October 17, 2006 6:17 AM   Subscribe

OK.. so I am taking my boyfriend to NYC for the day. He went about 20 years ago with a friend that brought him to peep shows and he basically got mugged, etc. He hated it and hasnt been back. Help me make him like the city!

I go to the city a few times a year but I am a wanderer-- he likes a destination. So normally I will wander looking for cool stuff but now I don't want to leave it all to chance. What are some of the neatest places in the city?
I am planning on taking him to Natural History museum and want to take him to a few unique shops and a great place to eat.
I will of course walk him through Times Square but want to avoid place like ESPN zone etc like the plague.
I want to go to unique places like the place that kinda specializes in PB & J and that fossil-y store "EVOLUTION" and some good strolls by some cool stores.

What are some best experiences in the NYC?

[side question for me-any place for a cheap foot massage while we are in the city?]
posted by beccaj to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When you are down by Evolution, walk east on Spring street until you pass Lafayette. The surrounding blocks have plenty of small Chinese massage/acupuncture places that will be happy to give you a cheap foot massage.

That's right over by Rice to Riches, the cafe that serves ONLY rice pudding.
posted by hermitosis at 6:35 AM on October 17, 2006

There are a few previous threads that could help you, start here and here...the first two I found by clicking on the "NYC" tag in the top right there...

Your question is a little bit subjective - it kind of depends on what it is that you/he enjoy - NYC offers something for everyone, after all. What do you enjoy eating? What kind of entertainment do you like? What are your interests, etc...
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:36 AM on October 17, 2006

I would recommend one of those Grayline double-decker tour buses if you want an overview of the city. It's nice to be able to see things out and about without dealing with people pushing you off the sidewalk. My mother loved it when I took her, and she was quite afraid of the city beforehand.
posted by orangemiles at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Cheap foot massage: mott street in china town.

Attractions: walk from Prince to Canal St along Mott or Mulberry through Chinatown. Lots of bizarre cool shit on display in the tiny chinese shops, such as barrels full of frogs.

Got to Obscura Antiques and Oddities on 263 East 10th. Sort of like Evolution meets a thrift shop in a Tim Burton movie.

There is always the new Apple Store on 59th (I think) and 5th by Central Park. Very cool. Then you can go to the Central Park Zoo.

The entire East Village is worth wandering around, especially Tompkins Square Park area.
posted by spicynuts at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Rice to Riches is awesome. If I were you, I would completely avoid Times Square. He's seen it on TV and that's enough. It's a no-fun cesspool. Don't put him through the trauma. The AMNH is a great start. You could then walk east across Central Park and the Met, over to Lex, and catch the 6 downtown. Get off at Spring St. and you're at Rice to Riches, EvolutionNYC, SoHo, and the Village. SoHo on the weekend is almost as insanely crowded as Times Square, so proceed with caution. Peanut Butter & Co. is okay, but I would take him to Lombardi's (across the street from Rice to Riches) for some amazing pizza.

If you could tell us more about his interests, we could be of better help (I'm sensing a natural history theme?).
posted by The Michael The at 7:01 AM on October 17, 2006

Be sure to take him to the Cloisters (190 st. at the northern tip of manhattan) in the morning/early afternoon. The park around it, Fort Tryon, is beautiful, and the museum itself is incredible--lots of medieval art and reconstructed chapels, stained glass windows, beautiful cloister gardens.
Just hop on the A and take it to 190.
posted by nasreddin at 7:03 AM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Great answers so far--thanks, Mefis. his interests ... film, techy stuff.
Tough to apply his interests to the city (for stuff I would like too). Thats why I thought just generally really cool stuff. I am a bit of a foody and into cool design like Moma store which is not what he would be into.

I get into all the museums free so I also thought of doing a little bit of museum sampling--
posted by beccaj at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2006

If we're talking relaxation and a feeling of safety, I don't understand the recommendations of Rice to Riches. It's an overpriced, tiny cafe in a loud, claustrophobic (small streets, tourist-glutted) neighborhood. Absolutely consider take him to the Cloisters -- magical at any time of day. Another great idea is the free Staten Island Ferry, which is ultra-relaxing and gets excellent views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, etc.
posted by allterrainbrain at 7:15 AM on October 17, 2006

Now that I see he's into film: he might get really excited by one or more of the things playing at Anthology Film Archives.
posted by allterrainbrain at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2006

The Cloisters may take too large a chunk of your day, so consider saving that for another trip. It's beautiful, and a beautiful place. Think spring, and a picnic (or an especially pretty fall day, of which NYC has many).

I can't offer positive suggestions as I've been away for quite awhile. I am still blown away by the East Village being an attractive place (but I know it is).
posted by Goofyy at 7:23 AM on October 17, 2006

If he's into film, the Angelika and the Sunshine, both on Houston, have a great selection of indie or small films playing. There is also the IFC theater which is on 6th Ave around West 4th, I think.

