Ask Design Mom: NYC Don’t Miss List

May 24, 2007

Ask-Design-Mom-Question:
[ Just last week I received 2 NYC questions within minutes of each other, so I'm posting them both here. ]



1) Hi Gabrielle. I have a question for you. I am making my second-ever trip to NYC (a Texas gal in the Big Apple – Yee Haw!) in June to visit my best friend. It’s a very short one: Friday afternoon, departing Monday morning. On my first trip to NY I was with veteran visitors. The only landmark we hit was Ground Zero. What is your must do? And shopping is also a priority. We hit lots of the popular shopping districts last time. This time I’d like something a little more unique. Thoughts? And then shows. I haven’t seen any Broadway shows — recommendations? (I’m not overly sensitive but don’t want anything too racy!). Hugs, Natalie

2) Gabrielle. Question: I am visiting NYC this summer with a dear friend. I am “hosting” the trip, as my friend has never visited NYC. Living and having family in NJ for years, I have visited NYC often, yet this trip will be different. I will be staying in the city and will not have children or a group of family in tow. With only 4-5 days to pack as much as possible into every day along with being mindful of a budget (I will end up paying for the bulk of this adventure). I would like advice from you and your savvy NYC area readers on the following:

- Where to stay (considering location and price)
- Where and what to eat, morning, noon, and night and every time in between
- Which Shows to see and any tips on getting tickets
- Transportation Tips
- Shopping Must See and Buy!

I love New York and look forward to any tips you and your readers provide. — Shauna

Design Mom Answer:
Shauna and Natalie, these are wonderful questions. I’m getting excited just thinking about potential itineraries! And I’ve never been more certain that lots of Design Mom Readers will have informed opinions of NYC. I’ll leave you in their capable hands until I can back here. . .

I’m back. And absolutely delighted with all of the readers suggestions. I’ll bet you’re totally stoked for your trip! Here are a few of my own tips:


For window shopping, my favorite spots are Takashimaya, ABC Home, and the windows at Bergdorfs. (Takashimaya and Bergdorf’s are near each other. They’re both part of a lovely stretch of 5th Avenue that includes Tiffanys and Saks and Cathedrals and the Plaza and other lovelies. It makes a nice walk. But ABC isn’t near them at all.) All 3 are places that appeal to a designer’s soul.

For food, I don’t need to add to the excellent suggestions that have already been made, but want to reiterate what one reader mentioned: Don’t eat at a chain restaurant. You can go to Fridays/Sbarro/McDonalds anywhere. Why waste your precious NYC minutes somewhere un-New-Yorky? If you really must have fast food, grab a pretzel or sausage from a street vendor — you’ll feel so authentic.

For entertainment/sightseeing, remember that just being in the city is pretty intense. Lots and lots of movement and sound and people and smells. Sitting on a park bench and taking it all in is pretty great — possibly better than any show you’ll pay for.

For transportation, keep in mind that whether you take subways or taxis you’ll still do lots of walking. Really. Lots and lots of walking. That’s just how it is. And on short trips, even though it’s more expensive, I recommend taxis. Because in a taxi, you’re above ground and can see more of the city (Hey! There’s the Flatiron Building! or Hey! Look at the lions in front of the Public Library!) while you’re getting around.

Have a great trip!!

NYC image from getty

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christy May 24, 2007 at 6:38 am

I went on my first trip to NYC last fall and my favorite place was the Chelsea Market. The Food Network studios are on the top floors but in the bottom are some great shops! Plus, I got the most amazing fruit for an excellent pick me up snack. They also have some really great restraunts inside and nearby.

I think it helps that I have a major crush on Alton Brown (Good Eats, Iron Chef) so it was fun to walk through the same places that I’ve seen him go on some of his shows.

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2 BeachysCapeCodCupboard May 24, 2007 at 7:53 am

Ohh! WE LOVE NYC! We’ve been there many times (mostly for trade shows), but also for two more recent trips with our 4 little kids in tow! If you can stay in or near Times Square, that is a big bonus, as so many wonderful things (shopping & broadway shows & restaurants) are right there! We walked EVERYWHERE and didn’t once have to pay for public transportation (which saved alot of $)!

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3 liz s May 24, 2007 at 8:01 am

i think for a short trip you need to hit a little bit of everything. a little culture, a little shopping, a little touristy spots and a little relaxation. For culture I would recommend the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in midtown right by Rockefellar Center. Then you can also hit THE BIG 4 story H&M on 56th and window shop the big expensive dept stores like Sacks across the street. Right across the street is also St Patrick’s Cathedral on 51st.
For Shopping I would recommend wondering around SOHO by getting off at Prince Street on the NR line and work your way down to canal street in China Town (where you can also grab a great meal- or head to Little Italy next door, even better). You must hit Central Park one way or another. This time of year there are a great number of free concerts in the park you can find online both rock and classical. You also can row your way through lakes or rent a bike on the west side and bike the 6 mile loop to get a full tour, or just sunbathe on the great lawn and wonder through the gardens. The MET museum is also on the east side of the park if you want to go to another museum.
I’m not a huge Broadway fan but i LOVE Wicked. You can get cheaper (but still between 40 and 60 bucks) tickets for many shows in Times Square at the TKTS booth (although I would completely avoid Times Square except for buying tickets. WAY to crowded and toursity). You might also want to try some cool (and cheaper!) off-broadway shows like STOMP or Blue Man Group.
Restaurants= in general stay away from eating in midtown. There are a bunch of great restaurants down in the village, SOHO or up on the upper west side or east side. Do NOT settle on chain restaurants in midtown even if that’s where you find yourself when your stomach is rumbling…..okay sorry this is really long….

