CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mountaineer fans traveling to New York City for the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday may feel overwhelmed by all the options the Big Apple has for visitors, but some West Virginia University graduates who call the city home have their tips for the must-see spots in NYC.
The WVU Alumni Association and its New York-New Jersey Metro Chapter will host a welcome social on Friday at the Hudson Station at 440 Ninth Ave.
Beginning at noon on Saturday, the day of the game, Rathbones (1702 Second Ave.) will host a Mountaineer Meet and Greet, featuring giveaways, food and drink specials, highlight videos and free subway passes for the first 100 fans who show their game tickets.
Also at noon on Saturday, the bowl game will host a Band Showcase at McCombs Park (adjacent to Yankee Stadium). Alumni and fans are encouraged to stop by for this special performance by The Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band and pick up WVU fan giveaways, according to the school.
For those fans who plan on spending a little more time in New York City, 2008 WVU graduate Michelle Gilbert said just walking around the city and taking in the sights is one of her favorite things to do.
Gilbert said visitors should make sure to get a glance at the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building, both on Fifth Avenue, and the Chrysler Building on Lexington Avenue.
"The buildings are just so beautiful and amazing to look at," Gilbert said.
Don't miss out on Central Park, she said, which is home to the Central Park Zoo, numerous statues (from Alexander Hamilton and Alice in Wonderland to Daniel Webster and Ludwig von Beethoven) and the carousel, one of Central Park's most famous attractions.
She said people should also make a special stop at Belvedere Castle in Central Park, which was built in 1869 by Calvert Vaux and overlooks the Great Lawn -- a 55-acre lawn that is the heart of the park. The castle provides the highest views of the park and the cityscape and it's name means "beautiful view" in Italian.
For locations on specific sites in Central Park, visit www.centralparknyc.org.
Gilbert said although it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Central Park, people shouldn't overlook the 585-acre Prospect Park, just over the Brooklyn Bridge.
The east side of the park home to botanical gardens, while the west side is rimmed with numerous shops and restaurants, she said.
Gilbert said making the trek to Prospect Park will also allow visitors to get "one of the most amazing views of New York City" if they walk over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan.
"It's breathtaking," she said.
For some good eats, Gilbert said to try St. Marks Burger on St. Mark's Place in the East Village. The menu there specializes in sliders and inventive milkshakes. (She said the candied bacon shake and the Guinness shake are personal favorites.)
Fellow WVU graduate Sarah Lemanski said if people know their heritage, they should try to find that neighborhood in the city to get some authentic cuisine. Little Italy is centered on Mulberry Street, and Chinatown, another favorite, stretches from East Broadway to Broadway near Canal Street.
"Honestly, there are so many place in NYC that in my three years of living here, I've never heard of a lot of places. I read just the other day that it would take more than 11 years to eat at every restaurant in NYC if you dined out every night at a new place," Gilbert said.