Californians with an Empire State of Mind...
August 2, 2011 4:16 PM   Subscribe

So we're headed to that concrete jungle where dreams are made of, New York City, for the first time ever... and in August. Suggestions for both touristy and non-touristy things to do in 7 days during the dog days of summer. Details on our tastes, etc, inside...

Book of Mormon has long since sold out, the Daily Show, Colbert and Fallon all seem to be on vacation, we're SOL on SNL as well. Obviously, there are about a billion other things to do in NYC, so we'd love some suggestions. We'll be staying in Midtown East, near 1st Ave and 49th Street. And I hear it will be crazy hot and humid.

Things already on our list:
- Empire State Building
- Central Park
- A Broadway show (suggestions?!)
- Ground Zero
- Requisite Visit to Time Square & Lady Liberty
- Mets game
- Working on tickets to Letterman
- The NBC tour at 30 Rock? (is that worth doing if you're an NBC fan?)

Some background, My boyfriend and I are 30, and will be accompanied by my 24 year old brother and his 22 year old girlfriend. All of us are from California, and not strangers to traveling.

We are pretty easy to please, open to new experiences, delight in both sightseeing and off the beaten path treasures, LOVE food and tend to eat our way through vacations (true food enthusiasts, not just food snobs... fast food to 5 courses are all game. Would love at least one fantastic and pricy dinner, ala Gary Danko(-ish) in SF, while there). We enjoy nightlife, bars & music, love pop culture & entertainment, enjoy tours, history, activities & excursions, aren't afraid to learn a thing or two.

Less enthusiastic about art (although not opposed) & no need for kid stuff, unless adults would love it (we ARE kids at heart).

In addition to the TV shows mentioned above, I'm a big fan of the Food Network. Is Chelsea Market worth visiting? I'm planning on researching some of the places I've seen on Throwdown with Bobby Flay (there was a blueberry pancake place with maple butter syrup that looked crazy good).

In short, NYC is awesome, we love awesome things, please tell us some awesome things we need to do, go, see, drink, eat.
posted by veronicacorningstone to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (49 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Governors Island is pretty neat, and there's a free ferry on the weekends. Michael Arenella (cool jazz-age jazz band) will be playing on the 20th and 21st.
posted by Ollie at 4:22 PM on August 2, 2011

Also, New York Magazine just published their "cheap eats" issue, which will provide a bunch of ideas for off-the-beaten track food.
posted by Ollie at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2011

the Museum of Natural History is super awesome!!!
posted by supermedusa at 4:28 PM on August 2, 2011

The best ramen in NYC is at Ippudo. There's usually about an hour wait, but this is no bad thing as it allows you to check out the Strand, an incredible bookstore a few blocks away.

I would skip Ground Zero -- it's a hole in the ground.

Depending on when you're in town, Fringe might be on.
posted by novalis_dt at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2011

Go to Peter Luger - it's an institution, 100 years old and has been the best steak in NYC since then. But, don't go for steak - go for burgers (not on the menu, as I recall, and only available at lunch). They are tremendous, reasonably priced, and made from the trimmings of the dry aged porterhouse that has kept people coming to Brooklyn for a century.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:44 PM on August 2, 2011

You can combine a trip to the Chelsea market with a walk on the High Line. The new section is open (but narrow) and it's really good.
posted by gaspode at 4:46 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Circle Line Tour
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:46 PM on August 2, 2011

We may have somewhat different tastes, but I just posted almost the same question last week.

Ps You're right about the humidity. I was a little unprepared for the combination of heat and Manhattan being *absolutely overrun* with tourists. Not that there's much you can do about it, but so you know, it's a little crazy and stressful right now.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:46 PM on August 2, 2011

Oh and just a random fact I didn't know: if you're landing at JFK you can take the Airtrain/subway combo to Manhattan for $7.25. It's really convenient and a great deal!
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2011

The standard answer that I give for this is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the 2 or 3 to Clark St. in Brooklyn, follow the signs for the bridge, (it's only 2-3 blocks) and walk back across the bridge to Manhattan, and take a hell of a lot of pictures on the way. Better views of the Manhattan skyline are not to be had anywhere. Also, if you have a little time while you're in Brooklyn, take a walk to the promenade - it's really pretty down there, as well.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2011

Ice cream sammiches on the High Line are what have gotten me through this revolting summer.

