New York City in the freezing cold
February 11, 2016 10:59 AM   Subscribe

So I seem to have picked the absolute worst weekend to decide to visit NYC. Any ideas for things to do while keeping warm and minimizing our exposure to the arctic air?

It started sensibly enough - my husband gets President's Day off, while I don't. However, I have more time off than him in general, so it seemed to make sense for me to take the day off and take a long-postponed trip to NYC (from Boston).

We weren't planning on such terrible weather but we've already booked some things and made plans with friends, so we don't want to cancel. Adding to the complication is that it's Valentine's on Sunday, so things that are "cozy" or "romantic" are in high demand.

So far our plans are a dinner with friends on Saturday (already reserved), a theater performance on Sunday (already booked) and brunch with other friends on Monday (no need to reserve). We plan on trying to get tickets to a Broadway show and/or the Met Opera by (online) lottery. We will be staying at a hotel in the UWS, very close to the 72nd St. subway station. Any ideas for us?
posted by peacheater to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your hotel is super close to the Museum of Natural History and the NY Historical Society (which sounds dry, but right now has THE BATMOBILE among other cool exhibits). Definitely worth the trip.
posted by Mchelly at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

I can never get enough of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History might be fun, too.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's Fashion Week in NYC, full abundance of parties and events, all indoors with heating, food, pomp and circumstance.
posted by Tanzanite at 11:10 AM on February 11, 2016

Note: you can take a crosstown bus to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so don't be deterred!

Personally, I would embrace the cold and go ice skating. You'll warm right up. You'll be near the 2/3, which you can take to the top of Central Park to get to Lasker Rink, which is untouristy and less crowded.
posted by the_blizz at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree: embrace it! I'd rather visit during a cold stretch than a heat wave. You can bundle up, enjoy a hot whiskey in a cafe and go ice skating. I loved the Tenemant Museum and it may not be crowded because it's not especially romantic. I'm pretty jealous of your trip now.... Have fun!
posted by areaperson at 11:17 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Take cabs. And Uber if you must.
posted by yearly at 11:26 AM on February 11, 2016

That close to the subway, you'll probably be all right!

If you like to eat food or people watch, or eat food while people watching, you could check out Chelsea Market. It's all indoors, it's a short walk from the subway (14th street stop on the A/C/E, a quick ride from your hotel with one easy transfer) and it's dense with fancy things to eat and look at.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:31 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're cold in New York, there's no warmer place than the Russian Turkish Bath on E 10th. Looks co-ed most of your days there, except Sunday morning.

It's not terribly romantic, but it's definitely a shared experience, something you'll talk about for the rest of your lives sort of thing. Bring water for after.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree with embrace it. It's really not that bad. It's a dry cold and if you dress warm and make sure you have a hat/gloves/scarf you'll be toasty. Just keep your face protected from the wind.
Nthing the Natural History Museum and the MET.
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2016

Embrace the cold! If you're coming from Boston, it's not going to be that bad.

Check out the Central Park Ice Festival on Saturday from 3-7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is always cool, as is the Natural History museum (a show at the planetarium is probably worth it?). The Modern Museum of Art might be a decent choice on Sunday, since it's not that far from the theater district.

You can also take the subway to Grand Central (it really is majestic), and grab a drink at Campbell Apartment (if you're feeling fancy) or the Oyster Bar (if you're feeling less fancy--but FYI, the fried clams are a disappointment). There's shops and market there as well; the whispering corners are in front of the Oyster Bar on the lower level.

PRO-TIP: One thing I learned from a similar-circumstances trip to Philly a few years back: don't keep any pens in your coat pockets, because they will explode from repeatedly going from freezing to warm and back.
posted by thecaddy at 12:03 PM on February 11, 2016

I don't know about your favorite activities, but I love taking city buses in NYC - the long one down Broadway and back was especially great - and just looking around at the city. If you see something especially cool you can stop on the way back. Eataly was fun to walk around eating and shopping in, and it's a big indoor space.

When we were there over MLK Day the lines for the Natural History Museum were Insane (they just got a new dinosaur). If you can go late in the day (or maybe early in the day) it might be a little more fun. The Met is big enough that it didn't seem as crowded, and had a great new Japanese art exhibit.

Another favorite for me when there is finding a good cocktail bar and hunkering down to try a few. All of my favorites are in the East Village, but if you ask around I'm sure you can find something fun on the UWS. And you might be close to a few of the remaining Cuban Chinese restaurants, which are kind of fun.
posted by ldthomps at 1:40 PM on February 11, 2016

You may have heard that some of the big museums are closed on Mondays; and indeed, they usually are, but they tend to be open on holiday Mondays, which works for you. (As well as Saturday and Sunday.)

