A case of vacation buyers remorse
July 4, 2019 5:51 PM   Subscribe

About a month ago I booked a solo 2 week vacation to New York City during the first two weeks of August and for the past few weeks I really haven't been excited about it. I'm starting to worry that booking this trip was a mistake and that I'll end up hating my time there. How can I enjoy my vacation?!?!

I got a bit side-tracked with some family health issues and career stuff right after I initially booked my flight and accommodation, so I really haven't spent as much time planning for my trip as I would have liked. I was even worried that I might have to cancel it all together, at one point.

Now, the trip is fast approaching and I have nothing planned. Actually, that's a lie. The only thing I have planned for certain is a ticket I purchased to see Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Aside from that, I have no "schedule" or anything set.

I gave myself two weeks in New York because a) I have the time and b) I do need a change of scenery. I thought two weeks would be long enough to visit a variety of museums, galleries, and sights without feeling rushed, but now I feel "blah" about it all. When I tell people that I've booked a 2 week trip to New York City, they kind of grimace and comment that it's a bit too long. Which, is probably true and I got carried away while booking it, but I can't really change that now.

This is also probably a stupid concern, but I'm suddenly worried about the heat in the city! I'm from a place that is pretty dry and doesn't get THAT hot, so I'm not really sure that I'm equipped to deal with a hot and humid New York summer. However, I work at a school so as long as I work here there's no way in hell I could get a two week chunk of vacation time during the spring or fall. Again, I was trying to work with what I have.

Ugh, I also forgot that I'll have to eat during those two weeks! I'm afraid of spending way too much money (with a low CAD-USD exchange rate) on food, as well!

Anyway, are my concerns ridiculous? Have I really booked too much time in New York City? Will I run out of things to do? Will I be miserable in the hot and humid weather? [I think I'm also a bit worried that I'll get lonely, but I planned the trip thinking I wouldn't have TIME to get lonely] Any advice on how to re-frame my thinking about this trip? I want to have a good time!
posted by VirginiaPlain to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know who these grimacers you've encountered are, but I am not grimacing, I am green with envy! I've only ever gotten to go to NYC for just a couple days at a time, and it's never even remotely enough. I mean, what would you say to someone who just told you they'd booked two weeks in Paris?

I'm a big solo travel enthusiast, and one of the reasons is that I don't have to plan anything if I don't want to. I like just walking around. Pick a neighborhood and really get to know it. That amount of time can really give you a window into what it's like to be a local.

The weather? Eh, sometimes it's hot and humid, sometimes it's not. If it is, plan to spend the day at MOMA or the Met. If it's more tolerable, laze around with a book in Central Park, or people watch in Washington Square, or go out to the Cloisters. There's flea markets and night markets and farmers markets. Food is as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. If your hotel has a kitchenette, you have even less to worry about. Of all the expensiveness of NYC food has always been the least of my worries. A couple of bao in Chinatown, a slice of pizza, a falafel off a cart: all very New York food experiences and all very cheap.

It sounds wonderful. What a great gift you've given yourself! Don't worry about it til you get there. You actually have the time and space to let the city inspire the direction you go in.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:07 PM on July 4, 2019 [27 favorites]

Personally I would take a fatalistic approach to it. There's something you're supposed to learn from this trip and you have no idea what it is. Go and find out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 PM on July 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

The nice thing about having two weeks is you will be able to take your time. If you find you wish you had more time to spend somewhere, you can come back. If you find out about something cool and need to adjust your plans, you can make it work. You can make time for day trips that might feel like too much of a time suck otherwise (Ellis Island! Go to the beach! See the Yankees or Mets!). Or if you find there’s a great yoga studio near your hotel, you can go there everyday for two weeks. I think that sounds awesome.

You can talk yourself out of this or you can lean into it. I vote for lean in! Regarding food, you can find tons of cheap options. I’d plan on one nicer meal a day and plan to go to cafes, pizza places, falafel joints, Chinese, fast casual the rest of the time. You might be able to find reasonable theater dinner deals or prix fixe lunches to stretch your money. Find a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or something your first day and buy a bunch of snacks, bottled water and fruit.