Also the AMNH is the greatest. GIANT WHALE ILU.
posted by elizardbits at 5:03 PM on August 2, 2011

What, no museums on your list? You're only a few blocks from the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan is right up on Fifth, the Guggenheim a bit farther. The Whitney is on Madison (and is apparently likely to close that location forever soon -- turning it over to the Met as an annex), the New York Historical Society, going farther afield but still Manhattan, the Museum of the American Indian, the Cloisters, the NYMNH, and if you're up for a trek and the sights of another borough, the Brooklyn Museum. The first four are all world-class museums you are not likely to forget, large enough to spend hours at time touring, and -- important for August! -- climate-controlled.

Also, the NY Food Museum sounds right up your alley. And apparently, the latest thing is fine dining in museums.
posted by dhartung at 5:09 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you go to a Mets game try to also make it to the Queens Museum of Art to see the Panorama of the City of New York and Main St. in Flushing for Chinese food.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:12 PM on August 2, 2011

The NY Food Museum is virtual only and the New-York Historical Society is closed for renovation until November.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:15 PM on August 2, 2011

Response by poster: @DrJimmy11 *doh* you just ousted me as a mefite that did not previously look for similar questions. My bad. That said, our interests and travel style (you: solo, me: rollin 4 deep with young 20 somethings in tow) are quite different, so I'm glad to get suggestions for my tastes and get to puruse yours as well. I would frame my tastes as sometimes hipster, but also, the exact opposite of that. :)

And, despite our differences, our questions are structured almost identically! We must have similar taste in writing styles.

@dhartung Museums are just the kind of thing I need help with! We do enjoy them, just don't go nearly often enough and never know where to start. Your suggestions are great.

@novalis_dt Appreciate the honesty that Ground Zero might be just fine to skip...

Also, A GREAT help are everyone's location centric suggestions... "if you're already here, you could also go here..." is exactly the kind of help we need! THANK YOU! Keep then coming. :)
posted by veronicacorningstone at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2011

I agree with the Circle Line suggestion, and recommend boat rides as a fantastic way to deal with the heat and see NYC from a different point of view. This Audubon eco-cruise is fantastic, if you're going to be around on a Sunday at 7PM (might not be available on your dates, though).

Here's another great boat ride. You go down to the South Street Seaport (which is a good thing to do anyway), just south of that is a ferry to IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn. You get to Red Hook and there are GREAT views of the Statue of Liberty from that neighborhood (I can give you more specific directions if you want) and the neighborhood itself is very funky.

Also you can take a subway to Coney Island, Brooklyn! and/or to Brighton Beach (Brooklyn) which is a Russian neighborhood, with Russian restaurants right on the beach and all kinds of Russian stores on the main street, Brighton Beach Avenue.

And don't forget to wander around the East Village.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:21 PM on August 2, 2011

High Line

and Google has an office there, perhaps you could wangle lunch somehow.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2011

For Broadway & off-Broadway, you can get discount tickets for same day performances at the TKTS Booth in Times Square. From the website or iPhone app, you can see what shows they've been selling recently. (It has been forever since I've gone to a play, so, I don't have a specific show recommendation, but, if you don't have your heart set on a particular show & day the TKTS booth would be the way to go.)
posted by oh yeah! at 5:31 PM on August 2, 2011

Book of Mormon x a million.
posted by quodlibet at 5:33 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you want to see the Statue of Liberty or go inside? Access to the crown is sold out through fall so you can't do that. To visit the monument and museum in the pedestal you need reservations two weeks in advance or be willing to stand in an interminably long line and hope you get tickets. Visiting Liberty Island alone is probably not worth it, except that ticket also gets you to Ellis Island which is worth visiting.

