So what's going on in NYC this weekend?
August 5, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I know this is a semi-silly question with near infinite possibilities for answers, but what should I be doing to feel a little less like a tourist while I'm in Manhattan this weekend?

There's obviously no shortage of things to do any day at any hour, but for those of you who call NYC home or are simply more familiar with its underbelly than I, what are you doing this weekend?
Suggestions for museums, food, gallery openings, off the beaten path shopping or even great people watching spots will all be entertained.
posted by paxton to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (43 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Go to the highline, tons of new yorkers haven't seen it yet and then you can pretend that they are tourists.
posted by pwally at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2009

No fanny packs, no calf-length socks worn with shorts.

Seriously, though, have fun, but if you're going to going at the architecture, please don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk in people's paths. And when you're walking, move. This is the number one thing that makes me crazy when I'm hanging out in cities.
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

This is easily in the top ten museum exhibits I've ever seen in my life, period.
posted by aquafortis at 10:21 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. Check Time Out New York. Either the online or the print version. Yeah, it's got a faint whiff of "Hipster" to it sometimes, but it does have a very good selection of both the obvious entertainment options and the only-the-locals-would-have-heard-of-this events. They also mention a lot of free events.

2. Check Trazzler. This is a new site, featuring quick travel tips with very, very specific things in a given location; often offbeat or out-of-the-way. Fair warning, though, that this is a very new site and it isn't as exhaustive -- but the selection tends to be a bit more unusual than the standard tour guide (i.e., they may not recommend a lot of restaurants, but the restaurants they recommend are more likely to be the small undiscovered ones).

(I should add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I write for them myself on occasion.)

3. Venture to the other boroughs! My own personal bias is towards Brooklyn, which has got a lot to recommend it -- and a lot of the Manhattan folk feel we're "too far," and so we're not as crowded. But depending on where you go, it'd only be a half-hour to an hour at most on the subway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just do what I always do and relax in the realization that approximately zero percent of the thousands of Manhattanites you are bound to encounter this weekend can be troubled to bother looking at you.
posted by applemeat at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]

Try not to care about whether or not you feel like a tourist and concentrate on doing things that you'll enjoy. (e.g. Gawking at the Empire State Building is touristy, but it's a completely stupendous building that everyone should look at (from the inside and outside, bottom and top) at least once.)
posted by buxtonbluecat at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2009

Don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk to stare up at the buildings or at the top or bottom of the subway stairs to fumble with your metrocard. Go ahead and jaywalk if no cars are coming, or at least step off the curb into the parking lane.

Seconding Time Out New York for stuff to do. Come to Astoria (off the N/W line) and sit at one of the many cafes and people watch!

A few weeks ago I spent a day sitting on the TKTS bleachers in Times Square people watching, and I had a great time. I'm not exactly a newcomer (I've been here going on six years) but that's still a fun thing to do for me, so don't discount it just because you don't want to seem touristy.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2009

second Aquafortis, it's a fabulous exhibit.

Some good exhibits on as well for the city's 400th, if you're interested in history. The suggestion to check out TONY. Also if weather holds out the Conservancy Garden in Central Park is amazing for people watching and just relaxing.
posted by TravellingCari at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2009

Two unusual museums which don't get too much attention :

1/ The Rubin Museum of Himalayan art.

2/ The American Folk Art Museum, next to MoMA.

Also try...

3/ The Walter Reade Theater on the Upper West Side shows a lot of good, classic and international films. Looks like a Mexican film is on this weekend. It's a great theater.

4/ You could try walking the length of Manhattan, or at least a substantial chunk of it, by following Broadway. There's a lot to see there.

5/ Chinatown is like a city within a city - check it out!
posted by plep at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2009

Don't avoid the "touristy" things because you don't want to look/feel like a tourist. In fact it is awesome to go to the top of the Empire State Building, to visit the Met, to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty, to go to a Broadway show, etc. I just had out of town visitors one of whom has been to NYC many times the other never. They did all of the things I mentioned plus they saw a free movie in Bryant Park, went to Summerstage and saw M.Ward (band), headed out to Coney Island, hung out in Western Queens (Astoria/LIC/Sunnyside/Jackson Heights), and explored Red Hook Brooklyn.

