Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Break Guide: New York City

Derrik Chinn, travel planner extraordinaire and owner of Tijuana tour company, Turista Libre curated six Spring Break guides for Made to Last. He is our featured guest blogger and is giving tips and tricks for all of the hottest Spring Break destinations. This week we are featuring New York City.

What one person swears a definite must-do in New York, another swears is overratedly lame. Especially after you've had your fill of all the obvious sightseeing. So we stood in the middle of Grand Central Station with a sign that read, What should we do today? And this is what everyone had to say. The PG-13 version, that is.

New York City

Brooklyn Flea operates an ongoing secondhand market every weekend year-round where you'll find more than 100 vendors selling all the random anythings and everythings that you never knew you just absolutely had to have: antique furniture, vinyl, books, vintage clothing, jewelry, art and crafts. The Flea happens Saturdays and Sundays at Skylight One Hanson (formerly the Williamsburg Savings Bank) through March, after which it returns to the great outdoors (Fort Greene on Saturdays, Williamsburg on Sundays).

Big Onion Walking Tours offers more than 30 walkabouts through the city's many burroughs and historic districts including Harlem, Brooklyn Heights, SoHo, NoLiTa and Greenwich Village. They also do quirkily themed tours like Satans Seat, which delves into NYC's Prohibition past, a gang-themed tour that Miramax commissioned as the historical companion for 2002's "Gangs of New York," and a multi-ethnic eating tour that heads to Little Italy, Chinatown and the Jewish East Side.

Strike a Pose. Recharge your camera and head out for a scavenger hunt in search of TimeOut NYC's 20 most iconic street views. On the list: the Coney Island Boardwalk, Dumbo and the Financial District from the shores of the Hudson, the Roosevelt Island Tram and Tom's Restaurant  "Seinfeld."

One of TimeOut NYC's Most Iconic Street Views - Coney Island

Bam! Check out whatever's going on at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, America's oldest performing arts center, whose roster of events never fails to hook fans of cinema, theater and opera.

Show time. Same goes for Music Hallof Williamsburg, where indie bandophiles head for shows. On deck for March and April are EMA, Band of Skulls, Youth Lagoon, The War on Drugs, WU LYF and YannTiersen.

Please Don't Tell. On the other side of the trick phonebooth that serves the would-be speakeasy's front door await haute couture cocktails like Oaxaca Old-Fashioneds and upscale hot dogs. Reservations are a must.

Van Leeuwen. If you happen to pass one of Van Leeuwen's three artisan ice cream trucks -- Manhattan, two in Brooklyn -- grab a scoop of one of their 10 homemade flavors, the more flashy of which include ginger, red currant, giandujia. VL make's their custard from pure sugar cane and hormone-free milk from cows that spend the better part of the year roaming around the Adirondacks. Woo moo.

Diner. Rigged out of an actual old dining train car, Diner changes its menu every week depending on what chef went shopping for, and everything's so good that no one cranks.

Doughnut Plant. Pastry fans, prepare to die and go to heaven. Pistachio doughnuts? Marzipan doughnuts? Tres leches doughnuts? Bring on the diabetes. By the dozen. Please.

Doughnut Plant NYC

The Frying Pan. Located in Chelsea but technically on the Hudson, the 1929 boat is one of the few remaining lightships that supposedly spent three years on the floor of Chesapeake Bay before being hauled back up to the surface and converted into a burgers and beer joint.

New Leaf. Housed in a restored 1930s cottage north Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park, the restaurant sits atop one of the highest points in the city. The views of the Hudson River alone are worth the hike. Proceeds go to the New York Restoration Project to support the restoration and maintenance of NYC parks, community gardens and open spaces.

Visit ... us! Whether intentionally or by accident you'll probably find yourself passing through Times Square. When you do, wave hey to the sorta-new American Eagle flagship store that opened in 2009. The towering 25-story, 15,000 square-foot LED screens are pretty impossible to miss. 

Visit American Eagle in Times Square

40 Zs.  So there's no need to swipe. Bunk bedrooms at The Jane in the Meatpacking District are reminiscent of those of an ocean-liner but they start at $90, which, for New York, will make you forget all about the communal bathrooms. The poppy New York Loft Hostel in Bushwick has dorm-style rooms for $25 or private rooms for $40-50, and, in an effort to earn the title of "world's first five-star hostel," offers free breakfast, free barbecue (summer) or fondue (winter) dinners Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. (,