Many (most?) Circle Line cruises will get pretty close to the statue or you can take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:37 PM on August 2, 2011

Go to Central Park, but don't get into the horse drawn carriages. Before you get there, go to the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle (59th Street) and get yourself a nice picnic together, maybe around 7pm once it's cooled off. Get some plastic cups and a bottle of wine or two (it's technically illegal to drink in the park, but it's OK if you're mature and cool about it). Pick out a nice spot in Sheep's Meadow (the first big open space in Central Park you'll get to when you head up from the entrance @ 59th) and enjoy feeling like a local.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:38 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chelsea Market is basically the East Coast version of the Ferry Building, without the pretty views. You can probably feel safe skipping it.

The New York Magazine Cheap Eats issue, recommended above, is brilliant and you should definitely check it out. Speaking as an ex-local, it was my go-to resource for new restaurants to try.

Some other food recommendations:
* Shake Shack just is very, very good, but not worth the mile-long line at Madison Square Park. If you do go to the Museum of Natural History, it's next door at 77th and Columbus (and next door to Shake Shack is also an outstanding candidate for your fancy dinner - Dovetail.)
* Get pizza at least once. I won't go anywhere near the best pizza in New York argument, but I will say that Motorino won't let you down.
* Something in the Momofuko constellation is clearly worth a visit.
* I'm also going to go out on a limb a bit and suggest that barbecue should be on your itinerary. Perhaps I simply haven't searched near and far enough yet, but nothing I've encountered so far in California comes close to the moist brisket at Hill Country, the burnt ends at R.U.B or the wings at Dinosaur Barbecue.

Two more pieces of advice: I am too lazy to Google which of the many free concert offerings in various New York parks may coincide with your dates, but you should not be similarly lazy. Finally, the best way to endure the heat and humidity is to find someplace air-conditioned to spend the hours between 11 AM and 4 PM, and confine your outdoor wandering to the mornings and late afternoons/evenings.
posted by psycheslamp at 5:41 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't forget that NYC is more than just Manhattan. Explore the other boroughs.

I'll second the Governors Island recommendation, but as a former resident of the island, I'm probably biased. Still a great place to visit though!

Depending upon how much you like to "explore", these two sites might give you some great ideas: and

I tend to agree that there's no need to visit Ground Zero since its just a construction site at the moment but if you take the E train to the WTC stop and walk down Church to Greenwich St, that'll put you right at Battery Park where you want to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, so you can get a view of the hole in the ground on the way.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2011

Depending on what your definition of pricy is, you can probably still get seats for a tasting menu at Daniel (maybe) or Anissa (probably), which are two of the best meals I've had in NYC. Daniel is WAY expensive, Anissa less so but still not cheap.

Motorino is another great recommendation. If you go into Brooklyn, Forcella in Williamsburg (brand new, has fried-crust pizza that is not at all gross and you HAVE to try) and Saraghina in Bed Stuy have the best pizza I've had in the city out of a lot of pizza.

If you want to go into Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is having a Jim Henson/Muppet exhibit that is supposed to be amazing.

I spent way way way too much time eating in great restaurants in NYC. memail me if you want more recommendations!
posted by frankdrebin at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2011

Obviously the Met, MoMA and AMNH are the biggie museums, but for slightly less traveled museums I'd recommend The Morgan Library or the Frick Collection. I'm also a big fan of the Tenement Museum (especially as an alternative to the Statue of Liberty, if you don't feel like waiting on line for hours in the sun).

If you venture out of Manhattan (which I recommend), I totally agree with frankdrebin about Museum of the Moving Image, which is the most fun, hands-on museum in the city (if you're willing to take the R 3 stops into Queens). You can stop for Greek food before you return to Manhattan.

In Brooklyn you could see the Transit Museum, Prospect Park (way less crowded than Central Park), and walk around Park Slope a bit. It's not my scene, but maybe spend some time in Williamsburg, if you're so inclined?

As for pancakes, check out Clinton Street Baking Co on a weekday (weekends are too crowded). There's also the Union Square farmers market.

