My, that's a large apple you have there...
October 8, 2014 1:08 PM   Subscribe

misfish and I will be in New York for the next week. It's our first time. We have a very loose itinerary. Help us fill our time with the awesomest parts of NYC!

We would like to see a bunch of theatre, cabaret, and musicals, so any recommendations or hot tips on current shows (no matter the scale) would be most appreciated. We're seeing Matilda and Once, but we haven't planned anything else yet.

We'll also be hitting some museums, including MOMA and the Met.

In particular, I would love some recommendations on unusual or offbeat facets of NYC. Favourite restaurant and bar recommendations also welcome.

We're staying in the Upper West Side, and have access to the C and E subways lines.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (22 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take the C to the High Street stop in DUMBO and go to the Floating Kabarette!

Go down to the Financial District and have a pint at the tavern where George Washington bade farewell to his troops: Fraunces Tavern! (And go up into the museum, while you're at it.)

While you're down there, have dinner under the heat lamps on Stone Street, the most adorable historical street in NYC! (IMHO.)

Do the immersive theater experience of Sleep No More. And have a drink on the roof at Gallow Green!

Take the cable car to Roosevelt Island for amazing and unique views!

Squeeze your way into McSorleys, one of the oldest pubs in the city. Read up on the history before you go, and beware the frat/finance bros. It's maybe a thing to do during the day.

The New York Tenement Museum! Fantastic and educational.
posted by functionequalsform at 1:20 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: On my most recent NYC trip I enjoyed an evening walk on the High Line.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:22 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: See my recent answers for restaurants to try on the UWS.

By saying the C and E, I'm guessing you'll be near 50th street, which is not technically the upper west side, but close enough. If you're actually farther uptown, you'll have access to the 1/2/3/B/C, with easy connections to anywhere else.

The Museum of Natural History is definitely worth a trip as is the Koons retrospective at the Whitney.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:25 PM on October 8, 2014

Best answer: Seconding Sleep No More - it's a bit pricey, but it is WILD. It is as if Kubrick decided to take a break while filming The Shining, dropped acid and staged a version of MacBeth - and enlisted you to be one of the extras.

A walk from where you're staying down the length of Broadway is actually not a bad walk (I mean, it'll take most of a day, but you can stop and eat and sit down on the way in plenty of places) and it exposes you to a lot of different neighborhoods in the city. You'll end up at Battery Park, in the very southern end of Manhattan where there's the Financial District (above).

You also can't go wrong checking out what the site Atlas Obscura has for the city because they generally look for the offbeat stuff (disclaimer: I write for them on occasion).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Easy Taste of Brooklyn: Take the C or the E to West 4th Street and switch for the D. Take the D (downtown) to Atlantic Av/Barclay's Center in Brooklyn and get off the train. Once you've oriented yourself (or asked directions) walk the block or so to 5th Ave, then walk south. There are tons of shops, restaurants and other interesting things to look at, it's extremely safe and easy to navigate without getting lost, and it feels very different from Manhattan. You can get back on the subway at 4th Ave/9th Street (Manhattan-bound F train, once again switching at W 4th for the C or the E) for an easy train back into the city, or else keep walking south until you're tired -- there are lots of stops on the R train along 4th ave.

If you don't mind getting a little bit lost, you can also get off the train at West 4th and just kind of meander around in a vaguely westerly direction. The West Village is extremely easy to get turned around in, but that's part of what makes it fun -- you'll stumble upon an adorable block of houses or an interesting tea shop, and it'll really feel like a discovery. It's also a very very safe neighborhood at this point, and if you get too turned around people in that area are used to giving directions back to the train.

If you want to do something outdoorsy, Central Park is gorgeous this time of year.

If you're feeling kind of hipstery and you're up for a long walk, get off the F train at Delancy and then cross the Willamsburg bridge on foot. It'll dump you within pretty easy distance of lots of shops and restaurants.

I hope you have a great time!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

(I also enjoyed Sleep No More very much and highly recommend it, but it's not for everyone -- make sure you understand exactly what you're getting into before buying tickets. I had a friend with a bad knee decide to go without really researching it, and all the walking up and down stairs really ruined the evening for him.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:30 PM on October 8, 2014

Response by poster: By saying the C and E, I'm guessing you'll be near 50th street, which is not technically the upper west side, but close enough. If you're actually farther uptown, you'll have access to the 1/2/3/B/C, with easy connections to anywhere else.

