About Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.
Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.
She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
Latest Posts by Jessica Tiare Bowen
Ever have a passion for beach music, deep sea fishing, and a toes-in-the-sand-drink-in-my-hand? A fitting destination to match this is Key West in southern Florida. We spent about a week there recently and here’s my fun recap of 10 things I loved about the island.
1. Key Lime Pie
I tried all kinds of key lime things–chocolate dipped ice cream pies, key lime cocktails, key lime crepes, key lime cheesecake–but my favorite was the original key lime pie from the Six-Toed Cat cafe. Hint: I asked local shop owners where the best pie on the island was, and this is where we were directed. I couldn’t have agreed more!
2. The Conch Train
I always make a point of jumping on a tour when visiting a new place. Key West’s tour de force is the Conch Train, a guided trolly tour that takes you all around the island, sharing bits of history, trivia, and insider’s knowledge along the way (how much do you love garbage cans used only for coconuts?!) Bonus: with the temperature situated around 80 degrees, the open-air trolly provided a breezy and comfortable alternative to walking!
3. The Hemingway House
The famed writer Ernest Hemingway spent many years on the island, nestled in his writing studio (pictured above) every morning at 6 am, hitting 700 words or lunch, whichever came first. A visit to the house comes with a guided tour, featuring lots of anecdotes on the writer’s life, and many wives, too! You also get plenty of opportunities to pet descendants of his original 6 toe cats. And yes, the offspring got the 6 toe gene, too!
4. Sidewalk Poets
Outside the Hemingway House sits local poets, who you can hire (at whatever donation you choose!) to compose a poem for you or a loved one on any topic you choose. Such a cool concept (and the poet was REALLY good–I had her write a love poem to the hubs back in NYC, which is now framed in our living room!), and makes for a much more interesting souvenir than say, a Key West shot glass.
5. Cuban Coffee
We started each day with the stuff that fuels the locals: Cuban coffee. It’s all over the island, but my very favorite place to get it was 5 Brothers. Get yourself a small coffee and egg and cheese sandwich, and you’ll be set for a full afternoon of lounging on the beach…or anything else that may come your way.
6. The Southernmost Point
When in Paris, Eiffel Tower. When in NYC, Empire State Building. And when in Key West–the Southernmost Point Buoy! This is the spot that marks as far south as you can go in the continental states (well, that tourists are actually allowed to visit–the true southernmost point is on a restricted naval base!) There’s even a live streaming webcam that shows the incredible line of people waiting to take their photo by the buoy!
7. Smathers Beach
Unlike the Hamptons where a day pass on the beach can easily set you back $50, this gorgeous beach in Key West is absolutely free to the public. Plenty of sun, and palm trees, as well, to enjoy a full day of swimming, reading, and napping.
8. Live Music, Everywhere
You couldn’t walk down a main street in Key West without hearing bands and musicians playing–Duval Street being the most famous (complete with its own webcam, too!) I really dug Sloppy Joes, but I promise, just follow the music and there’s no way to go wrong.
9. The Cutest Houses You Ever Did See
Entire afternoons can be spent strolling up and down the residential streets in Key West, taking in the adorable gingerbread-like houses, complete with brightly painted shutters and orchids growing everywhere. Rent a bike for an afternoon and take it all in!
10. Little White House
President Truman first started using this “little white house” as his winter retreat back in 1946, and today it’s been restored to its original glory (read: exactly how it looked when Truman was using it, so cool!), and opened as a museum to tourists and locals.
Have you ever been to Key West? What were your favorite things?
A very special thank you to the wonderful folks at Historic Tours of America!
I’m not a huge fan of restaurants that don’t take reservations, and I’m even less of a fan when there’s a 1.5 hour wait. Outside. In the cold. But Tea & Sympathy has been on my afternoon tea radar for sometime, and seeing as how we blocked off the entire Saturday afternoon for the small pleasures of scones and British accents, we wo-manned up and stuck out the wait (this was a few weeks ago, on one of those 17 degree days…pity party, table of 3 please!)
Not only does the cafe not take rezzies, they also don’t have a proper list where they write your name down in order of appearance…it’s all done on the honor system of who-got-here-first, which can be a bit confusing when there’s a large crowd of people milling outside the cafe. And every time someone would ask how long the wait was the standard response was “30-45 minutes” (even after we had been standing there over an hour.)
Oh! And your entire party MUST be present when they finally do get around to calling your name, or else they skip right on over to the next group. Important to know that you can’t just leave one person there to hold the spot while the rest of the group window shops the West Village, as was my original idea;-)
With all these rules that go directly against my Type-A personality, I was prepared to dislike Tea & Sympathy, I really was. Once we finally were called in, fingers full of frostbite, tummies a’ grumbling, I was muttering “this better be the best scone I’ve ever put in my mouth after that nonsense”–(what can I say? NYC has robbed me of my patience.)
