Living for 3 weeks in NYC - now what?
July 11, 2013 9:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be living in NYC (UWS near Lincoln Center) for 3 weeks in August, as well as taking a class in Chelsea. Help me make my way in the big city and make the best of my not-in-class time!

I'll be in class for a fair amount of the day (10-4, M-F). I'm also expecting to spend several evenings a week watching improv, at Magnet or UCB. However, weekends and some evenings will be my own.

I've never lived in the city before, just spent some weekends/overnights, and that's pretty much been with family. This time, I'm on my own and can do what I want! This time, I have no one to tell me which bus/subway to get on to get where I want to go! I have many questions, thank you advance for helping!
  • I know I'll be buying a 1 week unlimited Metrocard for getting around, as it's the best deal for me. Give me a crash course on figuring out what subway/bus to take. I know I'll be taking the 1 from 66th to 28th for class, but beyond that, I have no clue. Which are the best iPhone apps to help me with this?
  • On the off chance you've taken the 3 week Magnet summer intensive before, what should I expect? I'm already planning to dress comfortably, wear closed toe shoes, and bring water. I'm not a total improv noob (almost 2 years now), but my previous classes have been local, and geared toward short form. I've done a little long form, but the intensive is a big leap for me, and I'm nervous.
  • Cheap eats in the area of the Magnet Theater (W. 29th btw 7th and 8th). Class lets out at 4, evening shows start at 7. I'll probably be eating in the area instead of running home and back. I'd imagine that some nights I'll grab food/beers with classmates, and that some I'll be by myself. Also, quick lunch spots (sit down/take out/food carts).
  • Food shopping that is walking distance from the Lincoln Center area. I'll want to pick up some breakfast food for sure, and probably some snacks/non-perishable lunches/simple dinners.
  • Really cool stuff going on in the city between Aug. 5-23. I like improv, bookstores, crafty things, folk music, musical theater, street fairs, museums...
  • Any chance of discount tickets to either Pippin or Kinky Boots in that time frame, or are they still too hot a commodity? If there's a shot, where do I go to get them?
  • How hard would it be to take mass transit to Brooklyn for Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg? Can I do them in the same day, or would it be easier/more sane to do them separately on different days?
  • What, in general, do I need to know about living in the city for a few weeks considering I've been a suburbs girl my whole life? I've been to NYC (and other cities) a number of times, but always with other people who knew what they were doing.
Thanks so much!
posted by booksherpa to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check out this recent thread for a load of good advice about navigating the subway and "city etiquette".
posted by telegraph at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: So much stuff going on here. I'll answer a few questions

Food shopping in Lincoln Center = Trader Joe's at 72nd and broadway is your answer. No need for anything else. There's a Trader Joe's in Chelsea too.

Brooklyn Flea from Lincoln Center - take the 1 to 14th (or walk up to the 2 express train at 72nd and take that to 14th) and transfer to the L (long walk underground) to Brooklyn and get off at the Bedford stop. It's a few blocks off of the stop.
posted by jourman2 at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Give me a crash course on figuring out what subway/bus to take.

I'm local, but I just look at the map on and use their Trip Planner if I'm going somewhere unfamiliar. You don't need an app.

Food shopping that is walking distance from the Lincoln Center area. I'll want to pick up some breakfast food for sure, and probably some snacks/non-perishable lunches/simple dinners.

Trader Joe's on 72nd and Broadway, Fairway on 74th and Broadway, Whole foods on 59th in the Time Warner Building.

Any chance of discount tickets to either Pippin or Kinky Boots in that time frame, or are they still too hot a commodity? If there's a shot, where do I go to get them?

Rush/lottery is the best way to do this.

What, in general, do I need to know about living in the city for a few weeks considering I've been a suburbs girl my whole life?

In August, the city is gross and mostly empty. Don't worry too much, just enjoy yourself. Stay safe.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Food shopping that is walking distance from the Lincoln Center area. .

Go to Fairway on B'way and 74.

Oops, on edit, agree with above.
posted by third rail at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: Any chance of discount tickets to either Pippin or Kinky Boots in that time frame, or are they still too hot a commodity? If there's a shot, where do I go to get them?

Pippin has been regularly 20% off at TKTS.

There's a farmer's market on Thursdays and Saturdays in Richard Tucker Square (where the uptown 66th st #1 subway entrance is, across from Lincoln Center). The Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse people sell great bread and cheese there.

The Mostly Mozart festival will be going on while you are there.
posted by Jahaza at 9:39 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hey, my jujitsu dojo is on the same block as the Magnet!

For stuff to eat in the area, there's the usual chain stuff (you're near Penn Station, so Panera, Cosi, etc.), but there's also Mexicue, which has remarkably good burnt-ends chili, but can be pricey. There's a bunch of lunch places that cater to the Fashion Institute of Technology a bit further downtown, in the mid to low 20s. There's a decent falafel joint on 7th Ave around 25th Street.

