Ramble on...
May 23, 2005 1:38 PM   Subscribe

NYCFilter: 24yo guy moving to Manhattan for the first time and I'm basically going to have 10 days to kill before work starts. For locals: What is the coolest thing I can do during the day? I've already researched all the traditional (museums, restaurants, shops) places, I was hoping for the unusual places that will make me feel like a new yorker or just enlighten me.

Basically what is your favorite little nook and cranny that I wouldn't find out about otherwise? I'll be based on the upper east side but I'm a big fan of walking/exploring all over the island. Also looking for things that are fun just by yourself as most of my friends have jobs during the day.
posted by slapshot57 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Fried Dumpling at 99 Allen St. 5 pan-fried dumplings for $1. It's my absolute favorite hole in the wall.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Chelsea galleries, sneak up to see the High Line, followed by lunch at the Wild Lily Tea Room.
posted by xo at 2:08 PM on May 23, 2005

Pommes Frites on Second Ave. between 7th and 8th street.

If I had that kind of time, I'd go skating a lot too, which I seem to recall from other threads you're into as well. Central Park isn't car free during the day, but you might want to check out the NYC Inline Skate Guide for other locations.

Coney Island is definitely worth checking out on a nice day.

I'm also a fan of Green-Wood Cemetery.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:24 PM on May 23, 2005

Oh, watch out for that Green-Wood link. Cheesy music.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:25 PM on May 23, 2005

Response by poster: ursus_comiter

rollerblades/ice skates were in the first load I moved up...
posted by slapshot57 at 2:29 PM on May 23, 2005

xo, that High Line link is great.
posted by nobody at 2:30 PM on May 23, 2005

It's getting nice and warm; walk across Central Park down to Columbus Circle, then over to the Hudson River Park which you can follow from 59th Street to the Battery and take the 8 PM Staten Island Ferry (it's free!) to watch the sun set. Then take the N or R from Whitehall up to Lexington Ave/59th St and the 6 back to the Upper East Side.
posted by nicwolff at 2:37 PM on May 23, 2005

More thoughts...

I like to pick an out of the way neighborhood and just go there and wander around for a day when I get the chance.

One example of that would be to take the tram from the East Side over to Roosevelt Island and wander around there for a bit. Not that it's the most happening place, but the tram ride's fun.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:38 PM on May 23, 2005

When you tell people you've been to Kalustyan's, they'll know you're cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:41 PM on May 23, 2005

Go across the East River to the Brooklyn Heights promenade for a view of Manhattan, then wander down to one of the many restaurants on Smith Street for some food. Vinny's of Carroll Gardens is a great spot for solid, blue collar Italian food.
posted by nyterrant at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2005

i'm just going to list these things sans links in the interest of time. all should be easily google-able. i'm 24 and grew up here, if I think of more things to do later i'll let you know. best of luck in the city; take advantage of your free time as much as you can. most importantly, turn off your tv (and your computer!) and get out!

come to brooklyn! have dinner and a drink on smith street (f to bergen), fifth avenue (r to union or any train to atlantic), or do the bedford strip in williamsburg (L to bedford). check out prospect park. go to the boardwalk on coney island.

ride the subway!!!!
take a free ride on the staten island ferry

check out the bulgarian bar on canal street

check out the beer garden in astoria, queens. a quick subway ride from the city.
The Bohemian Beer garden.
29-19 24th Ave
Astoria, NY 11102

if you have a bit of the adventurous spirit find your way to the beard street warehouses in red hook, brooklyn. amazing waterfront views of the harbor in a virtually unknown locale.

for manhattan:

skip katz' on houston and head to the knishery a few doors west.

do chinatown, but venture further than the mott st. crawl. skip little italy.

bike (or rollerblade, if you must) from battery park city to riverside along the river.

explore the northern trails in central park. check out free music at summerstage.

I second the high-line idea, but the chelsea galleries I cannot endorse.

don't pay a cover for any bar or club, unless you are going to see a band.

avoid the nauseatingly trendy meatpacking district at all costs. skip the west village. for that matter, skip the east village, unless you are going to a record shop.

check out the cloisters

sneak into the croton aqueduct and do some urban ruins exploration

watch a free movie in bryant park, free wifi, btw.

go to moma on a friday afternoon and don't pay their obscene ticket price

checkout the nyc listings at upcoming.org, subscribe to nonsensenyc

ok nycmefites, help me out here........
posted by pinto at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2005

freak shows and rides at Coney Island with a walk over to "little odessa" (BRIGHTON BEACH) for some russian food.
posted by jeffe at 2:56 PM on May 23, 2005

Another vote for the Cloisters (hop on the M4 since you have the time) and also for Brighton Beach and Russian food.

