It’s ironic that I’m a west coast girl…because my favorite city in the world to visit (by far) is New York.
While I’ve been to New York City only a handful of times, there is a deep familiarity with this town I’ve not felt with another other city. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lusted after NYC since I was a little girl, so I’ve built up enough pictures in my mind of being there, that when I’m actually there it’s like visiting an old friend.
Having said that, I need to spend MUCH more time here before I will consider myself an authority on where to go to have an ‘authentic’ New York experience. But….I have a pretty good idea. I want to share with you some of MY favorite places and things to do in the Big Apple. Some of them are hot tourist spots, for sure. But a few are ‘old school’ spots that have lost favor with all of the other guides. These spots are my New York; they will always have a special place in my heart, and you can bet I will return to them next time!
While the genuine Italian presence in NYC has shrunk since the 1880’s (yes, I said 1880’s), you can still find an abundance of honest-to-gosh Italian restaurants with the best pasta in the world (other than Italy itself, of course!) Make no mistake, Nolita has its name for a reason. Despite what many others may say, it is not simply a tourist trap. There are also some really great bars and shops in this area.
How can I offer up a guide to New York City without including the Brooklyn Bridge? I just couldn’t live with myself. Like the Big Apple itself, it’s a very walkable bridge. You can walk across it, under it, around it…but don’t swim under it….hello, East River, ick! It’s beauty is second to none – so yeah, it’s been photographed ad infinitum. Nevertheless, here are my wimpy photos of this gorgeous goliath.
Wall Street – Century 21
It’s a bummer that Wall Street has (deservedly) gotten a bad rap the past few years, because I just love walking around the center of the business universe. The mere act of strolling in amongst the high-rise jungle that is lower Manhattan makes you feel a little more important. Interspersed in between the huge chunks of steel and concrete are glorious landmarks such as Trinity Church, Charging Bull, and Federal Hall. And the shopping darling of this area is Century 21. Here you will find floor upon floor of high-end bargains for EVERYONE on your shopping list, including yourself. This Chanel-lovin’ girl who cannot afford Chanel shops here whilst in New York!
World Trade Center
My first visit to New York back in 2007 was a mere two days, but I made it a point to visit this now hallowed ground. Back then, they were just starting to construct the new World Trade Center, and I remember peering into the construction site through the barricades and seeing a giant hole in the ground. I walked around St. Paul’s Chapel the next block over, where there is a 9/11 memorial. I was moved to tears by all of the exhibits of loved ones lost, and support of the rescuers. Now, the new building is a shining beacon to all who have suffered and died on that terrible day. The neighboring WTC Tribute Center is a MUST-SEE.
“September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country and showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.”
– Senator Lamar Alexander
The best way to get an overall view of Manhattan in all its glory. We booked our 1 ½ hour cruise through Circle Line, and did the Landmark Cruise, but there are several excellent cruise companies and tours to choose from. Ours did not disappoint. As you are marveling at the sights with the water-swept wind through your hair, a knowledgeable guide will talk about various points of interests and historical tidbits. Circle Line’s Landmark Cruise took us from Pier 83 in Hell’s Kitchen down and around lower Manhattan up to Midtown (east side) and back.
This is old school New York City at its best. Once a bustling artists haven, where Patty Smith, Jim Morrison, Andy Warhol and Mark Twain hung their hats, certain areas have been gentrified over the last decade or so. However, the authentic Chelsea vibe remains. Walk down streets lined with brownstone townhouses, stroll the High Line, and catch an evening show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre for cheap, world-class comedy. This is a very intimate venue with just a few dozen seats, but there are several performances nightly. We bought tickets for a mere 10 bucks to see a ‘secret and special guest’ perform. The audience did not know until they came out on stage. Who was it? None other than Aziz Ansari.
Like Jazz? Then you HAVE to attend a show at the Village Vangaurd. A historic landmark on its own, where Miles Davis and John Coltrane regularly cut their chops. We had the great fortune of catching a couple of sets with Ravi Coltrane on our last visit. Another intimate venue, where we were within saxophone-spitting distance from Mr. Coltrane.
Ah….yes! Well, you really do need a full week of completely exploring this most visited urban park in the world. There’s just so much to see. I myself just like to walk around the lower part of the park; Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace and Sheep Meadow. You can download an app on your mobile device, which will give you a self-guided tour of notable landmarks. And I have yet to visit the Central Park Zoo. But do I really want to? I mean, c’mon, it’s a zoo (been there, done that.) In my opinion, there are MUCH better ways to spend your time in Central Park. For those of you who have explored the northern end of the park, give me your tips! I’m going there next time ’round.
Again…NOT a tourist trap. Seriously, the BEST barbeque in the city. Yeah, it’s not cheap, but oooohhhh, it’s SO worth it. Located in Times Square, there is usually a bit of a wait, and with good reason. I mean, just LOOK at this!
Broadway and the Barrymore Theatre
The main reason for my first visit to New York City was to patronize the Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, to see these guys. My favorite band. I continue to thank the Universe that the stagehand strike, which eventually shut down the production, didn’t happen until a couple of days after I attended. This theatre is historic in in own right, and continues to showcase phenomenal Broadway plays, musical and comedy productions.
So there you have it….a small snippet of My New York. Yeah, I just covered the tip of the iceburg, so sue me, will ya? (Adopt classic New Yawk accent here.) Anyways, NYC is not cheap, so here are a few resources I use to save some green.
Bleecker Street Pizza and the Halal Guys food cart for cheap eats
Skyscanner for flights