Entertain me for eight bleary-eyed hours in Manhattan!
January 15, 2014 3:39 PM   Subscribe

I have about eight hours to myself in Manhattan on Friday. I've been there once and am comfortable getting around. What should I do?

I'm getting off a plane at EWR at 6am, which I assume puts me at Penn Station by 7 or 7:30ish. I won't be meeting up with anyone until about 3pm. I have no problems taking the subway anywhere, and I'm willing to grab cabs as well. I'll have a backpack but no other luggage.

I spent a couple days in NYC last year. I've gone up Rockefeller Center, seen Times Square, walked around the High Line, walked through Battery Park, and generally screwed around Manhattan with buddies.

Assuming that cost is no object, what should I see? Where should I eat? Any generalized advice?

Much appreciated!
posted by Dilligas to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What do you like to do? There are tons of theaters (movie and live), museums (art, transit, sex etc), restaurants, sports centers, landmarks, boats...

Also, check the weather forecast and let us know if you want to be outside or in.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:23 PM on January 15, 2014

Assuming you like art museums: my perfect eight-hour dash to Manhattan would involve visiting the Neue Galerie, including lunch at one of the museum's Viennese cafes.
posted by scody at 4:30 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I knew I forgot something!

Outdoors is fine, as is indoors. I guess I'd prefer not to be outdoors for the entire day but I'll have a coat and such, so either way is good.

As for what I like to do, truthfully, I'm pretty open to anything. Museums, cultural things, artsy performance-type things, science-y nerd-y things, parks, open spaces, scenic views, tourist spots, historical landmarks, sporting events, fancy dining, hole-in-the-wall dining, walking tours, guided tours -- these things are all fair game. I know that perhaps this doesn't narrow it down much, but really, I'm down for it all. I'm an early-30's tech-industry white guy if that gives you a basis point.

My only restriction is that I'd like to stay safe. Things way off the beaten path in sketchy areas where I'm likely to get robbed would be bad (and I'm not really sure what those areas are). Anything with tons of people around is fine, though; I can take care of myself in crowds.

posted by Dilligas at 4:38 PM on January 15, 2014

Everything is safe. It is modern Manhattan. If you want to eat, I suggest east Chinatown (Division Street area). It is like being in Fujian province. Nothing beats a walk around the the lower east side, grazing at bagel/bialy shops, chinese noodle shops, and Ukrainian pierogi joints. Walk around the lower west village - New York University area - American literary history. Manhattan has changed so much that the lower end is worth it for its historical reference (the Five Points - known from Gangs of New York - is now a series of parking garages. Sorry.) . Before you leave toss $17 bucks at a Katz's Pastrami sandwich (order it "juicy") on Houston Street. Overpriced but worth every penny. You will not be hungry for two days.

East Harlem is also worth a walk.
posted by zaelic at 4:55 PM on January 15, 2014

If cost is no object, how about a helicopter tour?
The Intrepid museum is worth visiting.
'nthing Katz's
posted by Sophont at 5:08 PM on January 15, 2014

How about the Math museum? , after, you can get coffee/drinke/bite at Ace Hotel if you're feeling swanky, or Birch coffee if you'd prefer more laid back.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:19 PM on January 15, 2014

I would hit a museum: American Museum of Natural History, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Frick (in fact, if you've never been to the Frick, I'd put that at the top of my list, unless European art leaves you cold).

Top of the Rock is fun if the weather is OK (decent visibility) and the wait is a lot less than at the Empire State Building.

And maybe stop for an early afternoon cocktail at the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel. The prices are steep even for Manhattan, but my martini was one of the best I've had.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:12 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

My folks refer to modern Manhattan as Disneyland. So yeah, pretty much everything is safe.

I like nomming, so I daydream about visiting a lot of the places mentioned in NYMag's Endangered Foods List. Particularly the places that sell Charlotte russe or egg creams because damn.

I went looking for the black and white cookie on that list (I really, really like black and white cookies), but Glaser's Bake Shop was closed for vacation. I ended up at Tal Bagels, which is nearby, and the black and white cookies they sell are *amazing* and made up for the whole Glaser's-being-closed thing. That area is otherwise just the land of elderly women in fur coats, men walking gaggles of purebred and designer dogs, or little kids with their nannies, though.
posted by topoisomerase at 7:49 PM on January 15, 2014

There's a Uniqlo fairly close to Penn station if that's something you'd be into. I had a six hour layover in Newark airport last year, and took the train to Penn Station basically just to shop there.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:56 PM on January 15, 2014

Walk down from Penn Station to the Ace hotel and grab coffee at Stumptown, then wander over to the Nomad and have breakfast there. Both are beautiful hotels. Move southeast and walk down Broadway. Maybe check out the Museum of Sex or the Museum of Math. If you want something sweet, check out Chocolat Moderne or hot chocolate at Burdick's. Check out Madison Square Park, Eataly, ABC Home and Carpet, and then maybe mosey on over to Union Square. Maybe grab lunch at Eataly. That should be 6-8 hours.
posted by shivohum at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2014

Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring (!) is at the Frick right now along with many other Dutch masterpieces (through I think Saturday). These will probably not leave the Netherlands again in our lifetimes. Plus it's a lovely place to spend a few hours.
posted by Mchelly at 8:20 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I spent a 10 hour layover recently in Manhattan after a redeye from San Francisco, and before another redeye to Ireland. This veers a little off what you're asking, but if you're anything like me, don't underestimate just how much you won't feel like carting yourself around the city after an early/overnight flight where you somehow manage to get no sleep even though you always, always sleep on flights. Could be just me though!

After forcing myself to go into the city rather than curl up in a ball in some corner of JFK, I actually had a really enjoyable day. I started off at Stumptown in the Ace Hotel for coffee (it really is that good) and slowly made my way up to MoMA, spending the majority of the day there. If you have any interest in modern art it's a treasure trove (as is the MoMA store), and is a lot less exhausting to walk around than say, the Met which is more geographically spread out. There are also plenty of places to just sit and people watch, if that's your thing. I wandered around for a few hours and had lunch in one of the restaurants there, looking out at Manhattan. It really turned around what started as a nightmare day.
posted by unbearablylight at 5:33 AM on January 16, 2014

I really enjoyed the Tenement Museum recently. There are multiple choices of tours at a variety of times. The tour groups are small and our guide was terrific. It was very interesting to see how so many of our countries immigrants lived and worked in a very well preserved location (it is a real tenement house that was shuttered for decades).
posted by maxg94 at 5:45 AM on January 16, 2014

Dream House. Budget a couple hours and prepare your mind to be a;sdoifuawepoiusaldfj;lksd.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:22 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

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