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4 Alyssa Coberly May 24, 2007 at 8:29 am

i think the best advice I can give to a NY visitor (im actually from chicago but have visited) is to take public transportation everywhere … there is a reason its the country’s best – you can get everywhere and we buy the 10 pass … NEVER take taxis, way too expensive and that double decker bus takes so long to get everywhere its not worth it for a weekend. oh and the lion king broadway was amazing! and make sure you try the white pizza from ray’s – the one right across from the david letterman show is my fav.

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5 Jenni May 24, 2007 at 9:36 am

A topic very near and dear to my heart. Definitely walk the Brooklyn Bridge, great views and you can hop on over to Grimaldi’s for great pizza afterwards and Jaqcues Torres chocolates. The River Cafe is also supposed to be good, never been. As for eats, I would go to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park good burgers and shakes. Le Parker Meridien Hotel’s Burger Joint also has a nice burger. Fairway Cafe above Fairway market is good and cheap. City Bakery for baked goods, can’t forget Magnolia Bakery or Buttercup Bakery for cupcakes although Billy’s are supposed to be good too. Sarabeth’s has a good brunch,ladies’lunch or dinner and a few locations. You really should get a copy of Zagat’s and find what you like because my list could get lengthy for restaurants. Pastis, is a great little bistro in the meatpacking district, Balthazar, Bouley, Tabla, Taste, Lobster Club,Molyvos(Greek), Ino, NoHo Star, Wichcraft, Petrossian’s for the best criossant’s ever, Beard Papa’s for a good cream puff. Gray’s Papaya(you’ll find them all over-fast food). Just eat your way through NY and you’ll walk it off. Invest in Zagat’s it is divided up by neighborhood and price range and you can find exactly what you are looking for. I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal in NYC.

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6 love.boxes May 24, 2007 at 9:52 am

Must do… visit the garment district and see all the pretty ribbons. :) Hyman and Hendler (a favorite of MS) and MJ Trim just for a really big selection and a few little more boutiquey places in between. Just look in the windows and walk around. I love it!!!

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7 Michelle May 24, 2007 at 10:01 am

My favorite thing was the American Folk Art Museum. If you love crafting this is the place for inspiration!

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8 Marilyn May 24, 2007 at 10:39 am

I was just in NYC for the first time three weeks ago, and it was a short 3 day trip so we tried to cram in as much as well.

Here’s what worked for us. We stayed at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel on 44th. It was nice, reasonably priced, clean, great beds. It was a 15 minute walk to Times Square, so we didn’t mind that. When we needed to get somewhere quickly, we took a cab, and it would cost us about $10. Not bad.

We saw Hairspray which I highly recommend. It was incredible. We also saw Chicago which was good but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I actually liked the movie better.

Someone else commented above not to take the double decker, but we did and we enjoyed it. After doing so much walking, it was nice to just sit and see everything in a short amount of time. Relaxing.

We also took a carriage ride through Central Park. That was a good way to see a lot of the park in a short amount of time.

I LOVED Times Square and all the noise, and people, and lights and we walked there every night because it was so fun. Someone else recommended not to do that, but that was really my favorite part of the trip.

We shopped and shopped and shopped everywhere, and it was so fun to find little side street shops. You can find great deals on shoes and jewelry.

The only place that we ate at that I would recommend is Ruby Foos. If you like sushi, it was a great atmosphere, and a fun place to eat. That was very near Times Square, can’t remember exactly which street though.

Be sure to take lots of cash, especially ones for tipping. We felt like we were tipping constantly.

It was a short trip for us, but we felt like we crammed as much as we could in the 3 days. We fell in love with NYC!

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9 Chris * Natalie * Maya * Mason May 24, 2007 at 2:45 pm

thanks everyone for the awesome suggestions! i’m getting SO excited to plan my trip, and this is a HUGE help!!

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10 stephmodo May 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm

I was just in NY a few weeks ago and had a great getaway with my husband. I’ve also enjoyed my time there with the girlfriends. It must be said though that they are two different trips.

Girls:

Tea at the St. Regis
Frick Collection
breakfast at Normas (Parker Meridien)
Century 21
H&M
Magnolia Bakery
mani/pedi in Greenwich Village
L’Ecole at the FCI

Family/Husband:

Dylans Candy Bar
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Central Park
Empire State Building
Kitchenette

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11 citymama1 May 24, 2007 at 8:08 pm

I’ve lived in Manhattan for the past 3 years and absolutly love it. Here are some of my favorites that we take our visitors to when we have company.

