TRANSCRIPT

Trip Coach: February 26, 2008

Maria Burwell, editor of "Fodor's New York City 2009," answered your questions on the Big Apple.

By , Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008, 12:56 PM

Maria Burwell: Ah, New York! What can compare to its electric energy, iconic landmarks, and cinematic streets? Just try to stop yourself from humming Frank Sinatra while walking through midtown on your first visit! But keeping up with the ever-changing hot new restaurants and hip museum openings is challenging, even for locals. Thankfully, New Yorkers are spoiled for choice, which means if you're pointed in the right direction, you can expect the best of everything: the best steakhouses, the best musicals, the best boutique shopping.

As editor of Fodor's New York City 2009, I'm here to help. Let's get to the good stuff...

_______________________

Birmingham, Ala.: My husband and I are taking our 14-year-old daughter for a 3-night visit (her first) to NYC. We'll arrive at LaGuardia at 10 am. Our hotel (70 Park Ave) will store our bags till check-in, so where do you suggest we have brunch or lunch? What do you recommend that we'll have time to do before a 7 p.m. show on March 18? Should we start with a major tourist attraction or a museum? We'll have two full days and evenings to cram in as much as we can of sightseeing, museums, shopping, and good food. That leaves most of Good Friday for last-chance visits before our 10 p.m. departure. Please share your ideas on how to give our young teen a taste of New York without breaking the budget.

Maria Burwell: New York is terrific family fun, and at fourteen, your daughter can really appreciate all the pop culture and glitz New York offers. Your hotel is in the East 30's, so a good spot to hit for a simple, filling lunch could be the Turkish Kitchen: puffy, fresh breads, tangy hummus, and piles of grilled lamb. If it happens to be warm (a rare occasion in March) head to the Shake Shack in the middle of Madison Square Park. There you'll find some of the best burgers, fries, and heavenly thick milkshakes in NYC, all served outside. After lunch, you can run up to Rockefeller Center (in the 40's) and check out the home of the Today Show and 30 Rock. If your daughter is a budding fashionista, keep running uptown on 5th Avenue to window shop all the top designer stores: Saks, Henri Bendel (featured in a Gossip Girl episode), Prada, Bergdorf, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany's. You'll also see Trump Tower and the Plaza Hotel if you walk to 58th. Cut over on 57th to cruise past Chanel, Burberry, hit Barney's (on Madison), walk over to Bloomingdales (on Lexington), and finish at Dylan's Candy Bar on Third Avenue (run by the daughter of Ralph Lauren) where you can cop a huge sugar buzz just inhaling the chocolate-laced air and fortify yourself for a night of Broadway. All of this is free, aside from any Candyland splurge your treat yourself to at the end.


If she's not a fashion plate—and you'd rather do less walking—take her downtown after lunch to the Lower East Side. Visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum that documents the daily life of NYC's early immigrant families, and then swing by Il Laboratorio del Gelato AKA "The Gelato Laboratory" to grab a scoop of some of the richest, most buttery gelato before settling in for Broadway.

_______________________

Lancaster, Pa.: Hi, this is Dave from Lancaster, PA. My fiance and I are sushi fanatics, and we were wondering where are some of the best spots for sushi in New York City.

Maria Burwell: Sushi-lovers, rejoice! New York is a bona fide sushi capital. Top sushi isn't a budget pursuit, but rest assured you won't be disappointed. Kuruma Zushi is crazy expensive, but they're known for thoughtfully prepared sushi and sashimi. For something more affordable, try Sushi of Gari that ranges from the usual rolls to Japanese Yellowtail. Sushi Yasuda also gets top marks for a beautiful selection with fish delivered daily from Japan. Can't beat that authenticity!

_______________________

Seattle, Wash.: Where is the best place to have Easter Brunch in New York for two single gals in their 30's? (That we can still get a reservation for! Seems most places have already booked up.) Thanks! Erika

Maria Burwell: Erika, New York makes a great girls getaway! (There's a reason Sex and the City was filmed here¿) It sounds like you've got a fun trip planned. As for Easter brunch, if you're looking for something traditional, Sarabeth's is a popular choice as is Five Points (unfortunately, this was booked up for Easter). Truthfully, I think you should hit a place that doesn't take reservations, like Blue Ribbon Bakery (35 Downing Street) and go on the early side. New Yorkers love their lazy Sundays, and most brunch locations don't get slammed until noon. Camp out at eleven, and I'm betting you'll get a table first thing. Another idea: do a soul food brunch in Harlem. It's certainly a classic NYC experience. Amy Ruth's and Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too have great stick-to-your-ribs brunch. (Again, reservations not accepted so get there early and you'll be set.)

