Tea and whimsy

I love afternoon tea—love-love-love it! A cuppa warm, loose-leaf goodness poured from a fun tea pot, into a fancy cup and saucer… mmmmmmmm… Alongside this wonderful beverage stands a tower of tasty treats, both savory and sweet. And to top it all off: a lovey glass of bubbly. Heaven—and worth finding the time for this little something special.

While there are many wonderful and unique tea rooms all over the world, one of my favorites just happens to be in my neighborhood: Seattle’s own Queen Mary Tea Room & Restaurant. There’s a fancy yet fun ambiance to this place: intimate, but full of celebrations in progress. And loads of tiaras…

Teas & cups

It’s easy to notice the tea room’s whimsical ambiance the moment you approach the front door. Along with a colorful board displaying the day’s specials, tea cups, mugs and a few other related items await the surrendering curiosity of a passerby. A birdcage just behind the entryway holds a few feathered friends ready to greet entering patrons.

As a recent Mother’s Day gift from my daughter, our girls’ group trio was greeted immediately by friendly servers as they made their way to and from the wonderful source of all things deliciously fragrant: the kitchen. Waiting a few moments before being seated, I couldn’t decide where to rest my eyes: on the amazing dessert case? Or on the beautiful tea cups & saucers (and mugs, and infusers and timers…) for sale? Tea party accessories just waiting for a celebration?

All caught my eye, along with the clever British décor. But what I really zeroed in on were containers of Queen Mary’s very own creations: several flavors of loose leaf teas, all in a row along the shelves and above the dessert case. This amazing lineup of choices reminded me that deciding on just one tea for today’s event would take me a few minutes…

Savories & sweets

Amazing soups, quiches and other hot dishes, along with sandwiches, salads and deliciously sweet treats are all made from scratch, right here. Each menu item for brunch, lunch or afternoon tea honors the British tea rooms and Victorian style of service.

But no worries about keeping your pinky finger in the air, or knowing which fork to use. The staff is smiling and friendly, and very eager to walk anyone through the menu’s courses and choices. And trust me—your selection is worth a few moments of assistance.

And the most convenient part? My tea mates and I didn’t have to partner up. For instance, two of us could order from the lunch menu, while one of us chooses afternoon tea. As in a tower of treats for one! And of course, tea selections are individually brewed. This visit I picked Mango Passion Fruit Black Tea. Very flavorful!

In the end, all three of us chose Queen Mary’s delectable afternoon tea (along with a glass of Bellini🥂), but their lunch items are very wonderful as well. I enjoyed the Vegetarian Quiche and salad on a previous visit—and a ginormous sugar cookie too, along with the Queen’s Royal Afternoon Black Tea—and a glass of Prosecco.

If you find yourself eager to try other tea flavors, not to worry. Servers meander between the tables every so often sharing tea samples with restaurant patrons. It’s a great way to discover a flavor to enjoy at your next visit. Or pick up at her tea emporium across the street…

Crowns & wares

Less than a block from the Queen Mary Tea Room & Restaurant awaits a very special store. Not only does the Queen Mary Tea Emporium sell all teas featured on the restaurant’s menu, it sells the whimsy too.

Items such as children’s tea party sets, festive celebratory accessories like tiaras or fancy small hats, hair combs and handkerchiefs, books, tea pots, cups and saucers, travel mugs, and of course tea—lots and lots and lots of Queen Mary’s finest—await eager tea enthusiasts: flavored black teas, green, white, rooibos, chai–and many more.

Once inside, it’s easy to lose track of time, but you won’t mind too much. I never do, and I always find something I didn’t know I needed until then… be it a gift for a friend or more tea for me, it truly is a fun store to shop. But if you swing by the store before your restaurant reservations, heads up: keep an eye on the clock. You don’t want to be late for tea… J ☕️

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Cashmere’s famous confections

If you’re driving along Washington’s Highway 2/97 and find yourself looking for a sweet stop, then perhaps you are heading to Cashmere.

