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Warm Up with Winter Fun in NYC

Don’t let the cold and snow throw you: January is a great time to be in New York. Fortunately, there are countless fun adventures to share, inside, as well as at least one classic outdoor activity. Here are some wonderful ways to pass time with or without kids and whether or not the weather cooperates.

The most natural way of embracing winter is by getting out in it, as in a visit to The Rink at Rockefeller Center, now celebrating 81 years of the most glamorous ice skating in the world. Nearby, the FDNY Fire Zone has great wonderland. The on-site DiMenna Children’s History Museum intrigues little New Yorkers (3-5 year olds) on Tuesdays and Friday afternoons with songs, stories, and crafts between 3:30 and 4:15 pm.

The Times Square area is ground zero for family-friendly fun activities, with a plethora of intriguing venues that entice folks inside. Selfie lovers flock to Madame Tussauds to photobomb A-list celebrities. At the newly opened Gulliver’s Gate, visitors see a world in miniature that reminds us all that we share one planet, even at a time when we seem ever more divided. This ambitious $40 million extravaganza allows visitors to travel the Earth and see Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe in incredibly well-crafted detail.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square is a venue where open-minded family members—those who accept the unusual and delight in surprise—appreciate the one-of-a-kind art Kids of all ages will be entranced by Holiday Express at the New-York Historical Society.

Souvenirs of New York’s Bravest, including toys, shirts, and outerwear. It’s also
a multimedia fire safety learning center where kids pick up fun, lifesaving lessons from real live FDNY firefighters. Try on FDNY “Bunker Coats,” explore a life-like fire engine, and bring home one of the fantastic collectibles.

Fans of trains will be delighted at The New-York Historical Society. New York’s first public museum—which recently opened its new Women’s History Center and gallery of stunning Tiffany Lamps—brings back Holiday Express, featuring hundreds of toy trains and related items from the Jerni Collection’s toy train facts, including up-close photo ops with an authentic New Year’s Eve Waterford crystal ball, the eerie tunnel that’s the Black Hole, the chance to dodge laser beams, and looks at beyond-the-ordinary bodies, including authentic shrunken heads and a two-headed animal or two.

New to Times Square are two more terrific destinations: the underwater world of National Geographic Encounter:

January is a great time to be in New York…


After philanthropists saved the USS Intrepid from an impending scrap heap in 1976, it journeyed to New York City to a berth at the end of 42nd Street; by 1982, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was established to showcase exhibits both inside and on deck. This maritime- museum-on-the-Hudson covers his-
tory since World War I, and displays
the Enterprise space shuttle, the submarine Growler, and dozens of important, restored aircraft. The current exhibit Ports of Call shows the photos, souvenirs, and film footage of young sailors traveling the world as part of the Intrepid crew.

On the Lower East Side, a guided tour of the Tenement Museum is compelling no matter where you currently live, or where your family originated. Special tours feature costumed “residents” representing immigrants from various countries, as they describe their daily lives in this re-creation of a typical tenement building in eras ranging from the mid- 19th to the early 20th century.

Serendipity 3 is a charming Upper East Side re-creation of an old-fashioned sweet shop, complete with stained-glass lamp-shaded chandeliers and either hot (or frozen) chocolate, depending on your mood. The food menu features hamburgers, chicken, shrimp-stuffed avocado, and lemon sole, plus desserts made from the finest international ingredients like Tahitian vanilla beans or Caribbean chocolate. (The boutique menu offers just as much for folks looking for souvenirs as it does take-home treats!)
by Irvina Lew

The City at Its Most Inviting: Autumn in New York

The City at Its Most Inviting: Autumn in New York


Trade towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001. You can learn more about the legacy of the attacks at the nearby National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The memorial portion includes two reflecting pools with North America’s largest manmade waterfalls.

Further along the west side you’ll find a spot where community activists united to preserve a rotting freight railroad spur. Today, the exquisitely landscaped 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park known as the High Line links Gansevort and 34th Streets (with various elevator accesses and a ramp at 34th and 12th). Docents offer garden and art tours, volunteers help plant, and in the course of just a few short years this scenic route has become a public

living room and one of Manhattan’s most popular fair-weather places.

Up in midtown, The Top of the Rock observation decks, 850 feet above street level at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, offer fresh air and incomparable views from atop the Art Deco skyscraper. First opened in 1933, the original design evokes an ocean liner, complete with large, stack-like air vents. There are 360° views from Central Park to the Chrysler and Empire State buildings.

At street level you’ll find of the city’s most magical spots: The Rink at Rockefeller Center, a tradition that dates back 81 years. It officially reopened for the season on October 11th this year.

Wherever you choose to experience it, autumn in New York is a delight.

Statue Cruises is your connection to Lady Liberty, with stunning New York Harbor views all the way.

The lyrics of Vernon Duke’s Autumn in New York lead listeners from “canyons of steel” to “benches in Central Park,” providing a taste of how inviting the city really is in fall. On clear October days, the sophisticated city becomes

an outdoorsy nirvana where Great Lawns vie with High Line walkways, pocket parks, riverside promenades, and spectacular rooftop observation decks.