_______________________

Cleveland, Ohio: We're planning a 3 day family trip to NYC in March. Besides the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Bldg., and the Natural History Museum, what are some additional sightseeing ideas for the kids (age 8 & 6)? Matt

Maria Burwell: Matt, consider the Big Apple your kids' oversized playground. There's enough family fun to keep kids in this age group busy for three months. On top of what you've mentioned I'd recommend:

—Rockefeller Center. Aside from seeing the facade of the Radio City Music Hall, you can tour the NBC studios, skate in the ice rink, indulge in the stores (hello, Maison du Chocolat!), and go to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller's observation deck ). It's a great vantage point to view the NYC skyline and get a bird's-eye view of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, etcetera.

—The New York Fire Museum. Sadly, you can't climb around on a fire truck, but your kids can get up close with all the sliding poles and candy-apple red trucks that make fire-fighting such a fascinating occupation.

—The Sony Wonder Lab. A free interactive tour through cutting-edge technology featuring twinkling fiber optic lights, audio recordings, and screenings of popular movies.

—The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This is a great doable museum for kids. The tenements capture what life was like for early immigrant families in New York, and the family programs illustrate the very real conditions kids lived and worked under.

If you're willing to go into the outer boroughs, there are even more great attractions:

—The Museum of the Moving Image (in Queens). Take your kids here to play with sound editing equipment, make their own stop animation movie, or play with their video games. Hands-on fun in the best way.

—The Bronx Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! If your kids like animals, they'll be really happy here.

_______________________

Norristown, Pa.: I'm coming to New York for a 2pm show at the August Wilson theatre. How can I get there from Penn Station? How long will it take? Can I walk the distance?

Maria Burwell: You could walk it, but it would be a loooong walk. (About 20 blocks.) I'd suggest taking the subway. Take the 1 train uptown from 34th Street Penn Station, get off at 50th Street, and you'll be a block away! (If you need more subway directions, check out hopstop.com.)

_______________________

Melbourne, Fla.: My 8-year-old daughter and I will be making our first trip to New York in late July. We read about The Cloisters in one of her Magic Treehouse books and now we HAVE to see the unicorn tapestries! Can you recommend something else to see or do, or somewhere to eat while we're up in that area? Also, in addition to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is there other fiction we can read to get her excited about NYC? Thanks!

Maria Burwell: What a great question! Take a look at the suggestions I made above for Matt for other activities. As for the Cloisters themselves, I highly recommend you take a picnic up there and enjoy it on the grounds. It should be beautiful weather in late July. Swing by the Time Warner Center before you continue north and pick up snacks from either the Bouchon Bakery (terrific French macaroons!) or the local Whole Foods. Or, for an authentic NYC experience, grab some bagels at H&H on the Westside. If you wanted to try to group a few more activities into the day, I'd say you could jump off at the Columbia campus area to explore that or even poke around Harlem on your way back.


As for New York based children's books, I recommend the first Kiki Strike book. It's entirely based in New York and has an imaginative plot about a group of renegade girl scouts that discover an underground city below Chinatown. It'll certainly make her want to play urban explorer!

_______________________

Brookfield, Mo.: We're a couple in our mid-50's. We'll be leaving Kansas City for New York on 6/2/08 & returning on 6/7/08. We're both afficianados of anything historical or literary & love just seeing the architecture of a new place. I was in NYC for a few days in 1987 & adored the energy & diversity. My husband has never been there, so he wants to see the famous sites—The Statue & Ellis Island, the Empire State & Flatiron buildings, etc. We'd also like to see a Broadway show. We're staying across the Hudson in Weehawken, near the ferry; so we'll have to go into the city each morning & stay for the day. Any tips for other, lesser-known things to do? Our ideas of a vacation is to start early & go nonstop, and come home exhausted, so we need plenty of ideas! Thanks so very much, Denise