Personally, I'd skip the Empire State Building and Statue and just spend more time exploring downtown. You're not going to want to spend much time in Midtown East, trust me.
posted by pourtant at 7:05 PM on August 2, 2011

Book of Mormom has a lottery. Show up at the box office 2.5 hours before the show. Front row and box seats for about 30 bucks.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:07 PM on August 2, 2011

General advice:

The "best" way to Manhattan from JFK, LGA, or Newark.

I hope you have an iPhone. I use Maps, Yelp, Menupages a lot. If you don't have an iPhone, use or to plan point to point subway directions from place A to place B.
Your basic guide to NYC:

Rule No.1 -- walk to the right. If you need to meander or stop, step to the side. Don't walk three or four abreast unless the sidewalk's huge and no one's around. You must share.

Rule No. 2 -- speed it up. This goes for everything, including having your MetroCard out before you reach the turnstile, knowing what show you want to see when you get to the TKTS window, and just moving out of the way when you get off the elevator or to the top of the stairs. Got a question? Be concise. People are a) busy, b) don't want to get sucked into a scam, and c) irritated with slow tourists.

A cab is for hire only if his numbered/lettered lights [in center] are lit on his roof. Let people exit the subway car before you push your way on. Be careful with your umbrellas, don't stand in the doorway letting cold air in while you decide whether you're coming or going, and fight the urge to eat and shop at the same dull chain restaurants and stores you've got at home. Spend your money at the interesting places so Manhattan doesn't turn into a generic Disneyfied strip mall. Thank you.
NYC's greatest hits:

* Top of the Rock for a view of the city. Buy tickets online. Budget 1-2 hours for this. Way better view and experience than Empire State Building (shorter lines, view that actually includes the Empire State Building, facilities are newer, you're exposed to the elements as opposed to being in a big glass box, it's not crowded at all). Don't forget your camera. No tripods are allowed but you can stay up there as long as you want. I like to time my visits for just before sunset/dusk. Last elevator goes up at 11pm if you only want the night view. You can see the city in the daylight, in the sunset, and at night.

BUT if you do go to the Empire State Building, buy tickets online at, buy the fast passes, and look for info about the passes to get to the 102nd floor. It will be about 100 USD, but worth it if you want to feel like a VIP. Oh, and call to find out how long the wait is, visibility, etc. 1.877.NYCVIEW.

* Rockefeller Center - it's pretty, but you don't need to stay here long unless you want to. Less thrilling during the summer because there's no ice skating rink or tree. Top of the Rock is technically part of Rock Center. Note also they have a Magnolia Bakery, La Maison du Chocolat, Bouchon Bakery, and a Jacques Torres there now.

* Museum of Modern Art - they stay open late on Friday nights and it's free (sponsored by Target) after 4pm. I would budget 1/2 to a full day here dependent on how much you want to see. It's small enough to do in an afternoon. Note also that have one of the best restaurants in town (The Modern) next door. The Modern also has a more casual front room with Alsatian-inspired small plates. The cafes inside the MoMA are actually good, especially for museum food.

* Times Square - IMO looks better at night. You don't need to stay here long unless you want to.

* Grand Central, and a peek at the exteriors of the Chrysler Building (you can't go inside really) and New York Public Library (the one with the two lions in front, you know, from Ghostbusters).

You can combine MoMA, Top of the Rock, Rock Center, Times Square, Grand Central, and a stroll past the Chrysler Building and NYPL into the same day if you like.

* Broadway show: I can't recommend a specific one but due note that a lot of them sell out weeks in advance. Also, plan to eat dinner before or after the show nearby, and make a reservation, because every decent restaurant nearby gets slammed at 6pm. Dinner recommendations: Esca, Bar Room at the Modern, db bistro moderne, Shake Shack, Szechuan Gourmet, in order of decreasing priciness.

* Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and/or the American Museum of Natural History. These can be combined. You'll never see 100% of Central Park or the Met in one day, so get a taste to satisfy yourself. You can easily combine the Met or AMNH with Central Park, especially if the weather is nice. I wouldn't do all three together, to avoid museum fatigue. (Might be nice to pair this with some NY style bagels and smoked salmon at Barney Greengrass on the UWS. Note that BG is closed on Mondays.)

