Empire state of mind
May 28, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Third trip to New York is happening next week, I am ready for something a little more than Times Square. New Yorkers, what to do this time? Curate my visit, and help me maybe get out of the city.

Last time you helped me with some fabulous shopping tips, tatto parlour recommendations and more. I am ready for more of your sage advice!

This time I will be flying semi-solo, couchsurfing the upper west side and am pretty much my own boss. I would like to get outside the city a little, but to where? What is a feasible day-trip, ideally naturey or gentle-hikey? I could also imagine going to, I dunno, Philly or Fire Island if they are feasible as (not crazy expensive) day trips.
If nothing else I intend to try and get to the cloisters.

I love NYC and just wandering around the place keeps me plenty entertained, but it's always good to have a few places in mind, so hit me with your tips for things to consider while *not* out of town.

To give an idea of my taste, previous faves are: Bryant Park & Zeytinz, Superhero Supply Store, Fette Sau, High-Line, Metropolitan Museeum, Argo Tea, Jersey Gardens Mall.

Already planned for this time: Eats at Xian foods, Caracas Arepas, Smorgasburg, seeing Walter de Maria exhibits and Fireflies on the water the Whitney, lots of cheap cocktails somewhere, Women in Aviation and the shuttle at Entrepid, Brooklyn Pride, shopping Demeter fragrences, some kinda outdoor movie, possibly museeum mile on the 12th, and maybe drinks with you guys :)
posted by Iteki to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Governor's Island!

And, apparently, Barcade.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:19 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

outside the city a little

I can recommend the just-opened Monet's Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, and NYBG in general. OK, so it's in the five boroughs, but it doesn't feel like it.

Cold Spring is perhaps the most obvious, much-recommended-on-Metafilter option for a day trip with hiking direct from the train station.
posted by oliverburkeman at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

For hiking, I highly recommend taking the Metro-North to Cold Spring.

The Cloisters are well worth checking out, you're right to want to go there.

Green-Wood Cemetery is highly underrated. It's a cemetery, but it's a large, beautiful, and historical cemetery.

Governor's Island is pretty sweet.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:29 AM on May 28, 2012

I second the Cloisters and Greenwood Cemetery.

If you go to Greenwood, you can also see the parrots of brooklyn. And make sure you find the tombstone of the lady in the bath-tub. That is a classic.
posted by Flood at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2012

Storm King! One hour outside New York. It's a 500-acre open sculpture garden with works by Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein and many others. Dia Beacon Art Foundation is also not too far outside the city and wonderful.

I love wandering around Toy Toyko (mostly Japanese toys/collectibles) and Evolution (anatomical models, taxidermy) in the city.

I don't know if you got a chance last time you were here, but the East River Ferry has been up and running from Williamsburg (right by Smorgasburg) to Dumbo, Long Island City (go to P.S. 1!), and all of the east side of Manhattan.

When you're tired of walking, go to Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg and get a film-themed cocktail and some food with your movie. Have fun!
posted by miniminimarket at 8:31 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always suggest The Tenement Museum. They also have Lower East Side walking tours.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:33 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

And ice cream in Chinatown.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:36 AM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: I also always suggest the Tenement Museum! It's great.

I'd also suggest going to Sleep No More - an immersive theater experience that i think even non-theater-goes would love. I LOOOOOOOOVED IT. On my 11th trip to NYC, it was something really unique.

Also, since you're going to Smorgasburg anyway, you should probably spend some time exploring Brooklyn. (I found smorgasburg to be about 1-hour experience, personally.)
posted by Kololo at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: Cheap but good cocktails - try the Randolph's happy hour special ($7 fancy cocktails, daily, 12-8pm) or Lani Kai's happy hour ($8 fancy cocktails, Mon-Fri, 5-7pm). The Randolph has bonus points for outdoor seating, and artisanal coffee during the day, as well. Daily happy hour. Noon to 8pm. It's usually not too crowded during the day, either.

2nd Governor's Island. I recommend catching the first (10am) ferry on Saturday or Sunday (it's closed weekdays) because you have basically the entire island to yourself until the 11am ferry gets there. After that, the ferries come every 30 minutes. Snag a prime people watching table or chair at the Picnic Spot. Splurge on some Bluepoint oysters from Eva's ($3 each). Look at the Statue of Liberty. Rent a bike ($15 for up to 2 hours) afterwards. Chill at the Water Taxi Beach for a few. Then leave before it gets crowded. We just did this and were on the ferry back around 2pm, when the lines for bikes/food had become much longer. Pro-tip: there are real bathrooms inside of Building 110.

How long are you staying? Some Planet of the Apes inspired public art goes live on Governor's Island on June 9th.

Also 2nd the Tenement Museum but buy tickets a day or two in advance. The tour groups aren't very large and you can only visit if you get a tour ticket IIRC.

Also June 9th is a tour of Greenwood Cemetary lead by Atlas Obscura. And the Little Red Lighthouse is open that day.