Now–I can’t say for sure if I was so cold and ravished by the time we sat down that anything would have tasted like the best scone ever, or if it really was the best scone + clotted cream + jam ever, but it was a really enjoyable tea. (Tea turned dinner at this point–and the veggie pie was really hearty and delicious, too!)
Do you frequent places that don’t take reservations, and if so, what’s the longest you’re willing to wait? Let’s chat in the comments below!
Going out to eat should be just as much about the experience as it is the food. These three do it for me, every time.
Freemans: For Comfort Food Classics and a Cozy Downtown Vibe
Tucked down a little alley in the Lower East Side, this restaurant embodies classic Americana–the dishes here are simple, rustic, and inspired by old world traditions. Think: ooey-gooey mac-n-cheese, butternut squash schnitzle, and wild rice crispy treats. Produce is all sourced locally in New York, and the interior design makes me want to wrap up in a big wool sweater, sipping cocktails well past brunch.
Panna II: For Indian Staples With The Most Festive Atmosphere You’ll Find This Side Of Bengal
This is my go-to restaurant anytime there’s a reason to bust out the bubbly and get silly on a budget: birthdays, engagements, TGIF…you name it! Kitschy as it is, I adore this pepper-light strewn, BYOB restaurant, complete with upbeat staff who will ensure every visit feels like a reason to celebrate. The dishes are your typical Indian fare–but so good–and plenty of options for vegetarians.
ABC Kitchen: For High-Quality Dishes You Can Feel Good About Eating
I believe the exact words uttered the first time I ate at ABC were “Best. Salad. Ever.” And coming from a vegetarian who eats LOTS of greens, this is a big, bold statement. With Jean-Georges name behind it, you can be assured your seasonally inspired meal is going to shine, and the all white decor is as fresh as the farm-to-table goodness you’ll be putting in your mouth.
This round-up was inspired by citizenMag’s article on their Top 3 restaurants in Glasgow, which challenged me to come up with my own guide for New York.
We’d love to know…if you had to pick your top 3 restaurants in your city, what would they be? Share below!
I really dig the idea of anything in NYC being labeled “Quiet Zone.” I mean, you can probably count the zones on one hand–libraries, churches, a late-night subway ride above 125th street–so I was quite pleased to see that Central Park has its own little 6 acre quiet zone too, The Conservatory Garden!
On Easter weekend the hubs and I took a rainy day stroll up the east side of Central Park until we reached the entrance to the garden at 105th street and 5th avenue. It was exceptionally quiet that day, because along with the quiet zone rule, we were also the only people in the garden! A whole Italian, French, and English garden combo, set right here in NYC, all to ourselves!
As you can see, we probably didn’t pick the best time to make the trek–after the long winter virtually nothing was in bloom, and April showers were in full force. I’d imagine a bit later in the season it will be stunning though, and the perfect place to escape with a spring read. Oh, and unexpected bonus: the public restrooms are shockingly clean!;-)
Where do you go when you need a little quiet time? Share below!
Frank Sinatra called New York “our town.” Combine that pure city love, soulful voice, and the bluest of blue eyes, and you have yourself THE American icon, who can be celebrated in New York City. The NYPL for the Performing Arts is commemorating the Frank Sinatra Centennial with a beautifully curated free exhibit through September 4th, showcasing 100 years of Frankie’s legacy.
The exhibit has never-before-seen photos, family mementos, artwork, outfits, video interviews, and of course, music galore. You’ll learn a host of new things (Frankie was a painter! Frankie was a film star! Frankie was the original “The Voice”!)
I particularly liked the interactive nature of the exhibit–there was one station where you could actually mix Frankie’s music yourself, a large jukebox where you could choose any and every Sinatra song ever made to play throughout the room, a huge wall filled with TV’s showing Sinatra in concert, and my personal favorite–a karaoke-like booth where you can record your voice singing New York, New York along with Sinatra’s. Swoon!
In addition to the exhibit, you can also stroll the streets of NYC and Hoboken, NJ, (Frankie’s birth place), checking out all his favorite haunts with this free walking tour. I, for one, can’t wait to check out Patsy’s for some of that legendary Italian food he loved!
In celebration of the centennial, there’s a host of free public programs also celebrating Ol’ Blue Eyes, from films to concerts to sing-a-longs, New York is paying tribute to the one who made popular our very own theme song, New York, New York. And for that, we thank you, Frankie.
Fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series will be aware that, unlike its two predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises was filmed in New York City in addition to having scenes shot in locations as varied as India, Italy, and the UK. But what can Bat-crazed visitors to New York get up to when they’ve seen the locations where the Dark Knight rose? Here are some ideas to get you started.
New York is full of fantastic casinos, so take the opportunity to visit them and play some games. One of the most famous is the Resorts World Casino on Rockaway Boulevard. You can enjoy everything from slots to roulette, and the casino has over 2,200 machines to choose from. Take your friends for dinner, drinks, and some games for a truly memorable night.
Choose between the Times Square and Fifth Avenue casino floors.
If you haven’t packed a suit however, you can always stay in your hotel room, logon at Mr Smith Casino and play The Dark Knight Rises online. Order some drinks and food, kick back and have some late night fun, Gotham style.
Have a few drinks and a lot of laughs.
Not only does it have a perfect name, the Gotham Comedy Club is a legendary venue that has hosted some true comedy greats. It was initially formed in 1996 and located on West 22nd Street before a 2006 move to West 23rd. Superstars like Louis C.K., Nick Cannon, and Dave Chappelle perform at the club, and it has hosted TV and movie cameras more than once. If you recognize the interior from your TV, it could be because Live at Gotham is shot here by Comedy Central. Cult hit Curb Your Enthusiasm started out here: its pilot was filmed in the club.
There are a few rooms to choose from, including the Vintage Lounge and the Metropolitan Room, so book a table today and enjoy a night of luxury and laughter. The Joker would be proud!
Whatever you do in New York, it’s sure to be memorable, so make the most of it!
Contributed by Miia Karttunen
When narrowing down choices for a laid back, drivable, not-too-far-from-NYC-where-we-can-also-bring-our-dog getaway, I was thrilled when the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael’s, Maryland popped up. It’s the same gorgeous spot where the movie Wedding Crashers was shot!
The inn is pet friendly, and incredibly friendly to your pets! (Pet parents will automatically know the importance here!) While once upon a time I was able to sneak my sweet chihuahua in just about anywhere, in his older age he’s become much more, shall we say, vocal. If I were to leave him in a strange room for more than a few minutes, his chirping (the cute little noise he makes when he barks, but sounds much more like a chirp!) begins. Impossible to hide. Which makes finding properties where we can bring him along, comfortably, a bit of a challenge.
We were chuffed to find out the inn only has you pay $100 pet fee (for the entire stay!), and also treats your pooch like royalty. I’m talking doggie cookies, bathroom bags, water at your front door, and so many hugs and kisses and scratches throughout the day. They even had a doggy menu you could order from! And our own little fenced-in backyard for Gills to romp around! I’m pretty sure Gillman thought this was a spa vacation just for him.
Besides not having to stress about the comfort of our 14 year old chihuahua (which was huge, as you pet parents will agree), the inn offers lots of other goodies for a relaxing retreat: the essentials, such as a spa, seasonal outdoor pool, delicious restaurant, casual pub, and fitness center, along with nice bonuses such as gorgeous gardens, waterside location, and both complimentary bikes and boat docking.
The town of St. Michael’s is quaint and walkable, full of just enough cafes, boutiques, and antique stores to fill an afternoon stroll. All this in under a 4 hour drive from NYC. Kinda perfect, eh?
My favorite part? Sitting by the roaring fireplace in the lobby, playing board games and drinking wine–the ultimate rest and recharge. With little man on my lap, of course.
Have you been on any pet-friendly getaways lately? Share below!
Let’s talk openly for a minute: what is your thing that you just don’t enjoy, that you feel like most everyone in the world is totally into? My mom absolutely detests graduation ceremonies (too bad she had 4 kids!), my husband practically breaks out in hives if I suggest going to an Irish pub, and my girlfriend Michelle hates any and all sweets (seriously, who hates sweets?!)
And me? My thing is skiing. Now–I’ve tried skiing a handful of times over my life, and as much as I think I should like it (it’s a lifetime hobby! such good exercise! great for winter getaways!), none of these reasons are enough to convince me that I do, and at 32, I have accepted that I don’t never will–and that’s totally okay.
Besides being all self-accepting, it’s also okay because there’s an alternative winter “sport” that I do enjoy: tubing! So when the fam got together last weekend for a quickie day trip to the mountain, I hiked up my boots and got ready to tube! Here’s a little video. You guys proud of my ability to multi-task?;-)
While it may be too late in the season to enjoy much slope time/tubing this year, make sure to clear some weekends for the 2015/2016 season!
Mountain Creek, New Jersey, is an hour north of NYC, easily accessible by car, or also Snow Buses right from New York City.