For those of your joining our tour, or considering it, I thought I would share a few tips and some information that might be helpful. This is information we think would be useful to have, and is based on our many years of attending the show. And, is partly based on the great feedback we get from our travelers. If you haven't already requested our brochure for our Westminster Dig Show Delights package, there is a form at the bottom of this article where you can do so should you wish.
Eating at the Show - food options have improved steadily over the years. Coffee, tea, croissants, yogurt and the like are available for breakfast (our group hotel has a really nice breakfast that is included in your tour price - but just in case you get hungry a little later). Lunch options include pre-made sandwiches and wraps with sides like chips and fruit. Soda, water, beer and wine are available as is popcorn and ice-cream.
Other food options - For something a little more exciting, there are a plethora of excellent restaurants on 9th Ave., heading to the lower numbered streets (starting on 55th and going down.) You’ve got our favorite Thai restaurant “Pure Thai Cookhouse” amongst many others. Head up 9th Ave (away from the water). When you come to 55th street hang a right. That’s about 1/2 a mile, and you have many different restaurants from which to choose over the next few blocks, of all ethnicities, tastes, and budgets.
Westminster Kennel Club Merchandise - The Westminster Kennel Club has been impressive with their merchandising lately. Several years ago you were lucky to get a t-shirt. Now they’ve got nice fleeces, cardigans, t-shirts, blankets, bags, posters and etc. The key takeaway - have a look at the shop as soon as you can, and if there is something you must have, buy it early. They do sell out! You can always store your purchase at the coat check if you don’t want to carry it around all day.
Seating at the Piers - there are some bleachers (increasing each year) that give you a nice “bird’s eye view” of some of the rings, and the Kennel Club has done a nice job mounting televisions outside the rings for those that want to stand back a bit. There is also ring-side seating available on a first-come first-served basis. This being New York, often someone will claim they are saving a seat for their friend. You can just politely say “I’ll sit here now and move as soon as your friend returns.” They may or may not actually exist! The main food areas also offer seating.
Programs / Judging Schedule - The program book is a wonderful full color glossy publication. It is also about 400 pages, and a bit large and a bit heavy. We include a voucher for this program with your tour package (we’ll give you your voucher the first time we see you.) You can turn it in at any of the program vendor booths at the Piers during the day on Monday or Tuesday (there are a few scattered around the premises.) They generally don't take the vouchers at the evening sessions at Madison Square Garden. You may want to redeem your voucher first, as it is fun to have the names of the dogs and other useful information. But, you may not want to lug the book around all day. I suggest you at least have a look at the size of the book and decide for yourself. I’ve been yelled at by people on both sides of the camp (do/don’t want to carry the book around all day.) I’ll leave that one up to you, but at least have a look so you can make up your own mind. What you absolutely should bring, is the judging schedule, which we'll put in your final tour documents. This is a small booklet of 60 or so pages (front and back and folded to a 5x7ish inch form factor) - so it will fit easily in your purse or pocket. This has the location of all the dogs, and ring they will be competing in, which pier has that ring, the times for judging and etc. All the important stuff without any fluff.
Our Private Shuttle Schedule - We’ll hand out our private shuttle schedule at our welcome reception, and on the shuttle, and have a couple of copies delivered in your final tour documents packet. The shuttle circles between our hotel and the Piers. This is only about 2 miles, but in New York traffic those two miles can take about 40 minutes, one way. We will have two busses running in order to beat traffic, and stagger the times of which shuttle can be where at any given time. We've got a good schedule we've learned with the experience of previous years. Sometimes when we say "Shuttle" people think that means every 5 minutes or so. The shuttle will depart and return to the hotel several times a day - that means every couple of hours. It isn’t possible to have even an hourly shuttle without hiring 5 or 6 busses - something nobody wants to pay for! But, you'll be happy about skipping the cab lines, and the shuttle is very convenient. You can always take a cab, or Uber or Lyft if you want - the Piers security and traffic people have gotten pretty good over the years at keeping those lines moving, though sometimes cabs can be scarce (hence why we run the shuttle.)
