New York City has many nicknames (The City That Never Sleeps, Empire City and The Big Apple, just to name a few), all of which attest to this New World metropolis' dynamic, energy-swirling nature. People don't settle in New York to relax; they come to be the best of the best. And because of that drive and determination, this city boasts some of the greatest restaurants, hotels, theaters and museums in the entire country. It would take a lifetime to see all of these fantastic attractions, which is why even the most ambitious native New Yorker has a hard time experiencing everything that the city has to offer.
So, with that said, try to think of New York as being more than just Manhattan and the ubiquitous Times Square. There are five other boroughs and they all have plenty to offer. Who knew, for example, that the Bronx area boasts its own Little Italy (on Arthur Avenue)? Or that the Brooklyn dining scene is arguably as good as Manhattan's? Or that some of the best ethnic restaurants in New York are in Queens? Why, we bet you didn't know that there's a great Tibetan art museum on Staten Island!
Hotels in New York, as you would expect, are world class ... but there are a few bargains here and there. For top-of-the-line luxury, try the recently revamped Pierre, which is located on Fifth Avenue on the south-east corner of Central Park. For something that's luxurious and hip but more mid-level, try the Standard. Its faux-70's architecture straddles New York's coolest attraction: the elevated High Line Park. Slightly more affordable, the Eventi (located in the Chelsea district) is a perk-splashed hotel.
NEW YORK DAY 1: Greenwich Village, The Empire State Building and Times Square
Begin your stay in the Big Apple in the city’s most atmospheric (and confusing) neighborhood: Greenwich Village. Already an existing village in the early 19th century when the streets of Manhattan were put into a grid system, Greenwich Village’s street plan remained charmingly crooked and diagonal. So don’t be surprised to find yourself lost, along with a lot of map-wielding out-of-towners. Morandi offers Italian-inspired start-of-the-day meals in a rustic environment (or, in warm weather, on the sidewalk).
Then make your way to the neighborhood’s heart: Washington Square Park, which was recently refurbished. The mini Arc de Triomphe, built in 1892 in honor of George Washington and sitting at the start of Fifth Avenue, has been featured in countless films. Locals and tourists alike come here to listen to the buskers, walk their dogs, and lounge on the grass. Surrounding the square for the most part are the buildings of New York University. Though once the center of Bohemian life (Jimi Hendrix' Electric Lady Studios are at 52 West 8th Street and Bob Dylan lived at 94 MacDougal Street), today it's one of the most sought-after places to live.
The neighborhood stretches north to south from Houston to 14th Streets and east to west from Broadway to the Hudson River (though über-technical geographers will tell you that Greenwich Village is between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, while the West Village is from Sixth Avenue to the Hudson), but the best way to see it is to stroll down Bleecker Street, which is becoming increasingly posh. When you're hungry, good food isn't all that far away. Make sure to try Joseph Leonard, or its sister restaurant across Sheridan Square, Jeffrey's Grocery. Both serve up hearty well-executed American fare in a casual, rustic setting. Or for something a bit spicier, try Ofrenda, located on Seventh Avenue between West 10th and Bleecker Streets; the smoky margaritas go down nicely with their flavorful Mexican dishes.
After a memorable meal, walk it off by heading west to the trendy Meatpacking District. Years ago, the neighborhood was once mostly industrial, but it fell on hard times and became rather rundown and seedy. However, the area was recently cleaned up, and it is now a hip hotspot for restaurants, clubs and hotels. The recently built Standard Hotel dominates the neighborhood with its kitschy, neo-functionalist architecture. Gawk at the high-heeled ladies who seem to stroll as if they're on a catwalk, and then head for one of New York's newer sensations: the High Line Park. This "park" is one of only two elevated parks in the world (the other is in Paris). Enter on Gansevoort Street and take in the great views and awe-inspiring design of this former elevated railway track. The park stretches all the way up to West 30th Street.
Afterward, walk east to Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. If you're not sure why you're here, just look up: The Empire State Building has been looking down on New York since 1931, at which time it was the world's tallest building. Expect to wait in line to take the elevator to the 86th floor. Once you step out on to the viewing deck, you'll know it was worth the wait. Central Park sprawls out to the north, Brooklyn and Queens to the east, the Hudson River and New Jersey to the west, and lower Manhattan to the south.
Later, walk west down 34th street to do some shopping in the original (and block-long) Macy's, one of several department stores around Herald Square. A block farther, on 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, you'll find Madison Square Garden. Next, walk up Broadway to 42nd Street. The journey itself is not too exciting but the destination truly is: Times Square, which in 2004 celebrated its 100th birthday, is really just the convergence of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Flashing lights (night and day), scrolling news, Godzilla-sized TV screens and themed restaurants make Times Square a place you'll either love or hate. Regardless, it's impossible to not be awed by it.
For dinner, you needn't go far. The in-house restaurant at the Langham Place Fifth Avenue is chef Michael White's Ai Fiori, an elevated Italian eatery that hits all the right notes.
to Day 2