Day Trip to Atlantic City

Recently MMA hosted their first annual day trip to Atlantic City.  If you are interested in discovering what Atlantic City has to offer than this is the trip for you.  Departing from NYC at 12 noon, our private bus arrived at Resorts Casino by 2:30pm.  Everyone was given $22 to spend at the Resorts Casino to get the day started.  Hopefully it was a lucky day for everyone!

The group was provided with an email and a printout of the detailed itinerary, as well as, contact information for all three hosts so that no one would be lost if they got separated for any reason.  Since there is so much to do and we only had a day to do it in, the itinerary was very flexible for this trip.  Everyone had the option to go their own way or to pick and choose from the schedule provided.  

Throughout the day, I chose to go to different casinos and walk along the Boardwalk while others in the group spent the day at the outlets or spent more time at certain casinos before meeting up at the bus.  After starting the day at the Resorts Casino, I was able to vist the Trump Taj Majal, Caesars Casino, and the new Pier Shops to see the water show.  My last stop along the Boardwalk was the Tropicana Casino where they have a newly renovated section to explore called the Quarter.   We finished the day as a group at the Borgata Casino before heading back to NYC at around 9:30pm.  Our bus got back close to midnight and we were dropped off near Penn Station.

This trip was a fun introduction to Atlantic City and I now know where I would like to spend more time when I make a return visit.  MMA has been scheduling new trips such as this one into their list of events, so visit their website at www.meetmarketadventures.com to see what you might be interested in.

Don’t Let Winter Pass You By!


As I eagerly await my next ski trip, I am still on the look out for other fun winter activities to sign up for. There are so many options out there that I thought I would share some links for anyone who would also like to get out and enjoy the snow before the season ends.

Check out ZogSports for ski trips. They have both day trips and weekend trips offered. I enjoyed my ski day with them so much that I signed up for another one. All the details are at http://www.zogsports.com/.

Outdoor Bound is a great company for anyone who wants to really get out there and be active. Some of the activities they offer include snow shoeing, cross country skiing, even ice climbing! I have enjoyed my hiking experiences with them and look forward to trying more of their events in the future. Check out their event calendar at http://www.outdoorbound.com/.

For those singles out there who want to enjoy an activity with the prospect of meeting someone new, head to Meet Market Adventures. They host a variety of indoor and outdoor activities so there is something for everyone. Some of their activities are even co-hosted with Outdoor Bound. I recently went Snow Tubing with them and it was a lot of fun! Their website is http://www.meetmarketadventures.com/.

I hope these links will help you find something fun to sign up for! You can read about my experiences with all of these companies in some of my past entries which will help you know what to expect.

Learn How to Mix it Up

This past Wednesday, I decided to see what things looked like on the other side of the bar stool. I signed up for an Intro to Bar Tending class through MMA. We were to get an hour long learning session and then have an hour of open bar mingling afterwards.

The class was held at The Village Pourhouse and it was quite evident that our bar tender knew his stuff. We began by going over where to find everything behind the bar and then it was time to learn how to pour a perfect pint! As a huge fan of beer, I eagerly volunteered to try my hand at this part of the lesson. I was a little nervous since I was up in front of a crowd, however it was a lot of fun to actually be on the pouring side of the tap!

Next up, we learned how to mix well drinks, followed by martinis. We finished off our lesson with some fun (and tasty) shots. For each segment, different class members got a chance to come up and prepare drinks which were then passed on to the classmates who had ordered them. Needless to say, we had a chance to sample many of the beverages we were learning to make and it was great that everyone got their turn to participate. Afterwards, we all got to enjoy an open bar where our only responsibility was to relax and enjoy.

Since this was an intro course, I would still need to study a bit more before I would feel completely comfortable behind the bar but I definitely feel like I learned a lot. It was a really fun learning experience and I enjoyed it so much that I might sign up for another class in the near future.

You can find out more about the Village Pourhouse at http://www.pourhousenyc.com/.

Climb to New Heights!

