Help me say goodbye to New York.
March 28, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

You've lived in New York/Brooklyn your whole life. You're moving to Southern California in three months. You have a lot of free time. (No car, but access to Zipcar.) You realize you won't be back in New York for a long time. You're making a list of everything you want to do before you go - places you want to visit, things you want to see, things you want to eat. What's on your list?

(You've been to Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Coney Island, and Broadway shows many times and don't really feel the need to revisit.)
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Travel & Transportation (45 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I was in this exact situation about six years ago (I've, uh, moved back since.) If there's one thing that SoCal has a dearth of, it's fresh air. And it's obvious; I can walk around NYC for hours on end, I can bike for not as long, but pretty long, and living in the LA suburbs I could basically walk for maybe 45 minutes before I started wheezing and feeling sick. So, I suggest you go do some fresh-air, outdoors things, because, at least where I lived, the outdoors was a miserable place.

Where are you going to moving to?
posted by griphus at 8:50 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Then again, I lived directly off of/took walks down the side of a six-lane highway, so YMMV regarding fresh air.)
posted by griphus at 8:51 AM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: Moving to San Diego for the first few months, then LA.

Thanks for your advice!
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 8:54 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: Eat your weight in bagels. You can't get a decent bagel on this coast.
posted by rtha at 8:58 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Eat your weight in pizza. You can't get a decent pizza on this coast.

It's all that frou frou stuff with things like PINEAPPLES. And ARTICHOKES.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:01 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ocean Beach is my favorite place on earth. Rent a surf board and go surfing!

Then eat some fish tacos.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:03 AM on March 28, 2012

If you're moving to the LA suburbs, for the love of god go to as many museums, gallery openings, live music shows, ethnic restaurants and so on as you possibly can. I lived thirty miles outside of downtown LA, and it took about two hours to get there, by car. Which, if you're driving, as well you know, is a lot different than taking the train. The suburbs where I lived had, literally, nothing of the sort. Especially good live music.

Also, yes, pizza. Eat all the pizza. Because even in nice pizza places over there, you're not going to get real pizza.
posted by griphus at 9:03 AM on March 28, 2012

Bialys. Eat your fill now.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:05 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: *cries*

Green-Wood Cemetery.
Ride one train line from top to bottom (elevated tracks a plus).
Ride the #6 at rush hour.
Museum of the City of New York.
Tenement Museum.
Wander the ritziest blocks on the UES and the bleakest blocks in [wherever there are any left].
Buy something at a bulletproof deli.
If it's as warm in NY now as I've heard, go to Coney at the most crowded time. Buy an illegal beer from a guy on the beach with a cooler.
Watch pickup games (soccer, baseball, handball, basketball, whatever) in Central Park or Prospect Park.
Buy fresh vegetables, flowers, and a black-and-white cookie at three AM at a Korean deli that you walked to.
posted by scratch at 9:06 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Did you go somewhere on a field trip or family excursion when you were a kid and it's stuck in your memory but you've never been back? Go there! do you have elderly relatives you haven't seen in a while? See them. have you been to all the tourist attractions lately? the Statue of Liberty, the top of the Empire State Byuilding, Ellis Island, and all the museums? Go there. Have you been to Jones Beach lately? Bear Mountain? Palisades?
posted by mareli at 9:06 AM on March 28, 2012

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:09 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: Walk Broadway end to end. Takes most of a day but it's fun.
posted by mikesch at 9:09 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: have you been to all the tourist attractions lately? the Statue of Liberty, the top of the Empire State Byuilding, Ellis Island ... ?

The OP specifically said she has done all these things.
posted by John Cohen at 9:10 AM on March 28, 2012

Nearly four years ago, this lifetime East-Coaster/20-year New Yorker moved to San Jose. Before I left, I went to the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art. Then I went to the Lemon Ice King of Corona, ordered four different flavors of ice, and ate them all at the park/bocce court down the street. It was one of the best afternoons I'd ever spent.

At some point I also went to Eisenberg's on 5th Avenue and 22nd St. for a meatloaf platter. But I don't know if Eisenberg's is still even there. Most of my favorite places in New York have been gone for a long time.