I’m excited for you! Hope you have a great time.
posted by kat518 at 6:19 PM on July 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I too tend to get annoyed by the thought of something coming up if I'm very wrapped up in something stressful. It becomes hard to imagine and hard to think about. But it's worth it to try. There's a lot of really good Broadway shows on right now. You could try taking the train out to somewhere else nearby for a few days. Schedule things you find relaxing.
posted by bleep at 6:24 PM on July 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't think you'll get bored: The Atlas Obscura Guide To 580 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in New York City. In your post history, you mention cinephilia and cooking as hobbies, so film locations and (since you're worried about your food budget) cheap eats may also be relevant.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:26 PM on July 4, 2019 [9 favorites]

I think you’re going to have a great time! The best trip I ever took in NYC, I set goals rather than made specific plans. My goals were things like: only eat in vegan restaurants (I figured if anywhere would do it right it would be NYC) and to go to 10 museums. Goals allowed me to still be spontaneous while also making sure I didn’t waste time doing nothing.
posted by CMcG at 6:28 PM on July 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

it doesn't cost anything to walk across the brooklyn bridge from manhattan to brooklyn, stop along the way to enjoy the view, and walk along the brooklyn heights promenade, the brooklyn bridge park, and the beautiful brooklyn neighborhoods just on that side of the bridge.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 6:31 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Huh? You're visiting one of the most vibrant cities in the world. In two weeks, you'll barely scratch the surface of Manhattan alone, to say nothing of brooklyn. Also, as others have said, there's plenty of cheap food to be had everywhere.
posted by shaademaan at 6:33 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

It might be hot and humid, but the good thing about being there for two weeks is that it won't matter if you take a few hours to cool yourself down in a movie theater or by just vegging at your hotel or taking a siesta. You're not wasting super-precious time, you're recharging for more fun.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:42 PM on July 4, 2019 [18 favorites]

To allay your specific concerns, some suggestions:
-find interesting air conditioned spots to hang out in. Not Panera: think along the lines of a grand / historical library or museums, bookstores, places unique to NYC
-look for deals on shows or performances on Groupon or similar, where you can chill in nice air conditioned spaces
-find tickets to studio audience events. This is often free, exciting, and air conditioned
-try Tinder and Bumble for company at meals. YMMV - I have done this and while all of the bills were split, I still got to enjoy some pleasant company and conversation
-have experiences that you would normally need but do it in NYC and go fancier (example: hair, nails)
-try their local Meetup groups for ideas. Maybe you’ll meet some cool people
posted by MeFiMouse at 7:21 PM on July 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

When I tell people that I've booked a 2 week trip to New York City, they kind of grimace and comment that it's a bit too long.

There’s no such thing as too long in New York. I don’t even like New York very much and I wouldn’t blink an eye at being there two weeks. People spend their whole lives there and still never get around to doing some of the things they wanted. There’s millions of things to do. One of my favorite kinds of vacations is when you’re in a place long enough that it feels like you pretend live there.

I’ll say something counterintuitive—leave the first couple days of your trip open for doing nothing or anything. You can get coffee and hang around in the air conditioning where you’re staying. You have two weeks so there’s no pressure to hit the streets the first day. Take your time to adjust to being on vacation and play around on your phone making a list of neat things to do on your trip. Post another Ask here asking for cheap, great New York activities. There will be a ton of suggestions.
posted by sallybrown at 7:26 PM on July 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

I don't even want to go to New York but feel instinctively I could easily spend two weeks there just exploring different places to eat myself to death.

But, why not make it a project? Have a scratch about online and see if there conveniently happens to be some kind of two week course (or, two one week courses, or I dunno, 14 one day courses) you can attend while in town. Brooklyn Kimchi Masterclass or something, I don't know. Come back to Canada as a classically-trained Brooklyn kimchi master. Grimacers be damned!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:28 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do you prefer to play things by ear or schedule every minute? Or would you rather have a couple of milestones but otherwise be fancy free? What are you interested in? Watching rich international tourists? Anarchist bookstores? Children’s bookstores? Architecture bookstores? Only eating at pizzerias named Ray’s? Reading in new and different locations every day? Reading in the same goddamn place every day? Let us know and I bet we can help. (I grew up in NYC and lived there also as an adult but haven’t been back in a few years, since my family’s all gone. So I don’t know new cool things but I know eternally awesome things.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:35 PM on July 4, 2019

I lived in New York for over 15 years and the thought of going back there for 2 weeks... I'd find plenty to do.

