City Travel Guide: New Year, New York

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

No matter how many bites you take, there’s always more to be had of the Big Apple. Here’s one, of-the-moment itinerary for the cosmopolitan city that involves chocolate, chuckles and… Boobies.

“Boobies” got your attention, didn’t it, but it’s not what you think. By Boobies I mean the birds, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Caffeinate and Chocolate
Before or after your requisite Statue of Liberty tour, find your way to FIKA in the Financial District and you’ve simultaneously transported yourself to Sweden. Swedish for “coffee break,” FIKA is where suits come to perk up on top-notch espresso and sweets. The real star here though is Håkan Mårtensson, executive pastry chef and master chocolatier. A Culinary Olympics champion, his chocolate statues are out of this world; quite literally, the man loves fantasy (see below). Make sure you leave with a box of chocolates for the family. Håkan makes sets inspired by the four elements and the seven deadly sins, meant to be enjoyed as a group tasting experience. To give you an idea, ”earth” is infused with Pop Rocks to simulate an earthquake on your palate, and ”lust” is sweet passion fruit with a spicy chili center.

Non-Conventional Central Park Celebrity Moment
A stroll through Central Park is a non-negotiable, even in the freezing cold. A stop at the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon will warm your insides, but for a lesser known celebrity tribute (as in I’ve just come up with it), buy a piping hot street dog and take a short walk from the mosaic to the straightforwardly named “The Lake.” Just before the Bow Bridge look up to see a twin towered building. We’re told Bono used to live there and he was big on barbequing, which annoyed his neighbors to no end. Eat your bratwurst in a bun, then rattle or hum “The Unforgettable Fire.”

Boobies at the American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History brings out the kid in everyone, or in my case, juvenile, judging by the photo I just had to take of Boobies and Frigate birds (snicker, snicker). But all kidding aside, it’s riveting at any age. For the ultimate kid experience, adults sign yourself and your seven to 13 year-old up for “A Night at the Museum Sleepover.” It’s exactly as described—you sleep in the museum and hope the T-Rex bones don’t reanimate. And there’s nothing like an overnight on a thin foam mat to make you appreciate all the more your cozy hotel accommodations.

Delight in de Kooning
You still have just shy of a month to experience the eye-gasm that is the de Kooning retrospective at MoMA. Taking up the entire sixth-floor, the exhibit contains close to 200 works spanning the entire career of the abstract expressionist artist. You have a little longer (until May 14, 2012) to catch “Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art.” Pieces that were a part of one of MoMA’s very first exhibitions are displayed again 80 years later.

No SNL, So UCB
There is plenty of LOL in NYC, and you don’t need to win the Saturday Night Live ticket lottery or sleep outside in the cold for standby to find it. Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv and sketch comedy theater company of which Amy Poehler is a founding member, has two New York City locations pumping out entertainment seven nights a week. You’re bound to see a famous face or a soon-to-be famous face on stage. On the Friday night I attended, it was Sue Galloway, a 30 Rock regular. The cast of Sunday night’s “ASSSSCAT 3000″ show is Ms. Poehler herself and Horatio Sanz. So in essence you’re getting the Live with less of a line-up.

Where to Stay:
Near FIKA – Andaz Wall Street
Near Central Park and AMNH – The Surrey, The Carlyle and The Mark
Near MoMA – The Peninsula and The St. Regis
Near UCB NY – Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, Soho House and The Standard

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