20 Ultimate Things to Do in New York City
October 02, 2013 4:04 pm(1 comment) Post a comment
The High Line
New Yorkers love to walk and the 1.45-mile-long High Line, a park that stretches from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea on a previously derelict, elevated railway track, is a fantastic stroll. Resurrected with a stunning maze of gardens (showcasing 300 species of plants), pathways, and water features, it offers terrific people watching, views of cool contemporary architecture, and glimpses of the Hudson River.
Statue of Liberty
Whether you ogle it from Battery Park or while onboard the Staten Island Ferry, you must gaze upon the Statue of Liberty. Ascend to the tiny lookout area in her crown to get another great view. The world’s most iconic copper statue was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi as a gift from France in celebration of our nation’s centennial in 1876. Lady Liberty stands an astounding 151-feet tall—with index fingers measuring eight feet long and eyeballs that are almost three feet wide.
Classic Pizza Joints
Nothing divides New Yorkers like bragging rights to the city’s best pizza (okay, so maybe the Mets vs. Yankees rivalry). So we’ll let you be the judge and sample four of Gotham’s most notable pies: Lombardi’s on Spring St for its coal-oven-crispness and fresh mozzarella; John's of Bleecker St for its made-to-order, brick-oven authenticity; Patsy’s Pizzeria on First Ave in East Harlem for its prized sauce and crispy-edges; and Sal & Carmine on Broadway at 102nd St for its cheesy, slightly chewy slices.
Whether you ride Central Park's vintage circa-1908 Carousel, sip Sancerre while admiring the view of the lake at the Boathouse Café, giggle at the sea lions and penguins in the zoo (sadly we just lost Gus, the famous swimming polar bear), go birding in the Ramble, or run laps with the locals around the Reservoir, this 843-acre oasis is the world’s biggest backyard and a must-explore experience during any visit.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Equal parts awesome and daunting, the Metropolitan Museum of Art ranks among the world’s best art museums, housing everything from Medieval and Expressionist masterpieces to an entire Egyptian temple. The Greek and Roman sculptures, African and Oceania exhibits, and Asian Wing are also pretty amazing. If you wake up and it’s raining, head to the Met (open seven days a week) and wander—or follow one of the itineraries on the museum’s website.
One half gourmet market and the other Italian food court, Eataly (at Fifth Ave. and 23rd St.) is the brainchild of celebrity chef Mario Batali. Arrive hungry—and thirsty since there’s wine by the glass on the main level and beer on tap in the rooftop Birreria. Take your pick of handmade pasta, seasonal fish, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and all the other good things Italy is known for—including molto delizioso gelato.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
A visit to the Guggenheim is doubly rewarding: You get to see expertly curated collections of modern and contemporary art and admire one of America’s most iconic mid-20th-century buildings. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and opened in 1959, the museum mimics a spiraled nautilus shell that leads visitors on gently sloped ramps past exhibits featuring works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Cezanne, Kandinsky, and others amid a dramatic rotunda.
Grand Central Terminal
Yes, 750,000 harried commuters dash through Grand Central Terminal every day, but while you're there try not to get caught up in the bustle. Visit around midday, as light streams in from the cathedral-like windows, to appreciate this 100-year-old architectural gem’s massive main concourse and discover its hidden nooks and crannies with a downloadable self-tour app ($4.99). End your visit with lunch on the lower-level dining concourse, where you can chow down on everything from oysters to hot dogs.
Many New Yorkers try to avoid Times Square—not because of its seedy past, but rather because it now resembles an urban theme park overrun by hordes of tourists snapping selfies. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit (everyone should experience it at least once!). By all means, go, and while you’re there amid the neon lights, flashing Jumbotrons, giant ruby-red stairs, and guitar-strumming Naked Cowboy, get in line for discounted Broadway show tickets at the TKTS booth.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Channel the city’s historic energy and admire its famous skyline by strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge on the pedestrian pathway that has been there since it opened in 1883. The view is best if you start in Brooklyn (several subway lines will get you within a 15-minute walk), so start with a visit to Coney Island (in summer) or the New York Transit Museum (in other seasons) and finish with a walk back to Manhattan in late afternoon as the city is silhouetted behind grand Gothic arches.
