From the Uh, Artie? inbox (the tray marked "travel and tourism"):
As the photo (ripped from your Facebook page) attests, you know your way around New York as well as anyone. You've already appeared on the Brooklyn Bridge in a kilt. (As the Scottish say, Kol ha-Kavod, which means you blend.)
Here are my favorite stops when in New York. I imagine that you already have most or all of these on your list.
- Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. As you know, but others mightn't, this is beautiful day or night, in either direction. An elevated wooden boardwalk carries pedestrians and bikers above the traffic for one of the City's best skyline views. And the bridge itself is an architectural and engineering marvel. Don't buy it. Just walk it. Go to City Hall and you will easily find the boardwalk. You can walk halfway and turn back. (Sometimes I start in Brooklyn and just walk to Manhattan. IN EITHER CASE, you want to make sure you walking into Manhattan, so the City's skyline is ahead of you.) Try it anytime, especially at sunset or sunrise.
- Café Gitane. Mott at Prince Streets, Nolita. My favorite coffee shop, for coffee and pastry in the morning.
They also serve food all day (French-Moroccan food), beer and wine. Great
anytime of day. Eclectic menu, hippest coffee shop in town. Word of
advice: relax. (I celebrated my midlife crisis at Gitane.)
- Paul Frank, 195 Mulberry St., Nolita (very near Café Gitane). His t-shirt designs will delight Z. and help empty your wallet. (Look for the clearance rack.)
- Village Chess Shop, 230 Thompson St.
(between 3rd & Bleecker Streets). Even if you don't play chess, this is
worth a quick look in. One of many chess shops in New York. Where the
grandmaster is not a DJ-rapper.
- Grand Central. I love to spend 15 minutes in the Grand Concourse. It's fabulous.
- Times Square, believe it or not, is a great place to spend the evening (if it's not too cold). Mayor Bloomberg has set up cafe chairs and tables on the closed parts of the roadway, making it a primo people watching experience.
- And you should get a hat at the JJ Hat Center. A nice walk during the day is up or down Broadway, including this hat store for men.
- Walking around West Village. I just love walking Bleecker Street.
I once lived at 64 Bank Street. It's on a simply beautiful block, among
many. I don't know what's around there these days to eat or steal. I love going to the movies in the Village at IFC or the not-for-profit Film Forum.
- Most any restaurant in Chinatown. A couple years ago, I took the subway
to Brooklyn very early in the day, walked across the bridge, and had
dumplings for breakfast in a small restaurant. I was the only Anglo. It
was a very nice experience. Friends rave about specific restaurants. I
think any spot that looks good through the greasy window and is filled
with Chinese people is going to be just fine.
- Mile End Delicatessen, 97 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn. I go there for breakfast when it is sweet and calm. Lunch, I am told is slammed once they tweet ( http://twitter.com/mileendbrooklyn ) that the meat is coming out of the oven. It sells out every day.
- Junior's Restaurant, 386 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. This is my favorite destination when walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. You could start here for breakfast, end here for their World Famous cheesecake (if you miss their cheesecake, you will be sad ‚ they define "New York Cheesecake"), or make it a turn-around spot if you walk both ways on the Bridge.
- Everything I used to love about the feel of Manhattan, I now love about Brooklyn. See what's going on there and you will love it.
- Empire State Building Observatory at night. If you are lucky enough to have a clear night after a windy day, the City will be at its most beautiful. The observatory is open until 2 a.m. every day (last elevator is at 1:15 a.m.)
- New MoMA. Fabulous renovation and expansion. Be sure to rest in the sculpture garden.
- Pizza at John's. If you want to eat in Times Square, this is the place. Good for before theatre.
- Wicked. There's plenty to see on Broadway. We've seen Wicked and thought it was wonderful. If Z. likes The Wizard of Oz, she'll love Wicked. So will you.
So Downtown, it's on the water:
- Staten Island Ferry
round trip. If you do not visit Ellis Island, you might want this
inexpensive ferry ride. I think it's a quicker, cheaper, more
satisfying alternative to visiting Liberty Island. (After all, the
Statue of Liberty is not all that interesting to climb. It's
interesting to ponder from a distance.) I've never stepped on Staten
Island, so I can't guide you there.
- Ellis Island,
if you want to find where all your most desperate neighbors went
(1892-1954). They've cleaned the place up. Very nice. Note: with the
boat ride and all, it will take several hours.
- Guggenheim Museum, Fifth Avenue at 89th St. Recently restored. Take the elevator to the top and walk down the ramp.
- There are lots of places to skip. Because you are bringing Z., others might recommend Serendipity, the famous upper east side ice cream parlor. A
tradition for generations of families. Not I. If there's no
nostalgia, it's not with the wait and cost.
Have a great time!