Food:
Cheesecake at Carnegie Deli- 54th and 7th.

Dim Sum in China Town at the Golden Unicorn (you can google it) It’s off of Canal Street in the “real” china town. It’s seriously like you’re in Hong Kong.

Gray’s Papaya- 72nd and Broadway. Best.hotdogs.ever.

Gotham Bar and Grill (Union Square)- If you want a splurge go here! It is the best food I’ve ever had. The chocolate cake is amazing! They also have a prix fix lunch menu.

Shows:
Wicked- it’s worth the $.
The Drowsy Chaperone- hilarious.
The NY Philharmonic- if you or anyone your traveling with is a student you can get $10 student rush tickets, either online or sameday. We’ve done this several times and it’s fantastic! You sit in the $100 a seat section.

Sights:
If you’re up for it, walk as much as you can. The Greenwhich Village walking tour is great.(As found in Lonely Planet: NYC) There is a street that is lined with chess shops and antique shops.

Central Park is probably my favorite spot. The conservatory gardens are up a bit but beautiful. As mentioned by a previous poster you can take a carriage ride through it, but you really don’t get to see much that way…only the streets. (although it is very romantic) If you have the time it’s great to just wander around. The Shakespeare gardens and beautiful and quiet which is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

I hope you have a great trip!

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12 kristi brooke May 24, 2007 at 8:58 pm

i have only been once but my faves were.
dylans candy bar
wicked (waited 4 hours to get a last minute ticket worth every minute of standing in line)
Kate’s Papiere
great knitting shop in soho
little italy street market to get a great canoli
being on the today show, got there early, waved on tv. and then bolted
seeing tiger woods walking down the street (i guess you can’t plan that)
serindipity
and the ribbon shop in soho. don’t know the name.

i am a NY rookie, but if you want to talk D.C. i am all over that!

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13 Shauna May 25, 2007 at 6:36 am

Thank you, Designmom and readers! Excellent suggestions all the way around!I knew I could count on all of you!

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14 Elisha May 26, 2007 at 7:53 pm

There is sooooo much good shopping in mid town that sometimes you need to eat there. One great mid town restaurant that is not like the others…is Brasserie Ruhlmann across from the new Anthropology store at Rock Center. The best outdoor patio in New York!!! Lots of who’s who there mixed with the rest of us.

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15 Jen I June 2, 2007 at 8:03 pm

This may be too late now, but we actually just stayed in NYC last week and have some favorites and some ideas. We stayed in Times Square – which I actually think we wouldn’t do again. It’s so fun to go to and see – but if you go to a Broadway show you can hit it while you’re there. For every day in and out of the hotel it was so touristy and crowded it took forever to walk back and forth from the subway to the hotel. We take lots of subways, but taxis are fine too especially if you have a few people, and often times it’s easier to go east-west in a taxi. We love walking around the neighborhoods and seeing all the great buildings. We just did Greenwich village for the first time and loved that. Hit Magnolia bakery while you’re there for the cupcakes. Cool shops too with really cute stuff. You could also go over to the nearby meatpacking district and eat at Pasti’s and shop at Scoop (more like just look because it’s too expensive but super-trendy). The lower east side is fun and eclectic too. The Holy Basil has great Thai food and there’s also Max Brenner’s – a chocolate restaurant that is really fun (they also have regular food and another location in Union Square). We love the Brooklyn Bridge walk and the ice cream place on the Brooklyn side and Grimaldi’s too. We went to south street seaport to look around, took the water taxi across to the Brooklyn pier and then walked back toward Manhattan so we got that view and didn’t have to walk back. Empire State Building is great if you haven’t done it, and I liked the audio tour too. If you don’t feel like fighting the Staute of Liberty crowd but want to see it, just take the Staten Island Ferry that gives you a great view of the statue and of Manhattan and is free. Soho is great shopping, and you can go to Canal street if you want some knock-offs. Wicked is awesome, they have a lottery 2 1/2 hours before the show if you want to try to get last minute tickets (although I’ve never been successful at getting them). We’ve seen Wicked with partial-view seats that were cheaper and still great. We got partial view for Mary Poppins the day of and that was good too. If they sell out at Mary Poppins, they do standing room only – which is a pretty good deal cause you pay about $20 and have the same view as someone with $110 seats, you’re just standing against a counter right behind them. Lion King is awesome too. I’ve heard 42nd street is great and they do a lottery too. The tkts line was just outside our hotel and looked crazy to me, but I’ve heard a lot of people like it. Cafe Lalo is supposed to be a good before or after the theater place with a jillion deserts, up a bit from the theater district. Central Park is awesome – I love it especially on the weekends. Around the Bethesda fountain area there are always fun things to watch – crazy groups of drummers and dancers, hula-hoopers, skaters, etc. We’ve heard renting a row boat is fun.
WAY too much information, I know, but these are passed on suggestions that we’ve gotten from other people and they made our trip so awesome. We wish we’d known all this when we’ve had people here before! Have an awesome time!

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