What sort of things do you like to do? There are 17 of them in New York.

You could spend 2 weeks just going to museums.

You could spend 2 weeks eating different regional food every day.

You'll be fine.
posted by Automocar at 7:37 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I hate hot weather but I lived in NYC for 5+ years - it can definitely get steamy that time of year, but NYC does air conditioning well. I have visited a lot of cities (looking at you, Europe) where ac isn't needed most of the year or it just isn't the norm, and so when it is needed, people just have to suffer without. Not so in NYC - most buildings are unbearable without it even on days when outside is comfortable. If it's too hot, there will be plenty of things to do inside, and if you're inside, there's a good bet there will cranked up ac. (Exception that always frustrated me: subway platforms, even though the trains are usually nicely chilled...I tended to opt for bus where possible in summer)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:53 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

New York is great. I live nearby and often go in without any plan. You really don't have to plan things ahead of time because there's always something interesting right there. People are likely grimacing when you tell them about how long you'll be there because (1) They're jealous; or (2) The only trips they've taken to New York were intense, partly because they were so rushed.

The suggestion to spend a few days at the beginning of the trip just taking it in and thinking about what you might want to do while there is a good one. When you're there, grab a copy of the New Yorker from any of the many newsstands and look at the Goings on about Town section (first section of the magazine). I always find really interesting and cool stuff to do. Some things going on during your stay that I know I'm interested in: Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces at the New Museum, High Line dusk films, Earth Room, seeing the classic flick 9 to 5 on the big screen, lying around outside in the Shakespeare garden at Central Park.... I'm sure if you do want to plan some interesting stuff that you could ask a question here and there would be a lot of suggestions if you do want to source some planning help. But I don't think that's required before you go.

Have fun and enjoy your trip!
posted by sockermom at 7:56 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

The *worst* kind of NYC trip is rushed. Especially in hot weather, what you don't want is to be rushing between attractions. The*best* thing is to go to one museum a day, and leave time to wander that neighborhood, eat, and relax.
Enter the lottery for B'way tix every single day.
It's just really nice to take your time with things to do in NYC, because the most stressful thing about the city is getting around. It's really fantastic that you don't have to bop between neighborhoods in a single day to see what you want to see.
Also: how nice that you have time to take the train out to the Rockaways and/or Coney Island.
I'm an ex- new yorker from a family of new yorkers.
posted by nantucket at 8:06 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Maybe you really need to relax, instead of rushing around to crowded "attractions". There are other, less well-known things you can do in NYC: Go to the Cloisters museum and park, visit the "I hate perfume" store, find a nice neighborhood and just walk, go to a lovely used bookstore.
posted by amtho at 8:48 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another envious mifi, you'll have a great time. Look for mifi meetups, should be a bunch of off off broadway shows that are probably weird but $20. Walk around the garment and diamond districts midweek in the early morning. Have good walking shoes. Get some food/snacks at grocery stores but one dollar pizza slice exists in nyc. Should have great time!
posted by sammyo at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

With two weeks, you could also escape NYC for several days - take a train to Philly or Boston or DC...rent a car and head to park upstate or to the beach - and still have a week+ to explore the city.
posted by gnutron at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Feeling meh about an upcoming vacation is 0% correlated with the actual vacation enjoyment once you are on said vacation.

You have other things on your mind. It’s happened to me before and I went anyways and I’m always glad I did.

Go and enjoy!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:25 PM on July 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

The only reason I was pleased to leave after 8 days in NYC was that I needed some sleep! There is too much to do at all hours of the day. I'd suggest planning a seista during the hottest parts of the day, so that you can enjoy the evenings and early mornings, which are my favourite times in big cities to wander the streets.
posted by kjs4 at 10:55 PM on July 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

2 weeks is nothing! You will run out of energy before you run out of things to do. It may not be the ideal time of year for comfort, but just come back to your air-conditioned hotel room and take a nap/recharge in the mid- to late afternoon. With that much time, you won't have to feel pressured to "take advantage of every minute." I don't know who these Debbie Downers you were talking to are, but they can't be very sophisticated.

