NYC Plan

NYC Aerial

I loved everyone’s ideas and advice for spending time in NYC. The plan is coming together! We’re going in mid-October: lots of time yet to finalize.

Flights are booked – it’s a little under 2.5 hours direct, exactly the same as here to Toronto, and only a one-hour time difference. Same cost to fly, too!

I reserved a room at a well-reviewed and reasonable hotel in Greenwich Village. Most of our music, book and shopping interests take us to that neighbourhood, so I went with full immersion. It’s easy to travel up to midtown when we like.

High Line and Chelsea Market (Photo: Savory Sojourns)

High Line and Chelsea Market (Photo: Savory Sojourns)

We arrive on a Saturday morning. If the weather cooperates, I’d like to walk the High Line and binge-snack at Chelsea Market! The High Line is a walking trail and park created from an unused elevated train track in the Meatpacking District (a gentrified area well known from Samantha’s digs on Sex and the City). The Market is an old brick Oreo factory stuffed with food vendors, Food Network connections, and a corner block of indie kiosks called Artists and Fleas. If the weather is miserable, we’ll stick close to the hotel and visit record shops and guitar shops. And I will pop over to Peanut Butter and Co.!

Some time during our trip we will go on a walking tour describing the 70s music scene of the Lower East Side, and if time allows, book a visit to the Tenement Museum.

On Sunday, shhh, don’t tell Rom he is going to church! I belong to a Unitarian church, and New York has a very famous one, All Souls, which I must visit. It’s way up on East 77th. I am craving a meal at only one well-known New York “proper” restaurant, Candle79, which will tie in nicely. 79th is  as far uptown as we will be visiting this trip.

This production of Cabaret features Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming

This production of Cabaret features Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming

Monday through Wednesday, we have two ticketed shows: the revival of the musical Cabaret, which is playing at the former Studio 54 building, and a concert by Bombay Bicycle Club. They are an indie band along the lines of Editors, Doves and Elbow. I am psyched for both shows!

I could stare at Rothkos all day. I am not kidding. (Photo: thelmagazine.com)

I could stare at Rothkos all day. I am not kidding. (Photo: thelmagazine.com)

I hope to spend a full day at MOMA. I’ve heard that some don’t like the latest renovations, but fortunately I have no point of comparison. Two of the feature exhibits when I’m there are Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse, but the list of famous artworks in their permanent collection is stunning! The Starry Night and The Persistence of Memory, for starters. And there is a sculpture garden!

With any luck I’ll be able to time my visit to Top of the Rock, the viewing deck at the Rockefeller Center, at sunset. Asian Pear did that to get views of day, sunset and night: brilliant!

Photo from Freehand Life

Photo from Freehand Life

Of course, I will be spending time at New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman main library. I regret that the main reading room is closed, but there are lots of exhibits. I hope to see the original plush toys of Winnie the Pooh and friends in their expat home! They must be used to unattended adults in their children’s area? I will also stroll down Library Way being inspired by literary words of wisdom.

I have three buildings on my to-view list: the Chrysler, the Seagram’s and Empire State. But will be quite happy to walk around outside them. I have seen other buildings like the Flatiron but I may pass it in my travels.

Photo from a post at oslonights.no

Photo from a post at oslonights.no

Between outings, my shopping hit list includes Bleecker and Christopher Streets (at least walk by Stonewall Inn), St. Mark’s Place (rock music-related), the vintage strip of East 9th Street, and Broadway in Soho for Bloomingdale’s and Ben Sherman. It’s funny the stores that people think are a big deal – I’ve never been to a Uniqlo or an Anthropologie, but New Yorkers were excited to get lululemon and LUSH, which are everyday to me! If you think I am going to ruin my non-consumer streak with all this shopping, yes, I am. I just hope to be judicious.

I am still open to suggestions – and I can always get a head start on planning a return visit!

