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Midtown Manhattan

Last Sunday my friend Danita and I walked a total of 10 miles around midtown Manhattan. It wasn’t exactly walking weather, very humid and temperatures topping out in the mid 80s, but it was worth it :)

First up on our list was to grab some bagels for breakfast, and then to use our tickets to the Empire State Building! We splurged for the Fast Pass tickets that took us to both the 86th and 102nd floors. We got there early enough that I initially thought it was a waste, but as we breezed through lines inside I was quickly glad we had. We had just one day in the city, I didn’t want to spend it waiting in line!

It was a bit foggy, but the views of the city were still awesome. I’m also a total sucker for Manhattan’s Art Deco buildings, of which the Empire State Building exemplifies so that was quite a treat.

A walk down 5th Avenue was next. Being me, I seem to have given myself the toy tour of 5th Avenue. We went to the biggest Build A Bear workshop in the world, the LEGO store at Rockefeller Center and of course, the epic FAO Schwarz.

Perhaps most exciting toy-wise was something I couldn’t bring home. The New York Public Library had a free exhibit on books for children, the star of which for me is the original Winnie the Pooh toys! Wow! The rest of the exhibit was great too, lots of interesting information about the evolution of books for youth and other artifacts from the history of the literature.

Around 3PM we headed over to Times Square to get some tickets to a Broadway show. I’d never been to one, so we went with a classic: Phantom of the Opera.

Tickets in hand, we hopped on the subway north to Central Park to visit the Central Park Zoo. It’s a small zoo and on such a hot day the snow leopard and polar bears were no where to be seen, but we did get to see a pair of lively red pandas, a bunch of penguins, lemurs and sea lions.

More photos from Central Park Zoo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157634442977251/

By the time we finished up at the zoo and a bit more browsing on 5th Avenue it was time to head to the theater.

As much as I love musicals, I can count the number I’ve seen live on one hand. This show immediately made it to the top of my short favorites list. Beautiful costumes and effects, great music (most of which I knew) and the whole atmosphere made for an experience you could full get lost in. I’m planning to start seeing more shows here in San Francisco.

We wrapped up the evening after the show with dinner at Jekyll and Hyde Club right near the theater. The whole place is total kitsch, filled with 19th century death, science and surgical gear themed items. Cast for the restaurant goes around to tables as various characters interacting with the guests. The food was nothing to write home about, but I ate up the dorky tourist experience.

After dinner we made our way through Times Square to the subway to get back to the hotel. It was after midnight but the lights of Times Square made it look like day time out, totally surreal. And even at that time the streets were packed with people and many of the stores still open.

More photos from our day here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157634449027980/

On Sunday morning we parted ways and by noon it was time to leave Manhattan behind and I was on my way back to San Francisco.