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|Ã‚Â photos courtesy Nick Nicholas|
Vaught’s note: Nick Nicholas is a former editor of The Cats Pause (1984-91) and sports writer and sports editor of The Richmond Register (1991-95). He lived in New York City from 2000 until moving recently to a much slower-pace of life in nearby Pelham, N.Y. He is currently the director of sports development for Nicholas & Lence Communications in Manhattan and offered this guide to New York for those going to the UK-Kansas game Tuesday. But even if you are not going, read and save this information for any upcoming trip to NYC because it has a little bit of everything for you.
By NICK NICHOLAS
Welcome to New York City, ya-all.
Let me reintroduce myself: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a born Kentuckian, a University of Kentucky graduate and resident of the Bluegrass State for the first 35 years of my life. Let me be the first to welcome you to New York City.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m anticipating 8,000 of my closest Kentucky friends to be in Madison Square Garden for Tuesday nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Champions Classic showdown with Kansas. It was about this time two years ago when Kentucky had more fans in Madison Square Garden than the folks cheering for nearby Connecticut. The crowd at the Garden was especially enthusiastic Ã¢â‚¬â€œ louder support than for the New York Knicks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sold out.
This season this two-game session is sold out. Get ready for a memorable night.
The pregame and postgame portion of the trip to New York, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your first time or youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a regular traveler to the Big Apple Ã¢â‚¬â€œ can be as memorable.
Manhattan is the easiest to get around of the five boroughs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the other four are the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Of course, Manhattan is the most popular.
So much to see and do Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t overdo it. Good news is temperatures are currently hovering in the mid- to upper-50s and are not expected to change significantly during the week of the UK-KU game.
Getting around Manhattan is quite easy. Trust me, if I can do it you certainly can.
Picture it as a grid. The avenues are across: First Avenue on the East Side to 11th Avenue on the West Side. And the streets are up and down. Lower street numbers are downtown then go up to midtown and uptown. Anything lower than 14th Street is heading to Tribecca, the Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, Grand Zero, Wall Street and Battery Park. Uptown is Harlem where on 253 West 125 Street is a one of the most entertaining places to go, historic Apollo Theater.
I believe your most important address is this one: Madison Square Garden located in the heart of Midtown, between 31st and 33rd Street with the entrance off Seventh Avenue. Keep in mind if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a ticket you can still enjoy the game in friendly confines.
Jack DemseyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sports bar is home to Wildcat game day parties as well as an elaborate Kentucky Derby party. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s located at 36 West 33rd Street near the Empire State Building. Jack DemsyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website even displays the Wildcat logo (www.jackdemseys.com). On the day Kentucky-Kansas play Jack DemsyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s has scheduled a Big Blue party to begin around noon.
And you thought you were far away from home.
It gets even better. Bet you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know that New York “real barbecueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ eatery, Virgils at 152 West 44th Street and Broadway serves an “OwensboroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ entrÃƒÂ©e. What a small world, as this Owensboro native works only a few blocks away. Needless to say, this is one my favorite stops.
Yes, there are grass and trees to be found in the concrete jungle.
Central Park is located at 59th Street South up to 110th Street and in-between Central Park West and 5th Avenue. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the best place to grab a hot, soft pretzel, go to the zoo, take a nice walk or enjoy a horse and buggy ride. Want to run? There is no place better than Central Park to pound the pavement. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where thousands of locals train throughout the day. The Park offers several different courses, the longest stretching a six-mile run to the shortest being around the Jacqueline Kennedy Reservoir that covers 1.6 miles. At nighttime, the north end of the Kennedy run offers a panoramic postcard view of Times Square.
When taking a taxi remember itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tough to flag down a cabbie just after 3 p.m. (when the morning shift ends and night shift begins), 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (rush hours) and when itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s raining. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re taking a subway, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be shy to ask one of the locals which is the best train to take Ã¢â‚¬â€œ New Yorkers are really a friendly bunch and are used to so many tourists.