BTW, several major NYC museums have evening hours (Met, Guggenheim, Morgan, Frick [only once a month though]).
posted by praemunire at 11:31 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think I could spend two weeks just riding different subway lines and getting off when it seemed interesting.

I know the feeling of having booked too much time in a city, but I don't think two weeks in NYC is going to provoke that for you.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:46 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Joining the choir here: your trip will be great, look forward!
I was on a two-week trip some years ago, and we made a couple of day trips out of town, which I hadn't even really done when I lived there, except for work. The best was up to Beacon, to see the Dia:Beacon Museum. I loved the museum, but I also loved riding the train along the river up to Beacon, and strolling through town looking for a snack before our return to the big city.
posted by mumimor at 12:35 AM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

You're having my dream vacation, so please enjoy it for both of us.

I would spend way too much time ant the Metropolitan Museum. I've found it to be a really relaxing, almost "homey" refuge during the hottest parts of the day or on rainy days. The only problem is that admission used to be free and now non residents have to pay. So to be able to come and go casually, you could get a three day pass (iirc) but check to see if a membership at your local public art gallery has a reciprocal admission arrangement with the Met or any other NYC galleries. If not, you can still purchase a discount (non-NYC resident) yearly membership at the Met. It might get you a book bag, a merch discount and be able to eat at couple fabulously expensive member restaurants in the gallery.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:46 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’ve lived in New York for 2.5 years and I still haven’t run out of new things to see, and I see new things about every weekend. You’ll be fine! Bagels are cheap and filling, delis and pizza slices are also cheap, you can buy fruit from stands set up on street corners and there are Trader Joe’s scattered throughout, if you want cheaper food. Buy an unlimited subway pass, read up on how to use the subway system, and the world is your oyster. The met alone can take a full day or more to see everything. Start reading the gothamist online to get a general feel of the city, if you want. You can see a different museum and park every day and not have enough days. And yes, day trips are also a good idea!
posted by umwhat at 4:27 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

As another poster mentioned Boston and DC are only four hours away and Philly is even closer. You could easily wake up early, take a bus or train, spend the entire day there, and catch a bus/train back to NYC.

It shouldn’t be too expensive either if you opt for the bus and all of the Smithsonian museums in DC are free.
posted by Gev at 4:35 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

this is 100% how I was feeling about my first trip to Paris. I booked the trip, but I'd chosen Paris as a sort of "I dunno, I wanna go somewhere and that's a place I've never been so ehn" and in the weeks leading up to it I was feeling this exact kind of "meh". And then when I got there and was walking around and doing things it was like an enormous hug from the whole city and within two days I was feeling like "THIS IS IT I AM GOING TO BE MAKING REGULAR ANNUAL TRIPS TO PARIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE." (And if my finances were in better shape I would be.)

Having nothing planned in advance will actually help you, because you will be free to explore whatever your mood is when you wake up each morning. There are enough movie theaters and museums throughout the city for you to definitely fill two weeks; and as for food, it is definitely possible to eat cheaply.

Day trips to Boston and Washington are an option, but so are days out on New York's beaches - Coney Island is worth a visit (and the breeze off the ocean will also keep things cool), and Rockaway Beach is sort of like the hipster Coney Island. And those are just two of the beaches - there are at least three more I can think of off the top of my head.

You could also pop over into the IRL page and propose a meetup for while you're here, you'd probably end up in a part of the city you wouldn't have known about otherwise and you'd get other ideas from us. :-)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I recently spent 4 days in NYC mostly by myself, I didn't leave Manhattan (except for an ill-advised choice on a subway platform that sent me briefly into Brooklyn, and a delightful trip on the tram to Governor's Island) and I didn't do a quarter of all the things I had planned, and that is AFTER ruling out Central Park or any of the major museums because I knew I wouldn't have enough time. Also consider that NYC is pretty vast, and getting from one place to the other can take a surprisingly long time, even though it is dense.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:04 AM on July 5, 2019

