission from the Department of Transportation to permanently ‘flip’ a traffic light along a popular Irish street, so that the “green light is always on top” like those on Syracuse, NY’s Tipperary Hill, American’s love their Irish heritage like no other ethnic background. Of course if every ethnic group would include beer in their celebrations, think of how much fun we could have almost every weekend of the year!

Things to do in & around NYC during Super Bowl Week 2014

asiseeit_fayette_headshotOn Sunday, February 2nd the sports and entertainment world will be focused on the city of New York, as it plays host to Super Bowl XLVIII. Though the game will actually be played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, NJ (home of the NY Giants & NY Jets) much of the pre-game hoopla will occur on and around the island of Manhattan. Though activities and events began during the first week of January, most of the high-profile companies as well as the Super Bowl Committee itself will open their venues during the week leading up to the big game.

The nice thing about “Super Bowl Week” is that even those who don’t have a coveted ticket to the big game can enjoy many of the free activities positioned around the city. And leave it to The Big Apple to haveNFLSB48 events galore scheduled leading up to the game. From shutting down Times Square to creating what will be known as the “Taste of the NFL”, NYC has entertainment covered for young and old alike. Here are some things to put into your planner if you are making your way to New York City during the last week of January and first weekend of February.

Cruise ship Norwegian Getaway leaves building dockThe folks at Budweiser in recent years have taken over a resort or large hotel in the Super Bowl host city and declared it the Bud Light Hotel, as it threw a week-long party for contest winners and various guests. This year Bud Light has upped the ante and gone big, real big! Instead of taking over a hotel, the beer king will be bringing in a cruise ship and calling the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier home from January 30- February 3. Located at the west end of 47th St., along the Hudson River, the Norwegian state-of-the-art cruise ship “Getaway” and US Navy icon will be the venues of meet and greets, concerts from top name artists, and over-the-top parties. Those looking to be guests in the “Super Bowl hotel” can take their chance at winning by downloading the FanZone app and taking it from there.

Jersey City will host “Football Fashion Week” with established and rising stars in the fashion industry. Former NY Giant great Carl Banks will actually be on hand to feature some of his latest designs from his company, Gillfootball-fashion-week-logo Sports. Several former NFL players and entertainers will be walking the runway in this event running from January 23-25.

For video game aficionados, The Museum of Moving Image will be the location in Astoria (Queens), as EA Sports presents an exhibition called “Madden NFL Football: 25 years and Running!” Visitors will be able to take in this interactive exhibit and see the evolution of one of the most popular sports video games of all time. 

TasteOfSB48Foodies Unite! The “Taste of the NFL” comes to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Pier 12 on Saturday, February 1st. This “foodfest” event will feature a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish, alongside a current NFL player or legend.  So bring your hungry tastebuds and a camera for this unique celebration of sport and food. Visit http://www.TasteOfTheNFL.com for more information and get tickets.

The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ will host the Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday, January 28th. Tickets must be purchased prior to the day of the event at SuperBowl.com, and the event will begin at 10:30am with seats reserved.

At Chelsea Piers- Pier 60, The NFL-Celebrity Bowling Classic will take place on Saturday, February 1st. Amateur bowlers will be teamed with NFL players, members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and America’s Wounded Warriors Project in a fun for all bowling event.  Each bowler will  receive a limited edition Super Bowl XLVIII  commemorative bowling ball, pin and shirt. Participants as well as guests/spectators will be entitled to a “NY/NJ Neighborhood of Foods” buffet, soft drinks and auction. Entry fees for this event start at $200.

Starting on January 29th the “Crossroads of the World”, aka Times Square, closes down! That’s right, from 34th St. up to 47th St. on Broadway, “The Great White Way” will be transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard”.super11n-1-web Beginning at Herald Square on 34th St. venues like the ‘Super Bowl Theater’ and the ‘NFL Rush Zone’ kick off the 13-block sports fan nirvana. On 40th St. from Noon to 5pm daily, the Autograph Stage will offer free autographs from NFL stars. Then at 8pm, the Concert Stage comes alive with some of the best talent New York has to offer. Throw on an extra layer, embrace the cold, and enjoy the show! Though photo ops will be around nearly every corner of NYC during Super Bowl Week, perhaps no one block will better serve as a perfect backdrop than that located between 43rd & 44th Streets on Broadway. 20-foot high lampposts with the Roman numerals of the previous forty-seven Super Bowls will be the perfect place to snap that picture for the photo album. The Vince Lombardi trophy will also be on display in the same area for fans to capture that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the trophy. At the northern end of Super Bowl Boulevard fans will get the chance to kick a field goal through actual NFL goalposts near the Fox Broadcast set. Other media outlets will have booths scattered through the area like CNN and the NFL Network. Every block of the Broadway tribute to the NFL will be sponsored by companies such as McDonalds, M&Ms, XBoxOne, and more.

