What To Do In New York CITYYYYYYYY!

{me and huck and the flat iron, september 2010}

Touristy Stuff, Only Cooler
Skip the lines at the Empire State Building. Top of the Rock is faster and just as tall.
Skip the Statue of Liberty. Walk the Brooklyn Heights Promenade instead. You'll see the Lady and all of Manhattan's skyline, plus you can say you went to Brooklyn, which is exciting! (Wave at Montague Street for me while you're there!)
Skip Grimaldi's and get Juliana's. Same family, same ovens, smaller line. Get ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for dessert, and then walk back to Manhattan across the big girl.
Get tickets to a taping of something. Jimmy Fallon is my favorite. Sign up for tickets in advance, and if they're all booked you can always try the standby line day-of.
Skip Times Square, and visit Union Square instead.
(Unless you want to see the four story Forever 21. The four story Forever 21 is totally worth the hassle of Times Square.)
Skip the cupcakes at Magnolia and get the banana pudding instead.
If you go to Ground Zero, be sure to check out the old graveyard across the street. It's really rad in there.
If you're going to do a museum, I suggest the MoMA. The MoMA cafe is especially worth it.
You know what's every bit as fun as you think it's going to be? FAO Schwarz. I mean it. Go there.

Shopping? Yes, You Will Be Shopping
On a weekend, nothing beats the Brooklyn Flea Market and the Smorgasburg.
Spend most of your time on and around Broadway south of Houston, and on 5th Avenue south of the 23rd Street. Zara, Topshop, Madewell, H&M, Barneys CO-OP. Be sure to wander down Spring and Prince and Wooster when you're in SoHo. That's some of my favorite places down there.
For a real New York experience, you're going to want to hit up a Sample Sale ( will keep you posted.) Be sure to wear your cutest underpants for when you strip to your skivvies next to model-types. This sounds horrifying, but it's good for you, you should try it once.
Go to Mood and pretend you're on Project Runway.  (M&J Trimming is fun.)
Department stores are fun to wander through. I really like Bloomingdales a lot.

Good Things To Eat
Shake Shack. Get the Shack Stack. You won't need to eat for the rest of your life.
Eat a Levain cookie, but whatever you do, don't look up the calorie information on that sucker, you'll regret it.
Benny's Thai in the Financial District (hole in the wall, and sooooo goooooood).
Iron Chef Sushi in Brooklyn Heights (tell them Natalie sent you, and order the MONKEY ROLL).
Falafel in the West Village
Bubby's in Tribeca
Amy Ruth's in Harlem (I've been dying to check this place out, you'll have to tell me how it is)
John's Pizza on Bleecker Street

Other Fun Stuff
Pick an Avenue and walk it. Any Avenue will do. (I like Fifth.)
Ride the subway for funsies. Just, not from 8-10AM and not between 4 and 6PM and not any time after midnight, unless you want a different kind of funsies. I like the N/R line, goes right down the middle.
Get lost in the west village. You're going to get lost down there anyway so you may as well say you did it on purpose.
Go stare at hipsters and do some thrifting in Williamsburg.
Go see my lover the Flat Iron building and then wander around Eataly because that place is BONKERS.
Check out the bathroom at Bryant Park. It was named the third best public restroom in the nation!
Pressed for time? Do a bus tour. I know I know. They're actually kind of fun.

Things that aren't worth it:
Waking up early to stand outside the Today Show windows. Please don't stand around and scream at Al Roker. You won't feel good afterward. Same goes for any restaurant anywhere near Times Square. The Lego Store is lame, but the M&M store sells gold M&Ms!

Bonus Extra Credit:
Take a You've Got Mail pilgrimage to the West corner of 69th and Columbus to see The Shop Around The Corner (next to the L'Occitane). Then wave at me, you're in my neighborhood!


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  2. I was in New York for 1 day, in transit between Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. I would love to go back to actually get a proper look around and spend some time - and your post has just made me want to do it soooo much more. Yeah - we might have Oprah here for the moment, but, oh New York...(although I get frustrated that international visitors seem to think all we have is Sydney - or Melbourne if they're 'adventurous'. Hello! We have a North, East, South and West too - go check it out!)

  3. I am reading this book (I KNOW) and guess what? The Shake Shack? The MOMA cafe? They're owned by the same guys (also: Union Square Cafe, Grammercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, and Blue Smoke.) Good stuff, N.

  4. Love the mention of the trumpet solo...instead of clearing his throat or saying hello, my boss announces his arrival with a little [mouth] trumpet solo - Baa ba ba!

  5. Oh, you make me want to ditch everything and head for New York, New York!

  6. I don't comment much, but I LOVE your blog, and Huck is just about the cutest thing ever.
    Anyway, one time my husband (then boyfriend) and I took the train up to New York from my parents' house in Baltimore. We had no plan. The subway stop that we needed in the Village was closed, with no warning. My husband wanted to take me to a restaurant he had been to in Chinatown (of course we would find it! How many Chinese places could there be? ;). ) We did not, in fact, find it, and ended up eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream for lunch and catching the train back to Bmore. Epic fail.

