The Local Tourist is a series that will focus on balancing a typical tourist's outing with a local's secret, tip or recommendation on the area.
As an Asian-American and a fond photographer of food, I won't lie: I pretty much always look like a tourist and I'm totally okay with it. Scoping out this great big grid's nooks and crannies for its hidden gems is certainly my forte; yet, I still like to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. And sometimes that involves doing something touristy. Most recently, it meant an evening at Radio City Music Hall.
I haven't been to Radio City since I saw the Rockettes as a child. While I've worked across the street from the famed building for the past two years, I've never taken the time to scope out seeing a show there. Not only is it a bit too close to work for comfort, but during the holiday season, the area is a madhouse. On top of it - this is New York! There's always something to do and somewhere to go, with new places opening left and right. So, some of the city's more famous mainstays haven't really been on the top of my list
Regardless, when a coworker slid over two free tickets to America's Got Talent semi-finals with Maroon 5 opening the show, I figured it was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of. I mean, have I EVER watched America's Got Talent? Not a chance. But was I just going to sit back and let a free ticket, including an Adam Levine sighting, slip from my hands? Of course not. My strain of FOMO is too severe for all that.
The Tourist: Radio City
- Best For: a show, duh. However, there are a lot more shows here than the staple Christmas Spectacular. Think: Train, Bastille and Eric Prydz. And, of course, semi-finals for TV shows like America's Got Talent are often filmed here. Like I've said, I don't follow the show. However, it's pretty cool to take part in a TV show as its filmed and learn about all the logistics involved. Plus, again, free Adam Levine.
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- Atmosphere: It's just north enough to be out of craziness that is Times Square and is easily accessible by subway, making Radio City the perfect place for a date or a family outing. Having never been to Radio City in recent memory, I was surprised at how updated and modern it was. Phenomenal sound and lighting, pleasant and helpful staff and ultra comfy seats. To sum it up: old-school opera meets luxury movie theatre.
- You'll Spend: Though lines were fairly long (as expected in any theatre pre-show), cocktails came in at a fairly reasonable $12 a piece. Having had a $20 glass of the house red at MSG before, I have no complaints about this, especially considering they put a tad bit more effort into actually listing a few spotlight cocktails.
The Local: Carnegie Club
After seeing your show of choice, skip out on the hyped-up restaurants in the immediate area and stroll up a few blocks toward Carnegie Club for a cocktail with your date. Past the New York Health & Racquet and just before an industrial parking garage, you'll find an incredibly-easy-to-miss entryway to Carnegie Club.
Upon entering, you'll find a buzzing cigar bar that seemingly brings the past to life. Between the live jazz and the smoky, cathedral-like ambiance, the place manages to embody the storied glamour of Central Park South in the era of Madmen. Order a martini or champagne, cozy up on the glamorously worn furniture and sip away amongst rows and rows of old books and good conversation.
Note: I'm not a smoker but I've always enjoyed the smell of a cigar for whatever reason. If this doesn't sound like you, though, I would obviously. not. come. here. You WILL smell of cigar smoke for the rest of the evening.
Tip: There's generally live jazz at Carnegie Club which makes it feel as if you're at a private show. Usually there is no cover, either, which makes the $15-ish cocktail prices very much worth it. I have heard that there are $40 seatings on Saturdays, though, so best to call ahead if you're going on a weekend.