57 comments

  1. Just remember that NYC doesn’t just consist of Manhattan and the hipster/gentrified neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. If you want to take a trip to where are the locals go for vacation, I know buds up in the Poconos I could hook you up with 😉

    • Hi Charlie, As a first-time visitor I will be awed by all the usual tourist and hipster stuff! I live in Nova Scotia where we are surrounded by forests, lakes and ocean beaches. Our nearest big cities are Montreal and Boston, both about 14 hours away by car. So I gravitate toward big cities rather than quiet get-aways. Not that I wouldn’t like to meet your buds 🙂 I have been through upstate New York a couple of times when driving from Boston to Montreal, going through Albany and Plattsburg. I remember Lake George and Lake Champlain.

  2. EcoCatLady

    Holy Moly! I’ve never even heard of most of those places. Sounds like you’ve done your research!

  3. Patricia

    Hi Dar. I live in New York and I am so excited that you will be visiting. I never get tired or bored of NYC. Your plans sounds fantastic. I would like to suggest that you consider taking the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island (the view is amazing), Metropolitan Museum, Frick Museum and Central Park. The last three are close to each other and you can do it in the same day.

    • Hi Patricia, thank you for stopping by. I am overwhelmed by all there is to see and do. So I’ve just chosen a bunch of stuff that appeals to me, and I have every expectation I will love it and I’ll be back! I prefer city vacations always. I am sure our plans will change a lot depending on weather, and The Met would be my #1 choice for an extra rainy day! Thanks for mentioning The Frick, too, which I hadn’t seen mentioned before, and sounds charming. After I get my fill of modern art, heh heh!

  4. Sounds lovely and I look forward to seeing your pictures. I’ve flown over a few times but never visited, maybe one day. I hope you have a fabulous time my lovely x

  5. Fiona

    I am jealous in a bad-jealous not happy-jealous way, lol! (i.e. green with envy!!) What a great combination of things to do. I want to move Australia about 15 hours further north so we can get to places like this in 2.5 hours!

    • I felt the same this summer, Fiona, when I was in a construction zone at work and you were luxuriating in France 🙂 I do feel lucky that we can access North America and Europe easily. For me, a trip to Australia, Japan, Thailand or Hawaii would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime excursion because of costs (as you saw when I noted the airfares to Melbourne!)

      • Fiona

        😀 There has to be a cheaper way to do Halifax-Melbourne. I need to work on it as Toronto is still on my ‘must do’ list…and Montreal (definitely)…and Nova Scotia! (And The Rockies and…where do I stop?!)

      • I should meet you in Toronto and it’s “only” a 5-hour train ride to Montreal!

      • Fiona

        5 hours! I thought it was an hour or two away…forgot we are talking ‘Canadian distance’!

      • Isn’t that the same as “Australian distance”?

        1 hour 10 minutes air travel, BTW 🙂

      • Fiona

        It is like ‘Australian distance’…but being unfamiliar with the real places, I still look at a map of Canada and think, ‘we could just pop up from Toronto to Montreal for a quick visit!’

        Agreed though…we’ll catch the plane to get our poutine!

  6. Oh it’s ambitious, but I know you get a lot done on your holidays! I must work at having a better plan for my trip to New Calendonia. And plan more breaks from work (I have the leave) before I get worked out!!

    • I just looked up the location and photos of New Caledonia and it looks amazing! Sure hope you do take all the time off you can. And yes, I will be powering through NYC doing as much as possible, none of that foolish relaxing and sleeping stuff 🙂

  7. This list of things to do and see sounds perfect to me. Caberet will be amazing – I love Alan Cumming!

  8. Sounds marvelous and perfect for your interests. Looking forward to the pictures and report.

  9. Holly

    Sounds like you’ve put together a great itinerary. Are you going to venture into Brooklyn at all or leave that for the next visit? Sorry if I missed it, that could be a separate trip for sure.

  10. I would throw in my two favorite things to do with out of town guests – The Circle Line (a tourist boat that goes completely around the island – you get to see a lot of architecture and all the bridges and some unusual areas and you get to sit still and relax) and the Frick Collection (3 Vermeers and an idea of how the wealthy lived – free on Sunday 11A-1P).

