Interesting, intelligent, cultural, or culinary activities in NYC
April 17, 2013 11:08 AM   Subscribe

My partner will be in NYC for the next month for medical treatment, with varying energy levels, and I will be visiting her over the long weekends. Looking for people's favorite diversions that would be appropriate for a non-athletic, museum-interested, grad-school-educated, foodie couple based on the Upper East Side (70th St.) We're 40-somethings who've done a lot of the NY standard stuff in the past, including the big UES museums and MOMA -- although I have to admit a lot of my experience is nearly 20 years ago at this point -- but we're both comfortable using the Metrocard to take subways and buses around town. Partner will probably not be up to walks over 20-30 minutes. Just looking for cool stuff locals might recommend for weekend activities that wouldn't be in travel guides or major web sites or mobbed with typical tourists. Thanks in advance!
posted by aught to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Scott's Pizza Tours.
posted by kaszeta at 11:13 AM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: I'd take the opportunity to see some shows. You've got all the time in the world to queue up for TKTS to get half-priced tickets.

Also, see if you can get into shows that are taped there (People's Court, Daily Show, SNL, David Letterman, etc.) I've seen Letterman twice and it's kinda fun!

Even though it's touristy as hell, I'd take a Bus Tour of the city. I've never done in NY, but it was amazingly intersting in London and to a lesser degree, Rome.

I'd have lunch at Red Rooster in Harlem, check out the Strand bookstore.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:17 AM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Also, see if you can get into shows that are taped there (People's Court, Daily Show,

Oh yeah, I meant to mention we got reservations to wait in line for Daily Show tix. Any tips on just how early we need to get there to get a seat but not waste the whole day?
posted by aught at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: Guggenheim
92Y lectures
Sleep no More
IFC film house
posted by Kruger5 at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: Go check out Roosevelt Island, just a tram ride away from the UES. 92nd St. Y lectures might be interesting. Cruise around Manhattan on the Circle Line. Tour Gracie Mansion.
posted by mareli at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: Independent cinema at FilmForum
The museum at FIT
Free concerts at Juilliard
Programs, concerts, and exhibits at the Alliance Francaise
Programs, concerts, and exhibits at the Goethe Institut

"best coffee in New York"
Gourmet food at Zabar's (don't miss the fish counter!)
Nutter Butter cookies at the Bouchon Bakery
Cupcakes at Mitchell London Foods
Macarons at Ladurée
posted by doreur at 12:06 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: The Brooklyn Brainery sounds interesting, especially the Masters of Social Gastronomy lecture series. Previous presentations are here.
posted by pullayup at 12:51 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: The Frick Collection is at 70th and 5th Ave.
Neue Galerie and Cafe Sabarsky (86th and 5th Ave) - the museum has early 20th century German and Austrian art and the cafe is fantastic.
The Morgan Library (36th and Madison) - Originally J.P. Morgan's personal library, now and art museum with lots of books, prints, etc. It's a stunning space. They also have a pretty active concert series.
posted by plastic_animals at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: The UES is awful for subway stations and crosstown blocks are a killer (and they can have odd and unpleasant slopes for tired people). Learn your closest bus and utilize it. If your partner is getting treatment at 68th and York, your nearest subway stop is at Hunter, a half a mile away. Take the M66 at 1st and 67th. And good luck.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks Elsietheeel - so far the hike to the 6 train hasn't been too bad, but we do need to get better acquainted with the crosstown buses.
posted by aught at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: I teach at a school on the UES - the M79 bus is a great crosstown option, since it runs from East End Ave to Broadway, I believe. Might be a bit of a walk if you're at 70th, though.

Lukes Lobster is worth the trip uptown....
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:13 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: I love re-visiting museums; there's always new exhibits. I think you might find a wheelchair or folding walker a big help. The buses can accommodate them.
posted by theora55 at 3:02 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: Eating in Translation is a blog that explores restaurants in New York and there is also a weekly round up of food events including some tours and classes. Here's what you missed this week, for instance.
posted by stuart_s at 8:06 PM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks all. After two weekends in NYC with my partner (and her side effects so far being not so bad, so we packed a lot in) here are some of the fun things we've done:

- cheapo Friday rush tickets to see the opera Guilio Cesare at Lincoln Center, preceded by a tasty meal at Indie Foods next door.
- 6 train to Brooklyn, walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge, walk to Chinatown, eat yummy Chinese buns and other snacks
- Union Square green market, which included vendors from our native Finger Lakes region among the many kiosks and tents
- the usual downtown bookstore suspects (Strand, St Marks, E Village Books)
- tasty Indian food at Chote Nawab, followed by spice madness shopping at Kalustyans up the block
- El Museo del Barrio - great contemporary art, really enjoyed this
- Conservatory Gardens in Central Park (near Museo del Barrio, gardens just starting to explode into flower and leaf, very nice)
- lunch at El Aguila wasn't as good as Yelpers suggested it might be, but okay; fish and marinated pork tacos good, others not so much
- Graffiti Hall of Fame in a school yard nearby was very cool
- Studio Museum in Harlem also excellent exhibitions, including Gordon Parks photos that were heartbreaking; some of their artists' spaces were open to the public, so we went up and saw some works in progress and said hello to artists, which was fun
- went to buy cookies as a snack from Red Rooster's little to-go counter, which was a bit of a debacle since there is no register at that counter, the clerk had no idea how much anything cost, and there were hundreds of people trying to get to Gospel brunch; if they don't have the staff to run the to-go counter when busy, they really should just close it, I think; all that said, the cookies were pretty good, though having them be more expensive than advertised and then getting short-changed on top of that (!) kind of took some of the yum out of what were otherwise pretty good cookies; I really just mention it at length to warn others off from going to the Nook when the restaurant is really busy, which I would imagine is any meal time
- however, a little later, a platter of quite delicious Ethiopian food at Abyssinia made it all better (if you eat lamb the Yebeg Awaze Tibs was great)
- ended Sunday afternoon / early eve with a stroll down the High Line, which is very cool - L shuttle and 6 train got us home from there to relax to watching dvds borrowed from the local NYPL branch.
posted by aught at 5:54 AM on April 23, 2013

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