Theater after Lunch on Sunday - New York has some of the best theater productions in the world. Sunday, after our included city tour and lunch, is the perfect time to catch a broadway matinee. We’ll already be in the neighborhood that has most of the theaters. What show should you see? Check-out http://www.broadway.com for a list of available shows, and to read a quick synopsis on any with which you aren’t familiar. You can also get an idea about ticket prices. If you see something you like, see what theater has the show, then visit the theater website to buy tickets. This way you’ll save a few bucks. You can buy the tickets directly from broadway.com - if the theater website doesn’t have tickets (the show is sold out) there is a chance broadway.com may have tickets. If you are like us, and plan very far in advance, it is possible you’ve selected the show you want to see, but the February schedule hasn’t been released yet. Just mark your calendar to check back later so you don’t forget! If the show is something popular that’s been going for many years there is a good chance it will continue - you just have to be patient until the schedule is released.
Temperature - will you be too hot / too cold? Yes! One of the universals of traveling is you will always be the wrong temperature. February in New York can be very cold - or it can be teasing us with Spring. We always suggest people bring some layered clothing. That way, if you are too hot, you can take off your sweater, and if you are too cold, you can slip on your compressible down jacket. There is security going into the Piers who will want to look in your backpack. I think having a small backpack is worth the hassle, especially so I can stuff my hat, scarf and gloves in it while I’m inside the show. When I’m walking to lunch, it’s nice to have those warm clothing items. You don’t have to wait outside to get our shuttles. You can wait inside and we’ll wave you down when they are in place (but, you'll be standing by a door that opens and closes a lot - so there may be a cold breeze.) You _could_ get away without a jacket and hat and stuff like that if you were certain you were going to stay inside all day. We never know what to say when people ask us “do you think I’ll need my sweater?” Yes? No? Probably!
Re-entry - at the Piers you’ll need to get a stamp on your hand. You can do this right when you go in, or when you leave. You’ll need this if you want to walk to lunch on 9th Ave as mentioned above - but also when moving between Pier 92 and 94.
That’s a good point I should add-
Pier 92 and Pier 94 - What are Piers 92 and 94? For our purposes, this is where the Monday and Tuesday day sessions of the Westminster Dog Show are held. From their website, they are: A trade show and special event venue in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, 55th Street and the West Side Highway.
It might seem obvious, but I should say: these are not the same place. You could be in Pier 92, and the breed you want to see could be in Pier 94. They are connected. They form the shape of an “U” - sort of - where the left vertical part is upstairs, and the right vertical part is downstairs, and the bend is either a covered walkway that is partially outside, and/or you can get there through the benching area. A few years ago the administrators opened up a stairway between the two piers so you can move from one to the other without going outside. But, I would be remiss not to mention, the stairs are steep, and many. I think it's about 5 flights? The other way to move between piers is to utilize these huge freight elevators that connect the two. The elevators are found right in the “curve” of the “U.” That seems a little tricky to understand but if you read it again, I think it will make sense. When taking the elevator, you will have to pass through security again - and for that you’ll need your hand stamped!
Schedule - How do I know what is going on in what Pier, and when? We’ll give you the judging program in your final tour documents. This has the rings enumerated, and the schedule. You use this little pocket-sized book to figure out if you should be in Pier 92 or 94 at any given time, depending on what you want to see. To get from the far end of one pier to the far end of the other can take 10 - 15 minutes, depending on crowds.
What else? I think that’s a good start! If you have other questions let me know by using the form below, or post a comment on the blog. I’ll add anything that seems useful to the above information and try and keep this up to date.
Thanks for reading! I hope you'll consider joining us for our Westminster Dog Show Delights Tour one year. Or, if you're already on the trip, I hope you find this information useful!
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I've been to the Westminster dog show a few times (about 9 to be exact.) It is a great time for dog lovers, and for people who love to visit cities, and to learn about and experience New York. Of course, on our Westminster Dog Show trip, we have a very good private tour of Manhattan which will give you a nice feel for the city if you've never been there before. And, since each guide brings their own unique take on things, it's fun to do these tours again, even if you've done one previously (or 4 times, as is the case with some of our Westminster clients).
Like our good canine friends, we spend a lot of time thinking about eating (though probably not as much as they do.)
New York has so many wonderful restaurants it's hard to go wrong. But here are a few of our favorites, that we'll revisit year after year, when we are looking for something familiar, and that we know will be fabulous.
One recommendation I can make to anyone joining us on our Westminster Dog Show tour is to pick up a copy of the New Yorker magazine a week or so before you join us. You may not agree with everything they have to say politically, but they are a great resource for what to do, where to eat, what play to see, and what art galleries to visit. And it's cheap, and it's available nationally,
On to the food!
