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first time vistor

I am planning to visit New York  (for the first time) early next month for one week ... I know, I know one week is nothing. What should I do, where should I see, how can I sense the NY ambiance given my short stay?

Suggestions and pointers are highly appreciated

Saturday, July 5, 2003

I've always felt that if you had a handful of like-minded folks to explore a city with, 4 days is the optimal time to get to know it. That's why I like Hostels, they're full of like-minded folks.

Walking tours that don't go too much into the history are a nice way to get a feel for the area. Hang out in Greenwich Village, head over to Bleeker Street one night and catch some live music. Depending on how adventurous you are, hang out in the East Village or West Village.

Then go uptown to Times Square and take in the spectacle, the Disney/Theater district.

The Empire State Building is always a great way to get to see the city from way up high - it's very windy up there, so don't take anything that will blow away (like your girlfriend's skirt... unless you want to.)

Central Park is nice if you feel like getting away from it all. While you're here, you might as well catch a museum, and see some art you can't catch in your home town. I think MoMA has Starry Starry Night as part of it's permenant collection, they're across the river in Long Island City now.

Williamsburg and Park Slope make nice day trips, and if you're not from the coast, you really ought to see the Ocean. Maybe a trip out to Coney Island - spend some time on the Boardwalk/beach and then ride the world-famous Cyclone at night while eating some Nathans hot dogs... Well, maybe not simultaneously.

There's the half-price theater tickets (see the earlier thread) if you want to catch a show.

When I went to Boston, I found that the Time Out Boston book was the best tour book, so you might want to check out the Time Out NY book.

You never told us what type of stuff you're interested in.
Saturday, July 5, 2003

thanks for taking the time and replying to me. I am interested to catch as much as I can be it a museum, the Empire State or a cool jazz club in downtown. Well, that doesn't answer your question, honestly I am just overwhelmed by the choices and options hence I asked.


Saturday, July 5, 2003

I understand, though I've lived in NYC all my life, so I hardly find it overwhelming, nor most cities.

For live entertainment, museums, etc. pick up Time Out NY and the Village Voice. Both, I believe come out on Wednesday. Then leaf through them to see what catches your eye.

Both come out mid-week, so just find a newsstand, get one that covers the time period you're interested in (i.e. make sure you don't get an old one), then get the next one when it comes out.

Maybe you can get the Village Voice in your area before you come, or ToNY at the news stand in the airport?
Saturday, July 5, 2003

... And the Time Out NY Book should be at any decent sized book store, you might want to get that before you come. It's much better than the Let's Go or Frommers or whatever guides.
Saturday, July 5, 2003

Don't forget Chinatown!  You can't go too wrong eating at any place that looks interesting, and prices are always good.  Also, if you go during the day, check out Columbus Park.  Lots of activity, with all the men playing dominoes, and all the women playing cards, if I remember correctly.

If you want, you can get coffee and dessert in Little Italy after eating in Chinatown.  Personally, I think the "dinner" food in Little Italy is over priced and average quality, but coffee and dessert there is great.

Whatever other kind of food you like, do a search on the New York Times for reviews.  I'm pretty sure there is no cuisine on Earth that you can't get in NYC.  The area just south of the Empire State Building is a little Korea Town, and midtown has lots of Japanese restaurants.  Any kosher deli is a great NY culinary experience as well; the most famous is probably Katz on the lower east side.

Can you tell I like to eat? :)

Jim Rankin
Monday, July 7, 2003

Right before you come, check out and it will have listings of all the stuff that is going on in the city.

Don't miss the park....

Take the free staten island ferry from the lower tip of manhattan across to staten island (don't get off, it comes right back) to see the statue of liberty.  Try to go at sunset.

See the space show at the planetarium (americam musuem of natural history.. right next to central park on 81st st., west side of park, subway ACE).

Go to 'De La Guarda'.  its a performance art, kinda dance theatre above your head, rave kind of thing.  its wicked cool.

Michael H. Pryor
Monday, July 7, 2003

SI Ferry - very nice, but also an hour chunk of your time. It's also good to go during nice weather and as Michael said, when it's going to be beautiful anyway. The Empire State Building is another one to do during a nice sunrise/sunset.

If you have some money, check out the Rivers Edge restaurant in Queens - you take a free ferry to get there. It's expensive, but it has an amazing view of Manhattan at sunset.

Are we making you *more* overwhelmed? Don't worry, once you get here and start doing things, it'll settle into place.

I do have one suggestion though. If you like to walk, travelling down Broadway from Central Park (59th st) to the bottom - Battery Park is a great way to see how the neighborhoods in Manhattan interconnect. It only takes a few hours to do - 3 or 4 depending on how you walk. It will take you through Times Square, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, SOHO etc. Wall Street, past the Empire State building, etc.