If you venture further east and uptown, you will get to Koreatown, (basically, 33rd between 6th and 5th Avenues, plus some adjoining blocks north and south). Search around there for anything you like.

For travel, you may also consider using the buses. The M20 will run from Lincoln Center down 7th Avenue and up 8th Avenue. The M7 runs up near Lincoln Center, but uses 6th Avenue for the uptown route. This may take longer than the subway, but if there's construction that disrupts the 1, it may be an option.

An alternative to the long tunnel that takes you from the 1 to the L (when you go to Brooklyn) is to walk above ground to Columbus Circle, and taking the A to 14th Street and getting the L there. The transfer is less annoying. With the 1 to the L, you're essentially walking from 7th Avenue to 6th Avenue. With the A, you are walking from the upper level of the 14th Street and 8th Avenue station down to a lower level of the station. The walk to Columbus Circle may actually be longer, but it's not in a tunnel.
posted by chengjih at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: Cheap eats in the area of the Magnet Theater

I work near there. There are a ton of chains in this area: Panera, Pret a Manger, Five Guys, Chipotle, Subway

Some local chains that might be a little different for you (all on 7th between 28th & 30th):
Hale and Hearty- Lots of interesting soups, salad bar, has upstair seating
Mexicue- BBQ & mexican fusion, upstairs seating
Potbelly- sub sandwiches far superior to Subway

For cheap & cheerful sit down:
Mooncake Foods- great beer specials, interesting asian fusion food.
Songkran- Thai, has a great lunch special
posted by kimdog at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2013

There are also a bunch of good places over on 9th in the mid 20's - Co., Sullivan Street Bakers, Txikito. Its actually a pretty decent nabe for lunch as you go west from 7th Ave. Oh also Salumeria Bielliese.

There are also some very funky African joints around as well as some taco carts that are worth trying over on 6th.
posted by JPD at 10:04 AM on July 11, 2013

I live in NYC and use google maps on my iphone for directions if I'm not going my usual route. I use it constantly because it TIMES the subway and bus arrivals and helps you make a decision based on that. I would use that if I were you. I do have the NYCMate app on my phone too and find it useful for bus maps. It's free.

Also note that the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg are on different days in Williamsburg. One is on Saturday and one is on Sunday. When the Flea and Smorgasburg are on the same day to do both you would have to travel to both Williamsburg and Fort Green. I'm too old and lazy for that but that's not to say that you couldn't do it.
posted by rdnnyc at 10:13 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get a 30 day MetroCard instead of a 7 day.
posted by brujita at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The American Folk Art Museum has an outstanding show of Bill Traylor's paintings on exhibit right now. It's on Columbus right across the street from Lincoln Center.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2013

Response by poster: Get a 30 day MetroCard instead of a 7 day.

I looked at the prices for both 7 and 30 day unlimited, and since I'm only going to be there 3 weeks, the 7 day seemed to make more sense - it's $30, vs. $112 for the 30 day, unless there's something I'm missing.

And thanks, folks! This is all exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. I can see that I will eat very well these 3 weeks...
posted by booksherpa at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: I really like the Embark NYC app. Another app I find useful is the NYC Compass because sometimes I get disoriented when I exit an unfamiliar train station.
posted by cazoo at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: I recently moved to the city and have just about figured it out with regards to the train line you live on. I live in the neighborhood you'll be staying, but not really, since I'm closer to the top of the park and you're closer to the bottom - but the 1/2/3 train serves my area just the same.

Here's all you really need to know, or at least the bare bones basics:

The 1 is a local train 24/7 which means it stops everywhere all down the line. The 2,3 are express and will shoot you down to Times Sq. or 14th st immediately, skipping the other stops.

To Williamsburg (or East Village), take the 1 (or preferably the 2,3 express train at 72nd) to 14th st and transfer to the L toward Brooklyn. It's an easy trip.

If you follow the "Uptown" and "Downtown" signs everything is otherwise pretty user friendly.

Visit Levain Bakery on 74th and get a $4 dollar chocolate chip cookie which will make you want to cry tears of joy.

Do not be intimidated by the line at Trader Joes on 72nd that wraps around the entire perimeter of the store - it moves quickly.
posted by windbox at 10:33 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: Best subway iPhone apps: EmbarkNYC (for directions) and Nearest Subway NYC (for finding nearby stations on the fly and locating exactly where their entrances are). There are a lot of other subway apps that do a lot of different things, maybe check out MTA's App Center to see if any of them appeal to you. I wouldn't bother with the bus, personally. In Manhattan especially, buses are extremely slow (I have both outrun and outwalked buses before) and don't go many places that subway lines don't already go. The most useful buses in Manhattan go crosstown, but you will be close to the crosstown subway lines (7, L, and Shuttle).

There are always a bajillion cool events going on in the city, especially in the summer. For music, there's many free concerts. For other events, look through Time Out NY or the free newspapers to see what's going on during a given week.

