You can spend the day in New York City without even leaving your house.
The city that never sleeps has come to a standstill because of coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that the spirit of New York isn’t alive and well. Whether you call New York home or if it’s been on your bucket list for years, this roundup of what to eat, cook, and watch at home will make you yearn to return to New York City. Here’s how you can discover the Big Apple from the comfort of your own home.
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Have a New York-Style Brunch
A perfect day in New York City should start with the perfect bagel. And unless you happen to be living in the tri-state area, chances are that the closest bagel to you might be worse than having no bagel at all. Never fear, because New York City’s finest purveyors have got you covered with nationwide shipping. H&H Bagels, the famous Upper West Side establishment, has multiple delivery options for bagels, cream cheese, fish salad, and lox. Zabar’s has some wildly elaborate options for New York brunch at home, with packages that include rugelach and pastrami in addition to bagels. Complete your New York brunch with an order from The Pickle Guys, where you can get everything from pickled mango to pickled okra to sauerkraut.
Take a Stroll Past New York’s Most Iconic Landmarks
Ok, so it’s not possible to spend an afternoon walking the Highline or the Brooklyn Bridge right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pretend. Google maps can take you on a walk across the East River or up the Highline (just drop that little man icon onto the bridge and start walking!). You can also take a virtual tour of Central Park and get to experience all the hidden secrets like the lesser-known Conservatory Garden (especially lovely in springtime). And if you can’t get enough of spring blooms, take a tour of the New York Botanical Garden. For a taste of summer, New York 360 will drop you right into the middle of Coney Island on a weekend–you can almost smell the hot dogs.
Visit an Art Museum
New York’s most revered cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, and The Museum of the City of New York have made their collections available for virtual exploration with Google Arts and Culture. MoMA is also providing free access to their magazine, YouTube channel, Coursera courses, and audio archives. The Frick Collection has a virtual tour available on their website where you can explore the incredible 5th Avenue mansion (and spy some art by Old Masters). The Whitney has launched the Whitney From Home, a treasure trove of digital resources like video content and audio tours for kids. Don’t forget about the museum gift shops. Right now, they’re stocked full of fun stuff to help you pass the time, like artsy puzzles, fun games, and esoteric books.
Go on an Online Shopping Spree
New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world for shopping, and not just because of the fabulous department stores and ultra-luxe designer flagships that line 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. New York’s most beloved neighborhoods are filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques and vintage stores that need support now more than ever. In Hell’s Kitchen, November 19 sells chic home goods and quirky gifts sourced from all over the world. Browse their website for the perfect Japanese mug, a luxurious scented candle, or a tiny gold pencil sharpener.
Plan the perfect outfit for your first post-quarantine party by browsing the fashionable frocks at Mara Hoffman, Rachael Comey, Batsheva Dress, Ulla Johnson, Warm, Pachute, Bird, Concrete + Water, or Martine’s Dream. Treat yourself with wellness-inspired goodies from Jill Lindsey or clean beauty products from Shen Beauty. And if it’s something sparkly you’re after, check out the websites (and Instagram feeds) for Love Adorned and Mociun for vintage and handmade jewelry and home goods.
Get Lost in the Pages of a Book
Lucky for us homebound folks, New York City has forever been immortalized in the pages of countless books. From the Gilded Age lavishness of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence to the reckless bohemian lifestyles of Patty Smith’s Just Kids, there’s a New York for everyone between the pages of a book. New York in all its glory comes to life in hundreds of books, from classic historical novels like Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn and Toni Morrison’s Jazz to novels that serve as juicy cultural critiques of New York City society, like Bonfire of the Vanities and People Like Us.
This is a great time to read hopeful books, too, and two books written in the aftermath of 9/11 will make you recognize the beauty of humanity—Column McCann’s Let the Great World Spin and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
But it’s also a great time to participate in mindless content consumption, too, so feel free to tear through the entire Gossip Girl series to get a sense of what life is like for the privileged few on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
INSIDER TIPDon’t forget to support your favorite local bookstores. Shops like Books Are Magic have taken their programming online with virtual readings and book parties, so log on and join the fun.
Stream an Unforgettable Performance
While we can’t visit the Theater District of Lincoln Center right now, it doesn’t mean we have to forego opera, ballet, or our favorite Broadway shows. Broadway HD is a streaming service that offers hundreds of ad-free broadway productions for just $8.99/month. Alternately you can search streaming services like Amazon Prime and Apple TV for recordings of live performances–or even the movie version of a Broadway favorite like Chicago, Les Miserables, or Cats. You can take your theater obsession one step further with Broadway Plus, which gives you VIP access to meet and greets, improv classes, and more.