Also, nthing scratch (what a great list!) and The corpse in the library -- particularly the Corpse in the library. I make my own bialies at home now, because I cannot find them, for love or money, anywhere else.
posted by bakerina at 9:10 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Visit AMNH and The Cloisters. Enjoy not needing to drive ANYWHERE and being magically transported from point to point by subway. Spend a sunny day sipping a drink by the carrousel in Bryant Park, people-watching (GREAT people-watching). Spend another day wandering and eating various cheap, delightful, globally-far flung street foods in Jackson Heights.

Oh, New York!
posted by anonnymoose at 9:11 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is maybe obvious, but I'd visit my favorite places in all of the neighborhoods that I've lived in. Favorite pizza, brunch, bar, etc.
posted by Flamingo at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: God these are great. Keep 'em coming!
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2012

Also, re: pizza--Patsy's in East Harlem. I still dream about their pizza regularly.
posted by anonnymoose at 9:15 AM on March 28, 2012

Nthing bagels. Seriously. You can get decent pizza outside NYC. You cannot get decent bagels outside NYC. I don't know why this is true, but it's true.

That said, I'd have some pizza, too.

Go to Staten Island. Seriously - most New Yorkers have hardly ever been there and it can be surprisingly nice.

Take day/weekend trip to Philly or DC or Boston. It's much harder to get to other cities on the West Coast.

Ride the subway to the end of the line, just 'cause. Get out, walk around, get back on the train, go home.

Revisit all of your favorite spots one last time (this one's obvious).

Go to some of the lesser-known museums - Museum of the City of New York, Transit Museum, Queens Hall of Science.

Walk over a bridge. Preferably not the Brooklyn Bridge.

I could probably go on, but I should do work now...
posted by breakin' the law at 9:16 AM on March 28, 2012

Barney Greengrass
posted by kimdog at 9:17 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: - Go to the Top of the Rock at sunset
- Go to Times Square late at night and take photographs
- Visit the 9/11 Memorial
- Ride the wooden escalators at Macy's in Herald Square
- Visit the Met, MoMA, American Museum of Natural History, one last time
- Take the 6 train to City Hall and stay on as it turns around inside the old City Hall station (it might also be worth becoming an MTA museum member just to take the old City Hall station tour)
- Visit the MTA Transit Museum
- Take the ferry out to Governor's Island
- Spend some time just people watching at Union Square
- Take a NYPL tour and make sure you see the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals
- Take a Grand Central tour
- Take a Central Park tour by the Big Onion
- Ride the Roosevelt Island tram
- Visit the LES Tenement Museum
- Visit the Brooklyn Flea and/or Smorgasburg
- Walk the Brooklyn Promenade
- Tour the cheese caves at Murray's Cheeses in the West Village
- Take an AIA NY skyline and bridge cruise
- Visit the Digester Eggs at Newtown Creek
- Take a canoe tour of the Gowanus Canal
- Visit the Hall of Fame for Great Americans and Gould Memorial Library at Bronx Community College. You might recognize them from movies like A Beautiful Mind.
- Visit the Panorama of the City of New York out at the Queens Museum and Flushing Meadows Park
- I know you said no Broadway, but hopefully you've already seen the immersive dance/theatrical experience Sleep No More (Hitchcock inspired, loosely based upon Macbeth)?
- Here's a list I put together on Foursquare of Strange Places and Oddities in NYC
- Eat your weight in "only in NY" type foods: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts
- Have a blow out dinner at Eleven Madison Park and/or a fancy (but not super expensive) prix fixe weekday lunch at Del Posto or Jean Georges
- Take a noshing walk around the West Village and the High Line
- Take a noshing walk around Flushing
- Have a cocktail at the Lamb's Club or Monkey Bar for the atmosphere
- Visit John's of Bleecker (ask for your pie to be well done), Patsy's (East Harlem only), South Brooklyn Pizza, Di Fara
- Eat at the famous halal cart at 2am, 53rd and 6th (SW corner at night, SE during the day)
- Go to City Bakery, I think they had one in LA, but it closed up shop
- Feast on offal and weird misc. parts at Kabab Cafe and flirt/chit chat with Ali
- Grab a lobster roll at Luke's Lobster or Pearl
- Have Momofuku Ssam's weekday Duck lunch. Or dinner. I love the Creative Asian at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Ma Peche, Fatty Cue, or Wong. Some of the most creative cooking in town is happening at these places.
- Try Empellon Cocina. Mexican cooking by an ex-Alinea and WD-50 pastry chef (Alex Stupak). (I believe the Mexican is LA is nothing like this...)
- Get a sandwich at Defonte's
- Grab a pretzel at Sigmund Pretzelshop
- Stand in line at Shake Shack on a nice day with some friends
- Have a gut-busting delicious brunch at Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern. Especially Shopsin's.
- Txikito for Basque tapas. Don't miss the suckling pig, miss the sofrito/chorizo/quail egg pintxo, croquettas, padron peppers, suckling pig, torreja dessert or whatever is on the daily specials board.
- Takashi for local/sustainable Japanese yakiniku. Awesome high-tech electric grills. Try the uni/shiso/wagyu dish, beef belly, short ribs, heart, liver, sweetbreads, first stomach, third stomach, four stomach, tendon, or whatever is good that day. Brain cream in a tube served with caviar and fresh blinis.
- Xi'an Famous Foods for food from Shaanxi province in China. Cumin lamb hand pulled noodles!
- Bagel sandwiches with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese at Russ & Daughters. Excellent smoked salmon, whitefish salad, sable, all the Jewish appetizing classics. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one. You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich here, too, if you wish. Takeout only.
- A steak and/or a scotch at Keens (lots of history here, too). Say hi to Ms Keens in the bar.
- Go to WD-50 for avant garde/experimental cooking
posted by kathryn at 9:24 AM on March 28, 2012 [36 favorites]