What I'll be doing this weekend: riding my bike along the waterfront in Western Queens into Greenpoint and Williamsburg (Brooklyn), doing free yoga in my local park, having brunch and reading the NYTimes with friends, doing laundry, seeing a movie at MoMA, maybe going to Warm-up at P.S.1 and taking naps.

And please mind your walking, so we don't hate you.
posted by Pineapplicious at 10:46 AM on August 5, 2009

I'm going to see this show, probably more than once. I saw a ten minute preview of it the other day and it was just so incredibly funny. This style of physical comedy is a rarity onstage these days, and these folks seriously rule at it.

Their Saturday night show is one I've seen before too, and it's just as good.
posted by hermitosis at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2009

Get a MetroCard and fly around on the subway and the street buses and savethe walking for the area you target, popping up in a new area is a blast.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2009

Everyone has great suggestions above, and I also beg (beg!) of you not to stop in the middle of the sidewalk to get your camera/gawk at the big fancy buildings/check out your map.

I never even notice tourists anymore except when they are blocking my way or walking too slowly. That is aggravating in the extreme.
posted by amicamentis at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a native and my weekend plans include a visit to the Met. Do whatever appeals to you, because applemeat is right.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2009

Oh yes, and don't get one of those tour bus passes - they are ridiculously expensive and go nowhere that a regular MTA bus won't go. Pick up an unlimited pass and a bus map of Manhattan. The buses aren't hard to figure out (they do take awhile, but hey! - it's scenic!).
posted by amicamentis at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2009

If you're there on Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, much of the Morgan Library is free to visit. It's absolutely awesome and unlikely to be busy. It has three Gutenberg Bibles, which are well worth a look and some beautiful artwork and sculptures. The study is beautiful. The two hours it's open for free is ample time to see the areas that are allowed.
posted by essexjan at 11:04 AM on August 5, 2009

"Seriously, though, have fun, but if you're going to going at the architecture, please don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk in people's paths. And when you're walking, move. This is the number one thing that makes me crazy when I'm hanging out in cities."

I was totally going to suggest bitching about how people don't know how to walk, if you want to feel like a real New Yorker. (There are lanes, people, like a highway!)

As for activities -- maybe grab some bagels at H&H and head over to the Sheep Meadow with the Sunday Times? It's good people watching, actual New Yorkers will be there, and Central Park is convenient to many touristy things.

Also, you might check out the extremes of the West Village --- it's quite cute but not as tourist-haunted as midtown, Christopher street combines cheesy-yet-seedy fetish shops with many decent restaurants, Jacques Torres on Hudson St. has a cold chocolate drink that is made of melted delicious and may cause a pleasure seizure, and you can stroll along the park by the West Side Highway for your people watching.

As for myself, I will probably be either catching up on Battlestar Galactica (I know, only five years late. Wire's next!) or holed up in a dive bar. I assume you can do these things where you're at...but if you're feeling adventurous enough to venture out to a borough, you can easily do a mini-foodie tour of Jackson Heights. 7 train at Grand Central or Times Sq. to 74th st. We've got Indian, Nepali, Afghan, Peruvian, Columbian, Mexican, Thai, Bhutanese --- whatever you want, really. Check the Chowhound Boards or here for some suggestions. May I recommend the cholados, however?
posted by Diablevert at 11:11 AM on August 5, 2009

What we do on the weekends: bike through Central Park, go for walks in Riverside Park, sometimes see a show or go to a museum.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:12 AM on August 5, 2009

When I go to the city - I don't consider myself a tourist because I'm there often enough, but I don't live there - I write down my stops in advance in a little notebook. My notes include 'nearest subway stations' - Google maps is good for this, as is just getting a map the first day and planning out in the evening if you're staying more than one night - and opening hours. I usually write more plans than I can reasonably do and pick some of them, but then I don't have to look anything up on a map or a guide-book.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:17 AM on August 5, 2009

Go to Governors Island.
posted by neroli at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2009

Avoid Times Square. See off-Broadway shows instead.

