“The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York.” -John J. Fitz Gerald
While very few are mounting thoroughbred's (at least of the horse variety) in New York City these days, the Big Apple moniker has stuck and along with it is all the appeal and glory of those early racing days that earned the Big Apple its nickname. New York City is where it's at and I want to be a part of it! At least for a long weekend! If you find yourself venturing to the city, whether for work or pleasure, for the first time or the twentieth, there are always plenty of great new shops, restaurants, museums, and parks that are worth a visit or revisit. Every street and avenue opens up to a new adventure, a new neighborhood, a new culture worth exploring. I find myself consistently and continuously surprised by the freshness and unexpected delights that this island city has to offer and thought it would be much appreciated to those stuck on the mainland (like us) to share in the "best of" or at the very least the "be sure to try and see" places that anyone should visit when going to the Big Apple. While this list is anything but comprehensive, it pulls together some of our personal favorites as well as recommendations from friends who know and live in New York City. These are all 'tried and true' recommendations that you can trust!
Starting from the south and working north, no trip to New York City would be complete without a trip to the Brooklyn Bridge and the newly redone Brooklyn Bridge Park. Walk across the bridge for spectacular views of the city and stay awhile in Brooklyn to meander along the waterfront park. From the park catch the East River Ferry south to the Wall Street/Pier 11 stop to begin your adventure on the island or keep going on the ferry to Governor's Island (weekends only through September 30th) to explore this pretty bike-friendly park. It's a great escape from city life!
Back in Manhattan, be sure to check out the World Trade Center which is once again a bustling hub of trade and commerce. Be sure to ride the elevator up to the top of the new tower for incredible views of the city! For more shopping and dining experiences head north to Soho to find all the biggest brands to explore. Once you've shopped till you're ready to drop, head over to Gato, just north of Houston on Lafayette to check out this gorgeous new Spanish-Mediteranean restaurant from Bobby Flay. If you're looking to avoid some of the crowds, take the Metro line 1 north to Christopher Street and walk through Greenwich Village. Wind your way through pretty tree-lined streets to find a slew of interesting shops and restaurants. Be sure to stop at the European Gastropub The Spotted Pig for a pint or something to eat.
Another park not to be missed is the High Line, a public park built on historic elevated rail line above the streets of Manhattan's West Site. This stretch of beautifully landscaped walkways weaves itself from Gansevoort Street in Chelsea up to W. 34th Street near the Lincoln Tunnel. Check out the new Whitney Museum along the High Line and then exit the park near Chelsea Market to grab a bite to eat and explore this fashion-forward neighborhood. While in the area, check out Story on 19th and 10th Ave. to find electric and ever-changing merchandise for a unique souvenir. For a unique out-of-doors dining or drinking experience, make a stop at The Park on 10th Avenue before heading east towards Union Square and Madison Square Park. If you're tired of walking catch the L train at 8th Ave and 14th Street to Union Square. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday throughout the year you can explore the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh bakery and produce and excellent people watching. In the fall look out for fresh hot apple cider to enjoy! Walk north along Broadway and over to 5th Avenue for some great shopping. If you're into everything home decor be sure not to miss ABC Carpet and Home on Broadway and 19th- you could spend hours ogling over the many treasures in this multi-story showroom! North of Union Square stop at Madison Square park and for a burger and shake at the Shake Shack. Or immerse yourself in the sights, smells and tastes of Italian cooking at Eataly just west of the park on 23rd. Looking for a more elevated dining experience in the area? Try the trendy new Californian-inspired Upland.
Tired of walking yet? If you're looking for world-class museums and shopping, continue north to Midtown to meander through masterpieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim or the Museum of Modern Art. While you could quite easily spend an entire day or afternoon wandering through these museums be sure to take some time to explore Central Park and the incredible shops just south of the park along 5th Avenue. It's window shopping at its best in this neighborhood! If you're looking for additional shopping adventures a must-see is the Macy's Herald Square store, one of the world's largest department stores. Here you can still find the original wood escalators that were installed in 1902- the first to be used in an American store! From here venture on to Time's Square for a Broadway show, or just to take in the sites and sounds of this bustling and bright area (best enjoyed in the evening.)
Beyond the island of Manhattan, there are numerous day trip options to the Hudson Valley, Coney Island, Montauk, and more. For a good starting point when planning your trip to New York City and the surrounding area, I highly recommend checking out NY Magazines Visitors Guide which offers up-to-date information on what's currently happening in the city, including the latest restaurant openings and cultural attractions. Or if you're lucky like me- reach out to your fabulous friends who live in this incredible city to find out what's the latest and greatest! And then share their insights with all of us!