  7. I have never been to New York. I have always wanted to go there and see a show on Broadway.

    Fun post! Thanks

  8. I live in Union Square for 2.5 years so I am definitely a big fan. Also just around the corner is the east village, also lots of fun. Is there still that Japanese restaurant, Yakiniku on 9th street where you cook your own meat at a grill in the middle of the table? Awesome eats!

  9. So jealous that you get to live in NYC! This is a great list. I love shopping in Soho. Last time we were in NYC back in Sept we basically ate our way through the city. We watched a bunch of episodes of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network beforehand and wrote down all the places in NYC we wanted to visit, such as Stand to get a toasted marshmallow shake (good stuff!). It was so great, I can't wait to go back again soon.

  10. While living in CT, we (me + husband + 4 children) made several trips into the city--one two days before Christmas. DO NOT GO TO TOYS 'R US IN TIMES SQUARE TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS! But that unfortunate experience led us straight to the Charmin Restrooms! People are hot or cold on those and we were oh so hot! Because when four little people are the ones you're entertaining in a city of several million, Charmin Restroom it is.

  11. If you are going to be in Brooklyn anyway, go to Jacque Torres. Best chocolate in the world...and their hot chocolate is AMAZING. Best day I spent in NYC was walking the bridge over to Brooklyn, having pizza at Grimaldi's and then sipping hot chocolate in Prospect Park before having an impromtu photo shoot with the skyline behind us. So much fun!

  12. Also, backstage tour of Wicked is totally worth it.

  13. My husband and I moved to the city early this year and have collected a few favorite places. Funny thing is, our list looks veeery similar to yours! Enjoying a shake on one of those huge rocks in front of the Flatiron building and people watching is probably our favorite thing to do on date night. Levain's oatmeal cookies are heaven-and it's fun to walk to the American Museum of Natural History at night (when it's closed) and sit on the steps overlooking the park while eating them. Chinese food is pretty solid anywhere in NYC, but my native New Yorker husband always insists we eat at the place he went to as a kid-Wo Hop 17 on Mott St. For more dessert, Momofuku Milk Bar has wonderful ice cream. (We would check out the other popular Momofuku restaurants, but law school is a fun(d) sucker.) Amy Ruth's is so so so delicious, but be sure to go with a huge appetite-they don't skimp on portions. A lobster roll at Mary's Fish Camp on Charles St. is always a delightful splurge in the summertime. We love going to MoMA on free Friday nights and watching each artsy type try to outcool the next. We love Carnegie Hall, too, and even if you're unable to spend a lot on tickets, they hold free concerts all over the city that are wonderful-especially in Harlem. Also, the library on 5th and 42nd, the Roosevelt Island Tram, and picnics in Central Park are simple pleasures.

    Just want to add that I love reading all of your NYC suggestions-please keep 'em coming as you find more!

  14. S'MAC! The All-American mac and cheese with breadcrumbs is just about the best thing on the planet.

  15. Wellllll....I actually did get up earlier than the crack of Dawn to holler at Al, Matt, et al. and actually got on TV for a looooong time. They did a segment right in front of us! We had a super cool sign saying "These 'bods are turning 30" because we were. That's why were there. And our college mascot is the Washburn Ichabods, so 'bods for short. Anyhoo. My friends saw Wicked. I however, being from Kansas, refused to see a show that in any way perpetuated any stereotypes about the Land of Oz and Kansas and all that. I told them that in 2 or 3 years it'd be all over Kansas anyway. Plus they payed waaaay too much for their tickets. And I was right. I went to the tckts booth near Times Square and got my ticket for less than $30! I chose to see Three Penny Opera with Alan Cummings (love hime!), Ana Gasteyer (of SNL fame) and Cyndi Lauper. And boy could they sing! And OMG. Some of the actors stood at the back of the theater before going on stage in the beginning and I actually got Alan's autograph on my playbill. And I talked to him!! OMG. We did take a bus tour and it rained on us as we sat in the top tier. It was a blast. We went to the graveyard across from ground zero and yes, it was rad. We went to the Meat Packing District one night and ate at Lotus, hoping to spot the likes of Paris Hilton or others, but instead got served by the prettiest man I've ever seen. We ate at Tavern on the Green, walked through the park, shopped on 5th Avenue, sprinted through China Town (couldn't get into it. A little too much for us midwesterners.), ate in Eataly, posed with the Naked Cowboy and discovered the Naked Cowgirl, tried to con the security detail at our hotel who the celebs were that were staying in our hotel, bought foam Statue of Liberty crowns and met Rupert Gee from the Hello Deli. Best trip ever!

  16. How about a DO NOT???? DO NOT eat at any chain restaurant or go shopping at a chain store that you can find in any mall in the rest of America. It really depresses me when people go to NYC and eat at the Friday's in Times Square.