Of course, countless hours have been spent arguing over which pizza joint is the best in New York. We aren't going to weigh in with any proclamations on that point. But – here are three that we recommend, where you absolutely can not go wrong.
1a) John's Pizzeria – In the West Village at 278 Bleeker Street (easy subway from Penn Station and a great area to explore). This is my favorite as it is old, funky, a bit cramped, and on a great street. Just a wonderful place to take a break, and have a great pizza.
1bonus) John's Pizzeria Times Square - More modern than the Bleeker Street location, but the pizza is just as good. This is a fairly easy walk from the New Yorker hotel to 260 W. 44th Street, and is a good option for before/after a Broadway performance.
2) Grimaldi's Pizzeria – OK, so many people will tell you this is the best there is! For a wonderful day, take the subway to Grimaldi's in the morning for an early lunch (helps you avoid the lines.) Then, walk back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. Awesome! Grimaldi's has this to say about their hand-built 25 ton pizza oven “Designed and built by hand, the coal-fired oven at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria delivers a unique flavor and consistency that is just not possible from wood or gas ovens. If you've got some time to kill, and want to read more about the politics of New York pizza, thisNona Brooklyn article is fascinating!
3) Angelo's Pizza – When you're tired from shopping along 5th Ave. (or visiting Rockefeller Center, or St. Patrick's Cathedral), you're lucky to be near one of New York's top 10 pizzas! Angelo's is a two story restaurant at 1043 2nd Ave.
Keens Steakhouse – OMG! I'm seriously thinking about getting a plane to New York tonight just so I can go to Keens! 72 West 36th Street. The setting is a fabulous old building comprised of individual rooms with a wonderful cozy bar, decorated with antique churchwarden pipes, accolades and interesting artwork. But you aren't here for that. The steak is dry-aged and absolutely wonderful. Katie and I will get the Chateaubriand for two which comes with a nice assortment of roasted vegetables. That way she can have the medium parts, and I can have the medium-rare to rare. Make a reservation.
Everyone knows you can get great Italian food in New York and we've already covered pizza. About 10 years ago, Katie and I were visiting New York in October to go see the annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. I highly recommend attending this parade if you ever have the opportunity! Eventually we got hungry, and found what is probably our favorite Italian restaurant ever:
Lupa Osteria Roman – So, we found Lupa, and ended up sitting at a communal picnic table with a bunch of other Halloween parade attendees, and a foodie from somewhere in Canada (I've forgotten his name.) “The Foodie” ended up ordering for all of us, and it was just wonderful. We used the glossary/translations on the back of the menu to figure out what we were eating, and have been back many times since. Located at 170 Thompson Street, this restaurant is part of the Mario Batali family of restaurants, and is definitely worth a visit. They have normal non-communal tables as well.
Tir Na Nog
Stout – Stout is located right across from Madison Square Garden. When the day session of the Westminster Dog Show still took place at MSG, this is where you'd probably find me for lunch. It's pretty much a sports bar, but with a little more class. And they have an excellent draught and bottle beer selection if that's your thing. The food is descent, and this is just a comfortable place to relax, have lunch, and see what's happening. 133 West 33rd Street.
Tir Na Nog – This Irish Pub is in the same neighborhood as Stout, literally in respect to location, and food. But, TNN is a bit calmer, a bit more charming (with fewer televisions), has better food, and is bit more expensive. If it is really cold in New York, or snowing, TNN at 5 Penn Plaza is a nice short 1 block away from the New Yorker hotel.
Last but not least...
The new location of the Westminster Dog Show day sessions is Piers 92 and 94 located at 55th street and the West Side Highway. This is better for the dog show and the Westminster Kennel Club, as there is more space for the dogs and for judging, grooming, benching and etc. It's a little worse for the tourists, as the food offerings at the actual facility aren't great, and you aren't as close to restaurants as we were when the day session was at Madison Square Garden.
If it isn't too cold, or you're up for a stroll anyway, I can highly recommend Pure Thai Cookhouse in Hell's kitchen at 766 9th Ave (between 51st and 52nd streets). This tiny spot is just loaded with charm, and offers wonderful vegetarian options, a fabulous spicy mango salad, and many other great Thai dishes. Well worth the .6 mile walk!
Join us at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City
Want to learn more about our annual trip to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York city? Please visit our Westminster website at www.Go2Westminster.com for more details, or to request a free brochure.