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New York – A Great Place for a Second Birthday Party

By Elise Krentzel October 01, 2023 Lifestyle

Get your kicks when you’re 66! That’s been the mantra I began singing over two months ago when I first decided to celebrate my birthday throughout the month of August. At this mature point in my life, I get to celebrate as frequently as I choose, and this year, I decided to have two parties: one in Austin, Texas, which I’ve called home for the past 12 years, and the other in Manhattan, where I was born.

This year, I wanted an intimate get-together of no more than 10 people, including my son, as he lives in the NYC metro area and a few close friends whom I haven’t seen for several years. I wanted a hotel with easy access to the UPW (Upper West Side), near the restaurant I booked for the birthday dinner and other places such as Zabar’s Deli, museums, and Central Park.

Day Tripping for Two Quick Days

The primary purpose of my trip was to spend my birthday with my son and friends and then some extra time with my son, who took off from work for the occasion. I took a 6:00 a.m. flight, arriving around 10:30. My son picked me up at EWR Airport, and we drove to Hoboken, NJ, where he lives. Then, we boarded a bus to Port Authority and took a subway to the hotel.

I was famished, so we walked uptown, about a mile away, to my favorite deli in America: Zabar’s. Zabar’s has everything you want in a Jewish deli and more. There are cheeses and deli meats from all over the world, a selection to make you dizzy. The fish section is to die for sturgeon, white fish, three types of salmon cut delicately into razor-thin slices, and pre-made salads. I made a sandwich with the Zabster salad (crawfish) and everything bagel. My son and I ate it, then walked another couple of miles window shopping.

Met Museum and Sightseeing

A visit to NYC is only complete with a visit to one, two, or three of the best museums in the world. I decided to go to the Met for a few hours as my time was limited, and I hadn’t been there in 15 years. My son and I visited the Asian wing and studied Korean, Japanese, and Chinese art. The highlight for us was a reproduction of a Chinese garden.

We then took a bus downtown for the sightseeing, well, sightseeing for me, as I hadn’t been down Fifth Avenue since before the pandemic. Although it took longer than a subway ride to get to the West Village, it was worth the ride. NYC’s subway and bus system has a contactless, super hi-tech system where you pair your watch to an app and seamlessly connect, saving a lot of time when rushing through the turnstiles. Just put your watch/card on the screen and go.

Nami Nori

My son took me to a glorious vegan Japanese restaurant in the West Village called Nami Nori. I ordered the Signature Set (non-vegan), which included make-your-own rolls of tuna poke, crispy shallots, x.o. Scallop, tobiko, lemon coconut shrimp, green curry, lime, cilantro salmon serrano, ginger, myoga, and the tosazu cucumber, black sesame, shiso, plum roll.

These small yet filling delicacies are mouth-watering jewels. It’s relatively easy to accommodate both vegan and non-vegans in the village, and Nami Nori is one such recommended restaurant.

Finding the Right Hotel

Even if you are an experienced traveler or a travel writer (as I was for over two decades), it’s not the easiest of tasks to find the perfect hotel in a major city that has so much to offer, intense competition in the hospitality industry, and special deals going on almost all the time.

The Empire Hotel

I made up my mind to stay at the iconic Empire hotel, one of my stomping grounds in the 1970s. I wrote about it in my memoir, Under My Skin – Drama, Trauma, & Rock ‘n’ Roll, where Larraine Newman (formerly of SNL fame) and I met the TV show crew for drinks one afternoon. Back then, it was located across the street from Central Park on the Columbus Circle west side. It relocated years ago to 63rd Street off the corners of Broadway and across the street from Lincoln Center.

The Empire Hotel went through a significant transformation in the 2000s. It was completely renovated and reopened in 2007; I last visited 10 years ago. It’s a luxury boutique hotel that preserves some of its historic elements. Prominently featured in the TV series Gossip Girl, it was a backdrop for various scenes.