When my friends visit the first thing they want to do is pay their respects at Ground Zero. If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ go. If you have been Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ go again. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also see a lot of the extensive infrastructure progress in place. While youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the neighborhood, go to Battery Park where youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in sight of the Statue of Liberty or, better yet, hop aboard Statue Cruises to Liberty Island and wish her a Happy 125th Birthday or go to nearby Ellis Island, where from 1892-1954 more than 12 million immigrants came to begin their dream of living in freedom.
Little Italy and Chinatown are close by and offer plenty of festivities and outstanding food. Speaking of food my favorite New York City restaurant, which is close by in the heart of Tribecca, is a Mexican-cuisine establishment called Centrico. The menu and atmosphere are the best and the cost is affordable.
Another one of my choice NYC restaurants is CarmineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (Italian? Good guess!). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s located at 200 West 44th St. between Broadway and 8th Avenue and is known for massive portions Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one entrÃƒÂ©e easily feeds two Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and even larger deserts Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for one item ask for extra spoons for your friends. Seafood? Try the Oyster Bar & Restaurant located one floor below the main concourse at majestic Grand Central Terminal in Midtown.
This is a great time to be in New York. The start of the holiday feeling began last week when the City hosted a record 47,000 runners in the ING New York City Marathon. Not far from Madison Square Garden, the 2011 Radio City Christmas Spectacular celebrated their opening night Friday. This is a must event if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re bringing the family. There are multi daily shows while youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in town including a 2 p.m. show the day of the Kentucky-Kansas game.
Radio City Music Hall is in the hub of all the fun stuff that Manhattan has to offer, more precisely the bells and whistles of Times Square and Broadway. You could spend your whole trip in this vicinity alone Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Madison Square Garden is only minutes away by foot or famed NYC yellow taxis.
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re thinking about going to a Broadway Show, you can get tickets by going directly to the theatre or go to the TKTS booth in the center of Times Square for daily discounted tickets for that dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shows. Remember, most of Broadway takes a timeout on Mondays (Rock of Ages does perform) and there are matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Be prepared to pay $100 or more for most tickets bought at the theatre. Tickets purchased at TKTS can be discounted by as much as 50 percent.
Either Rock of Ages (theme rock and roll from the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ80s),Mama Mia (theme with songs from ABBA) and one of the toughest tickets Jersey Boys (theme Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons) generates good vibrations to get people dancing in the aisle. Broadway hits geared mostly for family audiences include The Lion King, The Addams Family, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Billy Elliot, Spider Man Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Turn off the Dark and Mary Poppins.
Off-Broadway performances are another option and less expensive, including the Million Dollar Quartet (about a recording session with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins) at the New World Stages on 340 West 50th Street and popular Blue Man Group at Astor Place Theatre located at 434 Lafayette between East 4th Street and Astor Place.
Other popular stops in Manhattan are the Empire State Building (be prepared for some wait time for daily tours), American Museum of Natural History on 79th Street and Central Park West, Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Ave. at 82nd Street, St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cathedral on 460 Madison Ave. between 50th and 51st Streets., and Chelsea Piers on 23rd Street off West Side Highway. At Chelsea Piers you can hit golf balls toward the Hudson River off a four-tier complex, go bowling or play basketball or soccer indoors or roller hockey outdoors. Nearby Chelsea Piers is another New York City gem, the USS Intrepid Sea & Air Space Museum.
Two sites that often get overshadowed among tourists are South Street Seaport and the Time Warner Center. South Street Seaport is in Lower Manhattan off Fulton Street on the East Side and has plenty of indoor and outdoor activity, including shopping, dining and a museum. The giant Time Warner Center is off of Columbus Circle near the South entrance of Central Park and is home to ManhattanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest marketplace as well as plenty of shopping and dining opportunities.
Come visit the other boroughs, especially the Bronx where you can take a tour of the new Yankee Stadium or go to the famed Bronx Zoo.
Enjoy your trip to New York City. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in for a special time and, of course, to witness one of the 2011-2012 regular seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most anticipated nights.