Go to Brooklyn, it's filled with amazing museums, parks, and restaurants.
posted by egeanin at 11:24 AM on August 5, 2009

Don't look up at any buildings. Don't take pictures. Use cell phone all the time or at least pretend to. Don't smile. Walk at brisk pace. Run across streets when you are not supposed to. Don't look at or give money to any homeless or disabled beggars.
Ps: no one really cares if you are a tourist or not.
posted by Postroad at 11:28 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for "Avoid Times Square".

Go to the upper east side for lunch and shopping on Madison Ave. in the 60's or 70's. Then walk over to the park. It's really the nicest, most civilized section of NYC. It's like "Little Paris".
posted by Zambrano at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2009

Yeah, go see Plot/09 (public art) at Governors Island. You can get there by free ferry, or free kayak. How cool is that?
posted by xo at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2009

The Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and The Cloisters were two of my favorite museums.
posted by MS_gal at 11:48 AM on August 5, 2009

On Sunday, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brookyln Bridge/City Hall stop (off the 4/5/6 subway) towards Brooklyn and take the stairs down on the other side to reach the Brooklyn Flea market. I'll be there around 2pm getting $13 lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound's station.

(Best practices for touring: the NY Post's top 10 most annoying behaviors in NYC. Don't do any of these. Please.)
posted by chalbe at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2009

(Especially don't do the tandem walking, 4-people-side-by-side-thing. Seriously.)
posted by chalbe at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2009

Alright, since everyone else is chiming in with the "weekend plans" --

* Saturday, I'm starting by picking up my vegetable share at my local CSA, and then heading to a party that CSA is holding at a local restaurant. Then, I'm going to visit two places I have to write about for Trazzler -- one is an ice cream parlor that reminds me for all the world of the little family-run ice cream shacks that pop up all up and down Cape Cod during the summer, where they sell ice cream out of a window and make everything fresh right there, and the other is the most unusual novelty shop I've ever heard of. Then I have to race home and write both of those up, and post them online -- I'm on a deadline for that -- and I may head back out to the Cuban restaurant where my CSA has its pickups, have a margarita, and celebrate being done. (They have a second location in Manhattan, incidentally.) Or, if I finish early, I may hit Coney Island for the hell of it (maybe I'll see their Saturday Night movie, maybe not.)

* Sunday, weather permitting, I'm going to do some kayaking at my favorite site in Brooklyn, and follow that up with a stop at the key-lime-pies-and-nothing-but bakery one block away. I may also stick around that neighborhood and hit a favorite pub.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on August 5, 2009

On Sunday, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brookyln Bridge/City Hall stop (off the 4/5/6 subway) towards Brooklyn and take the stairs down on the other side to reach the Brooklyn Flea market. I'll be there around 2pm getting $13 lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound's station.

*perks up ears*

Okay, firstly, the Brooklyn Flea is in my 'hood on Saturdays, just for the record.

But secondly -- hold up, the Red Hook Lobster Pound is at the Brooklyn Flea now?? do you know if they're at the Saturday location too?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:02 PM on August 5, 2009

Go to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park and check out the Unisphere while you're there.

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and walk around Brooklyn Heights and the promenade.

I agree that the American Folk Art Museum and the Met are great. The High Line is also completely awesome. You could incorporate it into a nice walk starting in Battery Bark and going up the Hudson River Park until you get to the southernmost entrance to the High Line at Gansevoort.
posted by Mavri at 12:03 PM on August 5, 2009

Three sites to check out for NYC happenings: FreeNYC and Nonsense NYC. For places to relax in between sightseeing that locals use, you could check out one or two privately owned public spaces. You could also check out some Russian baths, walk through old Victorian houses in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, or check out what's up at Coney Island (Friday night fireworks + I think the Cyclone is open again) and the museum there.

Also, the highline... been meaning to check that out.

What I'll be doing this weekend is going to a party of a friend of mine, drinking at a friend's place before, and working on projects at home - so not a good barometer. But ordinarily, the above is a good place for me to check out what's going on and figure out my plans (with the exception of the privately owned public spaces which I haven't explored in a few years).