Sidebar: if you want to do a Central Park picnic, go to Salumeria Rosi (for cured meats), Grandaisy (room temperature Roman style pizza), Bouchon Bakery (some bouchons or doughnuts or TKOs), Jacques Torres (maybe some chocolate chip cookies), and/or Magnolia Bakery (for some banana pudding or icebox cake).

* Don't go to South Seaport. It's a giant outdoor mall with bad food. Little Italy is also a tourist trap nowadays (sadly).

* Magnolia Bakery cupcakes aren't that great (often dry, recipe lacks salt, too much frosting). Avoid! Order something else. Like the aforementioned banana pudding and icebox cake.

* Ground Zero is a big construction site with lots of vendors selling bad laser cut paperweights nearby. Be forewarned. It's no longer a hole in the ground, it's an active construction site. Luckily, this part of the island is actually much smaller than it appears at first glace, so you'll be quite close to where you should get the ferry for the Statue of Liberty.

* Be forewarned that a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty will be time consuming, involve many lines (line to get through security, line to get on the ferry, line to get inide, line to get back on the ferry, etc.), and both attractions can be very crowded. It's nice, it's interesting, it's not jaw dropping. If you do go to the Statue of Liberty, reserve a monument pass in advance! They do sell out. This pass lets you go inside the Statue. You're probably out of luck for crown passes, especially since they're closing the Crown for reservations in the fall. I would reserve the entire day if you want to do Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I actually find Ellis Island to be more interesting. The concession stands on both are decent; consider bringing a snack, or swinging by the Battery Park City food kiosks (Fatty Cue and Ed's Lobster) or Shake Shack location. Not a whole lot of eats near immediately where the ferry is located.

* Schedule some down time. The best places to hang out in Manhattan are those that feel more like real neighborhoods where people eat, drink, live, and play. Stroll down Bleecker Street or West 10th or something, take a walk down St Marks Place, etc. Find a park bench and sit in it. If you choose to stroll down Bleecker, you'll pass by Amy's Bread (great cake), Lobster Place, Grom (great gelato), Faicco's (good for Italian sandwiches), L'Arte de Gelato, Keste (Naples style pizza),

* The High Line. Awesome and gorgeous. Time your visit so that you can catch a bit of the park in the daylight, some at sunset, and some at night. Get a paleta from La Newyorkina or gelato from L'Arte de Gelato (I'm not a huge People's Pops fan and I haven't tried the Melt Bakery ice cream sandwiches yet). Marvel in the fact that there are elevators with art as a part of the elevator. And public bathrooms. And it's very well kept. IMO it's incredibly gorgeous at night. Also there's a rollerskating rink and a temporary beer garden called the Lot on Tap with some food trucks at the 30th St exit/end. I love the Highline! On the south end, you'll be by Chelsea Market, but if you keep walking south a bit, you're in the West Village and near dell'anima (run by an ex-Babbo sommelier), Spotted Pig, etc.

* GO SEE SLEEP NO MORE (off-Broadway). It is a 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. Nearby is Txikito (excellent Basque tapas, reservations recommended) and Co. aka Company (pizza by Jim Lahey of no-knead bread fame, no reservations taken).

* If going to a Mets game, skip the Shake Shack there, as its menu is more limited, and the lines will cause you to miss a significant portion of the game. I would do dinner in Flushing at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (great soup dumplings, try to hit it at off hours), Spicy & Tasty (Szechuan), Imperial Palace (Cantonese seafood), Xian Famous Foods (Xian food, which is very rare to find in the USA). Or you could try to hit up one of our celebrated Thai restaurants on the way back into Manhattan on the 7 train (Sripraphai, Ayada, Chao Thai, etc).