One thing I'd point out is that August is unfortunately the most disgusting month of the year in NYC-- super hot and super humid. This summer has been pretty bad so far with regards to weather, too. I don't know that there's anything you could do about it other than dress for the weather, always carry water and an umbrella, and pray that wherever you're staying has AC, but it's something to be aware of.
posted by fox problems at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2013

August is what Douglas Adams called "goat-frying weather," an accurate description. Dress for comfort, but accept that this will be impossible.

Brooklyn and Queens are for some reason an ideological problem for lots of people who live in Manhattan. Do not allow them to sway you. You'll spend less time getting there than some people spend in their cars on their daily commutes in many other places, and there are many, many things worth checking out in both boroughs, including amazing restaurants, Chinatowns bigger than the one in Manhattan, and some really kick-butt night life. Do not be shy. Find a friend who is a native (we do exist!) and explore, it's really an amazing place.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

For Pippin and Kinky Boots at a discount, your best bet is to try TKTS on a "slow" theater night, i.e., Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This site shows what's available at the nearest TKTS site ("Times Square," but you'll take the 1 Train to 50th Street and walk downtown 3 blocks.) Note too that there is a lot of other good theater going on besides the big hit musicals: The Nance and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike are both excellent, for example.

Mostly Mozart and Jazz at Lincoln Center, both in your neighborhood, offer dozens of events in August, a lot of which will be available at a discount on the day of performance at the Rubinstein Atrium (Broadway and 62nd Street), which basically works like TKTS, except that it's indoors and there's free Wifi.

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg are both near the C Train line, which you can pick up at Columbus Circle (Broadway and 59th). Figure about 30 minutes to Smogasburg and then another 20 to Brooklyn Flea, say 45 minutes or so to get home from Brooklyn Flea. If you're doing this on the weekend, be sure to check HopStop (or their app) for updates on schedule changes on trains. These are definitely doable in a single day, but figure that you'll spend most of that day here, there or in transit.

And walk! At least once you should walk back from your improv class back to the UWS-- this won't take more than about half an hour, or you can take a roundabout route taking in Grand Central, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, the Plaza, and then through Central Park, which, depending on how much you stop and marvel, might take an hour to an hour and a half. It's also very cool and absolutely free to walk over a major bridge like the Brooklyn (which you can get onto not far from Smorgasburg, as a matter of fact, and you cross over into the Manhattan City Hall/World Trade Center area) or else my favorite, the Queensboro (which you can pick up at 60th Street near 2nd Avenue, and once you're across the river, you can just hop on the 7 Train which will deliver you to Times Square in less than 20 minutes.)

One more thing: never hesitate to ask a New Yorker (they're the ones walking really fast and not looking at a map) for directions. You will find that if you ask one person for directions while on the subway, a half dozen others will chime in with suggestions ("No, don't take the A, take the 2 to Park Place and change to the N/R.")
posted by La Cieca at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to meet other mefites, NYC has an impressively full IRL calendar so be sure to switch your current location to NYC and you'll see the weekly Brooklyn meetups, the monthly games meetups and so on.

Go to the High Line; try to go earlier in the morning so it won't be so crowded.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: One other thing about directions- also get Hopstop or some other utility, Google Maps consistently fails whenever work is being done on a line. Take a look at either the MTA webpage or the signs in the stations to see if work is being done on any train you are taking. If it is, double check with Hopstop.
posted by Hactar at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2013

As much as I like Fairway, I should warn you that the 74th Street store is a ZOO. It's open until 1 a.m., so go as late as you can manage.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:03 AM on July 13, 2013

Response by poster: UPDATE: So, I'm almost a week into this adventure. Here's what I know.
  • The Richard Tucker Square farmer's market is lovely and really close by.
  • For $10, one can get mac and cheese topped with burnt ends chili, a small chocolate banana pudding and a bottle of water at Mexicue.
  • For $5, one can get a cheeseburger, small fries and a bottle of water off the Wendy's value menu.
  • The post office steps across from MSG are a good place to gather with friends and eat lunch on nice days for when you figure out bringing lunch is your cheapest option.
  • EmbarkNYC, HopStop, Uptown and Google Maps (and a smart phone) are invaluable if you are unfamiliar with how to navigate mass transit.
  • Uptown stations are across the street from downtown stations.
  • Read the signs on the subway stations, also on the trains. Uptown != Downtown. 1 != 2.
  • Having an unlimited weekly Metro Card makes you feel less stupid if you forget the previous rule.
  • Levain cookies are pretty awesome.
  • Triple Crown Bar has discounted beers for improvisers.
  • When UCB's website says Harold night is sold out, what it really means is get on the standby line and you will almost certainly have a seat.
  • Tuesday - Thursday shows at Magnet are a good deal.
  • Water is a big deal. Carry some to drink, carry an umbrella to keep it off the rest of you. Also, bottled water is $1 some places and $2 other places. Also, people selling umbrellas appear magically fast once the rain starts.
  • The Trader Joe's line DOES move fast!
  • It is humid as hell in NYC in August.
In other words, you guys know your stuff.
posted by booksherpa at 7:14 PM on August 10, 2013

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