Creating a New York guide for every interest isn’t easy, but Time Out is throwing down the gauntlet with these fun days out in the city, designed for everyone, from hardened NYC hipsters to first time visitors.
For NYC newbies
If it’s your first visit to New York, you already know about the big stuff (must-see works at the Met, Broadway essentials), but what about the lesser-known attractions that make the five boroughs so amazing? Here’s a greatest hits list that lets you spend your first 24 hours like a local.
Grab a pie at Grimaldi’s
Grimaldi’s tag line reads ‘No credit cards. No reservations. No slices. No delivery.’ Four excellent reasons to eat your inaugural NY pizza here. Featuring a coal-fired brick oven, plain-Jane decor and surly service, a classic small round arrives piping hot with a perfectly charred crust, chunks of crushed tomatoes, gooey mozzarella and a speckle of basil. A queue is inevitable, so use the time well by soaking in the sweeping views of lower Manhattan.
See NY in its high school years
We love the Met, MoMA, Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Museum, but to get a real sense of the city, you need to look to its past. At the Tenement Museum, you can spy on the lives of 19th and early 20th-century immigrants who resided at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Guides lead eight building tours on a regular basis. Our pick is the Sweatshop Workers excursion, which illustrates how immigrants survived the Great Depression in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Explore the secrets of Grand Central Terminal
This century-old hub is one of the city’s most prized landmarks and the place to discover some of its quirks. In the whispering gallery located outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar, speak softly into one corner of the arched hallway and your words will bounce to the opposite diagonal wall about 40ft away, despite the bustle of commuting hordes. Stare at the backward constellations on the main concourse’s ceiling or, if you feel like a dare, sneak into the clandestine staircase that connects the main and lower level information booths.
Relax at Bryant Park
Take a breather amid all the hustle, skyscrapers and taxis. Bryant Park (www.bryantpark.org) is an oasis of 9.6 acres of parkland and a slew of activities – ping-pong year-round, ice skating in the winter, movies on the lawn in summer. Once you’ve had your fill, toast to a day well spent at Hudson Terrace (www.hudsonterracenyc.com). Drinks don’t come cheap, but the superlative view –of the soothing Hudson River – makes the price completely worthwhile.
For art-crazy hipsters
Long Island City has become noteworthy for its towering new skyscrapers and nightspots, but there’s also an offbeat art scene thriving in the neighbourhood. Spend a day walking around the boundary-pushing
galleries and enjoying the clear Manhattan skyline.
A former manufacturing hub, Long Island City is full of ex-industrial spaces refurbished to stunning effect. A prime example is this arts institution housed inside a monumental building that was erected as a trolley repair warehouse in 1907. Sculpture-Center set up shop in 2001, relocating from the Upper East Side, and the space got a revamp from renowned architect Maya Lin. The two-storey, 6,000-square-foot venue hosts temporary exhibitions by on-the-cusp artists working in a variety of mediums and styles. Exhibitors make artful use of the space, incorporating the catacomb-like lower levels into immersive works and building larger pieces on the wide-open main floor.
Flux Factory, as the name suggests, is in a constant state of change. An artist collective founded in 1994, Flux set up shop in this former greeting card factory in 2002. In addition to an exhibition room, the three-storey locale provides studio space and hosts a kaleidoscopic array of events. Depending on when you go, you could encounter anything from participatory performance art and film screenings to a miniature city built for kittens (yes, seriously). Flux Factory doesn’t keep regular hours, so check the website before you go.
Dutch Kills Bar
Now that your art cup runneth over, bid the galleries adieu and settle in at this comfy, classy watering hole. Once you’ve found the place (the only marker is a small neon sign), take a seat at the mahogany bar or grab a booth.
For midnight snackers
When craving late-night food, you generally want something hearty, but that doesn’t mean you should settle, and in New York, you don’t have to. A few blocks along Williamsburg’s Grand Street hold some delicious edibles served well past 10pm.
You have a lot of snacking to do, so start simple. Pair your beverage with the kale salad, which tempers the greens’ bite with chunks of red apple and a citrus vinaigrette, or the roasted beets, dressed with Greek yoghurt, balsamic vinegar and fresh tarragon.
The Saint Austere
Co-owners and siblings Jacqueline and Fabrizio Pirolo drew on European influences and their Italian heritage to craft a menu for every palate. You can’t go wrong with any of the affordable small plates here.
We hope you saved room for grilled cheese, because this tavern serves seven different varieties. The Karen pairs fromage blanc, Gruyère, sharp cheddar and Havarti on sourdough; the rich Maefred combines gooey double-crème Brie with local mushrooms, diced onions and fresh rosemary on ciabatta.
Forgo the usual meat-and-cheese plates and turn your attention to the ‘vittles’ section of the menu at this chic but low-key neighbourhood spot. If you’re craving something sweet, the pressed sandwich with nutella and goat’s-milk ricotta balances its fillings just right. Otherwise, go for the chocolate panna cotta, an enhanced riff on the creamy, pudding-esque dessert that tops the custard with huckleberry jam and a sprinkling of sea salt.
For vintage shopaholics
Not all vintage stores are created equal. In fact, a lot are full of junk. We scouted independent shops in the East Village and West Village to find the best clothing and accessories retailers, bookstores and more. Get your coin purses and money clips ready. You’re about to do some retro damage.
Rifle through refinished relics you never knew you needed. This dealer creates strikingly modern benches and desks out of reclaimed metal and cozinc-topped artefacts from around the world. Browse items like a bistro table from Aix en Provence, an original ’30s Mickey Mouse-printed Japanese kimono and Egyptian hand-blown glass chandeliers.
Metropolis Vintage NYC
Perfectly frayed, high-waisted Levi’s shorts, leather jackets and button-up patterned dresses are ideal for accessorising with combat boots. Browsing here is like going to a charity shop, except everything is the cream of the crop.
Forget surfing Jabong or Myntra online – check out retro glasses at this vintage-eyewear shop, which specialises in styles dating from the 1700s to the modern day and has a hands-on, try-on policy. Grab glasses in shapes such as cat-eye sunglasses and Audrey-evocative.