Saturday, March 21, 2015

What not to miss in NYC

As a New Yorker, it is quite difficult to narrow down all the spectacular experiences; this is an attempt to make a few suggestions while visiting New York, without becoming completely overwhelmed. Its better to visit New York several times, at different seasons, to appreciate all it has to offer. Although the possibilities are endless, I am focusing on the less ordinary, atypical choices…except this first suggestion: take a bus tour on your first day to get a sense of the geography and enormity of the city.

There are many spectacular views of Manhattan at night but my two favorites are the view from the promenade in Brooklyn Heights and the Staten Island ferry heading back to Manhattan. As the ferry draws nearer to Manhattan, the city lights grow before your eyes.

After you walk the High Line, Chelsea Market is a great place to visit and eat…anything from fabulous pastries and sandwiches to lobster, oysters and sushi in one of the many little food shops and bakeries. Get the food to go and sit at one of the tables scattered throughout the market. For lunch, you can stop by Mamoun’s on MacDougal Street and have a picnic in Washington Square Park while watching the people and non-stop entertainment, including some intense chess games. Bryant Park on 42nd Street is a lovely place to eat an outdoor lunch with plenty of tables and great views of surrounding skyscrapers, including the Empire State building and the Chrysler building.

Take a tour of the United Nations and go see a Yankee game. On a Saturday morning, wander through the Union Square farmer’s market. Take a food tour of Greenwich Village or Harlem or Chinatown. Do a behind the scene tour of Lincoln Center and go to an open rehearsal of the NY Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall. Tickets are $18 and you sit in the same seats that go for $90 at the evening performances. The Frick Collection is far more accessible than the Metropolitan Museum, which is quite extraordinary. And see at least one Broadway show buying tickets at half price on the day of the performance in Times Square at TKTS ticket booths.

The meatpacking district used to be the hippest place to go for great nightlife. It is no longer.  Instead visit the Lower East Side, Boerum Hill and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. If you want a genuine Italian experience, visit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, not Little Italy. In addition to Eataly, try the recently opened food court in the basement of the Plaza Hotel. Or even high tea in the grand lobby…it continues to be a great old NYC tradition, followed by a buggy ride through Central Park at dusk.

If you want to see some serious nightlife, take a walk around the East Village at dinnertime and just try one of the obscure little joints on Avenue B or around the neighborhood. Casa Mezcal at 86 Orchard Street is a multi-level restaurant focusing on Mezcal drinks, great Oaxacan food, theatre and art with live jazz upstairs. Friday and Saturday nights are quite lively; visit every floor before deciding where to eat or drink.

Next month, I’ll tell you all about the new superstar restaurants in Brooklyn.

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