Located along the southeast corner of the Cascade Loop, mountains and hills give way to the hidden valley of Cashmere, its quaint town surrounded by dozens of fruit orchards and the meandering Wenatchee River.

But what is it that makes this place soooooo sweet? A well known candy factory. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: Aplets & Cotlets

The history

Founded in 1920, these world famous confections have enjoyed success for almost 100 years. And it all began with a friendship.

Meeting in Seattle, Armenian immigrants Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban became friends, eventually purchasing a Cashmere apple farm they renamed Liberty Orchards.

But beginning a fruit business on the heels of WWI meant getting creative with surplus produce. Among their many ideas came one from their childhood: to recreate a favorite candy they called Rahat Locoum—more commonly known as Turkish Delight.

After trying out a few recipes with the locals, they hit upon one that became an instant favorite. Combining apple pectin with walnuts, sugar and other key ingredients, Aplets were born. Cashmere citizens were enjoying this new delicious treat, and began sharing it with friends and family far away.

A few years later, Cotlets—apricot based—joined in on the fun. Adding a mail order business to the mix helped the fans out of town keep their favorite treats in stock. Other family members joined Liberty Orchards, keeping the business humming. And successful trips to two “local” world fairs (Seattle 1962 and Spokane 1974) gave visitors from outside the US a taste of Cashmere goodness.

The candy

Inside the gift shop, eye candy is everywhere—in the form of beautifully wrapped boxes of Aplets & Cotlets. And several new flavors like Blueberry & Almond, which I sampled and fell in love with (and later purchased). Peach, assorted berries, pineapple and other tropical fruits also found representation on the many shelves.

Just in case you’re hoping for chocolate, they feature the chocolatey coated variety. And if you’re looking for sugar free, yes, they have that as well. But one thing you won’t find in their candies: preservatives. It’s Liberty Orchards way of keeping it real.

Lots of other souvenirs too, like the pin I purchased for The Ugly Scarf’s growing collection. And I was greeted by friendly employees who gladly offered me a factory tour. After watching the five-minute video in the back of the store, I put on my complimentary hair net and in we went.

The factory

Clean. Very-very-very clean! Light and bright from floor to ceiling, the ginormous kitchen features state-of-the-art equipment. The kettles, when containing a candy batch in progress, are paired up with a stirring device that better resembles an outboard motor than a mixer.

Poured into a giant jelly roll-like pan, the yummy contents are smoothed out and covered in plastic wrap and set aside to cool. When ready, the entire sheet of sweet is turned out onto a belt as it’s coated on all sides with powdered sugar. Then, it heads for the cutter! The now bite-sized pieces fall into a tub, eventually making their way—by hand—into the decorative candy boxes.

Oh, but there’s one last stop before hitting the sales floor: a metal detector. Nothing besides the candy and the designated paper items belong inside the box tray, and only plastic wrap is added to the outside. In the unlikely event the detector is triggered, that box is kicked out and the entire production line stops for inspection.

Back inside the gift shop, I couldn’t help but add a few more items to my purchase. Yes, I did realize I could buy Aplets & Cotlets at my own neighborhood store, but I was enjoying cutting out the shipping process myself…

July through September, the factory sees its fair share of double shifts; production is almost a round-the-clock event. After all, the holidays are just around the corner. And I know just what I want in my Christmas stocking.

But until then, I’ll just have to shop for myself: at my corner store, or perhaps I’ll place an order online. Or take another drive to the southeast corner of the Cascade Loop… J 🍎

 

Awaiting grape things

Ah, springtime… Well into the season, everything’s abloom. It’s fun to happen upon flowers, fully awake from their long winter’s nap, sporting vibrant colors as the birds and bees do their thing, performing for Mother Nature.

Fields, on the other hand, seem a little quite. Cleaned up and seeded, they play a bit of a waiting game before taking center stage in autumn. For me, grapevines fall into this category.