This weekend I decided to try my hand at indoor rock climbing. In addition to their many other great facilities, Manhattan Plaza Health Center has a climbing gym for all skill levels from beginner to advanced. I signed up through MMA so there was a group of about 15 of us ready to learn on this particular outing. After putting on our climbing shoes and harnesses, we were split into groups of four so that our instructors could help us to learn in smaller groups.

I’ll admit that when I looked at how high the walls went, I was a bit frightened but I was here to climb and was determined to learn how. Our instructor went over in detail how we needed to tie the knots to the climbing safety rope and also how to belay (which is when you are responsible for making sure the ropes are properly handled to keep the person climbing safe). Once we had gone over the basics it was time to try our hands at the real thing. The first time I actually tried to climb the wall, I realized the challenge I was in for. These walls were high! Once you have more experience there are specific paths that you can navigate on up the wall. I tried to aim for the beginning paths but at times would go for whatever hold I could get! The first time felt a bit petrifying but I did make it to the top successfully. As we took turns, each time got a little less scary as I felt more secure in what I was doing. When it was my turn to belay, I was worried about being responsible for the weight of the climber but discovered how secure and safe the equipment really was. As you go along with your climbing efforts, you realize that you are working your muscles both while climbing and also while belaying. After our group had all had enough training with the instructor, it was time to climb on our own.

The climbing gym has many varied surface walls to climb, in addition to the area where you try to climb on your own without ropes – which is for the more advanced climbers. It was really fun to explore the different wall sections and see how much high we could reach on the different levels of difficulty. I ended up staying till 5pm and was one of the last pairs to leave from our group. It was a challenging day but a fun one!

Upon returning my rental equipment, I asked about how one could come back without a group. If you already know the basics you can buy a day pass for $20 and pay extra for renting shoes and a harness if you need them. They also offer orientation and learn to climb packages for those interested in learning everything from scratch like I did. More details about Manhattan Plaza Health Center and the Climbing Gym can be found at http://www.mphc.com/.

Indoor rock climbing is definitely a great way to challenge yourself, get a great workout, and try a new activity. I hope to be able to go again sometime soon.

Are You Brave Enough to Ride the Bull?

If you want to try your hand at being an urban cowboy/cowgirl than head to Johnny Utah’s. I went last night and it was so much fun! Enjoy a wide range of beverages and southwestern cuisine while the music and atmosphere help you forget that you are in the heart of NYC. While you are at your table or even just mingling in the bar area it is impossible to miss the main attraction – the mechanical bull! Before anyone had tried their bull riding skills the bull would occasionally roar into action demonstrating some crazy moves that would throw even the toughest rider off with ease. I definitely needed some liquid courage before I was ready to sign up and ride.

Essentially, anyone who wants to ride the bull must sign up by presenting a driver’s license and signing a waiver. Then once you get your stamp you can go up to the bull pen whenever you are brave enough. This is helpful if you need to muster up some courage before you are ready. My advice is to be brave early on because as the night goes on the bull is increasingly less patient with newcomers. I waited a bit and felt like my ride was a bit more challenging than some of those who started the night off. However, I had so much fun and so did everyone in the group I was with. You can even go as many times as you can gather the strength to do it. I plan to go back again for sure!

The nightly running of the bull at Johnny Utah’s starts at 7:30pm. Then on Monday’s they have a bull riding challenge that goes from 10pm – 2am where industry professionals show what they are made of and battle to be called the best of the night! I have heard that lots of bachelorette parties are in attendance on weekends so be prepared. When I went on a Tuesday there were lots of after work folks and it was a pretty good crowd. We didn’t have a long wait for the bull but I’d imagine that might be different on weekends.

If you need an extra boost of confidence MMA offers a singles bull riding event at Johnny Utah’s on their site. That way you have a group of people to mingle with and then to cheer you on when you get up on the bull. So definitely check it out on their site if you are interested. http://www.meetmarketadventures.com/

Johnny Utah’s is at 25 West 51st Street – right next to Rockefeller Plaza. Check out all the details and some video footage at their website: http://www.johnnyutahs.com/

White Water Rafting Adventure

Looking for an adventurous day trip? How about going White Water Rafting! I signed up to go through a joint Outdoor Bound and MMA day trip and there were about 40 of us departing from NYC. Our NY group also met up with 20 people from Philadelphia at the location so we had a pretty good number of people.