During coronavirus lockdown, the Metropolitan Opera is letting fans visit Lincoln Center from the comfort of their own homes with free nightly streaming performances of some of the most incredible operas to ever grace the stage, from Wagner’s Ring series to Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutti.
If all else fails, remember that you can always use Spotify or another music service to stream or download recordings of popular Broadway shows like Hamilton and West Side Story, iconic operas like Carmen and The Magic Flute, or famous ballets like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Explore New York With Your Favorite TV Shows and Movies
There’s never been a better time to rewatch your favorite series from start to finish or to immerse yourself in the world of your favorite movie–it’s like comfort food in screen form, nourishing for the soul.
New York City has made countless appearances in TV shows and movies. If sitcoms are your ideal antidote for the quarantine blues, you can stream Friends, Seinfeld, or How I Met Your Mother. If you’re in need of high drama and outlandish fashion choices to stave off boredom, look no further than the iconic Sex and the City, but don’t forget about Girls, Gossip Girl, or Real Housewives of New York, arguably the best series in the franchise.
In the world of movies, the New York is the best supporting character in enough Oscar-winning Best Picture films to keep you occupied for a few weeks, including On the Waterfront (1954), West Side Story (1961), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Godfather (1962), Annie Hall (1977), and Birdman (2014). And while New York City is the setting in critically acclaimed films like Taxi Driver and Do the Right Thing, it is perhaps the rom-com where the city shines the best. Lockdown is a time to indulge in your guilty pleasures, so practice some self-care with a marathon of sappy movies you loved as a teen.
If you’d like to watch a quirky and beautiful woman juggling her career and her love life while working at a glossy magazine, look no further than 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or The Devil Wears Prada. For more career-related mishaps happening to beautiful people, check out Maid in Manhattan (starring Jennifer Lopez), Second Act (also starring Jennifer Lopez), or Hustlers (Jennifer Lopez again). But whatever you do, don’t forget to hunker down in cozy town with what is surely the greatest rom-com of all time: When Harry Met Sally.
It’s Pizza Time
A slice of pizza is the quintessential New York food. From $1 slide joints where you eat off of a greasy paper plate on the sidewalk to elegant and inventive Neapolitan-style pies at hip Brooklyn restaurants, there’s a pizza for every price and palate in New York.
The good news is that pizza is pretty easy to come by, even in lockdown. Order up a pie from your favorite delivery place (be sure to tip well) or sample the fine delicacies of your grocery store’s freezer aisle. If you’re feeling ambitious, pizza dough is quite easy to make, even for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the dough, get creative with ingredients (browse the menu at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, Lucali, or Emily for ideas) or stick to a classic Margherita.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can even order the real deal, even if you live nowhere near New York City–Roberta’s sells their frozen pies online. They also have a cookbook, so you can whip up your own sides and salads and pretend you’re in the backyard of Bushwick’s trendiest pizzeria.
INSIDER TIPYou can even eat off of a paper plate if you really want to feel like you’re on the streets of New York.
Turn Your House into a Speakeasy
Lockdown is a great time to pick up a new skill, and maybe that skill should be the art of the cocktail. New York is home to some of the most famous speakeasy bars on earth, which is sort of an oxymoron if you think about it. But although these bars remain exclusive, hidden, and hard to find, the recipes for their drinks are not.
Milk and Honey pioneered the concept of the craft cocktail speakeasy in New York. While the bar has been closed for years, you can still immerse yourself in the brilliance of the late Sasha Petraske with his book Regarding Cocktails. Other boozy institutions who have published their recipes include Death & Company (Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails); The Blue Quarter (Sother Teague’s I’m Just Here for the Drinks); and Please Don’t Tell (The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy). So turn off the lights, decorate with some candles, put on some Django Reinhardt tunes, and Venmo yourself $26 for a cocktail at home.
Support Local Artists and Galleries
With galleries closed and events canceled, artists are struggling to make ends meet during the lockdown. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to support New York artists, even for free. The best place to support artists right now is on Instagram, where you can follow, like, share, and comment on the work of your favorite creators. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at some of New York’s coolest galleries to see what and who they’re featuring. Hesse Flatow focuses on emerging artists, while Howard Greenberg Gallery showcases some of the most important photographers of all time, like Vivian Maier and Dorothea Lange. The non-profit org NADA is well worth a follow, and if you have some extra funds to spare, NADA’s Gallery Relief Fund is a worthy cause. Quarantine Gallery is a virtual art space that curates exhibitions in response to the pandemic–if you’re an artist yourself, they’re open to submissions, too.
Some artists and creators have even pivoted to coronavirus-adjacent works, like Dave Pollot’s Dry Run still life featuring Clorox and Lysol, Susan Alexandra’s mini-meals in support of No Kid Hungry or Sarah Coleman’s masks and hand sanitizers.