"I've got a gun let's go to a Broadway show"
July 25, 2011 7:23 PM   Subscribe

What should I see/eat/do in New York City this week?

I'm going to New York this Wed. - Sunday for a film festival. Outside of the screening Thursday night, I don't have any plans at all. Hopefully you can help with that.

I'll be staying in the midtown/Broadway/Times Square area (not really by choice; it's close to my screening.) I have been to New York a few times and seen the very basic tourist things but not much else.

What I like:
Museums and arty stuff
Music- rockish, indieish, alt-country-ish
Literary-related stuff (bonus points for "Gatsby" tie-ins!)
coffee shops
Good food
Stuff I can do by myself without feeling awkward- for me that means I will sit in a cool bar where I can read a book or just chill, but I'm less likely to go to some big dance club. I'm not a huge fan of eating alone at "fancy" restaurants but love good food in a casual setting. I'm a vegetarian, but eat fish, love Indian and other spicy foods.

For lack of a better word, "hipstery" is a pretty good stereotype of what I like. If you know L.A., I live in Silver Lake. I'm interested in exploring Brooklyn/Williamsburg too- specific recommendations are great, but if there's a certain subway stop where I should just get off and poke around, I can do that too. Jonathan and Ray's world in "Bored to Death" kind of appeals to me.

This is kind of lame and embarrassing but I wouldn't mind visiting the famous view by the Brooklyn(??) Bridge. You know, the one from "Manhattan" among other movies.

Not interested in:
Broadway shows
Times Square touristy stuff
Anything that costs a fortune

Maybe:
There is some boat trip that you can take just to see the sites I think? Want to say Staten Island ferry but maybe not? This is embarrassing.

I'm leaving this pretty open-ended; I am well aware there are tens of thousands of bars and restaurants in New York City- just hoping to hear about some hidden treasures I wouldn't otherwise.
posted by drjimmy11 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (39 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
The boat trip you're thinking of is probably the Circle Line - I think its worthwhile. The Staten Island ferry is free... but you're going to Staten Island. You should also look into visiting Governors Island too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:33 PM on July 25, 2011


You mean the view of the Queensborough Bridge from Sutton Square, right? Sadly the bench in the famous photo from Manhattan was placed there for the film. The spot is still there of course but that bench is a bit of movie mythology.
posted by cazoo at 7:35 PM on July 25, 2011


If I were in NYC this week, I'd swing by the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. He has great flavors that are totally gay, i.e., awesome! Check on twitter for his location for the day. I had a great vanilla with sea salt and olive oil last time I was there, and it was so delicious.

Also, if you're downtown on Bleecker, Murray's Cheese is great--but next door there's a fish shop called The Lobster Place or something--you can get a nice selection of oysters and head down to the little square on 6th Ave and eat the oysters en plein air. Lovely on a warm day.

Plus, the High Line.

For coffee, I like Joe (several locations), Cafe Grumpy (several locations), and 9th Street Espresso (same).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:38 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


nthing the High Line, very cool elevated park on 8th avenue that used to be train tracks which they have made into a park. You can enter in a few select locations. Great for reading, people watching, chilling, etc. It gets busy on the weekend though: Places to Access the Highline

Coffee is everywhere, but it sounds like you appreciate anything but Starbucks (found on every other block). What Admiral Haddock said is good for coffee. I LOVE 9the Street Espresso, but it is more of a 'get your coffee and leave' place vs a loungey spot. Think Coffee is good if you want to lounge and they have a few locations.

For literary related stuff, why don't you go to the Library on 42nd Street & Fifth. It's huge and stunning. It's often referred to as "The Main Branch" (stole that quote from the site). This would likely be a place to sit and chill as well, but even dropping in for a second is well worth it.

For other cool events, pick up a Time Out New York at any news stand for the week and you will find a ton of cool events (mostly free or cheap) which should tickle your fancy.
posted by darkgroove at 7:58 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go see Pilobolus during their summer run at the Joyce theater. Even restricted view seats are worth it, IMO.

And while this might be to obvious touristy, I recommend taking a walk through Central Park, and a visit to the Met, if you haven't yet.
posted by fings at 7:58 PM on July 25, 2011


I can’t really figure out from your description what you are looking for exactly, but this is free, has a boat, and is a bit unique.