    • Hey, that is two votes for the Frick today! Maybe I can work that into my Sunday. I was thinking of doing one of those hop-on, hop off bus tours to get an overview of the island, but the Circle Line sounds so much better – thank you for the tip!

  11. I can see you’ve had a lot of fun in the planning! I love all your choices except a day in the MOMA. I’d go but a day would be too long. I prefer buildings to paintings.

    I know they say don’t walk around the city looking up, you look too much like a tourist. But I love doing that in my own city. Every time I go I always notice some detail on a building that I haven’t noticed previously.

    I can’t wait for “our” holiday. I say our as I will be holidaying vicariously through you. Think Fiona will too! So take some photos and tell us what we enjoyed the most!

    • Hi L, I am an architecture fan, too. My idea of a “day” at a museum is about 10-4 with a fairly decadent lunch inside and a browse around the gift shop 🙂

      I don’t want to wish the time away between now and then because in the meanwhile we are visiting Rom’s parents in the UK. What jetsetters we are! (The result of not being allowed to take any summer vacation this year, and carrying over the scheduled NYC trip from 2013 because we couldn’t get away!)

      I will let you know what all of us liked best on vacation!

  12. What a fun vacation you have planned. Me, I’m not much into city vacations but my son and his wife visited NYC for a week each for the last two years. The one thing I didn’t see mentioned here is The Strand Bookstore. My daughter-in-law loved it. It carries both new, used and rare books. Here’s a link if you haven’t heard of it. http://www.strandbooks.com/about-strand-books/

  13. Shannon D.

    Ahhh, Winnie the Pooh! Sounds like a great trip!

  14. Sounds awesome 🙂 I really enjoy the variety in NYC architecture, so many different styles to see! Anthropologie is always fun to browse (I’ve been to one in NYC and another in Pennsylvania) but even with a free license to spend, I’ve never purchased anything. I think their style may be too whimsical for me?

    • Thanks! My idea of whimsical is wearing the occasional floral shirt or a cartoon Tshirt. Not sure if it will suit me, but I look forward to peeking in. Architecture-wise, I think I am looking forward to the new MOMA the most.

  15. Gam Kau

    I’ve been away so arriving late to this discussion, but aside from comfortable shoes (Converse work for me) and a map on hand, you”lll be fine. Manhattan is safe and a great place to explore and so long as you are willing to meander you’ll be fine. New Yorkers are very helpful and friendly despite the reputation.
    Spend a day local to your hotel, a day wandering around uptown, a day downtown (Chinatown, walk the bridge, Battery Park-view statue of Liberty)…

    Maybe The Strand Bookstore: http://www.strandbooks.com

    And I like to take people here just because I find it interesting…worth wandering downstairs (if you aren’t squeamish). It’s been around since the 60s.
    http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/the-leather-man-new-york

    You can do your own version of this:
    http://untappedcities.com/2013/07/02/tracing-the-patti-smith-trail-new-york-city-east-village/

    • Well, ahem, I do know I will be on Christopher Street so…
      Love the Patti Smith photo tour! Thanks for the link; that’s brilliant! I had pinned a few of those sites on my map app and will add more. As a librarian, I should have realized someone had done this before and I didn’t need to recreate it from scratch!
      I will go to The Strand – and hope I don’t walk out with too much. I am hoping I can stick to buying things that are really New York specific (and mostly spending on experiences like attractions and food).

  16. Gam Kau

    Also, the Staten Island is free and you get a great view –

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/ferrybus/staten-island-ferry.shtml

    • I had no idea it was free! I thought it was, like, a day trip 🙂

    • Gam Kau

      Also, if you’re in the area, Dover Street Market for a edgy fashion boutique (owned by Rei Kawakubo). Very pricey, but interesting if you enjoy fashion. http://newyork.doverstreetmarket.com

      And, Koons, if you happen to be nearby…
      http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/JeffKoons

      Museum of Natural History to see the big blue whale if you are on the west side, plus a stop at Zabars for a snack…

      (I’m in GB)

      • Hi Gam Kau, In the UK, really! I somehow didn’t catch that. I may have to get to Dover Street Market because their web site and the the photos of their store spaces are stunning. But not to buy anything! The Koons exhibit will be leaving by the time I get there. So many choices!

