This year the BlogHer conference was held in New York City. Now while I am not a blogger, I am very much involved in the blogging world and am invited to really cool events thanks to Peachhead, so I decided to attend my first BlogHer conference. It helped that it was being held in New York and a bunch of my friends were going. I made my final decision to attend when I got a notice from Yapta that the airfare had dropped to $260.00 round trip with tax. is a great free service that monitors the flights you are interested in and tells you if the prices have gone up or down. I flew on Virgin America for the first time and I am in love with this airline. The airline offers wifi for a small fee, each seat has its own tv screen where they have movies on demand that you can purchase, live TV (complimentary), chat seat-to-seat, and games for the kids. I arrived on a Wednesday and I arranged for Dial 7 to pick me up at the airport. They are a car service with very reasonable rates. I booked it online for a sedan for $40 (plus toll and gratuity) from JFK to the Hilton in Manhattan.
My friend arranged for some of the bloggers to receive tickets to a show Wednesday night. After checking into the Hilton, we walked to the theatre district to have dinner and see the show Promises Promises, starring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth. I love seeing shows in Los Angeles and had heard that shows in New York were exceptional, but had not really understood why. While I can’t pinpoint the reasons, I can say my experience with a Broadway show was amazing. The theater was small and intimate (it helped that we had great seats) and the acting and staging were superb. Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth both have great voices and the dance numbers were very entertaining and the show was very comical. After the show, we were trying to find the fondue restaurant that we were meeting other bloggers at and we ended up back at the theater as the actors were exiting the theatre and signing autographs….I thought that was pretty cool. I got some great pictures of Sean Hayes. We finally found our way to Swizz Manhattan, a Cheese and Fondue Restaurant which was a great way to end our evening.
The next morning I got up early to tour New York. A friend of mine arranged to get me a SmartDestinations.com pass from the company. They have these passes for a number of different cities including San Diego, San Francisco, Maui, Orlando and more. The New York City Explorer Pass offers you a selection of 50 museums, sights, and tours for one low price. You can purchase 3, 5, 7 or 10 attractions and you have 30 days to use the pass. You can save up to 45% compared to regular admission plus you can skip the line at many locations. The skipping the lines was a big bonus for me. The line for the Museum of Modern Art was packed inside and the line continued outside to the end of the street. I was able to walk right in and go to the lobby desk where I had to wait for 5 people in front of me to get my ticket…big difference. The book also gives you great tips on how to get places by car or subway, and important information such as hours of operation, website, and details about the attraction. There are also discounts that can be used at other places as well.
The conference was held at The Hilton New York which is in a great location, as it is walking distance to Central Park, FAO Schwarz, the huge Apple Store, Rockefeller Center, Museum of Modern Art, Times Square, and the Theatre District. I took a walk through Central Park , visited FAO Schwarz (without kids, that was different), and went to the top of the Rock to view New York (what an incredible view) . That afternoon Kodak had arranged to take a group of us on a tour of New York in an open air bus. They gave us a new Kodak EasyShare M580 Digital Camera to take pictures on our Big Apple Bus Tour. This camera allows you to tag the pictures you want to post on facebook, flicker, e-mail, and other social sites and once you plug your camera into your computer it will automatically transfer all of the pictures you tagged onto the sites. Kodak has a large Kodaktron at Times Square. You can e-mail them a picture to Kodak@aerva.com and they will e-mail you back a number to text when you are in front of the Kodaktron. Your picture will then appear on the Kodaktron at Times Square.
The following night Nintendo took a group of us to dinner. They picked us up at the hotel in pedi cabs….but all of the drivers were dressed like Mario. It was pretty funny. They rode us to the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park. This restaurant has a beautiful view and amazing food. At the end of the night Nintendo gave us a new Nintendo Dsi XL, which has 2 screens much larger than the dslite, and 3 pre-installed titles, plus built in software.
The following night my friend set up dinner for us at Bobby Flay’s restaurant Bar Americain . They started by bringing us out warm chips and warm blue cheese…yum. I try not to eat pizza when I am not with the kids, but they had a grilled pizza with double smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and toasted garlic that was to die for. All of the food and side dishes were fantastic, including the desserts. The service was great….our waiter was such a comedian he had us laughing all night.
The next morning I was meeting some friends for brunch at a restaurant called Maialino’s. There I discovered that New York is not allowed to serve alcohol before 12:00 on Sunday; hence, no champagne. However, the food was fantastic and the desserts were incredible. While at brunch my other friend asked if I wanted to go to any shows that day. We decided to try and catch a matinee as well as an evening show. She was going to run to the TKTS box office at Times Square (they sell tickets ½ price for shows that day) to see if she could get discounted tickets (there is an app that you can buy for $1.99 called At the booth that will tell you what tickets are available for the day’s shows). My New Yorker friends told me about a website called www.Broadwaybox.com that sells discounted tickets online. We went that route and got great seats for Next to Normal at a discount. In the meantime, when she went to buy the tickets for our matinee it was 2:01 and they stop selling discounted tickets one hour before the show so I ran to the box office to see if we could get tickets to the 3:00 showing of Memphis. I got there at 2:30 and was able to get 5th row center seats (for face value). Memphis was a fantastic show full of energy. The theatre for Memphis was right across the street from Sardis Restaurant . There are caricatures of all of the famous actors along the walls. Then we walked around the corner to the theatre to see Next to Normal. This show was so intense and emotional…definitely bring Kleenex. It was a very powerful show that you walk out of in a daze. I have been asked which show was my favorite and it is very difficult to say as they were all three very different shows. However, I can now see why people say Broadway shows are incredible and I can’t wait to go back just to see the shows.
After the shows we took a horse drawn carriage ride through Times Square. It cost $50 for 20 minutes but it was a great experience (and I got some great pictures). We walked back to our hotel and then decided to go to the meat packing district for some drinks (after all this was my last night in New York). We went to The Standard and sat outside and had a drink. We were told before we went back to the hotel that we had to stop in across the street at the Hogs and Heifers bar. What a scene. There are bras hanging on the wall and the bartender talks through a bull horn…we had a blast there.
My last morning I had a few hours before my flight so I took a walk through Central Park with my friend. We decided to take the pedi cab through Central Park. He showed us Strawberry Fields, the living memorial to John Lennon, the fountain where the Friends opening scene was filmed, and so much more…the park is huge!!!! Then I took another walk through the Museum of Modern Art. It is amazing what some consider art. I saw some amazing pieces and some pieces that I was surprised to find them in a museum. Like they say, art is in the eye of the beholder. Before rushing off to the airport, we stopped at the food cart across the street from the Hilton for a Halal Gyro…this place has a line a mile long all hours of the night (luckily in the day it was only a 20 minute wait)…but yes, it was well worth it.
With all of the walking I did in New York, my big advice is to wear comfortable shoes. Luckily a good friend of mine owns the companies Finn Comfort and Think USA …they are known for their comfort and she sent me a couple of shoes to enjoy New York in….and they were awesome!!!!
It has been over 20 years since I was last in New York, and now I can’t wait to go back.