Maria Burwell: Hi, Denise! I always love hearing about visitors that want to discover the history and architecture of New York City. First let me encourage you to follow in the footsteps of New York's literati. Go visit the peaceful square around Gramercy Park. The garden is enclosed, but in June you'll be able to admire the lush green oasis that is rimmed with buildings dating to the 1800's. Nos., 3 and 4 belonged to the founder of Harper Publishing House. No. 38 was the home of John Steinbeck, and you can tour No. 15, the National Arts Club. Keep strolling downtown on Broadway and you'll pass The Strand, a New York institution for used books that is a beacon drawing booklovers from near and far. You could spend half a day poking through the stacks. If you continue south, you'll hit Washington Mews, a rare cobble-stoned street that looks like it was leftover from Henry James's era. You'll also hit Washington Square Park, a great mix of classic architecture and vibrant modern street life. I also suggest you leave Manhattan altogether. Follow writers like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer and flee Manhattan for Brooklyn Heights. (Take the 2, 3 train to Clark St. or the A, C to High St.) Here you can walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with postcard-perfect views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You can also stroll among the houses that are so stunning, they were declared New York's first historic district. Definitely worth discovering!

_______________________

New York City, N.Y.: Where is the best place to shop for womens apparel at great bargain prices? Also, where's an affordable place to hotel to stay for 1 to 2 nights? Thanks

Maria Burwell: Century 21 in lower Manhattan has a cult following for delivering dozens of designer goods at marked down prices. You'll have to do some digging to find the keepers, but it's a saving grace for New Yorkers whose taste for the good life reaches beyond their paycheck. Another spot to hunt for discounted Prada is Find Outlet in NoLita. Also check online for sample sales. Barney's New York has a sample sale that makes shopping a competitive sport.


As for affordable accommodations, New York has a shortage. Good budget options include the Pod Hotel and the Larchmont Hotel. If you don't mind sacrificing color-coordinated decor, La Quinta Inn has some of the most affordable rates in Manhattan (below $200).

_______________________

Huntington Woods, Mich.: Hi Maria- I (50 yr old mom) am taking my 15 year old (musical theater loving) daughter to NY May 23-25 because she "has" to see Spring Awakening. She has been to NY once before to see Wicked and some of the major sites (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Tenement Museum, Chinatown, Times Sq.,NBC-Today Show crowd). That time we stayed at the Marriott across from Ground Zero- not a fabulous location but it was ok.

I'd like a better location this time. I am fine with small or quirky places- trying to stay under $300/night. Also looking for things that would be special fun for musical theater kind of teenager. We have the show tickets (Friday night) but haven't booked our tickets yet. Ideas for hotel, fun, food? Thanks in advance

Maria Burwell: Sounds like you have a future Broadway diva on your hands! First, let's talk lodging. Under $300 a night, you could stay at the Pod Hotel. The rooms are teeny-tiny, but ultra hip and with cool extras, like iPod docks, that your fifteen-year-old might appreciate! Another idea is to stay at Hotel 41, again, the rooms are small, but you'll have DVD players and Aveda bath products. Both of these are more or less in Midtown, closer to all the attractions there. Your best bet might be to stay at the Casablanca Hotel. It's right next to Time Square and even comes with a complimentary breakfast.

Aside from the tour I recommended above for a fourteen-year-old fashionista, you could take your theater-loving teen to the Ziegfeld movie theater. This place really ups the bling ratio, and you'll feel like wearing opera-length gloves to the concession stand. (No worries, jeans are just fine here.) You can also take her outside of Broadway for a bit of Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions. In Brooklyn, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) has brilliant theater with actors like the great Cate Blanchett and chorographers like Mark Morris. Or you can check out Fuerzabruta at the Daryl Roth Theater.

If you go to the Daryl Roth Theater, eat at some of the hip places around Union Square. The Stand on 12th Street offers up some mean burgers with artisanal milkshakes, and Republic (on Union Square's Westside) has budget Asian noodles and fried wontons.

_______________________

Houston, Tex.: I understand there is a way to get tickets to go directly to the front of the line of the Empire State Building without waiting in line. How do you do that? Thank you!

Maria Burwell: Well, buying tickets online (at esbnyc.com) will allow you to skip the first long line for purchasing tickets. Just be aware that tickets are non-refundable, which means if it's a rainy or hazy day, you just have to live with it!

_______________________

Silver Spring, Md. : I am planning on visiting NYC for a day trip to get some bargain womens winter clothes. Where do you suggest I go to find these clothes at great clearance prices? Thanks

Maria Burwell: If you're looking for budget designer clothes, see my post on Century 21. You could also try Loehmann's and Daffy's.

