When I was attending BYU-Idaho in 2011, I was able to go on my first trip to NYC with a small group of theatre professors and students. I had always wanted to see the big city--to see all the famous sites and Broadway musicals. I was also able to have a little weekend getaway there in 2017 while my husband was deployed in Iraq. I went with my sister-in-law (her first time). Her husband's sister, who thankfully knew her way around, came with us as well.
If you are planning a trip to the "Big Apple"
(particularly your first time and if it's a short visit), here are my
Top Recommendations for Sight-Seeing
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Visit the pedestal if you can, where you're able to walk inside the statue and tour the museum. You can also walk around the grounds. Ellis Island is a museum and former immigration inspection station close to the statue. I later learned after my trip that I have some ancestors who immigrated to America through Ellis Island.
- Empire State Building
Enjoy panoramic views of the whole city from the top of the 86th floor observatory.
- Times Square/Broadway
Take a selfie in the heart of the city, in front of all the big LED billboards. And dressing up to see at least one show on Broadway is definitely a must.
- Central Park
This park is huge and there are various famous sections seen in many TV shows and movies; in fact, a movie was being filmed during my second visit to NYC. Everyone in the area had to stop and wait while they shot a quick scene.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is the largest art museum in the United States, and one of the finest. There are so many exhibits and forms of art to see that come from all over the world. You could easily spend a whole day here.
If you have more time...
Some additional fun things to do:
- Window shop on 5th Avenue to see the high-end stores like Tiffany & Co.
- Eat pizza and gelato in "Little Italy"
- Stroll through "Chinatown"
- Stalk up on candy at the Hershey's Chocolate and M&M's World stores
- Use the old wooden escalator that's been preserved at Macy's (largest department store in the world). It has 11 floors and was the first building in the world to have a modern escalator.
- Shop at the two-story Disney store at Times Square
- Enjoy a meal at the Hard Rock Café
- Go out for dessert at Max Brenner's
- Ground Zero/911 memorial and museum
- Rockefeller Center
- Madison Square Gardens
- Radio City Hall
- St. Patrick's Cathedral
- Wall Street
In addition to riding the subway (besides lots of walking), you have to experience taking a taxi as well (just a short distance since it gets expensive). May not seem like a big deal, but being from a small town, it was a first for me. Sadly, I left my digital camera on a taxi at the end of my week-long trip, and lost all my pictures. I called the police station and taxi companies with no luck. Thankfully, I received pictures from my classmates though.
A couple unique experiences I had...
- I participated in a reading through the Dramatist Guild, of one of my theatre professor's original works, "Pioneer Song." I read and sang for the part of "Mary Dove" and "Tessie" (two pioneer women).
- On my second trip, I was able to participate a little bit in a film acting class with John Pallotta--one of the best acting coaches in the business. It wasn't really what I was expecting though, and I felt a little uncomfortable.
My Reviews of the Broadway Musicals I've Seen:
All of the musicals I saw on my first trip were chosen by one of my theatre professors,
who planned our itinerary. Also...I wish I could give more detailed critical reviews, but because I saw most of these shows over eight years ago, they're not fresh in my memory.
Such a magical show in the beautiful New Amsterdam theatre, which my theatre class and I were able to take a backstage tour of. The set and costume design was well done.
(Side note: I had the fun opportunity to perform in this musical in my community a few years ago).
Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark
Artistic comic-book style at the Foxwoods Theatre. Cool rock music vibe, with the music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge. Seeing Spiderman and the Green Goblin fly and fight over the audience was exciting. The production has been described as one of the most technically complex shows ever on Broadway, with all of its aerial sequences and visual projections on big screens. Several actors were injured performing stunts during rehearsals, and the opening night was repeatedly pushed back.
This show received 5 Tony Awards, including "Best Play," and was performed at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at the Lincoln Center. Puppetry was used for the horses (but it was cool looking and not tacky). The play has an emotionally riveting storyline that takes place during WWI, and the acting was excellent. My class and I were able to attend a talk-back session after the show, with the author of the book and director of the play, which was neat.
Great dancing, but I found all the profanity offensive and distracting from the play (lots of F-bombs).
I saw this one on my second trip to NYC. I loved it! And I've always loved the movie and music. The musical kept 8 songs from the 1997 movie, and included 24 new songs. I bought the soundtrack, and one of my favorites of the new songs is "In My Dreams," sung by Anastasia. This musical omitted the supernatural elements from the original film, including the character Rasputin. The villain instead is a general for the Bolsheviks who receives orders to kill Anya.
I was also able to see The Blue Man Group with a few classmates. I bought tickets at one of the three TKTS Discount Booths they have in NYC. Ticket availability and inventory can change quickly throughout the day, so try to check deals early in the day.
Tuachan Amphitheatre in Ivins, UT
My husband and I went with my parents. I believe it was all our first time at the Tuachan--which is an outdoor theatre nestled in beautiful red rock cliffs as a backdrop. As far as the show, seeing Aladdin and Jasmine float on the magic carpet ride above the audience was pretty neat.
Although I enjoyed my visits, I have concluded that I will always be a small town girl. I honestly would not enjoy living in New York City--or any big city for that matter. As an anxious introvert, who gets overstimulated easily...the hustle-and-bustle with so many people walking around and all the noises, is just too overwhelming for me. A trip to "the city that never sleeps" is still worth your time though, especially for those who love musical theatre like me!