Other things I typically do involve my neighborhood, namely Ditmas Park and Kensington. There's a Ditmas Park blog with listings of many local events, and Bar 773 on Coney Island Avenue is very local Brooklyn - and typically rather unexciting. Kensington blog has, alas, gotten less interesting but you never know. Prospect Park often has events posted, and the Brooklyn Museum is just out of the way enough that I'm guessing most tourists don't hit it up, but it often has great exhibits.
posted by lorrer at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2009

Empress: The Flea is @DUMBO Sundays. As for the lobster pound:

(1) We do not sell Lobster Rolls yet at 284 Van Brunt St. We only sell lobster rolls at this time at the Brooklyn Flea in Ft Greene on Saturday from 11-5 and th eBrooklyn Flea under the Brooklyn Bridge on Sundays from 11 to 6 WEATHER PERMITTING. For instance last Sunday we had to pack up due to the rain. If the weather is iffy, call 646 326 7650 and check and see if we are at the Flea. Also, we usually but not always, run out before 6. We are in the process of getting a license to serve them out of the pound, keep checking this website. As soon as we have the permits, we will post an update!
posted by chalbe at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2009

No, I know the Flea is at DUMBO on Sundays, but it's NOT at DUMBO on SATURDAYS. That was my point. But it sounds like the link you quoted states that they are indeed at the Ft. Greene location on Saturdays. (Glee!)

An aside to lorrer:

I think the Cyclone is open again...

I can attest it is. It is actually open weekends year-round -- it goes to daily hours in summer. The surrounding park is what's in danger of closing, but the Cyclone itself has national landmark status, so no matter what happens to the rest of Coney Island they'll leave that alone until it falls over of its own accord.

Incidentally, I think the Wonder Wheel is a national landmark too....

(ooh, wait, they opened up a ROLLER RINK in Coney Island? Sweet!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:28 PM on August 5, 2009

I LOVE Times Square! But I think it's better to drive through it in a cab at 1 in the morning than walk in the heat...oh the heat.

Russian Samovar is a favorite bar, great music on the weekends.

The lounge at Asiate has a beautiful view of the city. It's a bit posh, so be prepared and don't go hungry.

Go to Chelsea Galleries, it's a website that I can't link right now but Google knows the way. It's a good tool for finding galleries.

The High Line is nifty, too.

Really, if you want to be like me this weekend you can head over to my place in Chelsea and have some frozen waffles for breakfast and study for your GRE or something.
posted by kathrineg at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2009

Check out summer streets this saturday morning. It's a shift in public space in NYC that has both tourists and locals alike enjoying the city together.
posted by dkg at 1:35 PM on August 5, 2009

First of all, don't listen to anybody who tells you not to walk slow. Part of being a New Yorker is staking out your own space. If there's something great you want to look at, stop and look. The locals will walk around you, and maybe they'll complain to themselves or even out loud, and next time THEY have some reason to stop, they'll stop, and everybody will have to walk around them. Nobody in New York is in as much of a hurry as they think they are.

As for specific things: eat great Chinese food, which in my memory is hard to find in New England -- or really, almost any other kind of food you like and can't get at home. Chowhound will help here. The terrific and thorough Subway Museum in Brooklyn is in my experience undervisited, and the New York Public Library often has really good, more or less empty, exhibitions. But look, there's nothing wrong with being a tourist if you're a tourist, and if you haven't been to the Met, you'd better go to the Met. Besides the collection, there's no better people-watching spot in New York, unless it bugs you that the people you're watching aren't actually from New York.
posted by escabeche at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2009

Coed Magazine had a good overview of How Not to Be a D*bag tourist in NYC - it's harsh, but actually, most of the tips are true.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well NY Native and I will be working, so if you can code in .NET well....

just kidding.

You haven't told us how often you've been here, so I kind of agree that touristy stuff is usually cool to see if you haven't been to a place before. First time in Paris --> Eiffel Tower Second time, not necessary.

With that out of the way.