Not an "only in NYC" recommendation, more of a "not in LA" one - my brother said you can't get Dunkin' Donuts in Southern California, so if you're a fan act now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Well, welcome to San Diego (eventually), but yeah, hit a bunch of museums. Cultural offerings have gotten better in San Diego during my lifetime here, but they're still nowhere near New York.

Also, bar-hopping - you can go to a bar in NY, have one drink, and then just go to another one a block or two down the street with no problem. There are a few places in San Diego where there are concentrations of bars, but they're generally crowded and touristy (PB, OB), or you have to pay a ridiculous cover for any bar you want to go to and possibly wait in line to go in (Downtown, PB). If you just want to hit a bunch of little neighborhood bars, they're around, but going to more than one will generally involve a car or a cab (which you may have to request by phone, since cabs are obviously not as concentrated here).

San Diego doesn't really have anywhere with the whole concentrated urban experience that NY has. Downtown is our closest, and it's nowhere near as vibrant as just about any avenue in NY, and it'll only last a few blocks in any direction. Enjoy just walking through massive urbanity for blocks on end. Go down into the village and just get lost walking around randomly for a while and looking into store windows. San Diego has no comparable experience more than two blocks long.

Decent, worthwhile public transportation - kiss it goodbye! The trolley is great if you're in one of the areas it serves, but otherwise you're relying on the bus.

Walk around Chinatown - we don't have one here. There's a heavily Asian district a bit north of town, but it's really just a bunch of strip malls with Asian restaurants.

Food - we've got pizza and bagels, but probably not what you're used to. However, the trade-off is that you'll finally get to try awesome Mexican food, and there'll be 10 taco stands between any two Chipotle or Taco Bell locations. Your mind will be blown. Also, we have a small Indian food area even further north than our Asian food area, and the odd restaurant strewn about here and there, but nothing like NY.
posted by LionIndex at 9:29 AM on March 28, 2012

Oh, one more thing: go visit a deciduous forest, even if it's just going across the river to NJ and driving through Bergen County or something. We don't have those. And look at an actual river not bounded by concrete.
posted by LionIndex at 9:34 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm a Brooklyn native who left more than a decade ago. My advice: Strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus/train. When you're in your car all the time, you won't have much opportunity to talk to that cute guy/girl. When you're on the train, why not? You have four more stops anyway.

Also: Bagels. Yes. Hot from the oven. I miss bagels.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 9:36 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oops, pressed submit too early.