If you're looking for some free/cheap events, sign up for Nonsense NYC! Also, Nthing suggestions for going to NYC beaches and taking the Metro North to someplace like Beacon. If you can get out onto the water, that will help if it's oppressively humid (take the Staten Island ferry back and forth for free! Grab a meal at the Frying Pan! Check out Governor's Island!). If you don't want to make concrete plans, you could just set out to explore a couple of adjacent neighborhoods in a day and see where that takes you - there are enough distinct neighborhoods for this to keep you busy beyond your two weeks.
posted by quatsch at 6:24 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I went to NYC for 9 days last year at the end of August. It was 36 (Celsius)+ every day. I had a blast. Because we were there for so long, we took it slow. One museum and a park was a whole day. Walking around Soho was a day. Going to Governor's Island was a day. Some thing we did that I recommend, particularly solo:

- Governor's Island
- Sleep No More
- Brooklyn Museum and Botanical Gardens
- Yankee or Mets game

Also since you will be there so long, feel free to treat it like a staycation! I did three weeks in London solo a few years ago and part of the time I just treated it like I lived there. I watched bad tv and went to movie in the afternoon - it's a vacation! Went grocery shopping at a bunch of new-to-me grocery stores.
posted by hepta at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Skint is also a great resource for free and cheap things to do in NYC. Skews towards parties and comedy and burlesque shows, but also free food promotions, public art, outdoor movies, craft fairs, amateur Shakespeare performed in parking lots, etc. I find it a little more normal-people than Nonsense.
posted by babelfish at 7:41 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just dropping in to say that if you like Chinese food, one of the best cheap eats in New York is Xi'an Famous Foods (https://www.xianfoods.com/menu, everything hovering around $10). Do not miss it! It's a local chain with outposts in many neighborhoods.

Everyone has covered a lot of good stuff, but nthing Rockaway Beach: You go to the Wall Street ferry terminal and take the Rockaway ferry. The trip costs like $3, the boat comes once an hour, and the journey takes an hour, during which time you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan (sit on the roof deck, be aware it's windy). At the end of the ferry line, it'll drop you off 10 minutes' walk to a white sand beach with a great boardwalk (and cheap eats at the boardwalk). I highly recommend it.
posted by branca at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Public library! Free and has AC and is super rad.
posted by PistachioRoux at 7:49 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like you're burned out and so it makes sense that you haven't had time to plan and look forward to your trip. I think that means that all you need to do for the first 3 days is sleep and eat (really good food). Lower your expectations for the whole trip, but especially for the first few days. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep and that's it. After that, you'll probably start itching to go out and see some cool stuff. Take each day as it comes and have fun exploring!
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:13 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I know the feeling, I tend to feel bad about trips if I’m stressed— but I always have a blast once I’m there. Can you let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, but remind yourself you won’t regret going? In fact, if you’re so low/stressed that even a vaca isn’t appealing, that’s a pretty strong sign you need a vaca.

NYC is actually great for cheap eats. Yes, there are schmancy restaurants but day to day, we’re all finding $7 banh mis, 2 slices and a drink for $5, falafel carts, juice trucks, etc.

There’s a lot to do that would take an entire day. The Met and Natural History Museum take me about a day each at my own pace. Go to Coney Island! Sea breezes, people watching, ice cream, a ballpark, you can really spend more than whole day/night.

Find your indoor and outdoor chill spots. Central Park, your hotel, the library. Places to just hang out and look up stuff to do on your phone.
posted by kapers at 8:15 AM on July 5, 2019

Oh, PS. NYC is a great place to be alone because you’re never really alone. I go to movies alone, get a quick bite and a drink alone, explore new neighborhoods, and I don’t feel lonely because here you always tend to be in a crowd and interacting with others (cab drivers, shop owners, residents, visitors.)
posted by kapers at 8:20 AM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

I find one of the toughest things to master when travelling alone - but one of the most important for enjoyment - is to not feel guilty for doing nothing. I'm in a new city! I can't stay in bed until noon! I could do that at home! I'm a terrible person, wasting my own money and all this opportunity! But all that happens then is that I end up exhausted and grumpy and not enjoying the things I push myself out to do. The solo trips I've enjoyed most have been ones where I've successfully given myself permission to do nothing as much as I want, even if that means closing the curtains and ignoring the city on your doorstep for a bit. And with two whole weeks to luxuriate in, that becomes a whole lot easier. Sleeping in/relaxing on holiday isn't a waste - it's way better than doing it at home, because you've got no chores all around you making you feel guilty for not doing them.