      • Gam Kau

        And swing by Bergdorfs if you have time while uptown – just for the experience of a beautiful department store. If you walk into the ground floor (cosmetics dept) while the store is opening, you will be surprised to hear blasting rock music coming through the speakers. It’s a nice juxtaposition.
        And Dover Street Market is really worth visiting…just to admire the setting and beautiful people.
        Too many choices, not enough time!

  17. Oops–I was going to vote for Frick also. Metropolitan Museum is–I believe–pay what you will.
    People who live in the city know where to eat at a reasonable price–perhaps check Chowhound for recs. Have fun! I haven’t been in a zillion years.

    • Now hoping I have some time to spend uptown. And if it’s mostly rainy, I will of course pack in more museum visits!

    • Gam Kau

      Yes, the Met is pay what you will, so don’t get pressured to pay the full recommended price unless you are feeling unduly generous. Just walk in and say we’re paying a dollar each and put down your two dollars. It’s not an issue at all. There are enough wealthy patrons in NYC to not have worries about Met funding.
      Go see the Temple of Dendur and Astor Court at the Met!
      Along with The Leather Man (which won’t disappoint), the Temple and Astor are what I recommend to visitors.

      • Gam Kau, what region do you live in? For some reason I was thinking midwest/Chicago?

      • The MET (including the Cloisters) and Natural History Museum are both donation based all the time. You have to pay something, but it can be as little as a dollar and they will accept it. Some other museums have free/donation based hours once a week. Those are nice but the museums will be packed so I actually avoid. I’d rather pay a little and have a more enjoyable experience.

  18. Have fun. I have enjoyed the planning tips. Start listening to some Sinatra or Billy Joel’s “I am in New York State of Mind” to get in the mood. I was traveling down the NY Throughway Sunday night on my way home from dropping my son off at college and picked up a station out of NYC called WFUV I think. They were playing 20’s and 30’s music and I was captivated. All the best, BTG

    • Thanks! I can handle some Sinatra. That other guy – he has enough fans and doesn’t need me, LOL! I have been listening to all the New York bands in my music collection like Television, Talking Heads, Blondie and the Modern Lovers.

  19. We will be going next year I hope! Love your plans – I will be coming to you for advice then!

  20. Pingback: London Bound | lucinda sans

  21. Wow what a great list of things to do! Ive been to NYC many times and wasn’t aware of many of these things so I will definitely add them to my “go to NYC” list too! Can’t wait to read your trip report/see photos of your trip!

  22. Sue

    If you have time, I would really recommend the Tenement Museum – they have a selection of different tours and the ones I went on were excellent – really gave you a sense of the immigrant experience and the history of the city. Also, there’s a free private museum … corner of 5th and 12th, I think, can’t remember the name but it’s a famous publisher – really interesting collection of autographs and Faberge eggs on display when we were there many years ago. Owner’s private collections. I’ve been to New York 5 or 6 times and would love to go back… endless options for things to see and do!

  23. Bagels. You have three options of getting a real nyc bagel depending where you are in the city. The closest one to your hotel is Murray’s on 6th ave b/t 12th & 13th sts. If you’re in FiDi, go to Leo’s. If you’re on the upper west side, go to Absolute Bagels.

    Cannoli’s. Walking distance to your hotel is Bruno’s Bakery on LaGuardia Pl b/t Houston and Bleecker. Ask for a regular cannoli – they don’t have them in the display case because they fill them fresh. Then take your yummy treats and go eat them in nearby Washington Sq Park!

    Your hotel is in the absolute best location in Manhattan! You can easily walk to a whole lot of places and have plenty of trains to get to others. Great choice! I agree with others that you have to go to The Strand. I’ve never been to The Frick; I guess it’s not in my bubble because I don’t hear of people talking about it much.