I'd also add:
- Visit the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (are you a South Park fan?) and order the American Globs
- Hot dogs at Papaya Dog/Gray's Papaya late at night (not gourmet but cheap and satisfying, and an oddly NY thing)
- Wait in line to eat at the bar at Babbo one night
- Walk around Manhattan Chinatown and pretend to want to buy a counterfeit purse or watch (or not)
- Visit the Red Hook Ballfields on a nice day
- Get late night drinks and oysters at Balthazar
- See a movie outdoors, on a roof or a park (like Bryant Park)
- Get lost inside the Strand
- Spend a lazy afternoon drinking beer at McSorley's
- Spin the "Alamo" (aka the Cube) on Astor Place (just push! It moves!)
- Have a drink at a speakeasy (PDT)
- Eat at Veselka in the middle of the night
- Go to Union Square on a Saturday morning at 6am and watch the farmers market being set up
- See a show at the Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, or at Town Hall
- Go see a show at Comedy Cellar or UCB (OK, so there's UCB in LA, but is it in a basement under a Gristedes?)
posted by kathryn at 9:37 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Walk around Prospect Park.
Check out Porchetta in the East Village if you like pork sandwiches. Walk around the East Village generally and eat anything you like.
Get tickets at TKTS for a Broadway show, or rush tickets for a Met Opera.
posted by mlle valentine at 9:41 AM on March 28, 2012

Absolutely bagels. I haven't had a decent bagel since I left New York in 2005. I dream about them at night. Definitely eat some pizza, but my god, eat bagels. And yeah, there's no Dunkin Donuts in LA, so drink as much coffee as you can. And there's no White Castle either. But man, you're going to get to eat a ton of In N Out.

The UCB theatre in LA is across the street from the Scientology Celebrity Centre. I don't know if that's better or worse...
posted by elsietheeel at 9:41 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

- Eddie's Sweet Shop in Forest Hills. One of, if not the last, old time soda fountains in NY.
- Ride your bike all the way down to the end of Flatbush Ave and look around Floyd Bennett field. A few of the hangars have been converted to other uses (there's actually a minor league (or semipro, not sure) hockey team based there now) or demolished, but there's enough left to give you a feel of the old airfield. While you're there, you might as well cross the Gil Hodges bridge into Breezy Point/the Rockaways. If you're lucky, a blimp might be moored over one of the old runways.
- Actually if you like riding your bike for utilitarian purposes, I'd say ride as much as you can, as I believe LA is much less conducive to utility cycling than NY (I'm guessing most of the riding done there is for exercise or recreation).
- Walk the abandoned Rockaways LIRR branch from Rego Park to Ozone Park. Unfortunately the big spider sculpture at the Ozone Park end has fallen down, but it's still a nice little trek ove a long forgotten rail line. Could get a little messy as the overgrowth is heavy in places.
- Have a drink at Jimmy's Corner, then catch a golden glovers match.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 9:46 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't miss much about NYC now living on the West Coast. I think the pizza here is way, way better.

But oh, the bagels. The bagels. How I long for them. There's a killing to be made, really, if someone from Nussbaum or H&H would relocate to the west coast.

Bars and stuff are kind of a dime a dozen, and there's nothing in NYC you can't get in CA in that regard. One thing you can't do in LA is WALK EVERYWHERE. My favorite thing to do in New York was just to walk. I walked the entire length of Manhattan once. It's worth it. Walk from like Wall Street to the top of Central park, zig zagging.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:48 AM on March 28, 2012

VESELKA! All the kosher delis! Go to Russ & Daughters and devour everything. Bring a giant sack of bagels up on to the high line and eat them while weeping into an egg cream from Ray's on A. Watch the sun rise over coney island. Get some pizza from Rosario's.

OMG I am so sad for all the things you will miss. On the other hand, TACOS.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and listen, since it's spring on the East Coast, go walk around and enjoy the spring as much as you can. It's not that we don't have spring here, but it's really, really different from an East Coast spring.
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Soak up colonial history and old buildings in general, maybe something like this walking tour (I'm sure there are similar self-guided tours all over the various areas of the City). Los Angeles has history too, of course, but it's hard to find and when you do you can't always count on it being there the next time you come by ("What! A structure more than 75 years old? Quick, somebody tear it down and put up a strip mall!") I don't know about San Diego... but my memory of Los Angeles psychology in general is that it's much more "now" oriented.