_______________________

Ellenwood, Ga.: Need a hotel room two nights, 2 days, March 15, 16, Times square area. Whats going on that weekend?

Maria Burwell: Want a budget hotel? Check out the Casablanca mentioned in my post above. If you can afford to splash out a bit on luxurious accommodations, the W Hotel in Time Square lays it on cashmere-thick with sleek, space-age rooms and a glamorous sushi bar.


If you're staying until the following Monday, you'll be able to catch the famous St. Patrick's Day Parade. The weekend before is full of all sorts of related revelry, including several pub crawls, like the one that takes place in the Seaport area. But you can also hop into several Irish pubs around town to enjoy the celebration informally.

_______________________

New London, Conn.: I am traveling to New York City with 4 girl scouts who are in their freshman year of high school. We are planning on going from 6/7-6/8 this summer. This is the girls last year in scouts and they want this to be a great trip. We are planning on going to a show and staying overnight. I am looking for suggestions for somewhat affordable suite type lodging for 6, a good dinner spot for teenage girls and another activity that they may enjoy. Also, if you have any suggestions on discounted show tickets that would be great.

Maria Burwell: Take a look at the itineraries I've described above for 14 and 15 year old girls. As for accommodations, you could take a look at the suites for the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York. They're inexpensive compared to most Manhattan rates, but it is over on the Eastside. Still, you'll be in Midtown (somewhat close to Grand Central Station). You could also look at the Gershwin Hotel. Definitely inexpensive. It could use renovations, but the cheerful riot of colors each wall is painted and the funky Andy Warhol-esque vibe it gives makes up for it.


As for discounted shows, if you're willing to be flexible, you can go to the TKTS booth at the Marriot Marques Hotel (W 46th Street in Time Square). Here you can buy tickets for performances that same day at 25% to 50% off. You have to choose from available titles, but they usually have a wide selection. A quick glance on the Web site www.tdf.org shows the tickets that were available last week, including the Tony Award-winner Spring Awakening, which would be my first choice!

_______________________

Milwaukee, Wis.: We are traveling to NYC for All-Star week, July 12-16, 2008. I have been researching hotels, and have made multiple reservations with establishments of various price points and locations. The one dilemna we are facing is whether to stay in Times Square (and face the noise issue at night), or venture up toward Central Park area. Most hotels "clubs" have suspended or artificially their points rewards for that week ( IE Marriot raised the rewards bar for a free night from 30,000 to 70,000points for the Courtyard establishment). As well, virtually all hotels have a per person limit of three in a room, except for the Double Tree Guest Suites in Times Square. What is your opinion on Times Square versus the 53rd Street area? Also, we are seeking wonderful restaurants in this same vicinity (48th-57th Streets, Lexington, Park, Broadway) that give a range of menu choices without busting the budget.

Maria Burwell: Sounds like you've done your homework! Like most New Yorkers, unless I have out of town visitors, I tend to avoid Time Square. It's bright, loud, and always full of people—which is exactly why it's so fascinating. There's no other place in NYC that says "Big City" quite so clearly. But personally, when I'm ready to crash after a long day, I want a place that's a refuge from all the hustle and bustle! I'd choose the 53rd Street area. It's also closer to the park, which on nice days in July will make for ideal picnic excursions.


As for food, there are plenty of places to eat around there that won't stretch your plastic: Try Mint on 50th for delicious, fresh Indian food. P.J. Clarke's on 55th, in an old school New York establishment, serves up burgers, fried oysters, and comforting shepherd's pie. Go over to the Westside at 44th Street to Hallo Berlin for wildly cheap German bratwurst, beet, and fried potatoes that will top you off for another round of walking.

_______________________

Williamston, N.C.: I am taking my daughters to New York on March 14-16. We have tickets for The Little Mermaid and Wicked. My girls are 20 and 27. I am looking for a great place for lunch in Soho area on Friday and somewhere special for lunch on Sat. Thank you for your help.

Maria Burwell: Venture a little east of SoHo and stroll into the hip streets of NoLita. Unlike the chain stores in SoHo that you'll see back home (J. Crew, M.A.C., etc.) the boutiques in NoLita are one of a kind. Places like Me + Ro for Asian inspired earrings or Resurrection for vintage Pucci prints, will be entirely new to your daughters. Here, on the corner of Elizabeth and Prince St., you can get a terrific lunch at Cafe Habana, serving up Cuban Sandwiches that are, as they say in Spanish, "la muerte" without spending much moolah. You'll also get a peek at the locals in this youthful Never-never-land of a neighborhood. Chances are you'll be sitting next to a model, actor, or model/actor.


