Everyone who works at Brightspark shares a love for travel. Over the next few months we will be running a “My Favourite” themed blog series where we will reveal our favourite spots in some of our most popular destinations. Some of these activities are featured on our student itineraries some are gems from off the beaten path that can make any itinerary "sparktacular"!
To start us off: The City That Never Sleeps! New York City is easily one of our most popular travel destinations, and the Brightspark crew is always ready to share their favorite spots in The Big Apple:
Activities and Attractions
Jennifer, one of our sales reps, loves the park because "there is always something happening, may it be watching the entertainers, enjoying the beautiful landscapes, people watching or taking a rickshaw ride through the park.“
It’s an amazing feeling to be in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world and feel completely surrounded by nature.
Noah, a Tour Leader, has a favorite spot in the park: “The rock overlooking the pond near 5th Ave and 59th St is the most picturesque spot in all of New York, in my opinion. It's the kind of place where all the worries of the day are washed away.
Laurel, a Tour Leader Coordinator, found her favourite spot in Upper Manhattan.
“My hands-down favourite thing to do is check out the talent at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, a venue that has launched the careers of performers like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill. Amateur Night at the Apollo is celebrating its 80th year in 2014, and if you’ve never heard of Amateur night, please take the time to check it out. I’ve never had so much fun at a show in my life, and the audience participation is incredible! So make the time to head to 125th St, and experience this Harlem icon.”
Colton, a Tour Leader, satisfies his artistic soul by visiting the lower west side of Manhattan. This is the birthplace of the eternally influential beat generation (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou) and counterculture movements of the sixties. At clubs like Cafe Wha? and The Bitter End, artists like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and Canadians like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young found solace in the creative atmosphere the Village provided. And today it remains a home for countless celebrities, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Anderson Cooper, and more.
Although it isn't as bohemian as it was in its beatnik hey-day, it maintains its role for cultural movements that range from gay liberation to the exterior sequences of the FRIENDS buildings.
Brianne, a Brightspark Tour Coordinator, always suggests this yummy spot to anyone travelling to NYC. “ Joes Shanghai, located at 24 West 56th Street, is a great spot to eat if you’re up in midtown over lunch hour. It’s not in Chinatown but delivers some of the best Asian food in the city.
The star of the menu and what brings New Yorkers back time and time again are the handmade soup dumplings. These little flavour explosions are worth the trek even if you’re not in midtown. I go every time I visit New York."
Ramon in Marketing loves to travel but gets homesick sometimes and suggests stopping by one of the five Tim Hortons locations in Manhattan to satisfy coffee and Timbits cravings. (He's mostly kidding.)
There is no shortage of opportunities for shopping enthusiasts in New York, whether it's a sprawling landmark store on 5th Avenue or some unique crafts or art sold at a sidewalk stand.
Tour coordinator Keegan swears his fashion life changed when he discovered Uniqlo. There are 3 locations in Manhattan: Soho, Herald Square (34th St), and 5th Ave in Midtown.
This brand has managed to combine absolute comfort with modern style. You can dress their clothes up or down and there is usually a good sale going on. Plus, when people ask you where you got your awesome new pants you can say “ Oh, these old things? I got them on my last trip to New York.”
Dota just came back from leading a school around Manhattan and said the head teachers could not get enough of this bookstore in SOHO near Union Square. The Strand has “a wide selection of books, some are unique or out of print and just great! Two teachers went and spent almost 3 hours during our free time there and came out with bags upon bags of books and at least half they purchased for classroom use.”
DSW Shoe Outlet
If you can never have enough shoes, follow our Director of Operations Carole's advice and head to DSW shoe outlet:
”DSW Shoe Outlet is my fave in most American cities, I never miss it. There is one in Union Square.”
That’s just a taste of what New York City has to offer. If you want to include any of them in your next Brightspark itinerary let us know. We love customizing trips for our clients and of course in destination our expert Bightspark Tour Leaders always have great suggestions for places to visit during free time.