For the greatest hits of NYC food, I would recommend for you:
* Brunch at Minetta Tavern, Locanda Verde, or Shopsin's (note weird hours/menu/cursing at Shopsin's)
* Bagel sandwiches with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese at Russ & Daughters
* A steak and/or a scotch at Keens (lots of history here)
* Katz's Deli (famous for great pastrami on rye, no mayo)
* Pizza at John's of Bleecker (coal oven style) or Motorino (Naples inspired)
* Cocktails at Pegu Club, PDT (speakeasy inside of Crif Dogs and takes reservations at 3pm on the day of), or Death & Co
* A pretzel from Sigmund Pretzelshop (the street ones are crap)
* Hot dogs at Papaya Dog/Gray's Papaya (not gourmet but cheap and satisfying, and an oddly NY thing)
* Halal cart at 53rd and 6th (make sure you go to the southEAST corner before 8pm, and the southWEST corner after 8pm, and don't use too much red sauce)
* Shake Shack (high-end fast food burger, get the Shack burger, which has the Shack sauce on it)
* Babbo or Scarpetta (high end Italian, which is really buzzy in NYC right now)
* Eleven Madison Park (for your really splurgy meal, if you are going all out)
* Lobster rolls at Luke's, Red Hook Lobster Pound's truck, or Pearl Oyster Bar (assuming you can't get them in Sacramento)
posted by kathryn at 7:15 PM on August 2, 2011 [29 favorites]

It sounds dumb but it was neat riding the Staten Island Ferry during my first visit. It was nice to sit down, enjoy the breeze and get a different view of the city.
posted by jaimystery at 7:15 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also: if you really wish to go to Eataly, go in the morning, before the lunch rush. Around 10-11am. Be prepared for poor signage and crowded aisles (many only have enough space for two people to pass). It's been swamped with tourists for the last few weeks. It's fun but I view it more as a giant grocery store that happens to have some restaurants inside. If you eat at the restaurant, though, you're literally eating in the grocery store, which can be really weird.
posted by kathryn at 7:17 PM on August 2, 2011

The only problem with the lottery for Book of Mormon is that it's hard to win, since there are easily a hundred other people entering at the same time (at least every time I've tried), and the chances of two people in your group winning two tickets each in the same drawing are even slimmer. But, that said, it is a fun experience waiting for the lottery, and it's only a half hour.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:17 PM on August 2, 2011

Oh and just a random fact I didn't know: if you're landing at JFK you can take the Airtrain/subway combo to Manhattan for $7.25. It's really convenient and a great deal!

It is a great deal.

It also goes through some of New York's worst neighborhoods.

The Airtrain/Long Island Rail Road combo is more expensive. But quicker. And safer.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:43 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Moshe's Falafel Cart, 46th & Sixth Ave.

Van Leeuewen Artisan Ice Cream Truck

is closed until August 12th. But if your visit coincides with it being open, drop by and pay Kenny & Crew a visit.

DiFara's is located deep, deep in outer borough territory. The line is long. The accomodations are grubby. But they serve the best pizza on the North American continent. Which makes them worth a visit, I think.

A short walk from DiFara's is the Kosher Bagel Hole which serves the best bagels in the Western Hemisphere. By way of warning, they are Sabbath observers which means that the Friday/Saturday schedules can be a little odd.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:55 PM on August 2, 2011

You'll find a very interesting take on the traditional Jewish deli at Mile End in Brooklyn.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:56 PM on August 2, 2011

The green patch of grass at the Lincoln Center.
posted by jchaw at 8:54 PM on August 2, 2011

OH! For fancy great food on the (kind of, relatively, -ish) cheaper end, see if you can get a reservation for the $29 prix fixe at Del Posto (at 15th and 10th). Incredible food, fantastic service, first Italian restaurant to get 4 stars from the Times since the 70s (60s?). It'll end up being about $40/person plus whatever drinks but MAN is it good. I've been 3 times and all of them were just wonderful.
posted by frankdrebin at 9:04 PM on August 2, 2011

Response by poster: @Kathryn: you're amazing. That is a serious amount of information, and I thank you! RE: Airports, we're flying into La Guardia, so once again thanks for the link. Between the 4 of us, we have 3 Droids and an iPhone, so smartphoning will be happening.

