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New Yorkers...can I pick your brains?

So hubby and I are returning to NYC in June after visiting in 2011. We will be driving, but hope to park the car and leave it for the most part. Plan for 6 nights 5 days. We saw a lot of the usual suspects the first time, but didn't really get out of mid-town Manhattan. We saw...30 Rock and Empire State (both to the roof), Guggenheim, Central Park Zoo (and biked the park), Natural History Museum, Times Square (of course), Wax Museum (we had a NY pass), Intrepid, Cathedral of St John, did the tour boat thing out past Statue of Liberty (which I think was closed because of the earthquake that had happened months before - I know Washington Monument was). Our first visit was really rushed (we had 3 days to try and squeeze in so much stuff) so I'm hoping 5 days will give us a chance to slow it down.

So this time, I'm hoping to go to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Coney Island, Met Museum of Art, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, do a photo walking tour, maybe the 9/11 museum (any thoughts on that?). Can you suggest any slightly off the beaten path things to do? I'm hoping to explore Grand Central a little more and visit the Public Library, probably revisit either Top of the Rock or Empire. We really are NOT interested in modern art (the only reason we did Guggenheim was for the architecture...and we had the NY Pass) and most likely not interested in Broadway (well, hubby isn't).

Posted by
3696 posts

I will let the NY experts here given you some info on your itinerary, but the way I usually travel to NY is by car and have found that with the crazy parking rates in NYC I usually stay in Stamford (I think a Holiday Inn) the first night when I arrive. They have a free shuttle that will take you to the train station. I leave my car there (cheap parking about $8 a night) take the train to Grand Central and usually am able to walk to my hotel, or take subway or bus. Then at the end of the trip I take the train back and get my car and take off, thus avoiding the NYC traffic as well as the expensive parking.

Some of our favorite things to do in the city are the Met, Central Park, eating at delis, soho and a few small galleries.

Posted by
794 posts

I'm a former New Yorker but can't resist suggesting the Lower East Side Tenement Museum www.tenement.org. When my teen daughter and I visited a few years ago, we did two of their tours and enjoyed both. It would be a nice complement to your Ellis Island stop. Also there are some great restaurants and gelato places nearby, which could be very welcome in June! A few other slightly off-the-path museums are the Pierpont Morgan Library and the Frick Museum; both are in gorgeous 19th century houses and are worth visiting for that alone, in my view. The Morgan is close to Grand Central. If you want to get a little farther out, the Cloisters (part of the Metropolitan) is at the northern end of Manhattan Island and has a wonderful collection of medieval European art, and lovely gardens.
This is making me want to get back and visit again! Have a great trip-

Posted by
3790 posts

Thanks for the suggestions...Terry K - last time, we stayed at a B&B in Jersey City, where we just parked the car, but between the 10-15 min walk to the subway, then about 20-25 min or so in, it was a little tedious. I'm looking at airbnb, but will see what I can find with parking provided.

I knew the Frick Museum sounded familiar...I read 'The Goldfinch' a few months back by Donna Tartt and the painting in the book is on display at the Frick Museum (I guess that's been quite popular since the book was released!)...I will def put that on my check into list! And I'd heard about the Cloisters...sounds lovely...will check out all the suggestions!

Posted by
2353 posts

If you want off the beaten path head up to 106th & Park to the Graffiti Hall of Fame. It is in a schoolyard there and can be visited most any time. Graffiti artists are invited annually to complete a panel which hangs in the schoolyard for the next year. It is truly an amazing display of street art by very talented artists!

Posted by
1827 posts

Try museum of the city of new York, fifth avenue and 103rd street. Also have you been to Trinity Church or St. Patricks cathedral? As also said, we love the Tenement Museum. And of course a meal at a NY deli. Whatever you do, map out what you want to do so you are not going back and forth. If hubby doesn't want a NY show, it is still great to walk around Broadway. Also how about going to Radio City Music Hall? I think it is also great to take the Staten island ferry at night, the view coming back into NY at night is great.

Posted by
9 posts

Grand Central has a tour but you will need to check their website for times. Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn is beautiful and it's only a block or two from a subway station. It's an historic district and has beautiful homes. If you walk to the promenade, you can see Manhattan and there's a memorial for 9/11 there. This was where a lot of people from Brooklyn watched the 9/11 events unfold as many of their loved ones were working in Manhattan at the time.