    MoMA is great and you will love it. That is definitely a great idea for a day because it will take you a while to look at everything. Central Park is also near-by if you want to walk along the perimeter. And the Trump Building is around there (5th ave and 56th st) – it’s open to the public and is so gaudy it’s hilarious. Worth just walking into for the ridiculous lavishness of it.

    The Highline is great. It shouldn’t be too crowded that time of year. In the summer it can get so packed it’s not enjoyable but you should be fine. The Chelsea Market is… okay. It’s close to the highline so I understand why you’re going. But I would definitely not go out of your way for it. On the weekends it’s mainly tourists, and on the weekdays it’s mainly Google employees for lunch. I’m not sure who else goes there. Most of the vendors have locations elsewhere in the city anyway. My favorite there is Num Pang (banh mi sandwiches cambodian style), they also have a location near Madison Sq Park.

    Terminal 5 is not a good venue (it’s huge and the acoustics are rough) but because it’s huge, big acts go there and even though we’ll complain about it, sometimes our favorite bands play there and we just have to suck it up and go. I saw PJ Harvey there several years ago and she was wonderful! I’m sure you’ll love the show!

    You can definitely walk from your hotel to the main Library, it should take you 30 mins. But just think about what you’ll be doing before/after. Once you get to the library you’ll be walking around for an additional 30 or so minutes there. Then you’ll continue walking around afterward. You can judge your own tiredness. And Bryant Park is right next door if you want to take a short break.

    I don’t know if you’ll have time, but did you look up Sleep No More? It’s an interactive performance variation of Macbeth taken place in a giant warehouse turned into old time hotel. It’s an amazing experience! And not too expensive. I highly recommend it! (i’ve been twice, it’s different every time).

    I’m surprised that so many people have recommended the Staten Island Ferry but no one mentioned walking the bridges. I would suggest one or the other, but I’m biased to the bridges. The ferry (free) is nice if you want to take a little break and still see stuff. It’s 25 mins each way, but once you get to Staten Island you’ll just want to hop on the next Ferry. There’s really nothing worth seeing there. On the ferry you’ll pass the Statue of Liberty and see a view of lower manhattan. The bridges will take about the same amount of time (an hour one way) and there are plenty of spots to stop and look at the views. Brooklyn Bridge is super crowded all the time but beautiful. Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges give you good views of the other bridges and the city. Especially if you walk from BK to Manhattan – gorgeous views!

    Another quick-ish jaunt like this is the Roosevelt Island Tram. It costs a metro card swipe and is a gondola that takes you from midtown east over to Roosevelt Island. It’s neat, quick (15 mins or so), and also has good views (especially going back). The small island is pretty though not much to do other than walk around so you’d probably want to come right back. Just something small/quick to see more of the city in a way most people don’t.

  24. I thought of two other places!

    First, Kinokuniya Bookstore is right next to Bryant Park on 6th avenue b/t 40th and 41st. This is an amazing Japanese bookstore! The main floor is all Japanese books/magazines. Downstairs is all stationary and little Japanese character toys/merchandise. Upstairs is all manga and anime!

    Second, Toy Tokyo is in the East Village and is also a fun shoppe. It’s rather small and jam packed of toys/figurines geared toward collectors. So you’ll see some rarer items and collections, which is really neat! That’s at 2nd avenue b/t 5th and 6th st, so you should easily be able to get there!

  25. aaaaaaaah one more! You didn’t mention Grand Central station, which I do recommend walking in to because it is a gorgeous building. You will be right near it when you’re at the library anyway (42nd and Park Ave). In the station, if you make your way over to the Oyster Bar, you will find yourself in a large four cornered area. This is the whispering wall! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whispering_gallery) You go to one corner, husband goes to the other, then you whisper into the corner and he will hear you clear as day! It’s really neat. And will only take a few minutes.

  26. Another thing about NYC you may or may not know, we have some of the country’s best tap water! Our tap water is actually piped down from giant reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains! Totally clean and safe to drink, so you don’t have to worry about that!

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