Wine may be fine and let’s hear a cheer for beer, but if you want to be “on trend” in the New York bar scene, make whiskey your cocktail of choice. This fall, the city is overflowing with the stuff as several new or renovated hotel bars are packing their menus with single malts: There are 120 options at Reserve in the Morgan’s Hotel; 50 U.S.-distilled labels at the Whiskey Bar in the SoHo Grand; and a master mixologist from England who knows his whiskies at Henry, the new bar at The Hudson Hotel.
The West Village
From the zigzag streets that inspired beat poets, folk musicians, and activists half a century ago to the once-stinky-now-sanitized Meatpacking District that draws nightlife-lovers looking to mingle, the West Village is a neighborhood unlike any other. Head south of 14th St and west of Fifth Ave and simply get lost amid its charming townhouses, eclectic boutiques, and legendary bars, cafes, and shops, such as White Horse Tavern, Corner Bistro and Murray's Bagels.
Manhattan’s skyline and the lives of families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 will never be the same. But 12 years later, as the new Freedom Tower nears completion, the footprint of the World Trade Center’s twin towers has been transformed into the 9/11 Memorial. Cascading reflecting pools etched with the names of those who died stand where the 110-story buildings once did. The memorial echoes with sorrow and yet shines with the resilience of the city and its people. A museum will open in spring 2014.
Shake Shack vs. Burger Joint
Shake Shack began in 2004 as a shack in Madison Square Park, but has grown into a sizzling mini empire with six NYC locations and Shacks as far-flung as London and Istanbul. Credit restaurateur Danny Meyer, who delivers a delicious burger, fries and shake (albeit after a bit of a wait) at affordable prices. To really feed your beef addiction, try Burger Joint, tucked behind a wall of curtains in Le Parker Meridien—a bit pricier but a cool spot to scarf a burger.
Harlem’s Restaurant Row
Over the past few years, a culinary surge has taken place on lower Frederick Douglas Blvd in Harlem. From W 110th St to W 120th St you’ll now find a melting pot of eateries, among them: Bier International for German sausages, pretzels and pilsner; Lido for modern Italian a la gnocchi with truffle butter and pecorino; Melba’s for American comfort food such as BBQ turkey meatloaf; Zoma for savory African/Moroccan; and Vinateria for tapas-style Italian and a nice wine selection.
It weathered Superstorm Sandy with a few bruises, but Coney Island bounced back with the re-opening of its two most famous landmarks: the 87-year-old Cyclone roller coaster and the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. If you visit from April to October (pre-Memorial Day and post-Labor Day weekends only), hop the D, Q, N or F train to Stillwell Ave and explore the curiosities along the boardwalk.
It’s virtually impossible in New York, a city that’s home to hundreds of amazing chefs, to choose the ultimate restaurant for a special meal, but if you love seafood you can’t go wrong with Marea. It has an award-winning chef (Michael White), a sleek ambience, an iconic location on Central Park South, and sublimely prepared Italian-style seafood. Enjoy dishes such as bigeye tuna with crispy artichoke, fusilli with red-wine-braised octopus and bone marrow, and salt-baked branzino.
New York Transit Museum
While the humongous Intrepid, anchored in the Hudson, is an obvious must for parents with kids, if you’ve been there, done that, consider a subway ride to Brooklyn Heights to explore the New York Transit Museum. Located below ground in a circa-1936 station, it’s where vintage subway cars, some dating back to the early 20th century and featuring woven cane seats, live on as exhibits you can explore.
Edi & the Wolf
Brunch spots are as common as potholes in NYC, so if you want uncommon head to the East Village to Edi & the Wolf (named for Austrian chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban). A departure from their high-end Seasonal restaurant, this $16 brunch menu starts with an impossible-to-resist bread basket (chocolate cherry, challah and pumpernickel) and forces you to choose between scrambled eggs with crispy onions, walnuts and gruyere; a schnitzel burger on brioche roll with pickled peppers and avocado cream; and other unconventional delights.
Top of the Rock
Some people insist on visiting the top of the Empire State Building, but the view is just as incredible from the outdoor decks of Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center—plus you’ll get awesome shots of the ESB from the south-facing terrace. Time your visit for an hour before sunset and linger as the sky turns magenta-orange and lights transform the skyline into a twinkling mosaic.