Branches trimmed, far from sprouting their signature coils and marbles of fruity goodness, appear rather dormant. But when I take a closer look, I can see the subtle beginnings of their amazing journey…

The wine

East of the Cascades, Interstate 90 and the Columbia River meet up very near a favorite place of mine: Cave B. Next door neighbors to the Gorge Amphitheatre, Cave B’s 100+ acres of AVA vines enjoy one of the best views in the state.

Conveniently, Cave B has two tasting rooms where you can sample the fruits of their labor: one in Woodinville—quite the hub for wine tasting—and one in Quincy—nestled in full view of their vines. Wanting to hit the road for a girls weekend, their vineyard locale in Quincy was an easy choice…

Pulling into the property, I noticed how well the buildings—rounded and earth toned—blend in with the rocky, sage covered hillsides. Beautiful! Entering the large, circular tasting room, we found a lively group of patrons enjoying their wine flights. Before approaching the bar, we perused the merchandise.

Wine selections complete, we carried our glasses outside. What an amazing view! Sipping our vino as the sun was setting behind Cave B’s own Stage B Amphitheater, we couldn’t think of a better way to relax. Ah—but time to check in…

The inn

Just down the hill from the tasting room sits the Cave B Inn & Spa Resort. Elegant and unassuming, the lobby, restaurant—and each room—face the Columbia River and accompanying desert terrain. For the adventurous, hiking trails will take you all the way to the water. But for a little relaxation and pampering, there’s always the spa.

Talk about picturesque! The rooms blend in beautifully with the rocky hillsides. After checking in, we drove down a narrow road to our Cavern Room and dropped off our things. Floor-to-ceiling windows allowed us to continue enjoying the view. But we were getting hungry, so up the hill and through the grapevines we walked until we came to the restaurant…

Just off the lobby, we found Tendrils. Matching the inn’s motif, the restaurant and bar feature delicious food and beverage choices, which made narrowing down our selections a bit of a challenge—a good problem to have. We enjoyed chatting with the staff, trying their recommendations of wine pairings when we just couldn’t decide…

Tendrils also features a sit down breakfast Monday-Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. The bar also serves coffee drinks. I loved sipping my hand crafted latte on their patio!

The terrain

Between meals (and wine tasting), we walked the property and hiking trails for a bit of exercise. There’s something very relaxing and peaceful about the desert spring air and rocky hillsides that surround the vineyard and inn.

The vines, looking more brown than green at this stage, still proved fascinating. Signage helped us identify wine grapes “in progress” nearest to the inn, which gave our imaginations something to look forward.

In a world of instant gratification, the wine grapes remind us that they will take the seasons they need to prepare for their own showtime. It’s as if they were saying to us, “Please be patient. Good things come to those who wait.” Sound advice from our vineyard friends… J 🍷

The Wild West

“Wide, open spaces.” “Riding off into the sunset.” “Go west, young man.” When you hear these old familiar phrases, what comes to mind? For me—rugged terrain, dusty trails, ghost towns, saloons, wooden facades, careworn faces, tumbleweeds…and land. Lots of land, as far as the eye can see. Over the last couple of centuries, the quest to defend or claim the land “out west” has flavored our history books, stage and TV shows, and of course the silver screen.

Legends—part truth, part romance—helped immortalize the historical events that shaped this southwest corner of today’s United States. My recent visit to southern Arizona gave me a chance to see for myself how this desert way of life preserves some of its past in the present..

Whimsical history

Ever heard of the O.K. Corral—or Boothill? Well, a shootout near one lead to a few burials at the other, all in the city of Tombstone, “The town too tough to die.” A three-hour drive south of Phoenix placed us squarely back in time—1881 to be more specific. Our first stop: the Boothill Graveyard.

It’s first official name was the Tombstone Cemetery, giving a final resting place to many of the town’s early inhabitants. From 1878 until the late 1880s, law abiding citizens and criminals alike were buried here until a new cemetery opened in a different part of town. Very soon, the incoming population of what became known as “the old cemetery” slowed down considerably.