    PS. You forgot the recession special at Gray's Papaya!

  17. Great list...Our personal favorites are St. Alps Teahouse (Bubble tea, YUM) and Toy Tokyo in the East Village (Pete Wentz's favorite store apparently) and Rice to Riches (my daughter hated rice pudding until going here...the cookie one is to die for)and right down the street from R2R is a very small Italian place called Rocky's that is AWESOME.

  18. The High Line in Chelsea is one of my favorite parks in the city. It has beautiful views of that neighborhood and the Hudson, not too mention the beauty of the park itself. I definitely recommend walking down it.

  19. The thing I want again is brunch at Sunburnt Cow, the hubs would say Jr's for the cheesecake.

  20. I second Erica on the High Line. My mother died with happiness when I took her to a cool, architecturally significant green space within the city. Chelsea Market is cute and has REALLY good cheese as well.

    I am into the Statue of Liberty Staten Island Ferry trip because it is free, and you can get a cheap beer and sip as you watch the lady go by. Plus then you can say you went to Staten Island and feel really awesome.

    If you have money to burn, go up to the rooftop bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They have expensive cocktails, but you're drinking amongst an ever-changing array of art installations, plus you have super baller views of the park. This is especially lovely in spring.

    It's also fun to go see the diner from Seinfeld (UWS, way uptown), the corner building from Friends (W Villiage), and the Nanny house (UES).

    In winter, Bryant Park has FUN ice skating. On weekends go in the AM.

    I adore the greenmarket in Union Square as well, and taking friends for dim sum on Sunday mornings in Chinatown. (But go with ballsy friends.)

    My list of skips:
    Skip the carriages in Central Park.
    Skip any food around Times Square.
    Skip Friday/Saturday night Broadway; go on Sundays, or a Saturday matinee.
    Skip any thoughts of beaching it. Coney Island is gross.
    Skip Magnolia--go to Butter Lane in the East Village!

  21. With limited time and so much to see, I recommend taking the less beaten path.

    Times Square is loud, dirty and chaotic.
    No need to spend too much time here.

    Everywhere you go, take advantage of the people watching. You will see, undoubtedly, the most eclectic collection of individuals that exist on the earth.

    SoHo was a dream. The shopping is fabulous, even when simply done by being pressed up against a window peering into a designers original store. There are shops for everyone and every style.

    The Meatpacking District was fancy, fun and expensive, but entirely worth visiting for a brief glimpse at NY nightlife, trends in fashion and design, all tucked within historic neighborhoods.

    A spur of the moment cab ride dropped us off in the East Village. With no map or suggestions, we stumbled upon an amazing cuban restaurant, sat at a street corner and watched the city as a blur around us.

    My ultimate recommendation is to walk. A cab is fun and will be an adventure, but everything is seen best by foot. Each corner will have something to see, whether it be a scene you remember from a movie or television show, or simply a place you've heard of. It's delightful.

    See Nat's previous posts for recommendations on shoes and then get out there!


  22. I like your list! You've also gotta see a musical, and walk through the park.

  23. Halal Cart, 53rd and 6th.

  24. Been visiting the city for years. When my nephew came to town, we decided to take the double-decker tour bus--it was AWESOME. It is the ONLY way to see the city--up above street level, all the fabulous architectural details without craning one's neck upward the whole time with one's mouth open. Looking down on all the hustle and bustle. Getting a great overview of the city. Hop on and off when the mood strikes. Can't believe it took me all these years to do it

  25. Sarabeth's on 423 Amsterdam Ave. is a delightful little English tea restaurant. If you eat there order the pumpkin waffle...your taste buds will never be the same!

  26. I wish I'd seen this a year ago! First trip to New York (from a summery Australia) last winter and stayed in Brooklyn. Not being a big pizza fan, I never would have guessed that the 2 hour wait to get into Grimaldi's in almost freezing (coming from summer, coming from summer) weather, would so totally be worth it! Grimaldi's Pizza is the one thing I have remembered to tell every single person who asked about my trip. I also talked a lot about gutter-snow (as someone who's seen snow maybe 4 times in my life, the disgustingly huge piles of grey-brown snow were quite fascinating. I have photos.)

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  28. I love, love seeing other people's lists. We've been in the city the same amount of time as you (6 years?) & there is ALWAYS something new to do. Always.

    Next up on my list: Figure out Brooklyn (in case we move there, which we're contemplating...)

    My lists is here -

  29. Love this! Anything you would add after living there so long?

  30. My husband and I are heading to NYC from Australia for my 40th birthday next year. My dream 40th birthday location for as long as I can remember. I went to NYC in my 20's and have always wanted to go back. Your blog on 'What to wear in NYC', has answered many questions and this one has solved another bunch of, 'What should we do' questions. Thanks so much. I love your blog!

  31. Very enjoyable post. my personal favorites are St. Alps Teahouse (Bubble tea, YUM) and Toy Tokyo in the East Village.
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