I was eager to have a drinks party the day after my dinner get-together at the rooftop lounge and bar of the hotel. The iconic red-lit signage in big, bold, upper case letters, THE EMPIRE HOTEL, wasn’t lit as we arrived at 5:00 p.m. The overlook uptown and downtown was impressive as we could see down to Times Square, where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

A few of my friends from the night before arrived, as did a friend whom I met in Amsterdam when I lived there. Like my son, her daughter lives and works in NYC and visits several times a year. We had tried meeting for over 10 years, but until now, our timing was off.

She brought her daughter; another friend got hers, so three young adults joined us. We ordered some appetizers of fries (delicious, thin, and crispy) to share. I had the Rooftop Frosé Rosé wine, watermelon puree, a perfect drink for the still summery weather at 80 degrees – a fantastic way to end a short yet memorable trip.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you celebrate birthdays after you turned 60? Have you done something “grand”? What about celebrating several days? What over-60 birthday celebration is the most memorable for you?

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When my husband turned 80, we celebrated his birthday all year. He was born October 9. So, on the 9th day of each month, we’d celebrate his birthday with a special food or drink, a special activity, a present and a love note. It was so much fun we were sorry when the year was over. For my 70th birthday he said he’d take me to Scotland or Alaska. It was a very hard choice, but I’m going with Alaska.

Elise Krentzel

What a wonderful story. I’m going to recommend this to my friends who love every excuse to continue partying!

Valerie Boyle

I turn 60 on Saturday and am half way through the 66 day alcohol-free challenge that was described in one of Sixty and Me’s articles. I am honoring the start of this new decade with a solo trip to Kripalu(a yoga based retreat center in Western Massachusetts.

Coincidently-The Empire Hotel is my absolute favorite place to stay when I visit NYC.

Elise Krentzel

Nice synchronicity.

I’ll be visiting my daughter in NYC and the Hamptons where she is part owner of some amazing restaurants (Amali and Calissa). I’m looking forward to going to the Met – there’s a Degas/Manet exhibit I can’t wait to see. I’ve never been to Zabar’s so I will try that (I’ve always gone to Katz’s – also a treat! It’s not my birthday but going in October is so wonderful. I love the pumpkins and farm stands in the Hamptons and hiking in the gorgeous autumn foliage. I wouldn’t want to live in NY but it’s so fun to visit! Thanks for your great post.

Sounds like a great plan. I’d love to visit your daughters’ restaurants one day as I can review it for several publications.


Happy 66th to you! I just turned 66 a few days ago. Can’t say celebrated since when I leave others in charge of planning/doing. Oh well. Every year I tell myself “next year____________”. So – next year a few days away totally by myself sounds like a good plan.

I began celebrating Birthday Week several years ago. My time to do things that bring me joy. That has been really fun. A birthday month sounds delicious. Normally September is the month I deep clean away any dust that has accumulated after a summer of open windows and dry months. I think it would really be fun to give myself an entire month eliminating the need to put so much into a week. Why not? (Thnx for the idea)

The two ladies I would love to travel with are still working so have to think on a different version of what your celebration was.

Elise Krentzel

Thanks Laura. Have fun.


No desire to visit NY city again. There are amazing places in the heart of US that are better, inexpensive and calmer with the same world class restaurants and sites that I would go to. If museums are on your list go to DC, NY city, Chicago etc. otherwise I head out to heart of USA. I feel safer, respected and can save so much money.

Elise Krentzel

Saving money outside of the USA. 🤔 maybe in Southeast Asia or some countries in South America?

The Author

Elise Krentzel is a book coach, non-fiction ghostwriter, and communications entrepreneur. She offers online writing courses and helps authors market their books. Her memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma, Rock n' Roll is on sale, and she's busy writing book two in her memoir trilogy. She's lived in 5 countries for 30 years and is based in Austin. She's over sixty, and her son is 22!

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