Though for the neighborhoods, you actually have to get off of broadway for a few blocks to really appreciate them - Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and SOHO all seem to occur *around* Broadway more than *on* Broadway. I can come up with something more detailed if you're into this idea.

Also, get a weekly metrocard. I forget how much it is (around $20-$25 I think), but one card will get you on pretty much any bus or subway for a full week.
Tuesday, July 8, 2003

I'll give you a quick rundown of how to walk down broadway until my girlfriend gets home and then I'll continue. Anyone feel free to elaborate.

You start around 59th St Columbus Circle, but you can start before that... Maybe spend some time on Central Park first, or in Harlem or by Lincoln Center. Maybe catch an IMAX movie at the Loews on 65th and Broadway (right near the Barnes & Noble)

Rather than heading straight down Broadway - which always goes south, so just follow the traffic. Farther up town it's 2 directions, but from 59th st down it's basically one direction and it curves around the city a bit - I would go east along Central Park South and look at the fancy hotels and horse drawn carriages.

Then I'd make a right on 7th Avenue heading South - you should be able to see Times Square in the distance. I think you pass the Carnegie Deli on 7th Ave here. The lights of Times Square (which deserves it's own nighttime trip) should keep you interested in the walk. You should pass Carnegie Hall on your right around 57th street. 57th Street has a few restaurants like Planet Hollywood and touristy stores, so you can take a detour here if you're interested, but there are plenty of touristy stores all over.

Around 47th street you're entering Times Sqare. Gawk at the lights, play spot the landmark, visit the world's largest Toys R Us. On 42nd Street here's Madam Toussoudes (sp????) wax museum. If you're into music, the world famouse 48th street is near here as well. Bar Code is a fun place to go if you want to drink and play video games. There's lots of restaurants too, an always-crowded Olive Garden with a like 2 hour wait always, etc. This is also the location of the 1/2 price tickets place - you can't miss it, it's a small island block with red and white TICKETS signs.

A few blocks east is Grand Central Station, which is worth a visit. Around 47th St is also Rockefeller Center, which you may want to see... take pictures by the giant statue near where the light the Christmas Tree, or check out some shopping, eat at Two Boots Pizza or get some Ben & Jerry's.

Follow Broadway down through some mildly boring areas until you're around 34th St and Herald Square. The world's largest store - Macy's with the wooden escelators on the top floors (worth a visit). The boring Manhattan Mall is here, and so is the Empire State Building - you should be able to see it from 33rd street if you look left.

Then continue down Broadway through Chelsea. Not very interesting, but in the 20's theres the famous flatiron building - a wedge shaped building that you might want to take picture of.

Then in the mid teens you'll be at Union Square Park near a pretty big Barnes & Noble, Staples, and Starbucks and a handful of good restaurants.

Now from here you can check out the East Village or the West Village, depending on whether or not you like bohemian (east) or gay (west) culture more.

To get to the East Village, head down broadway to 8th street, past The Strand (used books) and Forbidden Planet (sci fi, comic books, etc.) and a bunch of antique stores.

Make a left on Astor Place (just south of 8th st, right near the Barnes & Noble) to head into the East Village - Astor turns into St Mark's. Make a right on 8th st for shoe shopping. A left on Bleeker St (by Two Boots Pizza and the Swatch Store and the Futon place) (further down by around 2nd st) will bring you (eventually) past a bunch of bars & once you past 5th ave into the West Village. You probably don't want to get distracted by these too much if you're still doing this walking thing, and maybe dedicate a day to the village alone. While you're near here, you may want to check out Washington Square park, Tompkins Square Park, Alphabet City (avenue A & B are pretty gentrified... don't wander farther than that after dark).

Continuing down Broadway, once you pass Houston Street you're in SOHO. Like the village, broadway isn't that interesting, so head right along Prince or Spring for some funky SoHo (South of Houston) shopping.

Or make a left on Prince or Spring to find Mulberry Street and head down that for some Little Italy mystique. Once you pass Canal Street, stay on Mulberry for Chinatown. Chinatown is around this area on Canal, and mostly on Mulberry. Go to WoHop at 17 Mott Street (not the other one) so you can say you've been there.

TriBecCa (the Triangle Below Canal) is worth checking out, but I don't know much about it... check a guide book.

Make your way back to Broadway and... Ok I admit I don't know this area that well, but you're bound to pass Wall Street, find the giant Bull, and eventually hit Battery Park, and if you know where it is, the South Street Seaport.

Hop a train and head back to your hotel, you've had a full day. Remember to get a tourbook, map, subway map, metrocard, and some cash. Figure out what I just said on the map before you attempt it. Circle things you're really interested in.


Some notes on the streets.

New York grew out from the south, so the southern areas make little sense, but becomes a grid as you travel farther north.

As you're travelling North, one you pass Houston you start getting street numbers - 1st, 2nd, 103rd... etc.

