Apparently, I'm going to New York
March 29, 2014 5:57 PM   Subscribe

My dad and I are spending two and a half days in New York City. I have essentially never been to New York. What do I want to see? (Specific desires and some background below.)

Specific desires (in no particular order):
- knitting shop
- Indian restaurant
- good bookshops, new or used (I can spend a lot of time in City Lights in San Francisco; if there's a shop that sells German or French books that isn't outrageously expensive, that'd be nice, too)

Me: 27, grad student, queer, spent one day in New York City in 2003 (and don't remember it), unless you count the inside of Penn Station or the random hotel in an industrial park in Queens I stayed in when my connecting flight was cancelled; I am the sort of person who goes to Rome and doesn't bother seeing the Sistine Chapel
My dad: 63, lawyer, very not queer, has presumably seen most of the obvious things in New York (though maybe not since 1980 or so for some of them), his only hobbies are really looking at art and going to plays and he really likes Brideshead Revisited, for whatever that's worth.

My dad and I spend a lot of time just walking in cities. We will presumably go to MoMA, as that's one place our interests intersect reasonably well. We are also planning on trying to see Cabaret (that being another place our interests intersect) and going to the High Line.
posted by hoyland to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I bet you'd love The Strand. 18 miles of books!

I visited the Lion Brand Yarn Studio awhile back with the family knitter/crotcheter and it was very cool.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lion Brand Yarn Studio is good if you're looking to stock up on some Lion Brand yarn. If you appreciate hand dyes that make you broke just from looking at them, Purl Soho is the best place on earth.
posted by telegraph at 6:17 PM on March 29, 2014

School Products is an interesting yarn shop, although they've moved since the last time I was there.
posted by karbonokapi at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2014

The Chelsea gallery district is quite good and it's right next to the hi-line "park" which is very in and actually quite pleasant if you're going that direction. Walking through the garment district is pretty funny during a week day with racks of cloths being walked down the street. The TKTS half price booth in times square has a separate line for plays that is vastly shorter than the musical line.
posted by sammyo at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2014

I think everyone should go to the Met.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:47 PM on March 29, 2014

Indian restaurant: I like Vatan, it's an Indian vegetarian place that is prix fixe. First they bring you a big platter of appetizers (which for most people would be enough for an entire meal), then they bring you a big platter of main dishes, then you get dessert. There are a number of other South Asian restaurants in that area as well. I like Malai Marke in the East Village too. The best Indian food is probably to be found outside of Manhattan, but I'm not of much help there.

The walk I like doing with visitors starts at the Brooklyn Heights promenade, goes across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown, Soho, Washington Square Park, West Village, High Line.

Also seconding the Strand, and definitely see the MoMa and/or the Met, though it would take days to see everything in the latter.
posted by pravit at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This could be a low priority, given the timeline, but taking the #1 train up to the Cloisters is really nice. You get off, walk through fort Tryon Park then get to a replica of a medieval European monastery with amazing old European art. A nice half day.
posted by Danf at 7:35 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Between MoMA, Highline, Cabaret, yarn shopping, book shopping, and eating Indian food, you pretty have two and a half days covered. If you walk from each of these places to another, which is a good way to explore and something that you seem interested in doing anyway, you'll be stopping along the way and eating and the like. Not only will you easily kill a couple days with your current itinerary, but you are going to also be too tired to fit in much more. Being a tourist in this city is exhausting. Have fun!
posted by greta simone at 7:44 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've heard good things about The Eagle Bar.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:01 PM on March 29, 2014

If you're walking in Brooklyn Heights: the transit museum!
posted by clavicle at 8:27 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Murray Hill neighborhood in Manhattan is sometimes called Curry Hill because of all the Indian restaurants, many of which are excellent. If you walk up Lexington Ave. from, say, 26th street through 34th, you'll pass by plenty. I particularly like Bhojan and Saravanaa Bhavan. Both are reasonably priced, for Manhattan, anyway.

If you're into Indian food in general (shopping and gawking, not just eating), don't miss Kalustyan's a few blocks north, the crown jewel of Indian / Middle Eastern food markets (and one of my favorite places in NYC).
posted by molybdenum at 10:16 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I did a similar, if longer, trip a couple months ago, and wanted to suggest that you take Purl Soho recs with a grain of salt. It's a gorgeous shop, and if you love single ply yarns and/or want to admire a wall of color, totally go. That said, it's expensive--not just like "fancy yarn in an expensive city" expensive, but like "yarn marked up significantly even when compared to other yarn stores in the area". The selection is pretty thin, as well--again, I get that it's a limited space, but they have (or had, when I was there,) a fair bit of laceweight, and a ton of worsted-and-heavier, but not much in between. Worse, the yarn is all sort of jumbled together--nothing is marked on the shelves, and the yarns aren't even segregated by weight. So you have to pull everything out just to see if it's close to what you're looking for.