Absolutely seconding:
• Pizza (the closest thing I found in L.A. 10-15 years ago was LaMonica's... but it was still kind of a simulacrum.)
• Bagels
• McSorley's
• Dunkin Donuts. With a Dunkin Donuts in every gas station in New England it's hard to remember how much I missed them in L.A... but one thing I could never find at any SoCal donut shop was a chocolate honey-dipped donut. Chocolate with chocolate frosting, yes... but chocolate with glaze on it? Never. The upshot is that there are tons of mom & pop donut shops in L.A. that bake theirs fresh in-house every day.

And adding:
• Dessert at Café Reggio in the Village
• If you like older buildings and architecture, take a tour of the Grand Lodge of Masons.

But yeah, you are in for some excellent Mexican food! And In-n-Out. And if you ever find yourself in North Hollwood, get thee a potato knish from Continental Bakery. I still daydream about those.
posted by usonian at 10:14 AM on March 28, 2012

Unless this has changed in the last five years, San Diego has no good bookstores. They have one in Hilltop that's okay- that's the only one I found. I have never spent time in New York but I hear great things about their bookstores.

Also, there's a lot less mixing of people in San Diego. They're very race and class conscious. It was a relief to go back to places like San Francisco where EVERYone hangs out in the same pho or burrito place or whatever. Heck, they even have conversations with each other! I have heard New York is that way, so find some place where you can enjoy the diversity vibe.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:33 AM on March 28, 2012

Unless this has changed in the last five years, San Diego has no good bookstores. They have one in Hilltop that's okay

Hillcrest. One of our two-block Village replicants. Otherwise, yeah, there's not much. Warwick's in La Jolla is one of the better independent bookstores, and there's a couple other used-book places (some in La Jolla, and Hillcrest), but losing Border's was quite a blow.
posted by LionIndex at 10:45 AM on March 28, 2012

Yes, Hillcrest. Sorry. There's a Hilltop where I live now.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: Montauk.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:16 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, San Diego's gay & drag scene, at least back when I was in the area, seemed to take itself FAR to seriously, so you might want to catch some of that while you're in NY.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:24 AM on March 28, 2012

Find that one friend or family member who lives in NY who will Fedex Overnight you H&H bagels whenever you miss them. :)
posted by vivzan at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2012

In honor of this question, I'm proposing an IRL to walk the length of Broadway. We did it last year in early October and it was a lot of fun.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:46 PM on March 28, 2012

No pressure to attend, of course. It was just that I was thinking about doing it for the last couple of weeks and your question reminded me of it.

Things to do in NYC before you leave: New York Botanical Garden is a truly amazing garden. You won't see as many spring bulbs in California because the lack of a cold winter makes them unhappy. So go see a bunch.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:55 PM on March 28, 2012

I just moved from San Diego to Brooklyn 5 months ago. There were plenty of solid NYC-style pizza places when I was in San Diego.

Here are a couple:

There was a lot of quality ethnic food in general, but not so much Chinese food.

Cold/cool weather and green spaces are pretty hard to come by in SoCal, and you can't walk anywhere. Take some good long walks.
posted by akgerber at 5:17 PM on March 28, 2012

public transportation to a hood. drink. intoxicate. walking through a hood like williamsburg see where the night takes you.......have a copy of nonsensenyc with you for that night...... going to multiple bars art galleries warehouse parties houseparties and staggering home on publictranspprtation smashed.

cant do that on foot in SoCal
posted by lalochezia at 6:05 PM on March 28, 2012

Eat authentic Italian food on Arthur Ave in the Bronx. Roberto's and Zero Otto Nove are fancy but Nicholas' is my favorite -- huge family style plates and no menu, just super knowledgeable servers who know exactly what you want.

Go to jazz brunch at Garage in the W. Village. Or jazz brunch anywhere, really.

Visit the MTA Transit Museum.

If you can't make it all the way to Montauk, drive or bike to Ft. Tilden for some east coast beach time (sunrise!). Or hang out in Coney Island/Brighton Beach around sunrise and watch all the old Russian men with their metal detectors.

Soup dumplings.

Go see a taping of something. Daily Show is super fun.

Go see Sleep No More!

Go see some of the Berlin Wall.

Get drunk and hit on strangers.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2012

Go see some of the Berlin Wall.

That's not terribly unique to NY - there's a slab of the wall at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, just a bit northwest of LA.
posted by LionIndex at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2012

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