The bus ride out took about 2 hours and we went to an area in the Poconos for our day of river rafting. The rapids were said to be a class 3 and it was during a weekend dam release so there would be enough water for our trip down the river.

Once we went through basic instruction on land and were split into 6 people per raft it was time to head to the water. This ended up being a short nature hike through the woods to the place where we got our rafts. It was more of a challenge than I anticipated to carry our raft through a rocky creek path to get to our departure point. It was a relief to finally get it into the water!

This is where is got quite interesting. Since most of us didn’t know anyone else on the raft, we had to get ourselves working together as a team quickly. This proved to be a bit of a challenge in the beginning for our rafting team but we finally started to get the hang of things. Even with the dam release there were lots of rocks that got in the way of a perfect trip down the river. We got stuck many times but got better and better at maneuvering our way out of the rough spots. Some of us even fell off the boat at times – myself included! – but as a team we were able to work together to get everyone back on the boat where they belonged. We also had some great guides following along to help us through all the water challenges.

Half way down we all pulled over to take a break and eat lunch. Our muscles were sore and it was nice to relax for a bit. Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the water. The good news was that the break was all we needed to really get our act together. The second part of the journey was much better than the first and we had gotten so much better at working as a team and overcoming obstacles as they came along. When we got to the end it felt like quite an accomplishment!

So, if you too would like to head out on a white water adventure, there are many ways to get out there and do it! Outdoor Bound and MMA offer great day trip options. There are also meetup groups that go on white water rafting trips so you can also sign up through them. Most of these options will meet in a central location in the city so anyone in the Tri-state area can partake in the fun! Even one of my local bars has group outings including white water rafting days so just research around your area. I am sure you will find a way to get out and enjoy the water yourself. It is definitely worth it and lots of fun!

Hiking to Van Slyke Castle Ruins

I had wanted to sign up for a hiking adventure for a while but was looking for the right one. Luckily, I found it at the MMA site for a Hike and Swim Majestic Ruins of the Van Slyke Castle in NJ. I couldn’t say no! I have not hiked since I was a kid at camp so this would be a new experience for me to do this as an adult. Having had fun at every event I participated in with MMA so far I didn’t think I could go wrong.

I showed up with my mom’s hiking books (which thankfully she lent me), a new cooling water bottle and a standard water bottle which together amounted to my minimum 2 liter water requirement, and a bagged lunch. I was ready to go! The drive was approximately 45 minutes outside of midtown Manhattan over the GWB. Once we started I immediately started to realize what I was in for… lots of uphill on what I thought was a very rocky terrain. We hiked first to Ramapo Lake and then made our way onto a trail around one of the neighboring mountains. With the hot and humid weather and lack of previous hiking experience, I found the uphill sections feeling a bit endless at times and rather difficult for me without some breaks in the middle. However, once you got to a lookout point you felt the reward of the heights you have climbed to get there. I was immensely thankful for my cooling water bottle too! I definitely needed it and had some envious fellow hikers.

After a lunch by the lake, we finally made our way towards the Van Slyke Castle Ruins. This was what I had been looking forward to the most so I was quite excited, even though I knew it meant more uphill climbing. It was well worth it. As an avid photographer, I took advantage of all that remained of this once glorious building. I would love to come back to view it in the fall or winter when there is less greenery and it will be more exposed.

Once we descended that mountain, our hiking day finished off with a brave swim in the lake. I say it was brave since there was some plant life that seemed to have taken over the water so that if you went in, you would have some interacting with you while you were swimming. I must say though, after all the hard work we did during our hike, most of us quite enjoyed the refreshment of the lake.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I was encouraged by our trail leader that the more I hike the better I will get at both the uphill climbing and the effect on my knees. I took a rested the following day and my knees were fully recovered from the pain I was feeling immediately after the hike.

This hike was a combined outing with Outdoor Bound and MMA participants. Everyone was really nice and made the experience that much more fun. I would definitely recommend this to someone just starting out with hiking and anyone with an interest in taking pictures of the castle ruins. As I said earlier, I definitely plan to go back sometime!