As someone mentions above, check out Governor’s Island, but see it on Thursday. You basically go to the island with a few pple (10 or so) and see it with a ranger. It has only been open for the last few years and has forts, etc. Get there by 10:00 (earlier even).

If you haven’t seen the MET before, then check it out. You can see things such as an entire Temple inside and more.

You can try to see Shakespeare in the park (for free), but it may be hard to get tix as this is the last week it is playing. Virtual line so you don't waste your whole day.
posted by Wolfster at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone- great stuff so far! As I said before I'm not looking for anything in particular, so any ideas within my basic parameters are very welcome.

I do mean the Circle Line and I do mean the Queensborough Bridge, ha ha.

If anyone has anything Brooklyn-specific please chime in!
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:06 PM on July 25, 2011


NY Water Taxi has a one-hour express boat tour for 25 bucks.

I'd definitely take some time to check out the brand new and apparently pretty cool (haven't been there myself, but heard good things!) Dekalb Market in Brooklyn.

Have fun in the city!
posted by Opal at 8:20 PM on July 25, 2011


The Staten Island ferry is free... but you're going to Staten Island.

There are actually places to visit and some real hidden treasures on Staten Island. Like the Scholar's Garden at the Botanical Garden

Someone mentioned the NYPL at Bryant Park. I've recommended it on here before, but the library is celebrating
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:29 PM on July 25, 2011


Go to the PS1! Check their events.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 8:31 PM on July 25, 2011


You might like Cake Shop, a cafe/bar/concert venue on the Lower East Side over where the hipsters hang. It's fun to go there with a book or a laptop and take in the ambience.

On Saturday, Smorgasburg is delightful (if overwhelming) for a wide range of food and you won't have to feel weird at all about eating alone. There is a ferry that goes there, and to other places like Governor's Island, which is beautiful and green and full of bike rentals and happenings, if you want to see the water.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is beautiful and free before 12 on Saturdays, I believe.

And take the subway to 5th Avenue and visit the Superhero Store! Perhaps you know its LA counterpart, the Time Travel Store.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:39 PM on July 25, 2011


the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the AMNH is my all-time favorite place in the entire, ahem, universe. (it blows the Griffith Observatory out of the water)...the zeiss star projector is the most advanced in the world (capable of displaying the night sky accurately...up to several hundred light-years from the earth!)...and be sure to check out the 'powers of ten'-style walkway on the mezzanine level...on the opposite (south) side of the museum (first floor), be sure to check out the 'wall of biodiversity', particularly the exquisite glass models of single cell organisms...it's right by the hall with the life-size model of a blue whale...the gem hall (further back in that wing) is also pretty rad ...the museum is a long, but very nice walk through the park from where you're staying...

bethesda fountain in the middle of the park has been in about too many movies to count...be sure to walk through the tunnel just south of it...look up. the fountain is right between the AMNH and the MET...you cant miss the greek wing or the temple of dendur (i'm particularly fond of the room full of amarna-period rubble just prior to the temple...when facing it from in front of its gateway arch) ...there's almost always a really awesome rotating display of contempory art down the hallway leading to the modern wing...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:39 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh, and WED is free day at the bronx zoo...which is comparable to the san diego zoo...if that's too far out, don't miss the smaller, but still rad (and cheap), central park zoo...the jungle house is super-cool and has poison dart frogs, and the penguin house is super-cool because, well, it's been super-cooled. (awesome this time of year...NYC has not the love-affair with air-conditioning that L.A. does) also, penguins! gay penguins, to boot.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:45 PM on July 25, 2011


Friday night, They Might Be Giants are playing a free show at the Williamsburg waterfront.

If you're looking for extremely interesting, exceptionally creative, truly delicious food, try to snag a table at Dirt Candy. It's a vegetarian (but not at all healthy) restaurant in the heart of the East Village, that imo is serving some of the city's most remarkable meals. Good pre- and post-dinner wandering to be had in the neighborhood, as well.