To those that suggested the High Line. It looks fantastic! Thank you. I'd never heard of it, and I can't understand why, it seems so cool!

@frankdrebin your food suggestions are right on point. The BF & I were talking about Daniel's today, trying to decide if we should splurge. Not sure if the little bro & his GF can swing it, but we might. Very gratetful for the Anissa & Del Posto suggestions as well, not sure how much budget I want to blow, and a little less $ but still wonderful might be a great idea. I may bug you for more eats!

Thank you for the Statue of Liberty tips, I'm thinking a quick fly-by on a boat might be the way we go.

A little concerned about @pourtant's comment: You're not going to want to spend much time in Midtown East, trust me.

-- Anyone care to elaborate? Is that because its boring/less to do, or should I be concerned about where we're staying?
posted by veronicacorningstone at 10:17 PM on August 2, 2011

No, Midtown East is just boring. It's a pretty dead neighborhood--there's nothing to do. But it's safe and a (kind of) convenient location for tourists. So yeah, you'll pretty much just be there to sleep, not to really see anything.

And do try to explore the outer boroughs some.
posted by greta simone at 10:29 PM on August 2, 2011

When you go to the highline be sore to use the restrooms! It's like peeing in Portal :)

If you go fir BBQ at Fette Sau in Brooklyn, order less food than you think, you van always get more, I had to give about $25 dollars of meat to a homeless lady. The superhero supply store is also in Broklyn and very cool, buy their books.

We had a really nice prix fixe for about 35 dollars at City Lobster nearish Times Square before we left.

Seems they are doing quite a bit of work in the subway, trains were getting cancelled and rerouted and stuff especially at the weekends?

Missing NYC already, and this thread ain't helping.
posted by Iteki at 1:20 AM on August 3, 2011

2 shows that you have to try to see but can be hard to get tickets to close to your trip are phantom of the opera and wicked. Both sell out so a tleast try to get tickets to one of them.

also if you think the summer is bad with tourists dont even try manhattan at christmas time. You cant even walk at christmas time.

You have to go to little italy/china town also. Maybe get tickets to a mets or yankee game?

also if you like bagels and smoked salmon you HAVE to go to Russ and daughters .

here is their address 179 East Houston Street New York, NY 10002. You said you like the food network and russ and daughters has been on the network many times.

Another place that has been on the food network is johns pizza on 44th. Its actually and old church with stained glass and everything. Expect a long wait though so go early.

Also if you are walking everywhere avoid times square it gets real busy.

Also the intrepid sea and space museum is also a must, along with the museum of natural history and the planetarium.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:41 AM on August 3, 2011

I dont think little italy is a tourist trap. The resteraunts there are still really good places to eat italian food,

The tikets booth at times square and south street seaport are great places to find discount broadway show tickets but they are for same day. The one at south street seaport is the least busiest of the two. We have seen mary poppins ,and avenue q this way. You can get orchestra seats for like 50 to 75 percent off But if you have more then 4 people it could be hard to find seats all together going with this option.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:45 AM on August 3, 2011

The BF & I were talking about Daniel's today, trying to decide if we should splurge. Not sure if the little bro & his GF can swing it, but we might. Very gratetful for the Anissa & Del Posto suggestions as well, not sure how much budget I want to blow, and a little less $ but still wonderful might be a great idea. I may bug you for more eats!

If you have a specific dollar figure in mind before tax, tip, wine/drinks, I'd post your query on the Chowhound board for Manhattan, giving your specific dates of travel. NB: Annisa might be "too romantic" for a group of four, Del Posto is great but fancy (I'd wear a dress, my husband would wear a suit to go there).

Also my suggestions of Scarpetta and Babbo are not super-expensive because the secondi are so big, you should share with another person. For each couple at, say, Scarpetta, I'd order two appetizers, one to two pastas, and one main, and then share dessert.

You're not going to want to spend much time in Midtown East, trust me.

Yes, it's a place to sleep. There aren't a lot of tourist attractions save Grand Central Terminal. Lots of office buildings.