So I say experiment with chilling out. Never set an alarm, or only ever leave the hotel/apartment at lunchtime, or always have a siesta, or whatever.

It also lessens the pressure on your destination to provide amazing holiday experiences, because a chunk of your holiday pleasure is just coming from relaxing, not from all the sights being perfect.

You're not going on holiday, you're getting to pretend you're a super-wealthy person living in New York, who doesn't have to work, is always well-rested and relaxed, and spends their time gently ambling between interesting leisure activities however and whenever they fancy. Or just sitting down with a cool drink and book if they prefer. Enjoy!
posted by penguin pie at 8:31 AM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

I would recommend an NYC MeFi meetup, great way to have some socializing, and they will know what's going on. It will probably be hot, but there are coffee shops, bars, hotels, libraries, etc., where you can stop for a beverage and cool off, as well as Central Park, and street vendors with Italian Ices. If you have fridge in your room, freeze a bottle of water to take with you, just as a start.

One way to start getting excited is to checkout the gazillions of sites and lists of stuff to see and do. Me, I'd shop at Muji, The Strand, and ABC Carpet, and more, and visit museums and libraries, and now I really want to visit NYC.
posted by theora55 at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

While I agree that you're unlikely to get bored traveling to NYC, your concern about loneliness on a two week solo trip resonates with me. Last year I had to cut short a week-long trip to Mexico City because of this, and I always struggle going out to eat alone while traveling, unless it's fast food. I'm a pretty seasoned traveler, and can handle being on my own most places in the world, but if I'm not either traveling with someone or have someone to visit I feel worn down and it sucks the fun out of things within a few days. So I now plan any longer trips accordingly.

That's not to say you'll have this problem. I think it's a thing one learns about oneself over time. But I've been guilty of dismissing this concern when planning a trip, and then coming to regret it.
posted by serathen at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2019

My first trip to New York City was about two weeks long and that was perfect. Short enough that it still definitely felt like vacation, but long enough that I was able to try out a few of the rhythms of being a New Yorker (like being able to try a few bagel places, pick a favorite, and then keep going back there regularly) instead of doing just the most superficial looksee-type tourist things.

I fell in love with the city that trip and moved there two years later; now, after five years living there, I can say confidently that the impressions I got of New York on that one trip were generally quite accurate and authentic. I don't think I would have gotten that in a shorter trip that probably would have been more limited to lovely-but-less-everyday stuff like the Met and the High Line.

If your travel style is anything like mine - if you like to feel like you're stepping into another rhythm rather than just seeing pretty things - then this trip sounds pretty ideal. Enjoy the city, I know I did (I live elsewhere now and miss it terribly.)
posted by mosst at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two weeks is NOT LONG ENOUGH!!! Every time I go to NYC, I stay longer (3 weeks last time, tho that did include a long weekend in Montreal). Oh, and I always go alone. I have a date with the city. ❤ (ahem)

Please do come back to update us after you've been. I hope you won't cancel.

PS If you want I can send you my To-Do list for my next trip and the "done" list from the last one, haha.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 10:55 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Adding something on to what braca said about the Rockaway Ferry - that is just one line in a fairly-new-to-the-city ferry system, which can get you to some pretty fascinating places along New York's waterfront. The ferry tickets cost the same as the subway, and the ride is much more pleasant; and several of the stops are in not-often-visited neighborhoods within a short walk of the neighborhood hot spots. (The stop in the neighborhood of Red Hook is two blocks from an amazing gelateria, one of the stops in Williamsburg is right near where there's a weekly food festival...) It may not be a bad idea to pick a ferry stop, ride there, and then just get out and explore.