While you're in the East Village, go to Momofuku Milk Bar and get a cookie. Or go for breakfast and get a bizarre/genius croissant flavor like Reuben (rye croissant filled with pastrami, sauerkraut, cheese, russian dressing).

nthing the High Line. Start at the southernmost entrance, bring a couple bucks to get a paleta to slurp on while walking. When you get all the way to the top (at 30th street), spend $12 to pick up a pair of rollerskates at the temporary Uniqlo roller rink that opens Thursday. (First 500 people to show up get free admission; it'll probably be a little mobbed.)

If it's after 10pm any night and you're looking for something to do, go to the UCB theater and see whatever they've got going on.

Want music? Check out the lineup at The Bell House, which is consistently indie, interesting, and fun. Christie Front Drive are playing on Saturday.

I can do this all day. Let me know if you want more!
posted by hels at 8:52 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


oh, and there's an entire block (i believe 6th street between 1st and 2nd) of the most crazily-decorated indian restaurants you've ever seen...although Panna II on 1st ave just south of 6th has to be my favorite (there's another indian restaurant up the same flight of stairs and they've been battling for decades to see who can put up the most chrismas lights overhead...quite the display) oh, and the food is both good, and cheap...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:53 PM on July 25, 2011


If I were in NYC this week, I'd swing by the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. He has great flavors that are totally gay, i.e., awesome! Check on twitter for his location for the day. I had a great vanilla with sea salt and olive oil last time I was there, and it was so delicious.

Just FYI, it's your typical soft serve from a truck, but with creative toppings, just so you know what you're getting into. I love Doug, he's a great guy, but this isn't organic/artisanal/etc. type of ice cream.

IMO if you like olive oil, get the Olive Oil Coppetta at Otto. One of my favorite things in the city. Sidle up to the bar one hot afternoon and order one. It'll be hard to share so you might not want to share.

nthing the High Line, very cool elevated park on 8th avenue that used to be train tracks which they have made into a park. You can enter in a few select locations. Great for reading, people watching, chilling, etc. It gets busy on the weekend though

It's actually just west of 10th Avenue, so a little longer of a walk west if you are staying in Midtown. The new section, between 20th and 30th, is narrower than the older section, so it's more prone to crowding. Check their web site before you go. If you can, I recommend taking a walk at night as the Highline is open until 10pm. There is also a temporary beer garden curated by Tom Colicchio under the structure at 30th St, called the Lot on Tap, with a rotating cast of food trucks. There's also two popsicle vendors on the Highline (one doing flavors based upon local fruit/herbs and the other doing paletas) as well as a Blue Bottle coffee kiosk. If you start at 30th Street and walk all the way down, you'll pop up near Chelsea Market (where there's a 9th St Espresso and an L'Arte de Gelato) and the West Village (I recommend strolling down Bleecker St), both of which are fun to explore.

For coffee, if you want to hang out, go to Stumptown at the Ace Hotel, and drink your coffee in the lobby. Free wireless, lots of people watching, comfy couches. Plus Stumptown makes an amazing mocha with local milk and locally made chocolate syrup. It's at 29th and Broadway, so within walking distance of Midtown.

For literary related stuff, why don't you go to the Library on 42nd Street & Fifth. It's huge and stunning. It's often referred to as "The Main Branch" (stole that quote from the site). This would likely be a place to sit and chill as well, but even dropping in for a second is well worth it.

Make sure you go in search of the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals if you go.

In terms of "hipstery," IMO the top items this summer are:

1. Sleep No More: a MacBeth and Hitchcock/film noir inspired interactive theatre show, with a choose your own adventure feel. Get there 15-30 minutes early. Wear sneakers. Open drawers, closets, books, and letters. Try locked doors. Don't be afraid when a character reaches for your hand or when they shut the door behind them. And run after the man covered in blood, by all means.

I've gone twice, converted six friends, and will probably go a third time, possibly even a fourth since you see only a fraction of the show each time. It's not cheap ($85 for the late show on weekends) but once you go inside, you'll see why. There's about 100 rooms that you can explore to your heart's content. Buy tickets NOW if you are interested. Every show has basically been sold out.

2. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There will be long lines as the show closes August 7th. But it's totally worth it.

Gorgeous sound design and presentation. His pieces are stunning in person: the spray painted dress, the bird headpiece made out of pieces of driftwood, the fake legs custom made for a model, etc.