And yeah, if you're at 72nd you can indeed head up to the Natural History Museum - you could literally walk there (in fact, it makes more sense to brave the cold and walk there, you'll be there in about 5 minutes). The New York Historical Society is also right next door, at like 77th and Central Park West.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:54 PM on February 11, 2016

We're also going to NYC this weekend and have also been groaning about the weather! I'm taking notes. We'll have a kid in tow so the Venn diagram doesn't overlap perfectly, but we're planning on lots of museums, possible ice skating, and long underwear.
posted by tchemgrrl at 2:00 PM on February 11, 2016

When we vist NYC, we particularly like to have hot chocolate/goulash/Viennese pastry at Cafe Sabarsky at Neue Gallerie, which is a short walk from the Met. We also really like the art in the gallery.
posted by sarajane at 2:14 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and how about the New York Botanical Gardens (Bronx) or the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens? Both have glassed-in tropical spaces. Schleppy, but there's nothing like a greenhouse on a cold day.
posted by the_blizz at 2:17 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Drinks at The Ribbon. We live down the block and this is our place of choice.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:25 PM on February 11, 2016

Thank you for all the great answers so far! You all are right - we should just embrace this - we are coming from Boston after all.

I should have mentioned that we'd definitely planned on going to a museum or two, but leaving it a bit up in the air based on how our other plans shake out.

Does anyone have any ideas for places we could go to eat on Sunday, bearing in mind it's Valentine's Day? Alternatively, we have a little kitchenette in our room, so we could get some gourmet-ish food from somewhere and stay inside. I know Zabar's and Barney Greengrass are nearby.
posted by peacheater at 2:50 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ice skating in Bryant Park then read a book or wander for half an hour while you warm up in the super awesome New York Public Library right next door.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 3:31 PM on February 11, 2016

Standing in line for brunch on the Upper West Side on Sundays is sort of one of our traditions - and maybe the cold will make it easier for you to get in, as the locals may sleep in. Sarabeth's and Good Enough To Eat are really nice, and I'm a big fan of My Most Favorite Food (which is kosher / vegetarian). If it's super cold and you want to stay in, you'll be closer to Fairway and Citarella (and Trader Joe's) for take-home prepared foods.

If you're willing to brave the chill, the Central Park Zoo will be open, and this is the best time of year to watch the snow leopards (and you can warm up in the rain forest pavilion with the lemurs)
posted by Mchelly at 3:32 PM on February 11, 2016

"Does anyone have any ideas for places we could go to eat on Sunday, bearing in mind it's Valentine's Day?"

What do you mean? Nearly every restaurant will be open on Valentine's day. You should make reservations very quickly, the popular spots go by the minute. Less popular spots will be more open. Many will have a pre set VDay menu .

The way to get the best advice from New Yorkers is to be supremely specific: "my husband and I want awesome truffle pizza in a crazy trendy environment with great prices and nothing but 20 something diners!"
posted by Tanzanite at 9:43 AM on February 12, 2016

What do you mean? Nearly every restaurant will be open on Valentine's day. You should make reservations very quickly, the popular spots go by the minute. Less popular spots will be more open. Many will have a pre set VDay menu .

I know that restaurants will be open, but where am I likely to be able to get a seat? I'm not really into preset VDay menus either, so something ethnic and off the beaten track or perhaps a gourmet grocery store of some kind?
posted by peacheater at 6:27 PM on February 12, 2016

Alright, no one has answered your meal request, so - bear in mind that I am not a regular on the restaurant scene, so some of this is educated guessing.

It strikes me that the fancy romantic restaurants will be the ones which will be crowded, so since it doesn't look like you want that, you'll be fine. If you're looking for fun and unusual and not-Valentine's day, it strikes me that a Sichuan hot pot at a place in Chinatown could be really fun. There's a place that is literally at the end of the Manhattan Bridge, on Canal and, like, 1st Avenue or something, that I had one with an old,boyfriend and we had a blast. If you've never had hot pot, it's kind of the same concept as fondue - where you have different food that you dip into something to cook them and then you eat it - except the thing you're dipping the food into isn't oil or cheese or chocolate, it's a soup broth that gradually takes on the flavor of everything you've cooked in it. And you have the broth at the end.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on February 13, 2016

Thanks all for your suggestions! We ended up having a fabulous time in spite of the cold. We got lottery tickets to see Matilda and also saw the Bedlam production of Sense and Sensibility, both of which we enjoyed greatly, the latter considerably more however. We attempted to visit the AMNH, but turned tail and left when we saw the line down the block of miserable freezing people. We ended up visiting the new Whitney instead.

Also had lots of fabulous food though we didn't end up trying any of your suggestions. In particular we enjoyed The Milling Room for dinner and Despana and Maison Kayser for brunch. There was a Lush shop nearby and our room had a good-sized tub, so we ended each day with a nice bubble bath, which felt like the best thing ever given the weather. A perfect little getaway weekend.
posted by peacheater at 7:33 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lied a bit above - we did end up visiting Chelsea Market (thanks Narrative Priorities), which was very near the Whitney and really fun to explore. The hardest part was deciding what foods we wanted to try.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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