If you’re like me, you, for whatever reason, will not be jettisoning off to some exotic, beachfront location this Spring Break. I keenly look forward to scrolling through my Instagram, seeing photos of my peers sipping on various fruity ~virgin~ cocktails (probably), admiring how good their tan looks under that sepia filter. Even my two best friends from home are out for the week. One went to St. Louis for a conference, the other to Budapest, Hungary for a Penn State something or other…I don’t know the details. But hey, they’re exes, so I guess it’s good that they’re on opposite sides of the world.
If you’re from New Jersey, you might think you’re hometown is dull and unexciting. The observation doesn’t make it fact, but I’ve overheard many a conversation go something like this:
“Oh I’m from [Town in New Jersey], you’ve probably never heard of it, yeah it’s [explains what bigger towns Town is near].. yeah it’s pretty boring there’s nothing really to do. There’s a mall nearby but it’s meh.”
New Jersey can seem fairly mundane, especially when much of it looks like frozen wasteland in March when Miami Beach looks like, well, Miami Beach. But to be honest, what do you expect when you’re trapped in an ocean of suburb?! Now, I’m probably going to write about Urban Planning in later blog posts because it’s kind of my “thing”, but let this mini rant serve as a prelude. Like, can you name where in NJ this place is?
Even if you do, you probably can’t even point out any recognizable landmarks other than the malls and the golf courses.
Luckily, New Jersey is cozily nestled between two cities which offer great respites of land from this sea of suburbia. New York offers a whole new world of things to do, and… I’ve.. never really explored Philly so I won’t pretend to know what to do there..but I’ve been told some good things! The things to do below are hopefully not too out of the way or intimidating. Most importantly, there might be a reason you didn’t spend all that money to go-a-partying down in Cabo. For me, it was because all that money didn’t exist, so these things will also be on the cheap or even free side. We all have different definitions of cheap and expensive, so I’ll try to keep these at the range of a typical run to Applebee’s for half-price-apps so, like, $10-$30. Also side note, even though Spring Break falls on America’s celebration of Irish heritage and national drinking holiday, none of these things explicitly include alcohol. Find those types of things yourself, my twentieth birthday is next month.
New York City
We must start off with a basic one, but there’s a reason it’s here. While it doesn’t have quite the elegance and grandeur as places like the Louvre, it still manages to provide a new and unique experience every time you visit. Most importantly, it’s free (kind of, there’s a recommended donation of $25 but you can pay nothing if you wish). There’s thousands of objets d’art from all over the world on permanent exhibition, but there’s great exhibitions on display currently. There’s a particularly interesting one that centers around a Circus painting by the famous impressionist painter Seurat, though hopefully no clowns show up.
This museum is a hike, all the way out in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, but totally worth it. The land the park occupies used to be what F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Valley of Ashes in The Great Gatsby, that ash dump between the Eggs and Manhattan. Robert Moses, parks commissioner for the city, turned it into a great park for the 1939 World’s Fair. The museum was the New York City pavilion at the fair and served as the seat of the United Nations General Assembly before it’s current headquarters were built from 1946-1950. It has since been renovated to hold some interesting exhibits. Its flagship attraction is an almost ten thousand square foot panorama of the city. Truly a sight to see, it was constructed for the 1965 World’s Fair. Fair-goers could take a ride around offering a “God’s eye view” of the city. It’s not quite an exact replica – since it’s refurbishing in 1992, new buildings are slowly. In a symbolic gesture, the Twin Towers still stand where they once did, even though they’re only some 18 inches tall.
Improv @ UCB
The Upright Citizens Brigade was started by a handful of comedians in Chicago in 1980. Since then, the improv troupe has been offering classes at its four locations around the country. It is responsible for such big names as Aziz Ansari, Adam McKay, Aubrey Plaza, and Amy Poehler, who helped found the Brigade. There are two locations in New York, and while the classes require a good amount of time and money, their shows are for the most part under $10 and a good stop for some laughs.
UCB Chelsea: 307 W. 26th St, New York, NY 10001
UCB East Village: 153 East 3rd St, New York, NY 10009
There are countless places to find food in New York. Sometimes, people will have the great idea of putting a bunch of restaurants into one, big food destination. It would seem there are also countless such places in the city as well. There’s the classic Chelsea Market, two Eataly’s (for those looking for Italian food), a Le District (for French food), and many more. My personal favorite is Smorgasburg, which is essentially a gathering of the best of New York’s food truck cuisine. During the winter, Smorgasburg sets up at 1 Hanson Place in Brooklyn, but come April 1st, it moves to East River State Park in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays. Going on Saturday offers a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline and some of the best food I’ve ever had.
For those of you who are looking for a nice sit down dinner, or you’re too scared to venture into Brooklyn, the best way to go is downtown Manhattan, specifically Chinatown. Whereas meals just about everywhere else come paired with the typically exorbitant prices for food, some Chinese restaurants downtown are sometimes cheaper than the average New Brunswick meal. I personally suggest two places: Noodle Village & Great NY Noodletown, both within two blocks from each other. Both have a very cozy feeling and are good for going in groups, where dumplings can be shared and spicy food can be endured together.
Noodle Village: 13 Mott Street, New York, NY
Great NY Noodletown: 28 Bowery, New York, NY
No matter what you decide to do this spring break, I hope you have a good one!
BTW that picture above is of Bergen County, specifically the boroughs of Paramus, River Edge, and New Milford and others.