I think your town, despite the smog, is less boring than my town
July 23, 2012 2:25 PM   Subscribe

NYC activities for a (gasp) bridge & tunnel visitor? Would like ideas for activities, sightseeing that might be especially worthwhile or edifying.

I have been living within commute distance of NYC, so while I'm familiar with the standard tourist activities, I would like to get to know the city a little better. What are some things I could try that might leave a lasting impression of the city?—actually, this is likely my last summer living in the area, so I'd like to make the best of it. I once bought a Fodor's guidebook, but I figured I would just ask here.

My favorite activities so far have been:
- Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center (but now is off-season for classical music).
- Restaurants. NYC has truly great food, it is foodie heaven. I have been eating all over town, there is just too much! It can get spendy, so I stay on the lookout for cheap/specialty eats as well.
- The Union Square Greenmarket. This fills my inner chef green with envy.
- All the big museums. Favorites are still the MoMa and the Met.
- Shopping, e.g. lots of SoHo. I've also tried Chelsea and East Village for shops, but no success yet.
- Saw a documentary at the International Film Center.
- Running along 11th/12th Ave, The Highline (I was staying at a hotel that time).
- Haircuts. More expensive that in my town, but worth it. I'm due for another haircut this week.
- Strand bookstore. It is like a time vortex in there.

- Nightlife (bars, clubs). I'm not much of a drinker nor dancer, but the few times I've been have been fun/exciting—for a shy person.
- Shows, performances. This is something I might look into further.
- Walking around neighborhoods (usually dovetail this with my fooding activities)
- Williamsburg, I have never been there. Cloisters. New York Botanical Garden.
- New York Public Library, never been.

I would love more ideas and I'm willing to have my horizons broadened as well. Demographic info: I'm a single, late 20's gay male.
posted by polymodus to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Take the ferry to Governors Island.
- Take the subway to Cathedral Parkway or Central Park North (B/C, 2/3 lines, respectively) and walk down the length of Central Park.
- Hell's Kitchen Flea Market.
posted by gyusan at 2:33 PM on July 23, 2012

Starts August 25th : The Metropolitan Opera's Summer HD Festival featuring outdoor screenings on the face of the opera house. Keep an eye on this page, they haven't finalized the schedule yet.

If you go to the Cloisters museum, afterwards you can catch the M5 bus at the entrance to Fort Tryon Park, it goes all the way to South Ferry (You can stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wander a bit, as your ticket from Cloisters will be good there for the day), it goes through SoHo, and finally, you can wrap up your day with a ride on one of the ferries, or just watch the sun set from Battery Park.
posted by effigy at 2:41 PM on July 23, 2012

Second the Walk across Brooklyn Bridge and take the ferry. I lived in Stamford, CT for a couple of years and I really loved it as a "bridge and tunneler" (as you say ..)

Frick museum is a smaller museum near the Met. Mr Frick (if I remember correctly) was a railways tycoon back in the day and left behind an interesting collection. It is accessible, small and not crowded.

The met is open late on one of the week days. I used to enjoy taking the subway up to the Met whenever it was possible (and it is free!)

Cloisters (it is really a part of the Met) is awesome. I would love to go back there sometime.

When I had time on my hands, I also enjoyed checking out some of the galleries in the Chelsea area (I used to consult in the garment district. If you are not situated in midtown, it may not be worth the hassle).

Grabbing a martini in Grand Station was a luxary I loved indulging in - even in those cash-squeezed days ..

My wife and I enjoyed walking back from the met to Grand Central - on the few occasions that we did it (I know it sounds a bit crazy, but walking the streets of New York was fun in itself).

I miss New York.
posted by justlooking at 2:44 PM on July 23, 2012

Sorry, noticed belatedly that you already mentioned the met
posted by justlooking at 2:49 PM on July 23, 2012

- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge...
posted by gyusan

When was the last time you did that? There is late-night roadwork going on and the noise complaints from that caused barriers to be put up along much of the walkway, so you can't see the view. Just a sidewalk with barriers. From what I've read they might be up for two more years.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:44 PM on July 23, 2012

So walk across the Manhattan Bridge.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:29 PM on July 23, 2012

There are a ton of free outdoor concerts in the summer including some at Lincoln Center. Also the Met Opera's young artists recitals are coming up soon. I would recommend checking those out.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:23 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you're in SoHo, make sure to visit the Earth Room - it's strangely wonderful to duck out of the busy loud streets, go up a couple floors, and stand in a quiet clean-earthy-smelling room. It's art. It's great. Also in SoHo, Kiosk is a fun shop to browse around in.