If you want to treat your girls to a fancy brunch with all the French fixings, take them to Balthazar (also near SoHo on Spring St.). If you keep it simple and stick to sour cream hazelnut waffles (and resist the other more pricy options), you can actually eat here without raiding your savings.

_______________________

Columbus, Ohio: I am planning on being in NYC the weekend the Pope will be in town (have had my theater tickets long before I knew was was going to be there.). Any advice on how I can get a nice hotel room in the Times Square area without paying a fortune? I am finding that that weekend is higher priced than normal. Thanks.

Maria Burwell: Try the Casablanca Hotel. But as I've mentioned, Time Square doesn't have to be your only option. I'd also look at the Pod hotel.

_______________________

Allentown, Pa.: I'm looking for a kid-friendly restaurant for pre-theater Saturday dinner. Thanks

Maria Burwell: For this, I'd say hit Carmine's on W 44th Street. Not only is it in the Time Square area and family-friendly, it's also flat-out delicious. Huge portions of linguine with clam sauce or rigatoni will keep you full long after intermission!

_______________________

Brookfield, Conn.: Is parking readily available at the Red Hook cruise terminal and is there a fee?

Maria Burwell: Yes, there's parking, and yes, there's a fee. It's $6 for short term parking and $20 for 24 hours.

_______________________

Rochester, Ind.: My husband is taking me to Manhattan for Mother's Day and we are having difficulty finding reasonably priced rooms that are safe, comfortable, clean and if not in the midtown or Times Square area, a place close to public transportation. I am aghast at the prices of hotels; my last trip to NYC was less than a year ago and before that we have visited often: once or twice a year most years for the last 45 years. Can you help? We are in our early 70s but don't act like it; we enjoy travel adventures and are comfortable practically everywhere in the world on our own alone. Flying in Thurs. May 8th and out Mon. May 12th.

Maria Burwell: That's a lovely Mother's Day gift! Well, it's hard to find a hotel for under $300 in New York, as I'm sure you know. But as I mentioned previously, establishments that are less expensive include Hotel 41, Hotel Metro, the Pod Hotel, or Casablanca Hotel. If you're willing to do some walking, consider the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York. They're all the way over on the Eastside, but definitely comfortable, safe, and inexpensive. Often the earlier you book, the less expensive the room. (May is a popular month, so book early!)

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Can you recommend some good places for "fun" when on a short business trip that only leaves a small window in evening hours for dinner/drinks/entertainment? My colleagues and I are staying near Central Park in late March.

Maria Burwell: Why not do a little sightseeing while sipping cocktails? At the legendary Rainbow Room, you'll get a stunning view from the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. Or the Pen-Top Bar & Terrace on the 23rd floor of the Peninsula Hotel is another top tier bar. If that sounds a little too buttoned up, consider some rock n' roll karaoke at Arlene's Grocery, a jazz show at the Blue Note, or just a laid back late night cup of Chai at the indie-tastic cafe Teany on the Lower East Side.

_______________________

San Antonio, Texas: My husband and I are taking our almost 16 year old daughter to New York City for 5 days and 4 nights in late July. What type of activities would you recommend? None of us has been to the city for pleasure--I have been once for a very short business trip. We are very comfortable travelers and enjoy a variety of activities! Thank you, Melissa

Maria Burwell: Hi, Melissa! Aside from what I've already recommended for teenage girls, I'd also hit the MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art). Too often families focus on the Met, but the MoMA has a contemporary cool that teenagers can relate to (not to mention a really fun gift shop). If you want a museum that's a bit more bite-sized, try the Neue Galerie. The building alone here is a delight with its "grand old New York" palatial foyer. And on the ground floor, Cafe Sabarsky serves rich dark Viennese coffee and authentic Sacher torte in an environment straight out of a European film. (One caveat: the artists on display here—Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, to name two—have some racy subject matter. If that makes you uncomfortable, stick with a day at the Tenement Museum.)

Another idea: take your daughter around the East Village. Walk down St. Marks Place (for the obligatory tour of booth-after-booth of neon sunglasses, sarcastic T-shirts, and studded jewelry), poke around in St. Marks Bookshop (art books galore), and walk down 7th Street to Caracas Arepa Bar for cheap pockets of golden fried cornmeal with cheese, beans, and shredded beef. Heaven!

