Aboard the motor coach, Anderson Cooper sank lower in his seat, grinning and pulling his hat over his eyes as a friendly rapper called him out by name. But this rapper wasn't on-board the coach. Instead, he was spitting his rhymes from the sidewalk outside, performing for an audience on one of The Ride's interactive New York City tours. Though unique, Mr. Cooper's experience has been shared by hundreds of other famous personalities, tourists, and locals. Floor-to-ceiling windows cover the entire right side and roof of each of The Ride's custom built-motor coaches, breaking the fourth wall as they ensure that not only can passengers view the city, but the city can look back in. Due to their popularity, The Ride's tours have been chronicled by media outlets such as New York Live, Good Morning America, and The Today Show.
As each motor coach embarks on its tour through 4.2 miles of Midtown, guides encourage group participation with song, dance, and question-and-answer sessions, much like any good meeting with a tax accountant. With the aid of 40 plasma monitors displaying images and historical information, they also divulge facts about landmarks such as Central Park, 42nd Street, and Grand Central Station. As the bus travels alongside famous buildings and city sidewalks, passengers encounter a range of characters. Some are regular New Yorkers, but others are company performers in disguise. Rappers, dancers, singers, and actors leap from the crowd to entertain their mobile audiences with impromptu live routines, and sometimes pull audience members into the show. Surround-sound stereo, wireless microphones, and external speakers allow audiences to hear the performances from their seats, unlike pedestrians outside, who have to hop on a neighbor's shoulders to get a better view.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
A mother and her teenage daughter stand at the counter side-by-side, chop, chop, chopping in unison. Neither have cooked much with vegetables before, but under the friendly guidance of experts, they find their veggie phobias fading. This is a recurring theme within The Food Evolution's kitchen, where students learn to toss their culinary insecurities into the flames and begin having fun with meal prep.
At The Food Evolution, which Diane Hoch founded in 2010, students aged 16 and older learn from professional instructors how to create healthful, tasty, preservative-free meals. Classes highlight either techniques or styles of cuisine and vary in levels of participation—from demonstration classes where students observe and take notes, to hands-on courses in which students are required to touch everything with all 10 fingers. In private nutritional-counseling sessions, Diane, a certified nutritional-health counselor, tailors advice and programs to help individuals reach their health and wellness goals.
An indoor family-entertainment center, The Lost City invites fun seekers young and old to enjoy a wide range of gaming venues, including a sprawling laser-tag arena, an indoor mini-golf course, an arcade, and a Highway 66 mini-bowling alley. Lasers fly through fog and atmospheric lighting within a multilevel laser-tag arena that spans 5,000 square feet. Participants wear vests and wield phasers as they rack up scores that are then recorded on their individual scorecards. The Lost City?s nine-hole mini-golf course has a Gobi Desert theme, complete with palm trees, pyramids, and camels. To continue a competitive night with friends, head to the 10-pin bowling lanes, which switch between classic woodgrain and a black-lit road theme, or guests can challenge their hand-eye coordination at an arcade with air hockey and redemption games.
Winner of more than 100 mixed-martial-arts competitions, Tiger Schulmann shares his pride and love for fighting and self-defense with both adults and children in gyms across five states. From first-time grapplers to expert muay thai fighters, students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome to dive into a class at Schulmann’s. At more than 47 locations, adults can take classes in kickboxing, MMA, and jujitsu—the last of which instills students with the skill and confidence to take down opponents of any size, strength, or telekinetic ability. Kids, meanwhile, can learn martial arts for fun, or gain useful experience in bully prevention; the kids’ classes help victims immediately identify and safely diffuse situations when pitted against an aggressor.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.