I also would suggest the Chelsea Market. It's a more upscale market with plenty of good restaurants and a short distance from the Highline and the waterfront. Cathedral of St. John the Divine is kind of far since it's in Morningside Heights, but it's the 4th largest Cathedral in the world and it's not yet finished (you can actually see the unfinished parts all over the building).

Posted by
3790 posts

Some more great ideas - the graffiti park sounds pretty neat. St Patricks and Trinity I marked in my guide book last night. We did St John the Divine and wandered thru Columbia Uni. last time. I'm going to be writing these all down and googling them! We walked around Broadway last time (I think hubby would go see something funny - he did mention last time the Monty Python show)...the Highline is on our radar - we wanted to last time but didn't have the time to do it.

I think I was looking at some airbnb in Brooklyn Heights that have me interested. I've just started the accom hunt. I love taking photos...any suggestions for great views of NYC skyline?

For mapping things out, let me mention this wonderful app for ipad- CityMaps to Go Pro...I used it when we went to Cali last year...you can pin what you want to see...it was great to look at doing certain neighbourhoods - I'd pull it out and say 'oh yeah...that is close by!' Even so far as pinning restaurants and accoms...I keep reading about these great bakeries and restaurants and pin them on the map. Works without wifi as well, using GPS (after an initial wifi hookup so it knows where you are).

Posted by
2353 posts

There is a place in Astoria (great neighborhood) called Rest au Rant on 30th St & 35th Ave - great Tapas & wine bar with a really fun menu - the fondue is wonderful both the cheese & chocolate.

Posted by
7125 posts

We enjoyed going to the home and birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt. It's at 28 E. 20th St, between Broadway and Park Ave.

Posted by
108 posts

Met Museum of Art has a rather steep admission price, around $25.00, however, it is a SUGGESTED amount. You can pay what you want but you must pay something. And don't miss the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian collection.

Posted by
2353 posts

There is also an organization called Big Apple Greeter. It is volunteers that live in the city & do free tours (they do ask for donations) generally in their neighborhood. It is a great way to see parts of the city you may not venture to on your own.

Posted by
1510 posts

I'll preface by saying I'm not from NYC, but we've vacationed there multiple times. Last trip we scored tickets for David Letterman, and I just heard he's retiring next year. If I recall, you go on line to get your name on the list, a couple days before the show, they called me with David Letterman related question and gave me a number to call back with the answer. My husband actually new the answer (I know no trivia) so we called back and got tickets (free).

I was fascinated with Ellis Island, especially since my descendants came through Ellis Island. Definitely worth the visit. I haven't been to the Navy vessel USS Intrepid, docked on the Hudson river, but I've been to the Midway in San Diego and USS Hornet in Alameda, both which were great. Next trip maybe we'll make it to the Intrepid.

Posted by
3790 posts

In case Karen comes back - we did do the Intrepid last time - of course, hubby was way more interested then I was, but he loved it. We did see the Midway when in San Diego, but didn't have time to tour it (we just gazed upon it from the docks). If you enjoyed the Midway, you'd probably love the Intrepid!

Posted by
8906 posts

...also the Intrepid now has one of the old Space Shuttles on it's flight deck on permanent display.

Posted by
1510 posts

thanks Nicole and Michael for the info on the Intrepid. We'll see the Intrepid next trip to NYC. My husband will be running the Marathon in 2015.

FYI USS Hornet picked up the first Apollo capsule, so the Intrepid will be good to see. The streamline trailer they used for quarantining the astronauts is on the ship.

Posted by
74 posts

Not from New York but have visited there 5 or 6 times over the past 10 years. Outside of the big attraction things which we have done several times (Top of the Rock, Circle Boat Tour, Yankees, Broadway), our favorite things to do include taking a Bike the Big Apple tour (NYC is a surprisingly safe place to bike) and a Walking Food Tour in our favorite part of NYC, Greenwich Village. IMHO Ellis Island is certainly worth the half-day you'll spend there.