Also, when I lived in New York, there was this great cheap little Cuban-Chinese place called "La Dinastia" on West 72nd between Columbus and Broadway. The waiters were all ethnic Chinese and speak Spanish with a Cuban accent. Get the Ropa Vieja with 10 ingredients fried rice and an order of platanos maduros.

This is making me nostalgic for Manhattan.
posted by ambrosia at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2005

The Tile Bar on 1st ave & 7th street: cheap suds, great jukebox, cool clientele. Perfect place to while away a lazy, boozy evening.

Angel's Share's back room saloon on Stuyvesant Street, the coolest old school cocktail speakasy in NYC.

M&G Diner on 125th between Morningside & St. Nicholas, the last non-touristy soul food joint in Harlem (with a killer jukebox as well).

Also there's a dumpy little record store on Essex near Rivington (the sign reads "Records Wanted") that's great for crate-digging old soul & funk vinyl.
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on May 23, 2005

Oh, and come out to Astoria for some great Cuban food and exquisite mojitos at Fatty's.
posted by jonmc at 5:45 PM on May 23, 2005

Meatpacking district. Explore the far west side. Florent is over there - a good place to get a cheap breakfast at almost any hour, good cocktails, fun people. No cab driver has any idea where the hell Gansevoort Street is, so don't even think about a cab there. Gray's, of course, and the Fairway on the UWS, which is way better than Zabar's no matter what anyone says. There's a bar called Siberia inside a subway station that I like. There's just too damn much.
posted by luriete at 6:19 PM on May 23, 2005

The Panorama at the Museum of the City of New York at the site of the World's Fair. Best kept secret.
posted by palegirl at 7:04 PM on May 23, 2005

Wow, I'm jealous; I moved away from NYC and I miss it more or less every day.

1. I third the Cloisters. Go, you will not regret it.

2. Go to my favorite coffee shops: the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the UWS, at 110th and Amsterdam, and Doma in the West Village, at 7th Ave and Perry St. While you're at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, check out St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral (floor-plan wise) in the world.

3. Catch an avant-garde movie at the Anthology Film Archives on the LES; while you're there, check out some of the restaurants on Avenue A. There's a great Polish restaurant there called Teresa's, just north of Houston.

4. The Strand, obviously.

5. Down on the LES alongside Houston there is a beautiful community garden. You should check it out--it has little ponds and everything!
posted by josh at 7:33 PM on May 23, 2005

Nothing is better than Zabars. Their broccoli cheddar knish rocks! (80th and Broadway)

Check out the Columbia University campus (entrance on Broadway north of 116) and enjoy the lawn and famous library. Pommes Frites, as someone mentioned, in the East Village, is AWESOME. Go to Shopsins for brunch (West Village) and serve yourself coffee and tea and candy on your way out.

Way too much to list.
posted by seinfeld at 7:38 PM on May 23, 2005

Ooh! Free walking tours of Governors Island start June 14! Combine this with the Hudson River Park / Staten Island Ferry hike for a fantastic one-day Manhattan / New York Harbor experience.
posted by nicwolff at 8:28 PM on May 23, 2005

Don't forget the Transit Museum over in Brooklyn.

Also, if you're looking for something to do on a Sunday night: I always enjoyed Sunday Night Improv. Definitely worth the $7.
posted by greatgefilte at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2005

Foodswings in Brooklyn has the best vegan food (and I'm note even remotely vegan).

Barcade, also in Brooklyn is an awesome bar with classic video games, all for ยข25.

Check out Columbia University's campus on Broadway and 116th, it's very impressive.

The conservatory garden in north eastern central park (south of the harlem meer) is beautiful right around now, I take my dog for walks there.

Basically, just wander around and take it all in, there's a lot but that's what I did.
posted by splatta at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2005

Oh, check out www.upcoming.org for what's happening as far as shows in NYC.
posted by splatta at 8:56 PM on May 23, 2005

I second the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, but you HAVE to get there on foot (or on blade) by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge - one of the best walks in all of NYC. Time it so that you do it at sunset.