Forgive me, if I have the suburb wrong - I've only been in town two hours! We're a block away from the Museum of Natural History, the 1/2/3...etc looks a short walk away.

Great recommendations, keep 'em coming!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:37 PM on October 8, 2014

(Amending my previous directions to Brooklyn: walk an extra block to the B train, and then switch for the D at Columbus Circle.)

Kind of a side note: It's probably worth mentioning that despite the extensive transit system, getting around NYC usually involves a LOT of walking. Like, more than may be obvious, even if you know a pretty decent amount about the city. Make sure you bring extremely comfortable shoes, and maybe use Google Maps walking directions to give yourself a sense of what you're getting into when you're making your plans for the day.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:47 PM on October 8, 2014

We're a block away from the Museum of Natural History

Yep, you're right near the 1/2/3 at 86th, the 1 at 79th, and the B/C at 81st. Note: the B doesn't run on weekends, and the C has been having construction detours on recent weekends; check for weekend changes. To get to the east side, you can just hop the M86 or M79 crosstown bus, or it's a 10-15 min walk across the park.

Definitely hit up all of the places I mentioned here. On Sundays there's a farmers market and flea market at 77th and Columbus that's fun to stroll through as well.

Upright Citizens Brigade is fun and affordable, just get in line early to make sure you get good seats.

Sleep No More wasn't my cup of tea, but many people seem to enjoy it.

Sting's new show The Last Ship is in previews and is pretty awesome (he may even make a cameo at the end of the night).
posted by melissasaurus at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Unless you already have tickets, I would skip Once. Not a good show. You Can't Take It With You is probably the best thing running right now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2014

Depending on your dates, you might be able to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Which was pretty damn awesome when I saw it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:20 PM on October 8, 2014

I've been telling everyone I know to see Here Lies Love.

Sleep No More is boring, pretentious shit. If you want, you can pay me $100 to climb four flights of stairs to and watch my 2-year-old son alternately hide and run around our apartment naked and screaming, which is pretty much an equivalent experience.
posted by mkultra at 2:46 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Open House New York is this weekend.

Some OHNY sites require tickets and are already sold out, but some tickets are still available. Many of the sites you simply line up for, or walk right in.

I highly recommend Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center, prominently featured in the film Catch Me If You Can. It's open access on Saturday, from 11:00 am - 3:30 pm. See it before it gets turned into a hotel.

Take a tour of the previously closed-to-the-public Woolworth Building.

Atlas Obscura is doing this "Occult Grand Central" tour which looks interesting.

Strange places and oddities in NYC.

Self-guided Greenwich and West Village-ish Walking & Eating Tour.


Both Hedwig & Here Lies Love Are Great. Sleep No More is really interesting and can be fun as long as you know what to expect (silent, dance-based mashup of Macbeth and Hitchcock, loops 3x with one big finale, lots of stairs, you must wear a mask the entire time, no photos/phones allowed, no talking, can get crowded).

For quirky, off-the-beaten-path stuff, maybe The Old Man and the Old Moon (I found it charming) or Then She Fell (immersive, Lewis Carroll-based, possibly sold out for your dates).
posted by kathryn at 3:16 PM on October 8, 2014

The Broadway show Side Show got great reviews while playing at the Kennedy Center this summer (I am thoroughly disappointed in myself for missing it). This is Our Youth, with Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinston, and Kieran Culkin has also been getting consistently good reviews. Unfortunately I haven't seen either, but if I were going to NYC for theater, those two shows would be at the top of my list.

I saw Sleep No More two years ago and loved it, but I can understand why others don't. To say it's not everyone's cup of tea is putting it mildly. It is very divisive; people seem to either love it (with a core group of repeat attendees whose devotion is almost cultlike) or absolutely loathe it. I'm sure they're out there, but I've yet to meet anyone who has seen it who was just "meh" about it.