The Avenues travel north to south/south to north so on the west side you have 10th avenue and it runs the length of Manhattan. On the east side 1st Avenue which also pretty much runs the length of Manhattan.

5th Avenue is the demarkation between East and West, so if you want to find 101 east 23rd Street, you know it's at 4th avenue (every block is 100 numbers) and 101 West 42nd would be at 6th avenue.
Tuesday, July 8, 2003

" always-crowded Olive Garden with a like 2 hour wait always, etc..."

??? !!! Wow, tourists are weirder than I thought.  That anyone would wait TWO HOURS for the OLIVE GARDEN in the middle of Manhattan boggles my mind.  I mean, I know I dissed Little Italy food in an earlier post, but its definitely a no-brainer compared to the Olive Garden.

Don't these people at least have a Zagat's guide?

btw, marktaw, you're a good way towards having your own NYC-walking-tour guidebook :).

Another thing your post reminded me of:  at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, you can see the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge (obviously), the Empire State Building, and a lot of other interesting buildings (at the time I was there, we could also see the WTC :( ).  It's one of the neater views in Manhattan.  So if you're walking during the day, it might be a nice way to finish your tour.  It's on the Lower East Side below Little Italy and Chinatown, but as marktaw said, check a map.

Let us know how your trip goes :).

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Interesting... You could also walk across the Brooklyn Bridge if you're feeling adventerous enough. It would be at the end of your journey. At the other side, in Brooklyn, there are some great photo opportunities (and a fairly famous pizza place whose name slips my mind).

Then you can find a subway and head back.
Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Two points about Times Square:

Bar Code is currently closed.

The half-price ticket booth is TKTS, not TICKETS.

Other than that, good writeup. I'll also throw in a second vote for De la Guarda; it's a unique and relatively inexpensive theatrical experience. If you're hungry in the Times Square area, head over to Ninth Avenue between 50th and 40th streets. There are tons of excellent and reasonably priced restaurants. DO NOT eat in Times Square. You will regret it.

Michael Davidson
Friday, July 11, 2003

Michael - tks for the heads up... I thought it was TKTS, but wasn't sure... either way you can't miss it.

Dining in NY is a discussion unto itself.

The few times I've eaten in Times Square my experience was... crowded and expensive watered down drinks. There's a nice food court Grand Central where they have lots of different things to choose from (did I mention Two Boots? lol). Being that it's not too far from Times Square, it might be worth a visit.

Oh and Rays... The REAL Rays.. where is it again? 7th ave and 11th st? 6th ave? You really have to go just so if you run into NYer anywhere, you can tell them you've been and you know the real from the fakers.

Also, on any given saturday afternoon, you're likely to find free entertainment in Times Square, some of the subways, and Washington Square. The Subways sponser a "music underground' thing with some pretty good jazz performances. Times Square & Washington Square are street performers. I've seen everything from jugglers to brakdancers and those omnipresent Andean bands with that pan pipe music.

Someone ought to catalog the free performances in NYC parks.
Friday, July 11, 2003

> Once you pass Canal Street, stay on Mulberry

Correction,  a quick left on Canal and a right on Mott street. Chinatown happens largely on Mott street, not Mulberry, which is one block over. Chintown also happens on Canal street. A few blocks east on Canal to the end of Chinatown and you're at the Manhattan Bridge (no pedestrian traffic, but nice to look at). A couple of blocks west and you're back at Broadway, which more or less borders Chinatown on the west side.
Saturday, July 12, 2003

Pizza: five roses, on 1st ave b/w 10th and 11th

Brooklyn Bridge: take the subway to the brooklyn side and walk back into manhattan. Do it after dark. 100% safe, and drop dead gorgeous.

Jazz with no cover charge: Detour, on 12th or 13th, just west of 1st ave.

Great Sunday night out: Forbidden City on Ave A b/w 13th and 14th. Amazing latin jazz, packed with sexy people, and great (though expensive) drinks.

Sexy Korean restaurant: Do Hwa on Carmine east of 7th ave. Make sure to order the cinamon ginger punch with bourbon. It'll knock your socks off. It's only on the desert menu, but they'll serve it any time if you ask for it.

Trust me on the pizza.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sadly since 9/11 my best tip which was to go up to the restaurant at the top of the WTC for sunday brunch is now longer valid (This avoided queues for the other tower). I used recommend that followed by a trip on the staten island ferry. I'd still recommend the ferry (you can take good photos of yourself and friends in front of the statue of liberty) .
Like most "world" cities NY has so much stuff you can do it's hard to recommend anything in particular, the only other exception is the empire state building but the queues were horrendous last time I was there.
You can easily spend a week doing the "tourist" stuff in NY however many Taxi drivers are useless[1], so make sure you know which blocks stuff is between.
I've been to NY three times and each time find something new.

[1] I live in London so most taxi drivers are useless in comparison to London taxis for their street knowledge

Peter Ibbotson
Thursday, July 24, 2003

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