In Midtown, check out the Morgan Library - the library room is beautiful. Also get some kati rolls around there.
posted by dreamyshade at 8:58 PM on July 23, 2012

I know you said you're not much of a drinker, but since you seem open to the idea, I'd like to suggest a few top-notch cocktail bars that might appeal to you. I pretty much never drank cocktails before being exposed to these kinds of places, so they may open similar doors for you. Be warned: They're all expensive. But in my view, very, very worth it:

• Death & Company — you have to go early to get a seat, though you can leave your cell with the door guy and they will indeed call you. Death doesn't specialize in any particular type of liquor, but rather just plain awesomeness. People also seem to like the food here, though I haven't tried it.

• Mayahuel — forget absolutely everything you ever thought you knew about tequila, including any horrible college experiences. I was beyond skeptical (I mean, tequila, right?), and now it may be my favorite bar in the city. I love the fish tacos.

PKNY — tiki done right—very right. The exterior looks like "dive bar that was shut down six years ago" and the interior is no great shakes. But the drinks are amazing. They just launched a new (and much more accessible) menu. No food here, but you can carry food in.

I could go on for a while, so PM if you'd like more suggestions in this vein. But these are my top-tier picks.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:47 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

See a bit of Williamsburg and try some new foods at Smorgasburg, an outdoor food fair every Saturday, just a few blocks from the Bedford L station.

Pick up the Cheap Eats issue of New York Magazine (from about 2 weeks ago), and pick the most tempting restaurants in neighborhoods you've never seen before.
posted by moonmilk at 5:44 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

My guided tour of the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side was memorable. The name of Elvis Presley was invoked, and that's all I'm going to give away on that topic.

I'd recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in American history.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:56 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

It may not be your thing, but I like to suggest seeing Cleopatra's Needle to visitors. Red granite, 70 feet tall, it's inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. It's 3400+ years old, and the oldest outdoor man-made object in New York.

The obelisk is behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and can be seen from the floor to ceiling windows in the Museum's Temple of Dendur room with the reflecting pool. You can reach it by entering the park at East 81st street, and following the path (East Drive) up and behind the Museum.
posted by zarq at 12:20 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you really want to get to know the city better, check out Queens too.

PS1 in Long Island City is one of my favorite places on earth; be sure to hit the James Turrell room if it's not raining out. Also, they do a crazy outdoor dance party in the courtyard every summer weekend called Warm Up that is a BLAST - international DJs, great vibe, beautiful space.

For getting to know the city better in a more literal way, it is absolutely 100% worth the trek to get out to the Queens Museum in Flushing-Corona Park. This was the site of the 1964 World's Fair. Inside the art museum, there is an entire room that is a 3D diorama of the city - all five boroughs - that was created for the '64 World's Fair. The level of detail is amazing - every building is represented. During the World's Fair they had a helicopter ride over it, which they don't do anymore (but do look for the planes flying into and out of the airport!) It gives you a much better sense of just how large New York City really is.

I grew up in Queens and Long Island and had never seen this until a few weeks ago, when my historian boyfriend, a native of Milwaukee but a former 10 year resident of Brooklyn, took me there while we were visiting my family. I almost cried - how did I go so long without being aware of this treasure? I'm so going to make it a stop on my regular rotation when I am home visiting now. Also, let me give mad props to visiting the site of World's Fair with a historian - he blew my mind with what he knew, it was so cool.

Other places in my regular NYC rotation: the New Museum on the Lower East Side, St. Mark's Bookshop, the previously mentioned Cloisters, Governor's Island, Rockaway for a day at the beach (don't go any lower than Beach 108th or so), Greek food in Astoria, Spa Castle in Flushing when I need to CHILL OUT, a beer with the cute Irish bartenders at Maggie Mae's on Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside and pizza anywhere...it's all good.
posted by deliciae at 10:39 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Teaching abroad in Spain?   |   Daughter steals major money from... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.