The guides from Wilderness Rocks help urban dwellers escape to nature with five- to six-hour day trips through the Catskills and beyond. Groups of up to 14 get scooped up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and whisked away from the concrete jungle's hectic routine of hailing taxis and dodging falling coconuts under the Panamanian Consulate. Departing throughout the year, hike options range from the Catskills snowshoe trip on February 11—a 6-mile trek through the snowy sanctum of the Catskill Mountains—to the Pound Mountain trip on April 7, which involves moderate rock climbing and spelunking. Rather than sprinting ahead to nab the freshest, most coveted pinecones, guides make several stops along the way, allowing everyone to catch their breath and take in the serenity of their surroundings. Once hikers have finished each trail, Wilderness Rocks transports the group back to the 86th Street rendezvous point with nothing but their gear, memories, and carefully rehearsed alibis. Before departure, check each trip's page for departure times, clothing requirements, and what equipment to bring.
At Westwood Gallery, owners Mike and Lore Fitzsimmons celebrate their love for beautiful artwork with museum-quality preservation and framing of paintings and pictures. Everyone on staff boasts a background in art, allowing them to match a painting's style and period with the perfect frame and also consider the decor back at the customer's house. They can create original oil paintings from photographs, restore weathered paintings and photos, and brighten up bathroom vanities and bedroom walls with custom-framed mirrors. As longtime residents of Westwood, the owners promote the local creative community by hosting gallery parties, setting up photography exhibits, and challenging passersby to define "art" in one sentence or less.
Mahwah Pizza Master has dished out delectable edibles constructed from fresh ingredients for more than two decades, delighting diners with a menu of circular savories, hearty pasta dishes, and other casual cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Silence the unseemly echoes of an empty belly with starters such as jalapeño poppers ($6.99), buffalo chicken fingers ($8.10), or chicken wings (hot or mild, 10 for $7.75). Famished pizzavores can sate their desire for a delicious discus with one of Mahwah Pizza Master's specialty pies, such as buffalo chicken ($19.50) or chicken teriyaki ($19.50), or they can simply stick to a conventional 16” cheese ($13.50). The comprehensive menu features familiar and reliable favorites that greet taste buds with back slaps and secret handshakes, including a veal parmigiana hero ($8.95 for large), penne ala vodka sauce ($9), and veal marsala ($14.75).
Belly dancer Amira Mor has tapped finger cymbals for Moroccan royalty and shimmied for the prime minister of Jordan. Her moves can be elegant or sensual: she coached Britney Spears through new routines at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City, and has also choreographed for the New York City Ballet. Her moves have also landed her a role Sex and the City 2 and taken her to Guantanamo Bay, where she led belly dance boot camps for U.S. Marines. “From the moment Mor begins her dance,” a reporter for the Star-Ledger wrote, “there’s no doubt who’s in charge.… She wears a fringed bustier spangled with gold, and, for a skirt, slashes of sparkly fabric that whip away from her body as she spins, which she does in a blur of speed.…”
At Amira Mor International Entertainment Company, anyone interested in belly dancing can benefit from the award-winning dancer's instruction. With the help of fellow dance instructor Stephanie, she teaches groups some traditional Middle Eastern moves, drawing on modern innovations including flashy hip movements and songs about fax machines. Additionally, Amira is a certified fitness instructor, so she can also help students on quests for sculpted abs.
LiloVeve—a composite of the words "live" and "love"—is part gallery, part wedding-band boutique, and part jewelry-making school. First came the gallery. Caroline Glemann founded it to showcase a range of art that includes paintings, photos, and a permanent jewelry collection. Jewelry-making students take classes and workshops to pick up skills in metalwork, wax carving, and gold alloying. They can even learn about design from an industry perspective, or prep for the SAT's recently added fashion section. Handmade rings adorn betrothed digits after LiloVeve craftspeople lovingly solder, saw, and pierce each sparkling circle.