7.19.2009

25 Great Things to Do in New York City

Some favorite New York experiences, old and new, from Walking Off the Big Apple

"The Gothic Revival structure, granted the status of Landmark Site by the Landmarks Preservation Committee in 1975 on the basis of its picturesque ruination, is now undergoing a $4 million stabilization process in order to stem the tide of accelerating decay."

2. Shop at a bookstore and then visit a nearby cafe.
"In the olden days, many of us liked to shop for books and then go to a favorite café to read or write. We never worried about the availability of electrical outlets or a wireless cloud."

3. Read up on the history of Audubon Terrace and visit the Hispanic Society of America.
"Flash backward and imagine the estate that once belonged to John James Audubon, the famous naturalist and explorer, and then jump forward to the early 1900s when railroad heir and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington commissioned this acropolis."

4. Visit the permanent exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
"Discover and explore Tut's Fever Movie Palace, an art installation and functioning theatre designed by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong that serves as an homage to the art of cinema."

5. Ride a bike through Times Square.
"Seeing this part of the city by two wheels is nevertheless a strange excursion, because the cultural history of New York has little reference to experiencing Times Square and the theater district in quite this way."

6. Take a tour of Lincoln Center.
"We were in fact watching a rehearsal of a rehearsal, a confusing spectacle that appealed to my sense of the absurd."

7. See The Unicorn Tapestries at The Cloisters.
"In 1850 the Count de la Rochefoucauld decided he wanted his family's stuff back."

8. Take a walk through the South Village below Houston Street.
"An area of tenement buildings with well-preserved late 19th and early 20th century architecture, the South Village below Houston Street features small specialty shops, restaurants, and cafes in a friendly, well-balanced and human-scaled neighborhood."

9. Find New York places mentioned in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's.
"The disappearance of the New York locations mirrors the disappearance of the main character. Of course, changing New York is part of reality and not just a literary device."

10. Drink a Red Snapper at The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis and then shop on Fifth Avenue.
"The "Red Snapper" is the name for the St. Regis Hotel's "Blood Mary," the now-ubiquitous concoction the hotel introduced to the United States."

11. Take an evening stroll from the West Village to the Hudson to watch the sunset.
"The winding streets, European-style cafes with outdoor seating, sports bars, small stores, music clubs, theaters and public parks offer so much that many stay awake all night to enjoy the neighborhood."

12. Visit 123 Lexington, the address for Kalustyan's, an amazing spice market and store, and appreciate that it was once home to President Chester A. Arthur.
"As I suggested, please stop into Kalustyan's to shop for exotic spices or to grab a bite to eat. Bring a shopping list, because when I visited I wish I had already prepared a grocery list for some spice-heavy dishes."

13. Wander around the Ramble in Central Park.
"Because the Ramble works in mysterious ways, I wandered over the Azalea Bridge, near the area you see here, and then made my way east."

14. Stroll along W. 10th Street from Fifth Avenue to Waverly Place.
"At 51-55 once stood the Studio Building where artists Winslow Homer, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, among others, once worked and where the sublime American West was painted."

15. Go find real bagels, rugelach, and bialys on the Lower East Side.
"I wanted a little of everything, but I decided to restrain myself by settling on a lone large chocolate pastry that's somewhere between a rugelach and a babka. I was told I made a really good choice."

16. Visit Bryant Park just to appreciate the glories of the American Radiator Building.
"It's unusual to see a building made of black brick, much less one with gold trim. Designed by Raymond Hood, the American Radiator Building of 1924 fit the bill of the clients - it was massive, solid, and it would glow at night."

17. Read a book while sitting in Greenacre Park.
"Greenacre Park, with a 25-foot waterfall, a stand to buy snacks, comfortable movable chairs, and a zen-like design, provides one of the most successful types of spaces in our urban fabric."

18. Visit the lobby of the old New York Daily News Building, aka The Daily Planet.
"Visiting the Daily News building should be on every visitor's list. The building is only a few blocks east of Grand Central Station. Only the lobby is open to the public, but that's the part you want to see."

19. Listen to street musicians in Washington Square Park.
"Self-styled bohemian traditions of the Village do not conform to an imposed order from the outside, and in that sense, I embraced my neighbors' righteous protests. Some of their good ideas made their way into the new design."

20. Participate in Jazz & Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators.
"Tuesday night's session of "Jazz & Sketch" at the Society of Illustrators perfectly fit our needs - a beautiful setting in the society's home on E. 63rd., one with a rich artistic and social history, the exquisite additions of live jazz and a cash bar, excellent models, and a congenial atmosphere."

21. Walk through the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn.
"In addition to its early connection to the writer Walt Whitman, Fort Greene is known for its successes as a racially diverse neighborhood. The final stretch of the walk took me past beautiful townhouses along Carlton Avenue."

22. Walk from Battery Park to the Esplanade in Battery Park City.
"The promenade next to the water, with views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Jersey shore, and the cool esplanade of trees in a stretch of the southern section make for a particularly satisfying walk."

23. Pretend you're Greta Garbo and walk the streets and avenues near her apartment.
"Greta Garbo often walked up and down the streets you see before you, "Mademoiselle Hamlet," as Alice B. Toklas called her, wanting to be alone. Starting at her apartment on the East River, Garbo wandered west and mostly north through streets and avenues of Midtown and into the Upper East Side."

24. Tour the ruins of American finance and ask for your money back.
"Surveying the urban landscape of New York, the financial capital of the world, I've mapped out the pinpoints of flickering light (some have flicked off) - among them, AIG Private Client Group (70 Pine Street), Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment (133 E. 64th St.), RIP Bear Stearns (383 Madison) until its purchase by JPMorgan Chase (270 Park Avenue), Lehman Brothers (745 7th Ave.), and several more."

25. Visit Grant's Tomb. Seriously. A very moving experience.
"After spending some time looking at the tombs of Ulysses and Julia and then visiting the churches, I began to think of this stroll as the Death, Reconstruction, and Resurrection Walk."

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Images and text by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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