After decades of neglect, tremendous effort on the part of many local individuals and historians brought this burial site back to life (so to speak), replacing what was left of the old wooden markers with stone lookalikes. The name Boothill, most likely a product of the early western cinemas, stuck.

Walking the cemetery, plot guidebooks in hand, we learned a bit about how and why some of Boothill’s occupants met their demise. The harsh terrain surrounding this place was a grave reminder to me of just how tough day-to-day living could be, all those years ago.

Our guidebook indicated a few slightly familiar names located in Row 2: the Clantons and the McLaurys. Three of them died October 26, 1881—shot to death—in a vacant lot just behind a rather famous landmark: the O.K. Corral.

In 1877, Tombstone became a boomtown, thanks to its founder Ed Schieffelin and his discovery of silver. Even in the days before cell phones and social media, news traveled fast—that is, when instantaneous potential wealth was at stake.

Prospectors and other opportunists arrived by the hundreds, ready to seek their fortune. And this eclectic collection of people, massed in such a concentrated area, experienced their fare share of trouble. Enter, stage left, a trio of brothers: the McLaurys and the Clantons—the cowboys, and the Earps, along with one Doc Holliday—the law.

Weeks of heated arguments between the two sides culminated in a gunfight that somehow became famous. The location: a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral. After just 30 seconds, Frank & Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead. We timed our visit just right…

Entering the O.K. Corral’s arena, we purchased tickets that also included a 24-minute multimedia presentation of the town’s history, along with a live outdoor stage re-enactment of the gunfight. We climbed into the grandstands and took our seats, awaiting an infamous fight.

As instructed by “the law,” we cheered for Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil & Morgan, and Doc Holliday. And booed “cowboys” Frank & Tom McLaury, and Billy & Ike Clanton. Before the first bullet flew, Ike managed to run to safety, but the rest of his clan were not so lucky.

Post “gunfight,” we enjoyed the theatre and the museum grounds, as well as walking around Tombstone, visiting its many shops and other attractions. We even stopped by their local newspaper office—now a museum too—with plenty of printed history and items to peruse.

Leaving town, we had a newfound appreciation for our automobile, giving us the opportunity to ride off—comfortably—into the sunset…

Wild beauty

Have you ever seen a saguaro cactus? As in up close? Found only in the Sonoran Desert, this monumental symbol of the Southwest can grow to over 40 feet tall and live close to 200 years. Scottsdale’s Pinnacle Peak Park fast became my favorite way to walk among these beautiful giants.

Entering the trail head, we began our climb toward the peak. Expertly maintained, the path wove us through a terrain featuring several different cactus types, along with many other desert dwelling plants and shrubbery. The trail also provided our mini hike with rock formations, informational placards—and one stunning view after another!

But, for me, the stars of the show were the saguaro. Striking in every way, their stillness was almost statue like. Given their height, they could very well dominate their surroundings—only they didn’t. Instead, saguaros were living in harmony with their trail neighbors—flora and fauna alike.

Western eatery

Whenever I’m in this part of the world, I use my internal divining rod of hunger (and my phone’s GPS) to locate the nearest In-N-Out Burger. This restaurant chain of fresh deliciousness has fed hungry burger fanatics “out west” since 1948. And—yippee!—there’s one in Scottsdale!

It’s a simple menu too: just three combo meals offered, but served up perfectly every time by a truly friendly and professional staff. And their eateries are always clean, inside and out. My go-to order: Combo #2 Cheeseburger, fries and a drink—usually iced tea for me… as always, it hit the spot.

