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November 21, 2009 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Six hours in NYC on Tuesday - what to do?

So, I have a meeting in New York on Tuesday. I should be in the city around noon - my bus drops me off at Penn Station and the meeting is a few blocks south of there in Chelsea. The meeting's at 3 - can't imagine it lasting longer than two hours or so, and my bus back to Washington is at 7:30.

I've never been to New York before, despite being a native east coaster, so I'm looking for the must-see and must-do things that I can fill the rest of the day with, within walking distance of either Penn Station or 20th St. and 6th Avenue. Any ideas are appreciated. Thanks!
posted by downing street memo to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Lunch at Shake Shack (23rd and Madison), if you're a burger fan.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:33 PM on November 21, 2009

Go for a walk on the High Line. However, the forecast for Tuesday is looking rainy, so outdoor activities may not be the best thing.

You won't be able to do any "must see/must do" activities in those small pieces of time (e.g., Circle Line, Central Park, any of the big museums, Brooklyn Bridge, Fort Tryon Park, among many), so I'm afraid you'll have to come back to town.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:35 PM on November 21, 2009

Do you like galleries? Good food? Thrift stores? Bookstores? I know a lot in that area but you'll have to narrow it down a tiny bit. And welcome!
posted by kathrineg at 4:39 PM on November 21, 2009

Bookstores, record stores, good food, typical tourist things/historic places, places with good views are all on my list. I'd really like to just cram as many experiences as possible into the day, because I don't know when I'll make it back again (unless, of course, I get the job!)
posted by downing street memo at 4:45 PM on November 21, 2009

The Chelsea Market would be a nice place to kill some time. It seems to be close to where you will be. And you can get up on the High Line. . . the part that goes by the Chelsea Market is under cover.

For a boost, you could hit Cafe Grumpy on the way there, with only going a bit out of your way.
posted by Danf at 4:51 PM on November 21, 2009

For bookstores, try the strand, unless you are into a specific type of lit (if so, tell us and we'll tell you where to go).

2nding chelsea market, especially as it is convenient for you. Unless you are into a specific type of cuisine, in which case let us know what it is (sensing a theme? Do you want a market, a sit down, a high end place?)

There are also good galleries in Chelsea, check out 21st and 22nd st btwn 10 and 11 aves.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:12 PM on November 21, 2009

Seconding the Strand, a different animal from any bookstore I know of in DC. Shake Shack is fine but not revelatory (I like BRGR at 7th and 27th just as well for hip burgers); for interesting food near your conference I'd recommend Rocking Horse Cafe (fancy Mex, especially for the chile nogada) and Regional Thai Taste (except that recent Yelp reviews suggest this place is no longer as good as I remember it.) A block or two east of Penn Station you'll find a whole neighborhood of good Korean restaurants; I don't have a specific recommendation here and would just let Chowhound pick. A bit farther and much more expensive, but definitely still in West Midtown, is Churrascaria Plataforma, about as good churrascaria as I've had.

Typical tourist things: well, you'll be right by the Empire State Building, for one. I hear it has good views. The New York Public Library is magnificent, just a few blocks away, and usually has great exhibitions which no one is looking at.
posted by escabeche at 5:27 PM on November 21, 2009

For touristy stuff, the Empire State building, Rockefeller Center (where the big Christmas tree is) and Times Square are all in quick walking distance of Penn Station. So is the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art). And Central Park begins, I'd estimate, about 25 minutes walking distance from Penn Station.

Alternately, you can walk south to Greenwich Village, another 25 minute walk from Penn Station (my rule of thumb is that it takes me 1 minute to walk from St. to St., and 4 minutes to walk from Avenue to Avenue. Your walking speed may vary). You can check out Washington Square Park or go a bit further east to the East Village and check out St. Mark's Place. By the way, is there any particular reason you want to walk rather than take the subway? Greenwich Village is a 5 minute subway ride from Penn Station on the A/C.

I recommend checking out Hopstop for walking/subway directions in NYC to all of these places.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2009

Use cabs to get around; they're the way to see the most things quickly. I'd suggest not limiting yourself to stuff within walking distance.

To get a flavor of a grand and energetic part part of the city, maybe start at 59th and 5th. Maybe go check out the Central Park Zoo, or at least walk a little around the park. Hang out for a bit at the Apple store, and maybe grab a quick pastry from Demel's at the bottom of the Plaza hotel.

