Recently on an exciting trip to New York City, it seemed everyone was a wide-eyed tourist. According to NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism arm, there were a record-breaking 65.2 million visitors exploring NYC in 2018. Most were out of state visitors, however there were over one millions tourists from Great Britain and China visiting “The Big Apple.”

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Fun Fact: During the 1920s The reference to “The Big Apple” was used as a reference by John J. Fitz Gerald to the city’s prominence in horse racing. It became popular in the 1970s as an advertisement campaign.

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Staying three nights at the newer Merrion Row Hotel in the Midtown area of New York City, we enjoyed the Meyer Davis designed 28 room boutique hotel. Located just two blocks from the excitement of Times Square, it’s a good and quieter location. Once inside the elegant, serene and tastefully decorated 1920s Beaux-Arts Georgian Style Row House, Irish music plays in the main rooms and the decor is reminiscent of a luxury hotel in Dublin.

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The hospitable staff speak with an pleasing Irish Brogue, as they present registering guests with a voucher for a complimentary Guinness or house Murphy Goode wine to redeem anytime during their stay. Guests also receive  complimentary Continental breakfast cards redeemable for coffee or tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, a croissant, pastry and bowl of fruit, inside the onsite Public House and Pub.

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Checking into room 204, the two leather headboards have queen size Murphy beds pulled down. These beds have premium Hypnos Lansdowne cashmere mattresses that are fitted with luxury 400-thread Egyptian cotton sheets. The newly renovated room offered a large glass window, white oak floors, plaid drapes, marble bathroom counter, elegant black and white floral tile flooring, and a black and white tiled shower with two shower heads.

Using this hotel as our home base we explored the city and discovered 10 fun things to see and do this summer:

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Purchase theatre tickets at TKTS for up to a 50% discount. The Times Square location usually has long lines for matinee and evening tickets on the day of the performance. We went to the Lincoln Center TKTS for same-day matinee and evening tickets and bought three discounted tickets to see The Prom. This location usually doesn’t have as long of a line for same day evening shows, and the booth opens earlier at 12 p.m. Be sure to get the TKTS app on your cell phone to see what shows are available for matinee and evening performances.

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For pre-theatre fare dine at the Public House inside Merrion Row Hotel. The restaurant and Irish-style pub boasts a 24 tap of craft and traditional Irish draft beers. Open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner the chefs prepare a few Irish dishes including Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips and an Irish breakfast, as well as light and healthy dishes highlighting local produce, proteins and vegetarian items, including grain bowls, soups and salads.

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Explore the newer Vessel in the Hudson Yards Public Square. This 16-story high unique beehive looking metal structure is meant to be climbed and photographed. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio it offers a new perspective of the city and Hudson River while riding the eight passenger elevator or walking up 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs. It’s a great workout stepping up and down 2,500 individual copper-clad steps and 80 landings. Entrance is free, however since this is new, you need to secure an advance timed ticket. Same-day tickets are sometimes available beginning at 9:30 a.m.

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Walking along the 1.45 mile-long High Line elevated park. It’s a peaceful spot offering art work sprinkled among flowering perennials beds, and a mix of grasses. American Sweetgum trees provide shade in sitting areas on a rail trail developed on a former New York Central Railroad. The Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck is one of the High Line’s most popular gathering spots. There are plenty of benches and lounge chairs to rest and enjoy this picturesque area of the city.

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For some retail therapy the first New York City Neiman Marcus is in the area among 100 familiar boutiques and an array of experiential and online retailers. Culinary options include Thomas Keller’s French-style Bouchon Bakery, and Mercado Little Spain where Jose Andres takes guests on an incredible vegetable journey through Spain.

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Buy a New York CityPASS to see world class art, incredible view destinations and historical attractions at a discount. We showed our CityPASS to get into the Empire State Building to ride the multimedia elevator to the 86th and 102nd floor. These observatory areas offer breathtaking 360° views of New York City and beyond.

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While it rained one day, we showed our City Pass to get into The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings, a fascinating CAMP Notes on Fashion Exhibit now through September 8, 2019, and the lively multimedia PLAY IT LOUD – Instruments of Rock and Roll on display until October 1, 2019.

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Visit the outdoor public art initiative, presented at Rockefeller Center in partnership with Frieze New York and Tishman Speyer. There are 14 international artists including Goshka Macuga, Ibrahim Mahama, Joan Miró, Paulo Nazareth, Sarah Sze, and Hank Willis Thomas. Afterwards we used our CityPASS to enter and ride the elevator up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Visitors are welcome to explore three floors 70 stories up. Unobstructed views through glass panels are on the 67th and 69th floors and the 70th floor is outdoors in the open air.

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Be sure to see the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The memorial twin bronze pools at the World Trade Center are free to see. They honor the names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks. Entrance to the 9/11 Museum is included in New York CityPASS. The 110,000 square foot building offers a collection of artifacts, video and written stories, photos, and other materials gathered from the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and honor the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

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Explore Central Park for free music and theatre. We had a picnic dinner with friends and watched a free, outdoor performance of The Importance of Being Earnest with an intriguing twist by the NY Classical cast.

Visit a culinary wonderland below The Plaza Hotel in the basement. The Plaza Food Hall is next to Central Park. Some of the fine food purveyors include Todd English Marketplace and Restaurant, and counter-style dining options including Luke’s, Vive La Crepe, Epicerie Boulud offering an assortment of breakfast foods, lunch, dinner, beverages, and merchandise.

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Next time you are in New York City visit the destinations that make this city one of the most visited cities in the world.