You can also do that with the subways - this book covers what you can see in the neighborhoods around either end point of each and every subway line in the whole city. Most of the time the "end point" of the line is in a somewhat further-flung area of the city - generally safe, but not touristed - and food, sights, and other things to do can therefore be cheaper. (I had a blast poking around in the Bronx Historical society at the end of the D line, and had one of the most fun historic house tours I ever did at a house at the tail end of the Staten Island railway - something I didn't even know existed until I got this book, and I've been living here 30 years.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Others have been great with suggestions for things to do, so I'll give a few bits of logistical advice:

1. Buy an unlimited-ride Metrocard. You can get them for a week at a time. I think you start saving money by the third ride of the day, which you will easily achieve. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the system and ever swipe onto the platform going the wrong way, etc.

1.a. Citymapper is the best telephone app I've seen for navigating public transit. It even does mixed-mode trips like, walk to a bike share station, bike to the subway, etc.

2. Ask liberally for directions and even recommendations. For all that we love to complain about clueless tourists, I've never seen a tourist ask for help and not get it. Many, many New Yorkers are not native to the city, and remember learning its idiosyncrasies.

3. Look at the traffic, not at the lights. It's well accepted to cross against the light if the streets are clear. It's also quite common for people to blow lights, especially taxicabs and bike delivery people, especially if they were approaching the intersection as the light changed.

4. Wear shoes that will be good for 5-10 miles of walking per day, and carry water. I think many people from more automobile-centric places are surprised by how much New Yorkers walk for transportation.

5. There are apps that list public bathrooms in various cities. Download one for New York. The obvious candidates are public buildings like libraries, major transit hubs like Penn Station, tourist attractions like museums and city parks, and, in a pinch, the ubiquitous coffee shop.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I haven't gone over everybody's answers, but below is what I'd recommend for a person with your length stay in NYC:

Arthur Avenue, Italian neighborhood in the Bronx
Flushing/Main Street, Asian neighborhood in Queens (take the 7 to the end)
Wave Hill, gorgeous botanical gardens in Riverdale
Tram to Roosevelt Island
Governors Island, especially if you go first thing
Staten Island ferry and some food stop before getting on the return ferry
The Frick Museum, Upper East Side of Manhattan
New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn

Seconding meaty shoe puppet about asking locals for directions. New Yorkers love to give directions/advice!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just got back to the NYC area from three weeks in a different city. I had a class to take on some days, but there was tons of free time. I like this other city; I had imagined I’d spend lots of time going out and doing things.

Instead, I spent time sewing, patronized a couple cafes repeatedly, did a lot of walking outside, and made a point of regularly going to the gym.

And it was wonderful. Best vacation I’ve had in ages (and I wasn’t technically on vacation because of that class!) As a New Yorker, I hereby give you permission to do the same in my city. Find some things you like near where you’re staying, and don’t worry about “activities” unless you get a hankering for them. And if the food is too expensive, get groceries and eat at home.

Give yourself the gift of spending this time being kind to yourself, rather than doing things just because you should.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:16 PM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Most I would have added is covered here but just one note:
The weather? Eh, sometimes it's hot and humid, sometimes it's not. If it is, plan to spend the day at MOMA or the Met. If it's more tolerable, laze around with a book in Central Park,
MoMA is closed until October. The Met (3 locations), Whitney, or many other museums are great ideas. The Gugg, for example, was just added as a UNESCO World Heritage site
posted by TravellingCari at 10:48 AM on July 8, 2019

This always happens to me when a trip I've planned is getting close, I start thinking 'whyyyy did I think this was a good idea, it sounds exhausting, I don't want to go' but then I go and it's great.
I like spending two weeks in a city and just doing fairly normal things and seeing how they're different in a new place. I usually can't work up the interest to do a lot of research before I go, so I make sure while I'm there I have some kind of internet access and just look things up as I need them.
I often like to choose one destination or goal each day and head in that direction without a specific plan, and just see what happens along the way.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:55 AM on July 8, 2019

VirginiaPlain: I just MeFi mailed you this in case you're not watching the thread any longer, but Frankie & Johnny is closing in July. You'll be able to get a refund if you purchased via the box office or their ticketing agent.
posted by TravellingCari at 7:34 PM on July 8, 2019

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