There’s something magical about Arizona’s wide open spaces. The rugged beauty, the wild history and the sheer grit people needed (all those years ago) just to survive. Be it silver, lots of land or other opportunities, I wonder—in the 1800s—what did the residents think of their surroundings? If only the old saguaro could talk… J 🌵

 

 

Fins in Phoenix

If anyone would have told me I’d find some of the world’s largest known sea creatures in Arizona, I would’ve said that’s quite a fish story. But I was set straight one soggy afternoon when an outdoor baseball game gave us a rain check, leaving us to visit more indoor options. Like water…

While this corner of the world is well known for hot sunny days, it is—after all—part of a desert. So the nights can be chilly. And when it rains, it pours. A rainy March day in the Phoenix area means spring training is benched, leaving baseball fans to seek out other activities. For me, visiting family, I was in good hands. Their plan B? The OdySea Aquarium.

Flippers & fins

Because we weren’t the only sports enthusiasts seeking an indoor something-to-do, there was a bit of a line for tickets. But we didn’t queue up for long. The booth was fully staffed, and ready for our spontaneous purchase. When we entered, the first thing to greet us was a monster fish.

Suspended from the lobby ceiling, this monster gazes upon all who dare enter its domain. Kind of hard to miss. Making our way to the escalator, we climbed up a floor to begin our visit with other giants, as well as sturgeons, piranhas, paddlefish and rays.

As we made our way around the tanks, I noticed superhero themed information cards at several viewpoints. Up to this point, I’d never compared an Archer Fish to The Green Arrow. Rather clever! And then there’s the sharks. Wow. Teeth. Lots. And some intensely cold hard stares…

I love sea turtles. And freshwater ones. And I most definitely appreciate the rescue efforts being made on their behalf. In other tanks, it was fun to watch the Asian Small-clawed Otters in action, as well as the sea lions and penguin clans. Soooo adorable!

Fur & feathers

Serving as ambassadors to their water based buddies, some tropical birds have made a home for themselves in OdySea. Attempting a staring contest with the macaws proved futile; they won. The shyness of the cockatoo was adorable, but the toucan had no problem showing off.

Sometimes it’s tough to see a critter who’s snoozing, but the super cute two-toed sloth was kind enough to take his nap in a basket near the glass wall. What an excellent vantage point! There’s something about an uber fuzzy sleeping ball of fluff that made every passerby utter “Awwwwwww!”

We continued our visit to each window, easily navigating our way around. We soon found ourselves at the dive tank, and watched a few brave visitors—wearing ginormous dive helmets—interact with some very curious fish.

The escalator took us back downstairs to the larger exhibits, such as OdySea’s Voyager rotating theatre, where we could see the bigger critters like sharks, sea turtles and sea lions do their thing.

Having enjoyed the last tank, we headed through the gift shop to the exit. My favorite exhibit? The jellyfish. So gracefully elegant…

Fun & flavors

Our aquatic visit over, we met friends at a very “green” themed locale: Irish Wolfhound Pub. Arriving just in time for the Irish folk band’s opening number, we enjoyed dinner from the game room—but within earshot of the band—allowing us to hear our own lively conversations.

I chose the Irish Wolfhound Burger, which included one of my favorite cheeses: Irish Cheddar. My drink of choice? An Irish coffee. Not your typical burger beverage, but delicious nonetheless.

Even though our day in the Phoenix area didn’t include an afternoon at the ballpark, or a game-delectable hot dog, it did include an excellent plan B combo: a wonderful aquarium visit and a yummy (cheesy!) burger. And just a few puddles in the parking lot… J 🦈

 

My Big Apple favorites

Dining out? Facing a googolplex of options? Italian, French, Korean, Slavic, American, and so on…? Enjoying a ginormous park in the middle of a vast metropolis? Perhaps discovering a quaint, beautifully maintained zoo (or two) inside the park? You just might be in New York City.

Home to hundreds of restaurants and scores of parks, NYC’s theatre district showcases dozens of on-and-off Broadway productions. Finding yourself in The Big Apple also means plenty of bars, pubs and fancy cafes where one can enjoy a favorite coffee or nightcap, or a fancy new boozy beverage.