_______________________

New York, N.Y.: Hi Maria:

My English boyfriend is coming over to NYC for Easter, and I want to arrange an Easter Brunch for us and several friends. I'd like to give him an "NYC experience," (he has a fascination with Central Park, which we have yet to "do.") but I also refuse to subject my die-hard NYC friends to anything too, too touristy. So 'Tavern on the Green' is out! Is there a middle ground you could recommend? Thanks, Alycia from the West Village

Maria Burwell: I hear you! Consider doing the soul food brunch I recommended above. It's an authentic NYC experience without being cheesy. Or you can leave Manhattan entirely and head for Brooklyn. Dine at Applewood, the farmer-centric foodie haven, and then explore the tourist free neighborhood of Park Slope and stroll around Prospect Park. (If your boyfriend has a fascination with Central Park, let him know that the same architect did Prospect Park—and considered it his crowning achievement!)

_______________________

Tampa, Fla.: We have only one day May 21 to see the installations of Chinese Artist Guo-Qiang at the Guggenheim in NY. We need a place to stay the night of the 21 and 22 nearby. Can you recommend a B&B or inexpensive hotel within walking distance?

Maria Burwell: Oh, his work is incredible—certainly worth the trip to NYC!


Well the decor is a little funky, and the rooms can be a touch small, but I think the Franklin will meet your needs. It's on 87th and Lex. (the Guggenheim is on 88th and 5th Avenue) so you really could just roll out of bed and stroll over and, most importantly, it doesn't have stratospheric prices!

_______________________

Lebanon, Ind.: My adult son and I are registered as contestants in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament to be held at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, February 29-March 2, 2008. We will fly into LaGuardia on the evening of February 28. Neither of us has been to NYC before. Since the tournament activities do not begin until the evening of Feb 29, we will have most of that day free. Your suggestions, please. Specifically, would the Gray Lines "New York Minute" tour be a good choice? Joe

Maria Burwell: Hi, Joe! The Brooklyn Bridge Marriott is near the terrific neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge). Stroll down to the waterfront and you can admire the beautiful view of the New York skyline with the boats passing by. On a clear day, it's stunning. Grab ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory right on the pier, its high-quality, thick-n-creamy scoops lure many a sweet-lover over the East River. Or you can walk down Water Street to Jacques Torres Chocolate for a real Willie Wonka moment. You're also steps away from what is (debatably) the best NYC pizza—Grimaldi's Pizzeria (on Old Fulton St.).

As for the Gray Line tour, if you haven't been to NYC before, this is a good way to get your bearings. They cover the basic "lay of the land" and will help you and your son get familiar with the different neighborhoods and what each of them have to offer. I would just caution that much of this is simply driving through the neighborhoods, and in winter, there won't be much street life. It's cold out there!

_______________________

Los Angeles, Calif.: I hear a lot about Brooklyn being a good place to visit. Any idea where I could get a good burger while I'm out there?

Maria Burwell: I've got to love a question that is not only about Brooklyn but about burgers! Several people swear DuMont, in Williamsburg, serves up the top borough burger. They now have a new location, DuMont Burger, just focused on this popular dish and its sides.

_______________________

Richmond, Va.: I'm bringing my ballet-loving 13-year old niece to NYC this spring, and I'm not sure what to buy tickets for. Which do you think is better, NYC Ballet or ABT? And is the Joyce worthwhile? Anything else you'd recommend for her?

Maria Burwell: New York is also the capital of dance, among other performing arts, and ballet is no exception. The New York City Ballet (AKA NYCB) has a home at Lincoln Center and holds its season through the winter and spring. In summer, they move away and the touring American Ballet Theatre (AKA ABT) comes to Lincoln Center, so we're never without world-class dance. (They also do a fall season at City Center). Basically, if you're here in the early spring, you'll be able to catch NYCB, and if you're here in the late spring, you can catch ABT.

Also, for those of you that like to get Nutcracker tickets (only for NYCB), grab them *early* in the summer and enjoy this classic story ballet!

_______________________

Maria Burwell: And that's about all the time we have to chat! Thank you for all your questions! I'm sorry I couldn't answer them all. I hope you all enjoy kicking your heels up in New York, New York! Be sure to check out the Fodor's New York City 2008 guide, a great resource for your trip, and keep an eye out for the new 2009 guide, hitting the shelves in August!