I personally feel that no trip to NYC is wortwhile without a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge - or at least halfway over. It's just too spectacular a thing to miss, particularly near sunset. Likewise, a trip on the Staten Island ferry (which is free) is a great way to grab a few beers and a hot dog and see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the entire Hudson Bay from the water. Totally worth it.
posted by spicynuts at 7:24 AM on October 17, 2006

If you are going to The Natural History Museum, you should walk around the corner to Maxilla and Mandible. It was started by one of the flensers at the museum, and has been around longer than Evolution.
posted by kimdog at 7:29 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok...well here's one itinerary you could cut/paste from as you see fit...

Catch the A up to the Cloisters, as mentioned. I could spend all day here, its awesome, but you can do it quick, too - walk straight to the museum, spend 30mins-1hr there, hit up the food card out front for a burger on your way back to the subway (they're good, but maybe just split one to keep room for more...)

Catch the train back down to the AMNH, spend some time there, walk across the park to the Met, do the same, walk / bus down to the Apple Store at 59th and 5th.

Head down to Le Parker Meridian on 57th and find the burger joint hidden in the lobby. Or hit Carnegie Deli (55th and 7th) for a sandwich the size of your head.

Bounce down to 53rd b/t 8th and 9th and grab a drink at Single Room Occupancy, if you can find it (hint - its in a basement, accessible by a buzzer, and marked only by a green lightbulb).

Then walk through TS should you care to (I'd avoid it, personally), and hop on the subway downtown to catch a film at any of the 100's of trendy little spots (I can't speak to those as well, but I see them everywhere).
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:30 AM on October 17, 2006

*food cart
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:32 AM on October 17, 2006

Take him to the Intrepid Air & Space museum. Maximum hardware tech.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on October 17, 2006

I'm not sure Times Square is such a given... I think the glory of nyc is more in the small things & culture you can only find here -- like the Anthology mentioned above, like the museums, like the amazing Nuyorican (where I take my out of town guests)...
posted by lorimer at 7:44 AM on October 17, 2006

Unfortunatley the Intrepid sailed away to Jersey for refurbishment, so you'll have to strike that one off your list.
posted by GreenTentacle at 8:04 AM on October 17, 2006

This native's favorite thing to do in NYC: About an hour before sunset, take the 4 or 5 trains (the 2, 3 and R will also get you pretty close) to Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Walk back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge at twilight - it's about a 40 minute walk, and will leave you right in front of City Hall on the Manhattan side. You can't get a better view of the Manhattan skyline and NY Harbor, and it's especially pretty at sunset.

You could also go earlier in the day, and explore Montague St and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade before walking back at sunset.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2006

Second the Museum of the Moving Image. Also maybe the Museum of Television and Radio? If you go to the MMI, it's just a short hop to Jackson Heights, home to the best Indian food in NYC (I particularly love Jackson Diner).
posted by The Michael The at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2006

posted by rbs at 8:51 AM on October 17, 2006

My favorite NYC experience was having a martini at the restaurant on the mezzanine in Grand Central Station, sitting and watching the people below.
posted by booth at 8:56 AM on October 17, 2006

A lot of these suggestions, while ambitious, involve a lot of travel, which is stressful and tiring. I like allkindsoftime's itinerary, minus the Cloisters- you're killing close to an hour each way just getting there from Midtown.

If you've only got one day, I'd say do the MoMA, which is in Midtown, rather than the Met, Whitney, or Guggenheim, which are far uptown.

Another vote for Rice to Riches, as an "only in NYC" kind of place. Soup Dumpling's at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown, likewise (after your foot massage).
posted by mkultra at 9:25 AM on October 17, 2006

Oh, and the Carnegie Deli is right by the MoMA. Katz's is better, but Carnegie is more of an experience.
posted by mkultra at 9:27 AM on October 17, 2006

I would completely avoid Times Square. He's seen it on TV and that's enough. It's a no-fun cesspool. Don't put him through the trauma.

I don't agree. The holy-crap-this-is-big-and-bright thing doesn't quite come across on TV. And any association he had with peepshows and getting mugged will be completely nullified by a quick stroll through the "new" Times Square. (Worked for my older relatives who had the same type of issue w/NYC.)
posted by desuetude at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2006

Have him watch The Simpsons episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" as the situation you describe about your boyfriend's first visit to NYC sounds nearly identical to Homer's first visit! A humorous perspective on revisiting NYC might ease the tension.

For a place to shop for interesting food, try Zabar's
posted by kuppajava at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2006

If you spend time on the Upper West or East Sides (ala visiting museums), check out Alice's Teacup. It might be a bit twee for your BF, but the atmosphere is very relaxed and the food and tea are excellent. If you're into tea at all, you'll love it. And as a foodie, you'll probably really dig the fresh scones.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2006

For evening entertainment, it's tough to be The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Almost any show you see there will be hilarious and cheap. Particularly reccomended is "Asssscat," which is one of the world's best improv shows, and is nothing at all like the corny Whose-Line-style stuff you may have seen at your local Comedy Sportz.