3. Smorgasburg. Saturday mornings on the Williamsburg waterfront. 100 food vendors: doughnuts, banh mi, ice cream, BLTs, artisanal bread, etc. The same space holds the Brooklyn Flea on Sundays, which has all manner of retail items but less of an emphasis on food.

For free shows Wednesday through Sunday, via ohmyrockness.com:

WEDNESDAY:

Twin Sister, Your Youth
McCarren Park
L Mag's SummerScreen: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

FRIDAY:

Fucked Up, Cro-Mags, Screaming Females, Pissed Jeans
House of Vans
RSVP required

Eugene Mirman, They Might Be Giants, Kristen Schaal, and many surprise guests
Williamsburg Waterfront

SATURDAY:

Gang Gang Dance, Zeds Dead, Claude Vonstroke, BAIO (DJ Vampire Weekend), The Hood Internet, Bosco Delrey, PO PO
Mad Decent Block Party
South Street Seaport

SUNDAY:

The Raveonettes, Eternal Summers
Beekman Beer Garden

JEFF The Brotherhood, Kingdom, Friends
Rockaway Beach Boardwalk
RSVP Required, also this is really far from Midtown
posted by kathryn at 8:55 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


oh, and there's an entire block (i believe 6th street between 1st and 2nd) of the most crazily-decorated indian restaurants you've ever seen...although Panna II on 1st ave just south of 6th has to be my favorite (there's another indian restaurant up the same flight of stairs and they've been battling for decades to see who can put up the most chrismas lights overhead...quite the display) oh, and the food is both good, and cheap...

I find the Indian food near Murray Hill to be MUCH higher quality than the restaurants on East 6th Street. Try Dhaba, Chennai Garden, or Tiffin Wallah instead.
posted by kathryn at 8:59 PM on July 25, 2011


If you want extraordinarily good Indian food and a totally diverting story around it, go to Jackson Diner in Queens. Easy to get to, insanely good, makes for a fantastic story when you tell it to your friends. ("It's a diner! But it was the best Indian food ever! And it was in Queens!") The reviews don't lie.
posted by hels at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2011


@hels: there's actually one in Manhattan now, near Union Square, but with a strangely different menu. 72 University Place.
posted by kathryn at 9:16 PM on July 25, 2011


Dinner and sunset walk in West Village: Map (walk along the river instead of Washington St., I think you can cross back a few blocks up easily)
1. Get an early evening burger, a deviled egg, and a beer or what have you at The Spotted Pig (before it gets too crowded)
2. After dinner, walk a few blocks west to Hudson River Park
3. Head back across and then up/east to Gansevoort Street
4. Pop up the stairs and take a nice walk along The High Line
5. Grab some gelato or a popsicle from one of the stands you'll pass by and watch the sunset
posted by belau at 9:16 PM on July 25, 2011


yes, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. That's the picturesque one.
posted by sweetkid at 9:23 PM on July 25, 2011


Go to Baluchi's on Greenwich in TriBeCa for delicious Indian food! So much happiness. I'd kill for one of their mango lassis right now.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:27 PM on July 25, 2011


Oh! I forgot to mention Newyorkology's glorious events calendar.

Now you will have far too many options on what to do!
posted by kathryn at 9:30 PM on July 25, 2011


This IS in Times Square and pricey, but the Harry Potter exhibit is worth it if you're a fan.
posted by brujita at 9:33 PM on July 25, 2011


Walk over the Williamsburg Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is nice but then you're in Brooklyn Heights, which is great for a standard tourist but not hipstery New York. (Fascati's has a real good slice, though.)

Williamsburg Bridge -- walk up Bedford -- hit up some of that WB weekend love. Even without a specific activity, you are now swimming through a sea of twentysomethings and interesting shit to do.