Walk down 5th Ave and ogle store after store. Veer off for some lunch at 46th and 6th (the biryani street food cart - chaotic but good) or else at 45th and 6th (the kwik meal cart, for some falafel). Google/twitter in advance the location of either the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck or the Cupcake Stop truck and see if you can track them down if they're nearby.

At 50th between 5th and 6th, you'll find Rockefeller Center. Check out the view at Top of the Rock. If you want, get some chocolate at La Maison du Chocolat.

Stop in at the Museum of Modern Art - 53rd and 5th.

Cab to your meeting.

Afterwards maybe check out Chelsea Market at 15th and 9th (make sure to grab coffee at 9th st. espresso inside) and the Highline, as people have been suggesting. Leave time to move east to Union Square, walk around it a bit, and visit the Strand (12th and Broadway), an amazing bookstore. Maybe grab a sandwich at Num Pang (12th between University and 5th) before you go back.

That would be a pretty good day... Get a map of the city and/or map out these spots on Google Maps before you go so you have some idea how to get where you need to go. If you have a mobile phone with Google maps, it is your friend, as it will give you walking directions.
posted by shivohum at 5:34 PM on November 21, 2009

Yes, the Strand is amazing! But be forewarned, I went in thinking to spend an hour browsing at most and walked out two and a half hours later, slightly dazed. It's HUGE.
posted by foulowl at 5:37 PM on November 21, 2009

Nthing the Strand. Also, taking cabs through midtown (or any busy part of NYC) in midday can be a slow and maddening experience (not to mention expensive). The subway will often be quicker, and certainly cheaper. I find that Google Maps gives pretty good directions, though as someone said upthread, there's also HopStop.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:43 PM on November 21, 2009

A walk: Down 8th Avenue (Chelsea's Main Street) from 23rd Street to 14th Street. West on 14th through the Meatpacking District to the Hudson River. Eat on 8th or 14th -- lots of good options in this stretch.

When you hit the water, walk a couple of blocks further south on the Hudson River Greenway to the public pier with the grand cast iron entrance gate. (It's where the Titanic was supposed to dock on its maiden voyage.) Walk to the end and turn around. Oh, look!

Head back north along the water. Some of the most interesting new buildings in NYC are facing the river here, along with the big Chelsea Piers sporting complex (another opportunity to walk out into the river). Cut back east on 23rd Street, or go up to 25th or 26th Street to walk back along the busiest streets of the gallery district.

This will take you less than an hour at a brisk walk, and you can add as much dawdle time as you please. Have fun!
posted by gum at 5:44 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

gum has it. Especially the galleries along 25th and 26th Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues. Streets filled with buildings that have nothing but galleries and open studios. Pick one, take the elevator to the tenth floor, and walk down slowly.... Well, maybe if you had a little more time.
posted by thejoshu at 6:19 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Two similar questions from the past few days that might be useful: NYC on a weekday, non-touristy NYC for a first-timer.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:52 PM on November 21, 2009

That's really very little time to see anything in New York. My advice is to keep your explorations to the area surrounding Chelsea and Penn Station. The "new york minute" is a very real phenomenon and time is going to slip by much faster than you've ever thought possible, especially if you've never been there and don't already know the rush of sensation that is time passing in NY. (I'm not the only one who experiences this phenomenon, right?)
posted by dchrssyr at 8:56 PM on November 21, 2009

2nding this being very little time in the city. Map out your route, pick a gallery show to see, eat a slice of pizza, and make it very much a walking tour. If you can, stay an extra day. You're going to wish you did.
posted by xammerboy at 1:14 AM on November 22, 2009

Chelsea: Center of the art world (though it's quickly not being so), home of the gay scene, and has some fantastic restaurants. Again, I would walk through Times Square (you are getting off in Times Square, btw) walk to Chelsea and see some art. Eat on the go. Sit in a park. Walk through another neighborhood and back to work.

But seriously, man up and stay another day. Even if it's on your dime.
posted by xammerboy at 1:19 AM on November 22, 2009

Lower East Side. Get to know the various business, eat knishes, savor the old timey flavors of NY's history.
posted by watercarrier at 1:32 AM on November 22, 2009

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