Finally, I always recommend the Cafe Sabarsky within the Neue Galerie. You don't need to pay to get into the museum if you don't want to, unless you love late 19th/early 20th century German and Austrian art (in which case I highly recommend it). It is usually crowded, but the coffee, pastries, and atmosphere are all excellent. It's about a block from the Guggenheim.
posted by kaybdc at 3:18 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and this could be utterly cheesy shite (or weird, quirky and entertaining), but some friends are visiting NYC from the UK and have already gotten tickets for a Wall St. Ghost Walk. I don't have a link, but know that it is only offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.
posted by kaybdc at 3:22 PM on October 8, 2014

i will be visiting this week too, so here's what is on my radar. There's an Egon Schiele exhibition at the Neue Gallery - a rare chance to see quite a few of his portraits. Not to be missed if you are a fan.

The newest section of the High Line just opened. It's gorgeous up there and if you time it right you can get a beautiful sunset. It's worth reading a bit about the history of and the construction of before you go.

I've booked something for Open House New York, but many of the walk-ins are amazing. If I had more time I'd be signing up for one of the walking tours offered.

The Cloisters, if you can make the time to get up there, is well worth it.

IMO Sleep No More is great, as long as you don't have mobility issues. So good that I saw it twice, once in Boston and once in NY. Go for it, but be ready to move!

I'll be watching for more food/drink recommendations too. Hope you have a great time!
posted by Cuke at 3:39 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was there a few weeks ago. Saw Hedwig (which made me cry, but I cry every time I watch Hedwig) and Cabaret (with the fantastic Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams [die hard Dawson's Creek fan, so I was totally star struck] and an incredible live band). Both really entertaining and mesmerizing!

For food, my favorite places were BonChon for Korean fried chicken and Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen for the best soup dumplings I've ever had (rivals the ones I've had in Vancouver BC).
posted by E3 at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

To just see some neat and unusual stuff, especially architecturally, maybe a quick look at Scouting NY? I know I definitely want to eat in the train car at Bloomingdale's, for one. There's also a map view so you could easily find something nifty to look at near wherever you're at.

You didn't specifically ask about food, but I was there with friends a couple years ago and after a lot of failures to find the perfect New York Pizza, Joe's was the one that really hit the spot.

Have fun in NY!
posted by capricorn at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go to The Frick!!!!!
posted by taff at 1:16 AM on October 9, 2014

Best answer: Oh, also if you like singing showtunes, you'll love piano bars! I went to The Duplex and Marie's Crisis in West Village and it was so much fun. The pianists are usually semi-pro and can often improvise requests. It's a pretty spine-tingling experience when every single person in a bar is singing the same song together at the top of their lungs. And since it's New York, you'll often have some random bloke in the corner suddenly burst into a solo deserving of a Tony and a standing oviation.
posted by E3 at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Last Ship. I saw it during the pre-Broadway run here in Chicago and it is excellent.

Also Kinky Boots.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:45 PM on October 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all this great advice, all.

We ended up seeing:

Mathilda (excellent, great book, great music, great performances - those kids were really good - received a standing ovation)

Cabaret (pretty much perfect in every way, sensational set and venue, Alan Cumming and Michele Williams delivered complex, nuanced performances, another standing ovation).

(great music if you like folk rock, book was a bit wobbly in my view and the characters a bit thin but was it was really about the music, some good performances especially given all the actors played their own instruments and several were multi-instrumentalists, another standing ovation).

This Is Our Youth
(play - deliciously cynical, highly entertaining, and more great performances, although Kieran Culkin is a standout in my opinion).

You Can't Take It With You
(play - zany, ridiculous, traditional-style drawing room farce - pretty fun way to spend an afternoon, and James Earl Jones was pleasingly stentorian).

Wyatt Cenac (formerly of the Daily Show) runs an excellent standup showcase on Mondays nights in Brookyln called Night Train. Well curated, cheap, and highly recommended.

We spent a surreal evening in Marie's Crisis - very fun, and a singular experience - it seems to be the hub of a strong and vibrant community.

MOMA was mindblowingly good. We spent four hours there and could have spent more.

The High Line was a lovely afternoon walk, and Central Park is a delight.

Our quest for the best burger in America (or the bits of America that we saw, anyway) ended at Island Burger.

We barely scratched the surface, I know. Plenty left for another trip.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:33 PM on October 15, 2014

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