New York City doesn’t do low-key or subdued or understated. Those words aren’t even in its vocabulary. It’s a “Go Big or Go Home” kinda town. So it’s not difficult to imagine just how festive the Big Apple is during the holidays. From incredible light and holiday-themed displays to one-of-a-kind events and activities, New York City makes it nearly impossible to get your Grinch on. Now, there are plenty of things worth parting with your hard-earned cash for. Big-ticket events like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker are huge draws every year. But we’re here to let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the holiday season in The City That Never Sleeps.
If you’re wandering around New York City you might come across these stickers that read “Are you addicted to street art? You’re not alone. There is help! 24/7 Street Art Addiction Hotline,” followed by a phone number. I’m sure it’s just a clever street art campaign, but if your Instagram feed is anything like mine, you might wonder if this is a real thing. Because right now, there’s a LOT of street art, thanks to world-famous street artist Eduardo Kobra.
There’s always something new going on in New York City, so it takes a special event to keep the locals coming back again and again. The Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade is just such an event. Attending the parade has become one of our favorite Halloween rituals, so we were pretty brokenhearted to hear it had been canceled. Long story short, the event had become so popular that the park was requiring insurance to cover its many attendees, and the financial burden was just too great to bear.
We’ve lived in the Midwest, and we know that major cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis get all the attention. But the thing we discovered on our recent visit to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area is that it’s the underrated, sleeper Midwest hit that’s waiting to be discovered. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are referred to as the Twin Cities, but locals know they’re less like Mary Kate and Ashley and more like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. The cities offer distinctly different vibes — Minneapolis is the ultra-hip, cosmopolitan twin, while Saint Paul is the charmingly historic, elegant twin. But don’t let the sibling rivalry fool you. As the saying goes: “The best thing about Minneapolis is Saint Paul, and the best thing about Saint Paul is Minneapolis.” In short, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
You may be wondering how it was, exactly, that we ended up at an alpaca farm on a hilltop in Westchester County, smack-dab in the historic Hudson Valley region of New York State. Well, we’d tell you, but we know you wouldn’t hear a word. Your eyes have likely already jumped to those cute alpaca faces. We get it, we really do.
When we showed up at the new CitizenM Bowery Hotel for our tour of the Museum of Street Art, the chipper front desk clerk showing us the way asked, “Do you know about 5Pointz?” We excitedly proclaimed that we’d actually visited the original (which returned such a big WOW that we felt like we’d just confessed to being present when electricity was discovered). It shouldn’t be surprising. The walls of 5Pointz were whitewashed less than five years ago, but its loss was felt amongst street art lovers worldwide. It’s a local legend, and treated as such.
In the earliest days of our relationship, food was common ground. And Lynn was far and away the more experienced gastronome. She turned me on to Malaysian cuisine. She explained that the Chinese food I had been eating–and genuinely liked–was, in fact, American food, promptly taking me out for the real thing. Lynn even gave me my first bites of sushi (or should I say “attempted” bites, as I struggled mightily with chopsticks back then). There was one food, however, that needed no cross-cultural exchange, clarification, or introduction: chocolate. When it came to chocolate, we were on the same footing from the start. It’s the foodie version of a universal language, after all.
There’s a saying that goes “Ask no questions, and you’ll hear no lies”. Being duped isn’t generally what one considers a positive experience, but the Museum of Illusions might be able to convince you otherwise. Optical illusions play with motion, color, patterns and space to create images that, when processed by the brain, create a perception that doesn’t match the true image in reality. Remember the viral phenomenon of 2015 where millions of people saw a black and blue dress as white and gold? (And if you do, have you made up with all the friends and family you disagreed with?) Well, that’s just one of many examples where the eyes can deceive.
So here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve never been a fan of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but I’ve become mildly obsessed with a scripted satirical series derived from similar reality shows called UnREAL. The series ended its run recently, which made it a perfect candidate for binge watching. UnREAL isn’t easy to digest, and it features some pretty despicable characters. But it forces us to confront something we’ve all been complicit in: allowing truth and fiction to meld together to create an entertaining narrative.
We do a lot of walking when we travel. And we do so with purpose. We love architecture, urban green spaces, and the serendipity of discovery, whether that’s a neighborhood coffee shop or a bistro at the end of a nondescript alleyway. But first and foremost, we’re on the hunt for street art. There’s no better way to get a finger on the pulse of a city. Street art is an expression of a city’s past, the issues it grapples with present day, and its aspirations for the future. Through incredible initiatives such as MuralsDC, an organization collaborating with the city’s Department of Public Works and Commission on Arts and Humanities, DC has created a veritable cornucopia of street art. The goal is to replace illegal graffiti with artistic revitalization projects, and in this endeavor they have been very successful.
So whether you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for your #OOTD or you’re looking to discover some great local artists, here are some of the best places to find street art in Washington DC.