super-bowl-boulevard-new-york Other events during Super Bowl Week will include:
-The Waldorf Astoria hosting the Super Bowl Friars Club Roast of Boomer Esiason on Thursday, January 30th.
-The world-famous Apollo Theater celebrating Black History Month and Super Bowl Week with a two-night musical tribute event on Thursday the 30th and Friday the 31st.
-Knicks and Nets NBA home games and Rangers, Islanders, Devils NHL home games throughout the week.

And oh yeah, don’t forget that the actual Super Bowl game kicks off on Sunday evening (around 6 EST), February 2nd.

First-timers Guide to New York City

Before I start I must ask that you not judge or criticize me for what I am about to disclose. Just recently I got back from my FIRST trip to New York City. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, in between your smirks and chuckles- “Ed, you mean to tell me, that with everywhere you’ve been, you’ve never been to NY City? Really?” And the answer is- You are correct. However, with that now in the open, NYC will be a frequent travel place in my future.

For those who have never visited the ‘Big Apple’ before let me offer up some ideas that will make your first-time enjoyable. First, I recently vacationed there for 4 days, and though you can drive there and fight the traffic and pay outrageous parking fees, or fly if you’re coming from a longer distance, I chose to ride MegaBus. MegaBus provides service from Central NY (where I live) to NYC for about $80 roundtrip. They offer free WiFi and have power units at every seat. The four-hour and thirty minute ride was enjoyable and effortless. The cab ride to and from my hotel was about $12 each way. So for about $104 my travel to and from the City was paid for. Try driving for that!

When I got to my hotel, The Millennium Broadway, I found my view breath-taking. From my corner room on the 38th floor I overlooked both ends of Times Square. The lights and energy were already becoming infectious, and I couldn’t wait to get out there with the masses. My wife and I headed to Times Square and spent our first hour just taking in all that the world-famous area had to offer. After visiting some of the stores we headed to grab a bite to eat at a place we were told about more than once. John’s Pizzeria, located just off Broadway on  44th Street, is a refurbished church that has some fantastic Italian food and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The two levels and four brick ovens at John’s makes for a great dining experience.

A neat way to take in the City for the first time is to purchase a tour package. One of the best is the “Hop-on, Hop-off” bus tour. The double-decker bus company has three different tours around Gotham, and even offers a Hudson River boat ride. The neat thing about it is that your ticket is good for 48-hours. So for example on Day 2 of our trip we purchased our tickets right there in Times Square and enjoyed a 2-hour tour of Manhattan. As it makes its 20+ stops throughout the tour, riders can hop off at any location, and then hop back on the next bus coming through about every 30 minutes. Rachel and I hopped off at the famous Stage Deli for lunch. The experience was neat, our sandwiches were tasty, but our waiter was down right rude and nasty. Welcome to New York?

On Night 2 we took in a taping of the David Letterman Show. I was able to secure tickets by applying in advance online at the Letterman website. After the show we headed around the corner from the Sullivan Theater to a neat pub called the Irish Pub NYC. With a full menu and authentic Irish pub feel, this stop was a ‘winner’.

On Day 3 we started with a visit to the Times Square Starbucks, right next to the ABC studios. From there we hopped on the tour bus and hopped off at Canal Street (Chinatown). All that you have heard about this experience, is nothing until you are actually there. Purses, shoes, watches? You want Gucci? They’re all there- I think. At least that’s what the nice ladies and gentlemen tell me standing next to heavily padded-locker doors with their walkie-talkies .

From there we walked through the financial district and then to Ground Zero. We walked into the Winter Garden building and overlooked the new construction taking place on the hallowed ground. It was as moving as I had been told. From there we walked along the Hudson River to Battery Park, where we hopped back on one of the tour buses. As we traveled back uptown we got off near Bloomingdale’s and took in the 8 levels of shopping. Later in the day we stopped at the famous Serendipity 3 restaurant for dinner. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time. Quite often they are booked several days in advance.