Posted by
216 posts

Try Free By Foot they do great tours of different parts of New York. You are asked for a donation, I usually gave around $10. Did three tours, Harlem, Brooklyn and Greenwich. I did two tours with them in Washington D.C. as well. They were smaller groups and lots of good information. They covered a lot of ground walking but will do more tours with them next time I am in a city they operate in.

Posted by
88 posts

Hi Nicole,
I just returned from 8 nights in NYC. I had a great time. The 911 museum is now open. It wasn't open during our visit but from what I hear it is not to be missed. Did you visit the 911 memorial last time? If not, I highly recommend taking it in including a visit to St. Paul's church across the street.
My hi-light off the beaten track suggestion for you is to walk the highline. You won't be disappointed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_(New_York_City)
We visited the Moma and it what great to see but I must say my favourite museum was the Brooklyn museum. They have the Judy Chicago; Dinner Party exhibit permanently installed as well as a special exhibition of her earlier work. In addition they have a very diverse collection of old masters. Visiting that museum was a delightful surprise. While in Brooklyn I recommend visiting Mile End Deli for lunch.
Regarding grand central station! we ate at the oyster bar there......OMG, so much fun and delicious. Reservations recommended 24 hours in advance but we just walked in and got seated right away.

We saw the musical Kinky Boots....if you want to be fully entertained and leave smiling this is the broadway musical for you. Brooklyn bridge walk is so great! Have fun, I can't wait to return.

Posted by
88 posts

P.S. Forgot to mention the botanical garden beside the Brooklyn Museum! Definitely worth a visit.

The subway (2, yellow line) stops right outside the museum.

Posted by
26 posts

If you're looking for slightly off the beaten path...
For great views, take the NY Waterway water ferry (http://www.nywaterway.com/ferryroutesschedules.aspx) to Port Imperial and then walk along the Hudson River promenade. I'm enclosing this link (http://www.letskickscoot.com/home/sightseeing/riverwalknj.cfm) that describes the walk better than I could and shows the kinds of pics you can take. This was one of my favorite walking/jogging paths when I lived there the last dozen or so years.

You could also explore Williamsburg, lots of good photo opportunities there, some interesting stores and restaurants....take the L to Bedford Ave. You could walk down that avenue then venture off to the side streets. If you walk down N 6th to the East River there's lots of photo opps at the East River State Park and of the NYC skyline. You could also walk to the Williamsburg bridge from there and walk across into Manhattan. You can explore the neighborhood on google maps to see if it'd interest you.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
131 posts

The Tenement Museum and Ellis Island are Wonderful! We just went to the J.P. Morgan Library Museum and it was very interesting. We were glad we went. We enjoy staying at the Michelangelo, a boutique Italian chain hotel. Go to the TKTS booth and get discount tickets to see a play. Go to the Stage Door afterwards to meet the cast and take pictures, get autographs.

Posted by
714 posts

The ground zero memorial is beautifully done, just a bit of hike to get there from where you get the tickets (free admission) to the actual site Of course the whole area is still being rebuilt and you do go through a security post (things might have changed since I was there last fall and with the opening of the museum). Michelle mention St. Paul's Chapel. This church was built in the 1700'sand survived 9/11. It became respite central for the first responders with volunteers providing food, counselling, medical aid and other assistance. Displays around the church showed the work done by the volunteers - when we visited there was a Bach Mass being played by a chamber orchestra - and the whole experience was very moving. Definitely do not miss the memorial, museum and St.Paul's.

We also did a saturday afternoon concert at Lincoln Centre. Cost us $15 as we were both seniors and my friend lived in New York!

The Met is wonderful. We went twice - once for the museum and once for the Impressionist paintings. If you are interested in architecture, particularly Art Noveau/Art Deco, New York is full of interesting buildings - the Crysler and Empire State for example but also Rockefeller Plaza and some of the buildings around it, Radio City Music Hall; great to wander around and just gaze. Also close to the Met is a small gallery called Neue Gallery. It specializes in German and Austrian art of the early 19th Century including Klimt's famous Adele Bloch-Bauer. They also have a Vienese coffee shop with good coffee, decadent pastries and light meals. Not cheap but good food and atmosphere.

Eataly is an Italian food experience - busy, but great fun to walk around and your mouth will water. You can eat in or take away.

Enjoy your next visit to NY - mine will probably be next year.