The theater also has lots of great standup and sketch shows.
posted by YoungAmerican at 10:50 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Lots of good suggestions above. Packing them all into your one-day excursion is an exercise in futility, though. Make some judgment calls:

- uptown vs. midtown vs. downtown: which vibe suits you best?
- museums: nature vs. modern vs. historical: which one piques your curiosity most?

I'd suggest skipping the Brooklyn Bridge and Cloisters visits this first trip. They're great but extraneous to the one-day visitor. (It took me nine years to get around to the bridge walk, and it was fun but nonessential.) Pick your most vital spots and plan around them. That said, New York is best experienced with some serendipity, so embrace your tendencies, too.

Allkindsoftime's itinerary suggests you have, well, all kinds of time. Here's a more realistic sample itinerary:

1. Start your day at AMNH (since you handpicked it already). Spend ~2 hours there, then hit Maxilla and Mandible as suggested above, and maybe a few minutes appreciating the park if the weather's nice.

2. The UWS is not terribly interesting to visitors, so hop the subway to midtown. I third the Carnegie as a unique New York lunch. From there walk south to Times Square, just to see it; for the one-day visitor it shouldn't be missed. (If he remembers 42nd Street from its nasty days, the contrast will be striking.)

3a. Feeling touristy? Wander east to Rockefeller Center (if it's later this fall, you can go skating, more fun than dorky) and up Fifth Avenue, to see the Plaza and the Apple Store, and squeeze in a little shopping while you're at it. The Grand Central drink is great, especially around dinnertime/rush hour when the station is bustling.

3b. Feeling native? Head south. I'd recommend Soho, Greenwich Village and nearby, as noted above, over the far East Village, which still retains some of the (glorious) grit that turned off your boyfriend way back when.

4. Dinner in Soho is great--Lombardi's, Fanelli, Jerry's, Honmura An, Balthazar if you're feeling swanky--as are many Village restaurants. Check and pick three or four potential places in advance so you don't kill an hour wondering which spots are any good. If you get far enough north, Mxyplyzyk on Greenwich is a gadget-and-curio fan's nirvana.

5. Drinks/dessert/entertainment are myriad. Pick up a Time Out New York or a Village Voice and find your evening's plan over lunch. The film houses mentioned above are all convenient to (if not on) Houston Street.

I'm sure I'm missing as much as I'm including--this is just a second stab at guiding you through your day. Have fun.
posted by werty at 10:54 AM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

Joe Shanghai's on Pell St. in Chinatown. They have great soup dumplings...
posted by Shanachie at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2006

Also, Blue Man Group is a lot of fun.
posted by Shanachie at 11:17 AM on October 17, 2006

For film related stuff there is currently a small exhibit at NYU's Grey Art Gallery that tries to draw connections between early film and american art. While I didn't quite agree with all the connections the curators seemed to be implying, it was definitely worthwhile for anyone with an interest in film history.
posted by jrb223 at 11:26 AM on October 17, 2006

Times Square is really not pedestrian friendly. It's a monstrosity in the middle of a business district that will waste your day.

There have been some great ideas here. I think the best thing about NYC is the food. So I would go to Lupa (if you like Roman food), Soba Nippon or En Japanese Brasserie or Kenka (Japanese), Rai Rai Ken (if you like ramen), Artisinal (if you like cheese), The Corner (Mexican), Moishe's Bakery for hammentashen, and of course there's Chinatown, but avoid Canal. Walk around it.

I love walking around the West Village. The Cloisters is a great idea.

If he's techy, maybe broaden his horizons? Things you can only do in NYC? Lincoln Center? Carnegie Hall? The classical music scene here is incredible.

This place is always packed with events so Time Out or the listings int he New Yorker are essential.
posted by scazza at 1:12 PM on October 17, 2006

Consider yourself warned - some of us will never like NYC no matter how many positive experiences we have there. It just rubs me the wrong way. That aside -

If his techie nature includes just thinking How Things Work is cool, he might enjoy BODIES. I did, and I think its leaving that location soon. It notably exceeded my expectations.
posted by phearlez at 2:29 PM on October 17, 2006

No specific suggestions but I can tell you that the NYC of 20 years ago and the NYC of today are miles apart danger/crime wise. I spent a good bit of time there in the late 80s and then didn't visit again until about 98 or 99. Safety and cleanliness wise the city had gone through incredible changes under Giuliani (love him or hate him), most of which seem to have remained on today. In the 80s the cabs were filthy and you couldn't walk half a block without being accosted by a panhandler of questionable mental stability. These days there seems to be a cop on every corner, the cabs are much cleaner and the few panhandlers you run into aren't nearly as scary.
posted by Carbolic at 2:58 PM on October 17, 2006

The Frick
posted by johnny7 at 4:49 PM on October 17, 2006

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