Seems they are doing quite a bit of work in the subway, trains were getting cancelled and rerouted and stuff especially at the weekends?

Always check before you leave for the latest construction and diversion information. It has a mobile-friendly version.

Another place that has been on the food network is johns pizza on 44th. Its actually and old church with stained glass and everything. Expect a long wait though so go early.

I think the one on Bleecker is better. The one on 44th seems to undercook their pies a bit; there's supposed to be char on the bottom!

I dont think little italy is a tourist trap. The resteraunts there are still really good places to eat italian food,

If there's a guy outside every restaurant, trying to get you to come inside, and he won't stop talking to you, that sets off my alarm bells. Please name one restaurant in Little Italy that's as good as Peasant, Po, dell'anima, Hearth, Osteria Morini, Lupa, Maialino, Locanda Verde, etc.
posted by kathryn at 5:34 AM on August 3, 2011

I try to eat at the Gramercy Tavern for my splurge meal whenever business takes me to the city. It can be a pain to get reservations for the main dining room but you can usually get into the bar/tavern area if you're willing to wait. One of my best meals ever was there.
posted by white_devil at 6:49 AM on August 3, 2011

Two things near your hotel - The United Nations is a block a way, so that might be something to check out. Also, there's kind of a cool view on Tudor City Place's overpass above 42nd Street. Nice little park there too. If Manhattanhenge was happening, (you just missed it) that'd be the ideal viewing location.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:14 AM on August 3, 2011

Two things near your hotel - The United Nations is a block a way, so that might be something to check out.

Note that the UN tour generally gets mixed reviews -- my memories of the tour consist of a guide telling us when we could and couldn't take photos (we could only take them after she stopped talking), and going through a series of room where each one was a bit ugly (70s decor) and looked essentially like the last. We thought it was a bit of a waste of time. YMMV.
posted by kathryn at 9:59 AM on August 3, 2011

To clarify about my Midtown East comment...don't worry, it's not dangerous or anything, there's just not a whole lot for tourists around there (aside from the meh UN tour). Maybe I'm unfairly biased, but I work a few blocks away and it's just not a place I'd want to explore after 6 pm.

For nightlife, especially with younger 20-somethings, I'd recommend spending more time downtown, but I'd also suggest checking Midtown East on Yelp for restaurant suggestions if you want to eat near your hotel. It is NYC, so there are great spots no matter what the neighborhood.

Also, if you don't want to walk many avenue blocks to get anywhere else, think about taking a (notoriously slow) crosstown bus.
posted by pourtant at 6:28 PM on August 3, 2011

Yelp mobile is my best friend when looking for stuff to do / places to eat here. Do a search by location, filter by price, sort by highest rated, and SHAZAM.
Though if you want some pre-approved places to grab a bite in Manhattan, feel free to avail yourself of my many Yelp bookmarks.
posted by D.Billy at 9:06 PM on August 3, 2011

As a representative of New York's theater community, I would be remiss in neglecting to point out that August is when New York City's Fringe Festival is going on. Tickets are usually only about $15-20 apiece, and you can get tickets for things for weird times like 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. Mind you, some of the stuff in The Fringe is kind of....weird, and all of it is "seriously low budget". But there are some fantastic things to be found amid the fray.

The shows in the Fringe also all take place at venues scattered throughout the East and West Village; in the West village you won't be able to throw a brick without hitting restaurants and coffee shops, and in the East village, you'll be near one of New York's great foodie institutions, Katz's Deli.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on August 9, 2011

Response by poster: BTW, @pourtant after a little research, the Clinton Street Baking Co. is exactly the pancake place I was looking for. Thanks for the weekday hint, we're taking it for sure!

Thanks for all these tips, we're plotting our week right now, and this is all very helpful. Will report back when we return!
posted by veronicacorningstone at 11:39 PM on August 10, 2011

Somewhat late, but midtown East isn't all bad. If you want a fun, somewhat quiet dinner one night - Dos Caminos has an outpost on 50th and 3rd and their guacamole is to die for. Outdoor seating is great for people watching.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:57 PM on August 16, 2011

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