Whether this is your first visit, or you go every year, there’s nothing quite as invigorating as a trip to New York City. And now that we’re smack dab in the middle of spring, New York locals and visitors are putting the arduous winter behind them, and bounding outside to have some fun.
For your perfect New York weekend, don’t miss your favorite museum or trip to the top of a skyscraper. But to relish the city in this weather, take time to wander fun neighborhoods, explore new eateries, and drink in the city’s vibe.
First things first — Touring New York with a CityPASS ticket booklet in your hand means never having to say you’re sorry you missed it. Not only does New York CityPASS offer a 40 percent discount to the Big Apple’s most iconic destinations (compared to combined regular box office prices), it whisks ticket booklet holders to the head of long, snaking entry lines, in most cases.
Take a cruise — I admit that there have been times when I’ve been that guy who would rather just skip an event than wait, so using CityPASS has been a godsend in my travels. This is especially true when scooting to the front of the queue for the Statue Cruises ferry to see America’s Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — two musts if you haven’t been.
As I remarked in a prior post, the Statue of Liberty can be climbed, but if you want to hike to her crown, you must make reservations well in advance. But do be aware that it is a strenuous journey of 393 steps (or approximately the height of a 27-story building). Plus, the climb takes place in an enclosed area, which can have high summer temperatures and no lifts. I remember doing it as a child and the climb seemed endless. A less taxing visit is obtaining a reservation ticket to the pedestal, which offers a great view without the screaming thighs.
Imagine Medieval Europe — After you get your CityPASS ticket booklet, use your Metropolitan Museum of Art ticket for entry into The Cloisters, a museum showcasing the art and architecture of Europe from the 12th- to 15th-centuries. This year, The Cloisters is celebrating its 75th anniversary by showcasing an amazing layout of gardens, statues, paintings, and stunning stone rooms alit by stained glass windows. Located on a hilltop with sweeping views of the Hudson River, The Cloisters also is well known for its collection of huge, unicorn tapestries. It’s a great place to lose oneself in the beauty of another time. Getting to The Cloisters is easy by subway and a bus, or just enjoy a 10-minute walk from the subway station.
Walk the High Line — Another great, outdoor activity is to stroll along the High Line, Manhattan’s elevated, public park dotted with art, shops, eateries and gardens. It is built on an old railway that carried meat, agricultural goods and mail between 1934 and 1980. Today, the remodeled, mile-and-a-half walkway is a great destination for strollers and treat lovers. Right now, everything is in bloom.
Visitors can enjoy the gardens, raise a glass at the Terroir at the Porch, enjoy eye-popping street art, relax with a latté, pucker while sucking on a Mexican ice, try an oak-smoked brisket pulled-pork sandwich, and relish a “crackly thick mint” ice cream cookie treat at Melt. There are restrooms, disabled persons access. But dogs or playing catch are not allowed — it says so right there on the website.
Running from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street on Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line’s summer hours are June 1–Sept. 30, from 7 a.m.–11 p.m. During spring and fall, it closes at 10 p.m.
Jump into the Frying Pan — Located about a quarter mile from the end of the High Line is one of Manhattan’s best happy hour spots, the Lightship Frying Pan. Drinks actually are served at the Pier 66 Maritime Bar & Grill, where the historic lightship is moored, but everyone calls it The Frying Pan. The food is basic bar variety, but the drinks and the views of the Hudson River and New York City at sunset are memorable. It’s open noon to midnight, weather permitting, between May 1–Oct. 1.
Wander Williamsburg — Yes, there is life in other New York boroughs. The Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn is a magnificent magnet for the young and fun. Emerging from the Bedford Avenue L Subway Station, you’ll notice that things look different. Here the hipster fad is in full force, and I’ve found that at my age, it’s best not to try and dress the part, but to relax and just enjoy the eclectic treats that this neighborhood has to offer. Vintage fashion shops, record stores, coffee houses and dive pubs add to the friendly ambiance.
For dinner, I heartily recommend Acqua Santa for reasonably priced food that matches its Old World ambiance. The patio, artwork and wood pizza oven all come together for a wonderful Sicilian dining adventure.
For a civilized movie experience, the Nighthawk Cinema is a film-lover’s dream. Not only does it feature first-run films, it enhances a movie-goers enjoyment with tableside food and beverage service from a gourmet menu, including specialty dishes and cocktails inspired by the films. It’s the kind of place where you can count on other patrons to shush phone users and other noisy nincompoops into a shameful retreat.
If you truly want to get with the program, check out what’s playing at Union Pool, a huge venue that often has a live band performing, and resident DJs who spin a variety of tunes every night from 8 p.m.–4 a.m. — eliminating any logical reason for ever going home.
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