Big Apple BBQ is also going on that weekend (9th and 10th). My personal favorites are Ed Mitchell's whole hog, 17th Street's baby back ribs (with great beans), and Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork (their sauce is phenomenal). The lines are long but if you get there before 12pm, it's usually not too bad. $8 a plate, but proceeds go to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy. And it's nice to have access to so many styles of BBQ in one place.

Regarding museums, you might want to check out Cindy Sherman at the MoMA or whatever is on at the New Museum. And there's always the American Museum of Natural History.

There's also Tom Sachs: SPACE PROGRAM: MARS going on at the Armory right now.

See also Newyorkology's list of ongoing events and NYC calendar.

In addition to Smorgasburg, you might like Hester St Fair (Saturdays on the LES and Thursday nights in Chelsea now) and the New Amsterdam Market.

I LOVE Sleep No More (immersive, arty, brainy, word-less, dance-driven reinterpretation of Macbeth meets Hitchcock, a promenade aka non-sitting performance). Buy tickets ASAP if you are interested. There's very few tickets remaining for the first few weeks of June. (Try this NYTimes interactive feature). Note: not recommended if you can't go up and down a few flights of stairs/have mobility issues.

War Horse at Lincoln Center is amazing, too, even if you hate regular theatre. I looked and it seems like single tickets are still pretty easy to come by -- I even found one for tomorrow. TED Talk by the creator.

My list of Strange Places and Oddities in NYC.

My favorite things to do in NYC.
posted by kathryn at 12:23 PM on May 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Governers Island is the icecream one, was thinking of that, what to do there?

Omg Barcade looks amaaaazing! But, but, they have Double Dragon at the one in Philly, how far is Philly?

These are all fantastic things, keep them coming please! Youse are right on track, Tenement Museum sounds wonderful, prolly going to hit that around the same time as the festival is on there. Icecream in chinatown sounds fantastic too! Off to read about Cold Spring now, it sounds spot-on. And I didn't realise Dia:Beacon was so close. Whee!

On preview oh sweet jesus karthryn, I will be back with more reactions when I've had a chance to read your post.
posted by Iteki at 12:29 PM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, btw, regarding Sleep no More (they said they were going to be closed for the summer when I started looking a while back!), is that audience participation at all? I have been very curious, but I really can't be having with audience participation or people being at me.
posted by Iteki at 12:30 PM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: Sleep No More only sells tickets for a month or two at a time. But keeps extending over and over--I think this is their 15th extension or something.

There is no stage. You wander the facility alongside the actors. There is only audience participation in the sense that you might help an actor hold something or complete a task, or they might pull you into a monologue or whisper something in your ear. There's masks and no talking amongst the audience, so you are essentially anonymous. The show is not meant to embarrass you. In fact, audience members are often jealous of those who get singled out to have a private monologue spoken to them. This isn't a haunted house. Eerie and creepy, not "Boo!" if you get what I mean. Nobody will try to grab you, but if an actor reaches out their hand, you should take it.
posted by kathryn at 1:02 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Spend an afternoon in Prospect Heights -- Q to Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum, Franny's pizza.
posted by eddydamascene at 3:05 PM on May 28, 2012

I just did the Brooklyn Navy Yard tour by Urban Oyster and it was awesome! Next I'm going on the Brewed in Brooklyn Tour. Or maybe the food cart tour. Or maybe the craft beer crawl. Gah! So many choices!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 5:51 PM on May 28, 2012

Philly is almost exactly two hours away by bus or Amtrak, three if you take NJ transit to Trenton and transfer to SEPTA (trains). $20 round trip for Chinatown bus, $20-30 for Bolt or Megabus; Amtrak is $60-90 each way; NJ Transit-SEPTA is $15 or so each way.

A friend who lives in Brooklyn proclaimed the Philly Barcade to be superior to the NYC one, but I have only been to the one here - I think he said there was nowhere to sit in the NYC one.

I am saving this thread for the next time I go up to NY, these suggestions look great!
posted by sepviva at 6:56 PM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: These are amazing suggestions, and have sent me down an insane rabbit-hole of google :)

Tickets are booked for Sleep No More on our last night. Pushing my comfort zone, yay! Is there a dress code? Dressy for me would be good jeans and a dress shirt, is that ok?

Gonna do Prometheus at IMAX too I think.

Randolphs sounds purrrfect for cocktails. I am going to have such an insanely good time :)
Think I might end up leaving philly for another time though as I am a little unsure what I would do there, and should save it for when I am back with others. Same with Breakneck Ridge that I discovered (looks amazing!).

Thanks for all these, and feel free to drop any more thoughts you get in here. I will be back to favourite things I did, and I am going to try maybe make one of the meetups while I am there, so I might see one of you guys! Am sorry to miss today's Broadway walk, it sounded wonderful.
posted by Iteki at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2012

Best answer: Sleep No More has no dress code. Dress comfortably, with shoes good for walking and climbing stairs. You must check any bags, umbrellas, and coats at the door for $3. It can get rather warm if you are actively chasing after actors. Make sure you eat something beforehand.
posted by kathryn at 12:33 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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