So many options! Only your available moments limit your choices. Let me share with you a few of my favorite discoveries…

A ghost

Open year around, the Central Park Zoo is home to some very special critters. Like playful sea lions. Fancy peacocks. And the elusive snow leopard. Referred to as a “ghost cat” in the 2013 movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, this beautiful hunter seemed in sync with its wintery surroundings.

Visiting the zoo in early March meant cold weather for us, but also smaller crowds. Bundling up, we were able to visit each group of animals with ease, having great vantage points at every stop.

When we were ready to warm up a bit, we ducked into the Tropic Zone. Adjusting to the immediate climate change by removing our coat-glove-scarf combos, we discovered the occupants to be just as welcoming as the temperature. They seemed just as curious about us as we were about them.

A legend

Still inside Central Park—just outside the Tisch Children’s Zoo—stands a very special statue: Balto. Famous for leading his sled team in the final 53 mile stretch of snow-blinding wild Alaska wilderness (destination Nome) January 1925, this Siberian Husky and his pack won the hearts of people all over the world. Their cargo? Medicine, desperately needed to battle a diphtheria outbreak.

Their successful impossible mission inspired New Yorkers to commission this statue that very same year; a beautiful monument to all the sled teams—all the people and dogs who saved the lives of Nome’s children. Having enjoyed the 1995 animated movie “Balto” that featured a cameo of this statue, it was exciting for me to see it in person.

A queen

In step with our winter theme, we headed for the St. James theatre and Disney’s production of “Frozen” on Broadway. Having enjoyed Disney’s movie version—and its cruise line musical version—we were curious; how would it transition to this world famous entertainment capital? Answer: beautifully!

Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, and all their friends took to the stage, sharing their story in both familiar and new ways. Similar to Disney’s at-sea production, this bold version adds new songs, and tells the tale in a way that appeals to Frozen fanatics without leaving any Frozen newbies in the cold. We absolutely loved it.

A plate

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon tea, but the Russian Tea Room provided a unique first for me: caviar atop a mini pancake. Delicious! Another first: sour cherries to flavor the tea. Also delicious! RTR has treated NYC restaurant patrons for almost one hundred years. We truly enjoyed wonderful food and fantastic service in this beautifully appointed room.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a plate of linguini and a glass of vino to sing my soul to sleep. Biricchino Italian Restaurant—definitely a Chelsea neighborhood gem—features flavorfully fresh ingredients woven into pasta perfection. Lots of other amazing dishes too, but my favorite is the linguini with clams…ahhhhh…

And sometimes there’s nothing better than simplicity. A simple menu, a perfect cut of beef and a side of crispy French fries. And in this case, the fries really are French. Entering Le Relais de Venise and glancing at the paintings, you might think for a moment that Italian is the cuisine. Even the name might suggest so, but it’s only a nod to a street in Paris. The menu is set; the server asks only how you’d like your meat prepared.

Enjoying our green salads with a glass of beautiful French wine, and awaiting the main course, we began to relax in this place of clean and simple elegance. The price is no nonsense too; very reasonable. Wonderful food and excellent service, Le Relais de Venise is a fun place for me to revisit every time I’m in The Big Apple.

In search of something hot and nourishing one chilly evening, we headed out for a big bowl of soup. Thankfully we found our savory broth at Miss Korea. Just a block from the Hyatt Herald Square—our very comfy hotel—we didn’t wait long for a table, despite the restaurant’s obvious popularity.

Each of us ordered the beef bone broth. Soooooo gooooood! That, along with delicious house barley tea and fresh sides; we ate like royalty.

When you’re in the mood for something sweet—a ginormous something sweet—I suggest paying a visit to Levain Bakery. Lots of delectable goodies, and coffee drinks too, but you owe it to yourself to try their signature item: the chocolate chip cookie. Quite possibly the biggest chocolate chip cookies in the city, this bakery doesn’t just go for size; it goes for quality too.

The line is always out the door here, no matter the weather, so be sure to pack your patience as you wait for your turn at the counter. It will be worth the wait. Trust me.