Siberia, the bar referred to above as being in a subway station, is no longer in a subway station. It's on W 40th, right next to Port Authority. There's no sign, just a single solitary pale red bulb outside. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of souls being sucked dry. (Where did that come from? What I mean to say is, it is the ultimate dive.)

Into sake? Check out Decibel on E9th between 1st and 2nd aves. Great drink, totally bizarre atmosphere that will make you think you just stepped onto the set of Blade Runner.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:47 PM on May 23, 2005

Response by poster: man, this is great. Thanks everyone, this'll keep me entertained for at least a month. Feel free to drop any more locales if you think of any.
posted by slapshot57 at 11:00 PM on May 23, 2005

I find the exhibitions at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture really interesting.

And on a much less cerebral level, Chelsea Market is a real sensory delight.
posted by sueinnyc at 12:03 AM on May 24, 2005

big nick's burger and pizza joint on 78th and broadway, la caridad on 77th (I think), is another great chinese/cuban place. gray's papaya on 72nd and broadway rounds out my neighborhood fav's as a kid.
posted by pinto at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2005

Big nick's is great, but Paul's on 2nd ave, just south of St. Marks, two doors up from the aforementioned Pomme Frites, is the best burger in Manhattan and possibly the world.
posted by jonmc at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2005

I second Paul's for burgers, but if you're in the mood for a smaller and less sloppy one, head to blue 9 burger on 3rd ave . It's right by 99 miles to Philly, which does surprisingly good cheese steaks.

For people watching head to Tomkins Square Park and just hang out (then get a beer at 7B, it has a great jukebox).
posted by gaspode at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2005

Response by poster: jonmc,

Is it made from bison? Because after having a buffalo burger at Ted Turner's place in Nashville I'm convinced it can't be the best burger in the world if it ain't got buffalo in it.
posted by slapshot57 at 9:50 AM on May 24, 2005

The above is all great considering I just found out I am going to Brooklyn for 3 months, (leaving Sunday to go there). Thanks Slapshot for asking a question I would have asked!
posted by 6:1 at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2005

Response by poster: 6:1,

anything for a fellow medical person. I actually move up to Cornell on Sunday as well
posted by slapshot57 at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2005

Or catch the 7 train to Corona and take a tour of the Louis Armstrong House museum. (Best guide: Francis.)

Attend an art auction.

Go hang out with the hustlers playing chess in
Washington Square Park
or the old fellows playing dominoes in Chinatown's Columbus Park.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:05 PM on May 24, 2005

Slapshot, you're a doll! I wish you luck at Cornell, maybe we can meet-up while I am there. I will be doing a three month contract.
posted by 6:1 at 12:43 PM on May 24, 2005

I'll also jump on the Coney Island bandwagon. You have to take a ride on the Cyclone if you like roller coasters, it's a classic!

Definitely The Strand. Always the first place I go when I am in NYC. I can spend hours there.

St. Marks Place of course, but also hit Love Saves The Day in the East Village on Second Ave.

In midtown, eat lunch at Confetti Pasta. It is on 38th St. near Madison Ave. You get a big heaping serving of pasta, sauce and whatever you want in it (made to order), salad and bread and it's cheap!
posted by SisterHavana at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2005

I (third?) Pommes Frites, which I've always just known as "the belgian fries place."

If you like movies, the Angelika Theater is a good place to catch the more limited release films, although a little expensive. It's basically just down the road from NYU, you'll find it on the corner of Mercer St. and W. Houston St. if my memory serves me well.

Within walking distance of that is Generation Records (no url, they're that cool) which, if you head west on West Houston Street and turn right onto Thompson, should be on the left side of the street in between Bleecker and 3rd Street. (210 Thompson St.)

Also, maybe this is just me, but if you want to see a really cool subway station, head to the 168th street station on the 1 train. It's a big tunnel that contains a bridge over the tracks, and it all reminds me of some 19th century train stop, but underground.

If you're around columbia, I hear word that there is a pizza place nearby that serves slices as big as a man's head, but that's unsubstantiated. Either way, you won't go hungry around there.

I guess that's all I've got - I've learned from some of the suggestions here myself!
posted by invitapriore at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2005

slapshot: it's plain old beef. I've had bison, it was good. Paul's is better.
posted by jonmc at 5:12 PM on May 25, 2005

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