Yes, snow covered the Big Apple yesterday, but according to the Gregorian calendar, the spring equinox is just 96 hours away. You could spend spring time in Paris or spring break in the Caribbean or you could enjoy spring springing forth here where I call home. There’s plenty to do, more food trucks and ice cream trucks will be out, and the city parks will be in bloom.
If you seek blooms, the New York Botanical Garden is a much welcome reprieve in the concrete jungle. The popular Orchid Show is on until April 22 (aka Earth Day) and will soon be followed beginning May 18 by another fantastic exhibit featuring Philip Haas sculptures titled “The Four Seasons.” The installation exhibits as well as last year’s Monet’s Garden made fantastic day trips, and are perfect for visitors looking to do something outside of the usual Times Square-Broadway-Rockefeller Center lineup. I particularly enjoy returning to the Orchid Show especially when I don’t have a tropical vacation on the horizon.
Switching gears from garden delights to other types of delights–food! New Yorkers love to talk about food as much as they love to eat food. Pizza might as well be the city’s signature culinary delight, and there’s a guide on who’s pizza is best. (Many of them are good. I like thin-crust pizza with lots of cheese, and, yes, I fold my slice.) You could spend your spring fling just sampling the different slices and deciding which pizzeria got the sauce or the crust or the cheese just right.
The Food Truck Rally at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park returns for the spring/summer season beginning April 7. This is a great way to experience New York cuisine without breaking the bank. Walk around the circle of trucks and enjoy pizza, dumplings, waffles, classic American burgers, organic fruit smoothies, cupcakes, ice cream and tacos. If you’re craving it, chances are the food trucks are cooking it. Two New Yorkers decided they craved food truck food so much they wanted to learn how to cook it at home. So they wrote New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks which will be published April 2. These two foodies, Siobhan Wallace and Alexandra Penfold, hail New York’s burgeoning food truck scene while highlighting success stories and favorite recipes.
Food trucks are a fun way to fuel up for the rest of your sightseeing, whether that takes you uptown, midtown, downtown and all around. I also recommend Pies -n- Thighs which enjoyed some recent publicity from the Food Network’s Guy Fieri, so now lines are even longer to get into this tiny joint in Williamsburg. Get there when the doors open, before the previous night’s party goers wake up and realize they’re hungry. The chicken and waffles are phenomenal and the donuts, I can’t say enough. I loved the donuts there so much I included them in a recent CheapOAir blog post about donut hopping in New York City.
We covered the outdoors, food, so now shopping. Yes, there’s Fifth Avenue shopping where you will find stores that can be found in most malls and big cities. There’s junky souvenir shopping in Times Square. There’s stolen goods shopping along Canal Street, as well as scarf shopping in Chinatown (two thumbs up). And then there’s New York City street shopping, like flea markets and farmers markets and unusual little places where you can find unusual things. My favorite is Union Square Greenmarket open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays where later this spring, you’ll find the Big Gay Ice Cream truck scooping up Bea Arthurs and Salty Pimps parked near 17th Street and Broadway. I’ll be in the line waiting for my Salty Pimp. For those of you who can’t wait two more months, Big Gay Ice Cream has shops in both the East and West Village where the Salty Pimp Cupcake is available.
To get a more complete list of everything that is going on in this whacky metropolis of ours, including street market shopping opportunities, NYCgo offers fantastic roundups of everything across New York, and they are far more in the know than I am. I’m just a tax-paying resident who likes to eat and shop here.