Waterway cruises circle it all.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises leaves from Midtown West and connects with some of the best views of the skyline— including unforgettable encounters with the city’s historic bridges and other landmarks. Brand new, state-of-the-art Empire Class ships have recently launched, providing quieter rides, better sound for the personable onboard guides, bigger windows, improved climate control, and more outdoor deck space.

Downtown you can access the Statue of Liberty, which celebrates its anniversary in October (the 28th). The statue, designed by French sculptor Frederick Bartholdi and framed by French architect Gustave Eiffel, was a gift from the people of France in 1886. Statue Cruises provides passenger access to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island from historic Castle Clinton in Battery Park.

West of the park, along the Hudson, lies the Battery Park Promenade,
which hosts the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, an institution that celebrates the lives and traditions of both those who survived and those who perished

in the Shoah. It’s beautifully sited along parkland and waterfront, capped by Andy Goldsworthy’s beautiful living memorial, Garden of Stones.

The nearby One World Trade Center offers an observatory located
on the top three floors (100, 101, and 102 to be exact) with stunning views
all around. The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere rises to 1,776 feet, a height that pays homage to the year the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. One World Trade Center was built on the site of the original World

City Guide NY
Cover Story by Irvina Lew

Morgan Library New York Irvina Lew Travel Writer

Treasures From the National museum of Sweden Come to the Morgan Library

Considered one of New York City’s greatest treasures, the Morgan Library & Museum showcases manuscripts, art, history, and architecture, and through May 14th, Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin. An extraordinary group of more than 75 masterpieces are on display while Sweden’s largest and most distinguished art institution is undergoing a major refurbishment. Franc?ois Boucher The Triumph of Venus

The current show displays the extraordinary assemblage of Swedish Diplomat Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1695-1770), which is the core holding of the Nationalmuseum. Tessin, who was a politician, courtier, diplomat, public official, artist, writer, historian, collector, and philosopher, amassed much of his collection of about 2,000 items while he lived in Paris from 1739 until 1742, serving as Sweden’s unofficial ambassador to the French court. Tessin was very much in contact with the best artists of the era from whom he also commissioned works. An elegant, art-buying lifestyle cost the count such a fortune that it left him with major financial problems. By 1749, he was forced to sell 243 of his paintings to King Frederick I, who in turn presented them to Crown Princess Louisa Ulrika, Tessin’s confidant. In 1750, Tessin sold most of his drawings to Louisa Ulrika’s husband, Crown Prince Adolf Frederick. Fortunately, the collection remained in the family’s royal palaces until they moved to the museum in 1866.

Rembrandt Three Thatched Cottages by a Road

Among the artists represented, Italian masters include Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Giulio Romano, and Annibale Carracci. Northern European artists are represented by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Anthony van Dyck. Jacques Callot and Nicholas Poussin, as well as Count Tessin’s French contemporaries Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin illustrate the accomplishment of 18th-century French art.

dead game and rifle jean-baptiste oudry

In the exhibit, masterwork drawings by Chardin, along with his small oils, illustrate exquisite and emotional interior scenes. The Morning Toilette shows a governess as she prepares a young aristocratic girl for morning mass. One of the most striking paintings is a jubilant and luminous, some say erotic—The Triumph of Venus, c. 1740—one of three paintings commissioned by Count Tessin and exhibited at the 1740 Parisian Salon. A group of paintings of birds, roosters, and animals by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, including The Dachshund Pehr with Dead Game and Rifle, illustrate the way that Tessin, a sophisticated collector, had a wide range of preferential subjects, including his own beloved pet.

Jacques-Andre?-Joseph Aved (French, 1702–1766), Portrait of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin

Among the 14 paintings in the exhibition is Portrait of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin by Jacques-André-Joseph Aved, which shows the collector among his art, books, and medals.

The Morgan has an important role in preserving and displaying important elements of Western civilization from 4000 B.C. to the twenty-first century. Since 2006, when renowned architect Renzo Piano—who also designed The Whitney downtown—completed the institution’s expansion, visitors enter the Morgan’s light-filled atrium entry and cafe on Madison Avenue. The soaring space links to the grandeur of its original palazzo home on 36thStreet, designed a century earlier by Charles McKim and owned by financier Pierpont Morgan.

The Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden exhibit was produced with a lead gift from the Michel David-Weill Foundation, with major funding by Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Family Foundation and Jerome L. Greene Foundation, and supported by The Johansson Family Foundation, Katharine J. Rayner, The Christian Humann Foundation, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. For more information, visit




City Guide NYC

Brewery Long Island Irvina Lew

Drink Better Beer: Jon Bloostein of New York’s Heartland Brewery

From a kid of 4 who sold Burpee Seeds door to door, to the “The Cone Ranger,” who introduced Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to New York, to his present seat looking over New York’s beloved Heartland Brewery, Jon Bloostein is first and foremost an innovator.

jon bloostein heartland brewery

Jon Bloostein lifts a stein to good beer.