For Indian, go to Jackson Heights, as recommended above. I prefer Indian Taj to Jackson Diner, but to each his own. That's also a great part of town.
posted by zvs at 9:49 PM on July 25, 2011


♫ It rubs the lotion on its skin
It does this when it's told
It rubs the lotion on its skin
Or else it gets the hose

And when it's done there's one more thing
A simple little task – it's
Put the fucking lotion in the basket ♫


Silence! The Musical
posted by nicwolff at 9:55 PM on July 25, 2011


If you want Brooklyn and boats, you should check out the newly-opened East River ferry service. About $7 ( I think?) will let you hop on and off all day, and it stops in Long Island City (M. Wells, PS1), goes to Greenpoint (walk around either Franklin or Manhattan Ave), then to North and South Williamsburg (too much to list; me mail me for specific recs), then to DUMBO, where you could either continue via the ferry to Lower Manhattan or get off and walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by sideofwry at 9:59 PM on July 25, 2011


The Strand!
posted by SisterHavana at 10:19 PM on July 25, 2011


Japnese food!

Go to the East Village for the best Japanese food I've had in the States. I like Soba-ya, but Yakitori Taisho is probably the most comfortable place for eating alone - there's a bar where you can order small dishes and eat yourself silly. There's a definite advantage to being by yourself - you can skip the long waits. It's where I discovered that I love grilled green onions, and chicken liver...

Across the street there's a stand, Otafuku, where you can order takoyaki (fried balls of crunchy octopus goodness) and okonomiyaki (fish shaped cakes with red bean...). Go there if you have to wait.
posted by noonday at 10:42 PM on July 25, 2011


You don't specify what kind of museums you like. One I keep failing to check out when I visit is the Rubin, which has art from the Himalayas.
posted by knile at 2:48 AM on July 26, 2011


There is a guy with a little blue ice cream cart up on the High Line, who has the greatest ice cream sammiches ever to exist in the universe. You should eat many of them, especially the red velvet ones with cream cheese ice cream.
posted by elizardbits at 5:36 AM on July 26, 2011


You can look at the Skint for some ideas of what to do for cheap.

In Brooklyn:
-The Brooklyn Museum and its permanent feminist art gallery with Judy Chicago's Dinner Table
-The Botanic Garden, free to enter on Saturdays until noon.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:33 AM on July 26, 2011


1. Get an early evening burger, a deviled egg, and a beer or what have you at The Spotted Pig (before it gets too crowded)

Love the Spotted Pig, but the menu isn't especially vegetarian/pescatarian friendly. She does have a number of fish dishes on the menu, but I'd watch out for hidden pork fat, bacon, chicken stock, etc.

but Yakitori Taisho is probably the most comfortable place for eating alone - there's a bar where you can order small dishes and eat yourself silly. There's a definite advantage to being by yourself - you can skip the long waits. It's where I discovered that I love grilled green onions, and chicken liver...

Same here -- their best dishes have to do with grilled meats (especially chicken and bacon).

@noonday: Have you been to Yakitori Totto or any of the restaurants in their group? They are definitely a level up from Taisho in terms of ingredient quality and attention to detail when cooking the skewers.

There is a guy with a little blue ice cream cart up on the High Line, who has the greatest ice cream sammiches ever to exist in the universe. You should eat many of them, especially the red velvet ones with cream cheese ice cream.

They're called Melt Bakery. I've not tried them yet, but it is in a similar vein to Cool Haus, which is all over LA now.
posted by kathryn at 7:14 AM on July 26, 2011


If you want the whole Williamsburg hipster circus, take the L to Bedford Avenue. "Bored to Death" is set in Fort Greene, I believe, which is beautiful and cool with lots of good restaurants as well and less of a hipster circus. Also, the Brooklyn Flea is there on Saturday and a general crowd pleaser. (It's also in Williamsburg on Sunday. So you can't go too wrong.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:41 AM on July 26, 2011


I can never recommend strongly enough a trip to the Panorama of the City of New York out at the Queens Museum.

And for your Gatsby tie-in, the museum is in Flushing Meadows Park, which was, once upon a time, the ash heap that figured prominently in The Great Gatsby.
posted by jrb223 at 9:57 AM on July 26, 2011


Awesome, thanks so much everyone! There are more I need to mark as "best" but don't have time right now.

ps re: food/ice cream trucks, they are cool and all but kind of "coals to Newcastle" at this point for someone who lives in L.A.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2011


I asked a related question previously which may be of help if you haven't already seen it.
posted by joshuaconner at 11:08 AM on July 26, 2011


I'd skip Chelsea Market and go to Eataly instead.
posted by lalex at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2011


So how was your trip, drjimmy11?
posted by kathryn at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2011


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