On Day 4 we had until about 7pm before our MegaBus was leaving from Madison Square Garden, and took full advantage of a great sunny day. We walked a few blocks from our hotel to Rockefeller Plaza, where we ate a late morning lunch at the Plaza’s Cucina & Co. Eatery. Unfortunately the tour of NBC was sold out already for the day, so lesson learned, always make reservations for nearly everything in NYC.

Around the corner from NBC is a fabulous little bakery called The Magnolia. Be sure to stop there for a quick little sugar-hit. As we walked just a few blocks further we reached Grand Central Station. Standing inside the often filmed iconic landmark was pretty neat, though I was disappointed that a FlashMob didn’t break into song and dance while we were there. As we headed back to Times Square in the afternoon we walked through Bryant Park. Its Citi Pond and Celsius Bar was a neat place to sit and take in the day. As we got back into the Times Square area Rach and I decided that John’s Pizzeria deserved another visit before we headed for home.

Though this may have been my first visit to NYC, I can guarantee you that there dozens of more trips planned in my head for the future. New York City is truly the “City That Never Sleeps”, with so much to see and do. While my next visit will likely include taking in a Yankee game, Broadway show, and a trip to one of the many museums, it will also include getting there on MegaBus, staying at the Millennium Broadway Hotel, and of course another trip to John’s Pizzeria.

Hoboken, Who Knew?

My son’s St. John Fisher lacrosse team recently played at Stevens Tech in Hoboken, New Jersey. My wife and I decided to head down to watch the game and enjoy the spring day.  I’ve got to be honest, we truly didn’t know what to expect from our first time visit to Hoboken. But you know what, who knew Hoboken was so hip and cool?

We were somewhat excited about checking out the famous Carlos’ Bakery, home of TLC’s Buddy the Cake Boss. However as we turned onto Hoboken’s main drag, Washington Street, we were amazed to see a line that wrapped around the corner to the bakery. We were told that the line was about a 90 minute wait. First thought- they’re just cupcakes and cookies. Time vs. pastries? Time won out, and we continued on. People willing to wait hours for Italian cookies, who knew?

Washington Street runs about 14 blocks from south to north, and is two blocks west of the Hudson River. And it is on the Hudson where you get a view of a lifetime. As I stood along the shore of the Hudson River, I looked across at a breathtaking view of Manhattan. The Stevens Tech campus is located along side the Hudson, and is an absolutely beautiful college setting. Imagine that? A classic college setting just a five-minute boat ride across from the ‘City that Never Sleeps’, who knew?

Back to Washington Street. Lined with classic brownstones, fresh flower markets, and immigrant delis, this street is a picture postcard of a traditional urban community. While Washington was home to a scattering of pubs and restaurants, along with general stores and boutiques, I couldn’t help notice the apparent large population of dentist offices. Yes, dentist offices? Maybe it’s because of all the sweets that people are willing to wait in line for. Who knew?

For lunch we asked around and two places kept coming up. Lisa’s Heroes (subs) just off Washington St. and Benny Tudino’s Pizzeria located smack-dab in the middle of the stretch. We ended up at Benny Tudino’s and were seated at a table along the street. The menu board stated that it was the “Home of the Largest Slice”, but never were we prepared to be served a delicious, single slice that was twice the size of our heads! Who knew? 

While making our way around the town of Hoboken I couldn’t get over the number of dog-walkers and stroller-pushers that filled the sidewalks. It all became clear when our waitress at Tudino’s explained to us that in the last fifteen years Hoboken has experienced a revival thanks to many young people choosing to make Hoboken home. It was then that I realized where the cool, relaxing vibe I had felt for most the day had come from. College kids, who knew?

So for an enjoyable day that is only minutes from New York City with an exciting feel, think about Hoboken, New Jersey. Hoboken, who knew?

Hot Fun in the Summertime!

Central New Yorkers have weathered through another winter and unpredictable spring, and are poised to welcome Summer with open arms, ready-to-spend wallets, and a desire to wear bathing suits whenever and wherever possible. Summer is special in the northeast with our four distinct seasons, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day we attempt to squeeze every available sun-shining moment into our schedules.

So without further delay (because I think the sun is coming out), here are some ideas for your summertime fun in and around the Central New York area. Every Saturday morning Syracuse has its Regional Market. Now this is open nearly all year round, but it’s a nice way to spend a summer Saturday morning as you stroll through locally grown fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The Regional Market is open until 1pm on Saturdays. My wife and I usually start our Saturday out that way a couple of times during the summer. From there we head a few miles to the south, to the Armory Square area. This section of Syracuse boasts several restaurants, quaint pubs, and specialty stores and boutiques. Rachel and I enjoy lunch and a pint at The Blue Tusk.