In addition to purchasing one cookie each to enjoy right away, we picked up a dozen to share with friends and family back home. And by some miracle, two chairs freed up at their small dining counter just as we made our purchase, allowing us to enjoy the atmosphere (as well as our lattes and cookies) as we awaited our pink box of take-home goodies.

A drink

When it’s time for a spirited beverage (before, during or after dinner), I recommend Crimson and Rye. There are tables available, but our preference is to take a seat at the semicircular bar. We love to watch the mixologists in action as we nosh on bar food while enjoying our libations. This visit, I chose an Irish Coffee. Yummy stuff!

As you might have guessed, narrowing my favorites list for NYC was not easy. Not a bad problem to have… J 🍪

 

NYCity High Line

I love New York! In the city that never sleeps, it’s rather easy to find food, entertainment, attractions and activities that speak to all people and budgets.

It can be overwhelming, given all the choices, but if you’re willing to humor yourself with a mere sample of what NYC has to offer, you’ll be just fine.

Lots of transportation choices too for getting around, but my favorite way is to walk. Simply put, I can see more of the town (while I bank more steps to my FitBit).

On a recent March trip to the Big Apple, my travel companion and I challenged ourselves to reach all our city destinations on foot. A bit of a lofty dare, given winter was in no hurry to leave. But one route in particular made our Chelsea District adventures a pleasure: an elevated path known as The High Line.

The walkway

From our hotel—the perfectly placed Hyatt Regent Square—we headed west along W 30th Street. Picking up an access stairwell at 10th Avenue, we soon found ourselves at one of the most beautiful urban walkways I’ve ever seen.

Repurposing an old elevated railway line, Friends of the High Line and the City of New York created a uniquely clever public park—one that showcases a bit of its history along with some very modern urban art.

The scenery

The view from the walkway features a few key signature NYC skyline items, such as the Empire State Building and the Hudson River. But this long-and-lean park also grants one-of-a-kind views that highlight artistically painted buildings (and some “unofficial” art) we encountered along the way.

Not to be outdone by objects outside the park, The High Line is home to many cleverly displayed works of art created just for the walkway. Beautiful in their own right, all artwork inside this public space complimented the surroundings perfectly, without being distracting.

The factory

Ever heard of the National Biscuit Company? Perhaps if I shortened its name: Nabisco. That’s right—from the 1890s to the 1950s, Oreos, Premium Saltine Crackers and other iconic baked goods were manufactured here at this location.

In the 1990s, this factory site was given a facelift, and Chelsea Market was born. Exiting The High Line at W 17th Street, we entered the old brick building ready to explore.

Similar to The High Line in shape, Chelsea Market stretches the long way between 9th and 10th streets, running parallel between W 15th and 16th. Much of the old brick walls and concrete flooring that once housed flour and giant bakery equipment now hold exciting specialty shops and fun restaurants.

Walking through the market, I loved discovering showcases of local and factory history. But what really caught my eye was how one piece of old plumbing was turned into an indoor urban waterfall. Pretty cool! Also cool: seeing old Nabisco ads—painted onto the brick—as active participants of the market’s décor.

We grabbed matcha green tea lattes (and pastries!) at Chalait, then headed back to The High Line. Finding a bench in the sun, we enjoyed our well earned treats.

Returning to Chelsea Market the following three days via our new favorite walkway, we enjoyed brunching at Friedmans Lunch. And shopping! We visited many stores and stands, making purchases at Artists and Fleas, Pearl River Mart and Chelsea Wine Vault.

Inclement weather can limit access to The High Line—something we discovered one icy morning—but the park’s crew works hard to keep the walkway open, and the stairwells and elevators in good condition, maintaining safety for its patrons.

Now that spring is in the air, walking outside is a little more comfortable. So if you find yourself in NYC this season, and fancy a stroll with a view, head to The High Line. My new favorite urban walk. J 👣