Queens Queens, Queens. Yep I am from Queens. Queens born Queens bred, and when I die I'll be Queens dead!
It is an endlessly fascinating place and my life is for the better being from there. The most diverse place on the planet. Not only will you likely find Maldivian cuisine, or barbecued cuy, but you will also find opinionated NY'ers telling you why all those OTHER Cuy joints are shit.

In Queens, borough of dreams, Astoria for Greek/Egyptian/Bangladeshi
Jackson Heights for the best South Asian sweets, plus Colombian bars, plus the afore mentioned cuy (technically illegal)

Further out, but Ridgewood is interesting, Every Balkan nationality you can think of.

Flushing, just walk around, walk down to Kissena park and especially the HUGE urban garden - which is a city park and the waiting list is years. But it is fascinating seeing the "mostly Korean" middle aged people lovingly tending their cukes and tomatoes.

Oh in Queens, you can make fun of the architecture. As much of a one man Queens tourist bureau that I am, even I have to admit that Queens has that Chelyabinsk Soviet look. It ain't Paris, that's for sure.

I might add to this list;
El museo del barrio
The Musuem of the City of New York
The neu gallerie
The New York Transit museum (trust me you don't have to be a transit nerd, and the subway is such a part of the lifeblood of New york)
The Brooklyn Museum

Coney Island, of course
If you have mnogo dengi to spend, a Russian nightclub is a must! Bozhe moi you will get so shitfaced and you will see sights you've never seen before. I'd stay away from the cool hip brownstone parts of Brooklyn because, frankly, they are nice places, tasteful, but are devoid of New York edge now. You can get the same experience in a lot of quiche districts.

In the Bronx
Arthur Ave. has good but somewhat overrated Noo Yawk Italian food straight out of Goodfellas, it is also near the zoo and Botanical gardens. Note many of the restaurants are now owned by Albanians. Apparently one thing Albanians took to with avidity when the Italians occupied their country is Italian cooking.

How to fit in as a New Yorker
talk fast
walk fast (watch out for bikers who are notorious in NY for running red lights and acting like two-wheeled SUVs.)
don't stop and gawk at the buildings or at least step to the side
Jaywalk, it is sport
call it New York, never New York City (It is the STATE that needs the qualifier, $%#* those people up in Utica if they don't like it!)
have a sense of humor
ask directions we don't bite
don't make fun of the New York accent. I see so many tourists do that. Would they make fun of a brogue in Dublin?
posted by xetere at 3:46 PM on August 5, 2009

The Green-wood Cemetery has been, and will be, on the itinerary for me. Totally fascinating, with some great views of the Midtown skyline from the tops of the hills.
posted by Danf at 4:00 PM on August 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for the excellent suggestions everyone!
I apologize for leaving out one important detail, this isn't my first time. Sorry if the question came off the wrong way, I'm not a self loathing tourist, I just find that whenever leaving your city I feel as though if I dug just a little deeper I would have found some sort of magic. As many of you rightly pointed out, NYC seems to be one of those rare destinations where the many of the 'touristy' things are also some of the most amazing points of interest on the planet. If any of you ever find yourself lost in Worcester, MA I'll gladly make myself available for the grand tour. Should only take 20min or so.

p.s.- I'm an accomplished city walker, much to the dismay of my Massachusetts brethren who believe crosswalks are everything outside of the white lines. So if anyone messes with your mojo this weekend, I promise it wasn't me.
posted by paxton at 5:36 PM on August 5, 2009

Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg usually has something cool happening in the evening.
posted by aquafortis at 6:05 PM on August 5, 2009

A round-trip on the Staten Island Ferry is fun. It offers a fabulous view of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Cheap. Good day or night. Might be free, it was, at one time. I'll give a nod to the Coney Island recommendation. The planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History has recently updated their projector, and the museum is my favorite.
posted by Goofyy at 10:19 AM on August 6, 2009

Go see the Forbes Galleries, they're free! Also, they include hundreds of different kinds of vintage model ships (sometimes being attacked by whales) and toy soldiers (the weird Aztec human sacrifice ones are my favorite), in dim glassed-in displays that are straight out of the late 1970's.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:12 PM on August 6, 2009

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