During the last weekend in July the City of Oswego shows off its lakefront beauty with its Harborfest celebration. From Thursday to  Sunday the city is transformed into a carnival atmosphere, mixed with great food, second-to-none free concerts, and traditionally Chamber of Commerce weather. Whether you want to taste regional wines, buy locally created crafts, take in a concert from top name acts, or just appreciate how lucky Oswegonians are to live alongside Lake Ontario, Harborfest weekend is a date you don’t want to miss.

Speaking of wine tasting, Central New Yorkers are blessed to have some of the world’s finest wines within a short drive. I enjoy taking a day, or sometimes even a weekend, and skipping from winery to winery between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Part of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, these wineries have fun employees, great tasting wines, and many now have overnight accommodations and restaurants. I prefer staying at The Inn at Glenora at the south end of Route 14 or Belhurst Castle, located at the north end of Route 14 in Geneva. Some of my favorite lunch and dinner locations are Fox Run Farms Winery (found on the west side of Seneca Lake), Stonecutters (located in Belhurst Castle), and Sheldrake Point (along the west side of Cayuga Lake). As far as wine tasting goes, I have my favorites, but wine tasting is like that of music or food taste- it varies with each individual. That being said if you haven’t experienced the Finger Lakes Wine Trail some must-see stops are Swedish Hill, Hazlitt’s, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge, and Fox Run Farms. You can find great interactive maps and descriptions by Googling ‘Seneca Lake Wineries’ or ‘Cayuga Lake Wineries’.

More family-oriented travels may see you spending the day at Rochester’s SeaBreeze Amusement Park, along Lake Ontario or the Darien Lake Amusement Park, located midway between Rochester and Buffalo just off the Thruway. Located in Sterling, NY (near Fair Haven) is the Renaissance Faire. Open for only a handful of weekends each summer, the RenFaire takes visitors back to the Middle Ages with Jesters, Joustings, and fried turkey legs.

If you have a weekend or a few days to spare, expand your travels to Niagara Falls. Whether you stay on the U.S. side or venture to the Canadian side, one of the great wonders of the world never disappoints. (Remember- a passport in now needed when traveling to Canada.) Besides that big waterfall that everyone goes gaga over, both countries boast casinos and plenty of entertainment. On the Canadian side they have the famous Clifton Hill, otherwise known as the ‘Hill of Fun’, with resturants, attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and the Hershey Chocolate store. Of course don’t forget an unforgettable ride on The Maid of the Mist, as you get closer to the falls than you ever thought imaginable.

Heading north from Central New York, one fun stop can include Lake Placid, with a trip to the summit of Whiteface Mountain and a casual walk down their wonderful Main Street along Mirror Lake. Again crossing the border, the City of Kingston, Ontario, Canada is a great weekend getaway! This quaint Canadian city offers tons of food and shopping along its famous Princess Street and Ontario Street. A little closer to home are the Lake Ontario towns of Alexandria Bay and Sacketts Harbor. Both are perfect for that much needed day-trip. Whether traveling by boat or car, these lakeside towns offer breathtaking views, fun shopping, and a variety of restaurants and taverns.

If you feel like traveling a little to the south and east, a great day trip or weekend getaway can be found in Cooperstown. Known of course for its Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown also is home to the Farmer’s Museum, Fenimore Cooper art museum, and the Leatherstocking golf course alongside the Otesaga Resort. If horseracing is more your guilty pleasure, check out Saratoga. During the summer months Saratoga comes alive with thoroughbred horse racing and an atmosphere of yesteryear. Saratoga is also home of SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center), which brings in top name talent in the music industry for great concerts in a perfect setting.

Central New Yorkers are also fortunate to only be about five hours away from two of the greatest cities in the world- Boston and NY City. Whether strolling along Newbury Street in Boston or along Broadway in NYC, or taking in views at the top of the Prudential Building in Beantown or the Empire State Building in the Big Apple, these two cities speak for themselves- Fun, fun, fun!

Throughout the summer and autumn look for future columns as I travel to many of these locations and offer up what’s hot and what’s not. And I invite you to ‘Leave a Response’ to this and future columns with stories of your own, as you travel around this summer at https://edfayette.wordpress.com .