Anyhow, I mention it mostly because we were hugely disappointed--if you admire their blog or pics of the place that go round occasionally, it's maybe worth adjusting your expectations before heading that way.

My yarn store rec, then, is Downtown Yarns. Their website is pretty much nonexistent, but the shop itself is lovely--lots of well organised yarn at prices that I'd consider reasonable. The staff were super great and immediately asked if we wanted help, and then chatted about what we were knitting and what we thought we'd do with the yarn we were buying--it was a stark contrast to Purl, where literally my only interaction with a staff member was when one of them asked me to move so they could put something on a shelf.
posted by MeghanC at 10:16 PM on March 29, 2014

E 6th st between 2nd and 1st aves is NY's other curry row. I like Brick Lane.
posted by brujita at 10:36 PM on March 29, 2014

If you love bookstores like City Lights, you should check out The Strand, before it too fades from the earth, as the last bookstores blink out one by one. (NYT a few days ago on the end of bookstores in Manhattan).

I can second Vatan, but it is not a typical North Indian style restaurant. It is specifically Gujarati and vegetarian and quite theatrical in presentation. A bit pricey for the food you get too, but good.
posted by spitbull at 3:06 AM on March 30, 2014

When will you be going?
If you're interested in the High Line, I'd recommend a couple of other garden-related places, but these are generally much more interesting when the plants are doing their things.

And where will you be staying?
This will also help people recommend nice places to take long walks in the city.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2014

Response by poster: We're going in like three weeks and staying somewhere in Manhattan, I think.
posted by hoyland at 7:42 AM on March 30, 2014

Nthing The Strand! It's amazing and one of my favorite places in NYC.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2014

2nding Brick Lane for really, really good Indian food! That being said, if you want a really wild dining/fun Indian food experience, try Panna 2 between 5th and 6th street on 1st ave. It's super fun and will be unlike any place you've dined before. If you go, tell them it's your birthday (totally worth it for the song, plus a free mango ice cream). Brick Lane is better quality for sure, but Panna 2 is way more fun (there are 3 Indian restaurants right there, they all serve about the same food, which is good, but the 2 upstairs one, including Panna 2, have more festive-I mean crazy, super, super festive!-decor).

The other place you should try to go to is the American Museum of Natural History. It's pay what you wish (suggested donation being $18 I think, but you can give whatever you want), although the special exhibits are extra. Two that are really worth it are the Poison exhibit, and opening this week, Pterosaurs, which is totally awesome! Also, if you go there, the best regular things to check out (imo) are the 4th floor, which is dinos and vert evolution, the hall of biodiversity and ocean life, and African and North American mammal halls. If you want any info at all about AMNH, feel free to pm me. There's also a great Cuban restaurant near there, Cafe Con Leche.

Also the Strand is a must-see if you like books.
posted by PinkPoodle at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2014

If you do end up going to an Indian restaurant on E 6th Street, consider stopping by St Mark's Bookshop on Third Ave bet 8th and 9th. It's not really worth a trip on its own but if you're in the neighborhood anyway you should check it out.
posted by the twistinside at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2014

Go see Sleep No More! Fun immersive theater that will give you a lot to talk about. Buy a ticket for the first showing and get there early. It's a much better experience when you get in at the beginning as opposed to later, when it gets all crowded. Here are some spoiler-free tips if you decide to go.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any idea where in Manhattan?

April could be 70 and sunny or 45 and rainy. Please have an indoor plan for contingency in case of sucky weather.

I love the High Line and Moma, but they can get insanely crowded. If those are on your must-do list, go early (or late)! If crowds are not your thing, there are cool things to do that don't mean rubbing elbows with the masses. The aforementioned Cloisters. The transit museum in Brooklyn.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:22 PM on March 30, 2014

An early morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is surprisingly nice even if it sounds like a horrendously touristy thing to do. The Cloisters combine taking a walk, looking at art and some fairly nice gardens (they have better and worse seasons and I don't remember how they are in late April).

If you enjoy gardens, NYC has a good number of quite nice ones.
Brooklyn Botanic, in Brooklyn
New York Botanical Gardens, in the Bronx.
High Line (which you mentioned, and I'll agree that it should be seen in off hours to avoid crowds), in Manhattan.
Wave Hill, in the Bronx.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:17 PM on March 30, 2014

You could pretty easily do Lion Brand then head to Jackson Diner on University, which is quite close and very good Indian, in fact one of my favorite places in Manhattan. It's also close to The Strand, so you can hit that too in an afternoon. Here's a suggested half day:
Walk the high line
Walk from there to Lion Brand
Walk down to Jackson Diner for lunch
Walk over to the Strand for some browsing

If that is too much walking, take the subway from the High Line to 6th ave for Lion Brand, then walk from there. It's all pretty close.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:55 PM on March 30, 2014

St. Marks is worth supporting, but on the last trip I took there, it was a bit leaner than it has been. It was more life-support than fighting weight.
posted by history is a weapon at 6:35 AM on April 1, 2014

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