NEW YORK DAY
3: Brooklyn, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and Belvedere Castle
With much of Manhattan covered, it might be a good time to take the subway to Brooklyn. Walk around leafy Brooklyn Heights — home of gorgeous brownstone apartment buildings, as well as a great boardwalk that offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. It's also home to Montague Street Bagels, a real Big Apple bagel shop, should you need breakfast before your Brooklyn siteseeing tour. Or stay on the subway and head to Park Slope, famous for being the neighborhood of choice for many great American writers (both living and dead). Fifth Avenue in Park Slope is flanked by tiny boutiques, restaurants and bars. Eat lunch at Al Di La, a casual Italian spot with a focus on the cuisine of Veneto.
Afterward, get back on the subway and head to the Upper East Side, because it's time to see some world-class art. Start at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring 1.5 million square feet of space and considered the Louvre of North America. It's wise to have a plan of attack: look at a map of the museum and choose to visit the sections that display the art you like — Impressionism, Egyptian, Renaissance, etc. If you're up for more art, stop in at the Neue Galerie across the street. This Austrian art gallery has the most extensive collection of paintings by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt outside of Vienna. If you need a pick-me-up, have a cappuccino in the museum's Viennese-style café, Café Sabarsky. Finally, if you find that the MET is too big and the Neue is too small, consider the Frick Collection, a fabulous gathering of Renaissance and Baroque paintings housed in an opulent Upper East Side mansion.
For those who just can't get enough art, check out the newly revamped Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), which reopened in 2005 to much fanfare after an extensive renovation by Yoshio Taniguchi. The collection of contemporary art is one of the best in the world: Matisse, Miro, Picasso and most of the world's renowned 20th-century artists are represented.
If there's time, plan on spending a couple of hours strolling through Central Park, the city's "backyard." Designed by the great Frederick Law Olmsted, this 843-acre patch of green largely succeeds in making you forget the surrounding metropolis. Few people know, however, that the "natural" setting, which stretches north to south from 59th to 110th Streets, is as pre-fabricated as anything in the city. If your feet are starting to tell you it is time for a break, consider one of the horse-drawn carriages lined up where Sixth Avenue meets Central Park South.
Otherwise, make sure you have a good pair of shoes to see the sights. Just off of West 72nd Street is the tear-drop-shaped Strawberry Fields, the place where John Lennon (who lived nearby) is memorialized. A bit further in the park is the Sheep Meadow. Today, the sheep have been replaced by kite flyers, but it's one of the most tranquil parts of the park (just watch out for crashing kites). Live music lovers should make a pilgrimage to the Great Lawn, where a legion of summer concerts has taken place starring some of pop music's greatest. When music is not on, it's a perfect place to lie on a blanket and take in the sun.
To the north, don't miss the Belvedere Castle (around 79th Street), which houses the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, a hands-on exhibit that teaches guests about the variety of flora and fauna in the park. The terraces of this faux-medieval structure also offer spectacular views.
After your park foray, take a load off at Dovetail. Located on the Upper West Side, this restaurant is leading the way in making the neighborhood a dining destination. Chef John Fraser executes a menu of seasonal American fare that is not to be missed. For something even more extravagant, head over to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to arguably the best restaurant in the country: Thomas Keller's Per Se. You can't get more lavish than Keller's French-inflected contemporary cuisine. Be prepared for a five-hour meal.
What can we say? New York, New York — it's
a wonderful town!
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