After attending eight undergraduate schools and earning an MBA, Bloostein was involved in assorted commercial efforts and had an investment banking career before deciding to promote craft beer, a product he had learned to love during trips to the Bay Area. When he opened his first Heartland Brewery in Union Square, in 1995, it was the largest brewpub in the tri-state region. “I had no restaurant experience whatsoever, but they [my investors] knew I would never be able to sleep if the place started to fail,” he says.

Today, with a staff of 620, the 100% employee-owned Heartland Brewery Group which Bloostein created includes nine venues. Visitors to New York flock to these prime locations and make up a large percentage of the Heartland Brewery clientele. You’ll see travelers from around the world mixed in with the locals at the two-story, 450-seat Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie inside the Empire State Building, and in the Times Square neighborhood at Heartland Brewery Midtown West, Heartland Brewery in Times Square, and HB Burger. Bloostein suggests that tourists comprise 90% of the crowd at the Empire State and 75% of the customers at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, a Theater District partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

houston hall

Houston Hall. Are you even allowed to have this much room in New York City?

Bloostein also developed three neighborhood beer halls (Flatiron Hall, Houston Hall, and Bernheim and Schwartz), which draw locals with entirely different designs, menus, and beers than the Heartland Breweries. “If you want to feel the New York vibe and be transported to another place and time, these are the places to be,” Bloostein says.

The beer rates as some of the best craft beer around, with several medals from the Great American Beer Festival to prove it. Each venue serves more than 25 varieties of beer annually, including 12 on tap at any given time. All are made near Albany in upstate New York, where the Director of Beer oversees the production to exacting Heartland specifications and flavor profiles.

heartland brewery beer burger

Heartland’s burger is seriously good.

Some varieties cry Americana, as in Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout, Indiana Pale Ale, Red Rooster Ale, and Corn Husker Lager. French Toast and Belgian Golden Ale tempt with a European panache. “Voyages of Beer” give customers an opportunity to taste six types. The flight of five-ounce pours are served on a round tray labeled “Real Beer,” which has numbered round spaces for the glasses, each of which arrives with its own description. The range starts with a light beer, at about 3.9% alcohol, and moves upward to a hoppier blend at about 11%.

Training is key to the success of serving beer. A Beer Sommelier shows bartenders how to educate guests to choose for their individual taste, but before bartenders can serve or speak with guests they must earn 100% on both written and verbal Beer 101 tests. “Over time, they get more advanced training with Beer 201 and 301 classes,” Bloostein explains.

jumbo heartland pretzel

Dark or light, two dipping sauces. Decisions, decisions.

“Serving great craft beer has always been the mainstay of the restaurant group, while creating beer-friendly food elevates the experience,” Bloostein adds. He’s certainly set the menu apart from the competition. Serving a giant pretzel is more than a gimmick, it’s fun and people find it special (so do the several New York bars which have copied the idea). Heartland Brewery was the first brew pub in New York to offer sliders, a bigger and better black Angus version of the “tiny and tasty” White Castle burgers Bloostein ate as a kid. Take advantage of happy hour menus to sample one for just $2, with a $6 drink to go with it.

best veggie burger nyc heartland

Yes, this is vegetarian. Really.

Burgers are particularly popular, at HB Burger and beyond. Describing the burgers, Bloostein notes, “Along with black Angus beef, there are sashimi tuna, turkey, and a Buffalo-style burger, which is laced with Wisconsin blue cheese and coated with our own hot sauce. I’m particularly proud of our veggie burger because the vegetables are actually visible, unlike most  grainy, brown burgers available elsewhere.” One blogger ( posted that it is “The most delicious veggie burger I’ve ever had.”

Innovative, beer-friendly menu options also include Buffalo chicken and pastrami Reuben spring rolls, available at all the beer halls. To further please customers, there are kids’ choices, gluten-free options, and a classic New York cheesecake.

Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie Empire State Building

Great atmosphere at the Empire State Building.

Bloostein infuses a sense of brewing history into each restaurant’s design by showcasing an array of authentic beer memorabilia. He has amassed a vast collection of breweriana from all over the world, with some beer collectibles that date to the early 20th century. Along with vintage posters, photographs, signs, and trays, there are old Rheingold (a New York product that used to dominate the local beer scene) bottles, and, of course, a myriad number of steins. Those items that don’t decorate the restaurants and brew halls are stored in a warehouse on Bloostein’s 90-acre upstate farm. That farm is also home to a 1,000-square-foot organic garden, where Bloostein grows eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes, sweet Walla Walla onions, and cucumbers, some of which he pickles. In season, home-grown produce appears on the Heartland Brewery Chop House menu.

heartland chophouse party space

A space at the bar at the very inviting Heartland Brewery Times Square.

Given how scarce space can be in NYC, it’s unusual to find as much square footage as Heartland holds down around the city. Weddings and events are often booked in the company’s various back rooms and bars. As a good neighbor, the Heartland Brewery Group offers space at no charge to reputable charities and organizations whenever they are unoccupied. And when a charity books a fund-raising party, the company makes a donation to that charity of 10% of the party price.

Still ever eager to originate new ideas, Bloostein circles back to the spirit of innovation that’s driven him his entire life. “We are always looking for the next best items to find or create to match up with our beers,” he says.




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