Wednesday, December 02, 2009

New York - tourist stuff

If you were going to do one tourist thing* in New York, what would it be?**

When Boy and I went to NYC back in foreverago, we had no money. We had enough for food (cheap food) and our beds at the YMCA and next to nothing extra. But we were in New York for the first time and we were young and silly and we felt that we just had to do something New Yorky. Given our lack of funds we had to pick our tourist attractions wisely. Which we didn't. We went to the Empire State Building and it was a lot like being poked in the eye with a sharp stick. Repeatedly.

On the plus side we did get to take this picture, which almost makes it worth it.

* no galleries. I have a gallery/art post coming.

** anyone who tells me that they're too cool to partake in tourist attractions gets poked with the aforementioned pointy stick

. the circle line, by Jen Bandini. Read her review of it here.


  1. ohhh.. that's a tricky one. I immediately was going to say the MOMA.. umm will think some more and get back to you.

  2. I LOVE the Tenement Museum, which also has a walking tour option around the Lower East Side. It is my fave.

    Big Onion tours are super fascinating, and you can really pick something that interests you. They have a ton of options exploring all over the city!

    I also love double decker bus tours in any city!

  3. It's funny that you posted that picture, because as soon as I read the first sentence of your post, I was going to say that a cruise 'round Manhattan is probably the one touristy thing that's really worth it!

    As is walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Totally totally worth it, and free!!

    Oh, and maybe eating at one of the famous NYC pizzeria, like Grimaldi's in bklyn (it's nice to combine this with the bklyn bridge walk.)

  4. YES to the Tenement Museum. On a similar note, I was at a lecture a couple of weeks ago that talked a lot about these people:

    They run about 40 audio tours through bits of New York, especially trying to get tourists to explore the less touristy neighbourhoods. They seem like fantastic tours; combos of music, neighbourhood history, and people's personal narratives. You buy a tour for something like $6 and download it onto your phone or mp3 player and go! I absolutely cannot wait to do one of these the next time that I'm in New York.

  5. I would totally tell you everything I know but then you would have a great guide to Manhattan in the 1980's. Not so useful...I still like Chinatown, but then, I always like Chinatowns.

  6. i'm not big on the touristy ny stuff. but i do want to recommend a couple good websites for listings of interesting nyc events: brooklyn based and free nyc

  7. Taking the Staten Island ferry. You get to see the Statue of Liberty up close and then on the way back to the city, the views of Manhattan are incredible. Even better if you go at sunset/night, then all the buildings are lit up. Even though I'm not a tourist I still like to do this every now and again. And the best part: its free!

  8. i'm with stacy; the staten island ferry is a marvelous thing (i ride it for kicks every now and again as well).

    a close second would be walking down the mall in central park toward bethesda fountain. i've been here for years and years now, and talking that walk a few weeks ago filled me with such city-love that i felt a bit drunk.

  9. Tenement museum is great, but if you have the money, I'd definitely do the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It's really fantastic, especially with the audiotour. Completely worth it!

  10. very cool - the circle line is so iconic

  11. I always end up at the Met. Generally because there's a costume exhibition going on. Actually, I normally come to town to see the costume exhibition at the Met, which may explain why I always end up there. It's my NY Mecca.

  12. I'd say the sculpture garden on the roof of the met, but it's only open btwn "late spring and late fall." Do go to the met though. It's suggested admission, for fuck's sake. You can get in for a quarter.

  13. real things-
    Ride the Staten Island Ferry
    Get lost at Macys-find the wood escalators
    Eat a slice folded the long way with grease dripping down your arm
    Laugh at the naked cowboy in Times Square
    Find a few great neighborhoods in Brooklyn, or Queens, or the Bronx-real people live there and real food is served in those restaurants

  14. Staten Isalnd Ferry. You get great views of lower manhattan!

  15. A few of our favorites:

    Staten Island Ferry: FREE! (yes, there are some free things to do in NYC)
    Take a scenic ride on the ferry with an excellent view of lower Manhattan, the Statue of liberty and Ellis Island. Grab a seat or stand on the outer decks for the best view. Weekdays and weekends, boats leave and arrive on the half hour and each leg of the ferry takes half an hour.

    Nearest Subways to Staten Island Ferry:
    The 1 subway to South Ferry. Take the exit toward the front of the train. The Ferry Terminal is opposite the exit.

    The R or W subway to Whitehall St South Ferry. Take the exit at the front of the train. The Ferry Terminal is opposite the exit.

    The 4 or 5 subway to Bowling Green. Take the exit at the front of the train. The Ferry Terminal is two blocks south via State Street.

    Brooklyn Bridge: For a great view and some good ol’ fashioned exercise, nothing beats the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus, you can always grab some excellent pizza at Grimaldi’s or ice cream from the Brooklyn Bridge Ice Cream Factory on the other side as a reward.

    Brooklyn Bridge Cross Streets:
    5th Avenue and 89th Street
    Nearest Subways to the Brooklyn Bridge:
    To walk across the bridge from Manhattan, 4, 5, or 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall; J, M, or Z to Chambers Street.
    Central Park: Always a wonderful place to walk around. Pack a few snack and go explore (click link for a guide and map).


    Guggenheim - special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art (of course, the building itself has beautiful architecture).

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art – So big you can get lost in this place. Choose a time period or wing of the museum or you’re bound to spend an entire day here.

    American Museum of Natural History – A nice option for the kiddies.

    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) - my personal favorite. Don’t forget to stop at the MoMA Design Store when you’re done for some unique gifts.

    Other Areas worth checking out:

    Grand Central – pop in for a peak at the historic train terminal and grab a burger and fries at the throwback diner Primeburger.

    Highline Park -Very cool new park opened this year. The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan’s streets. We would recommend checking out the Chelsea Market while you’re there.

    SoHo – standard NYC shopping experience. Head to nearby NoLita for more (yet expensive) boutiques.

    Chinatown – fake purses, DVD’s and plenty of chinese food (eat at Wo Hop)

    Rockefeller Center - excellent view of the city from Top of the Rock

    East Village – Great bars, cheap eats. Check out Crocodile Lounge, where every beer you order you gets you a free pizza. If you’re still not full, hit up ChikaLicious Dessert Bar/Club for amazing desserts.

    West Village – Where all the beautiful people live. Go to Fat Cats for a laid back vibe, bar games and jazz. Eat at The Spotted Pig for the best burger of your life.

  16. But if I had to pick JUST one thing....

    Staten Island Ferry it up.

  17. Yes yes yes, me like!! I fell in here, in your beautiful and sensual blog.

    I take the opportunity to leave a footprint behind me, a swedish one.


  18. The Cloisters. How has no one said the Cloisters??? If you only do one thing, do that. SERIOUSLY. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

    And the Moma is worth it's new high-ass price (by new I mean 10 years old) and the Met. Obviously.

  19. PS
    I know you have real closters in Scotland (I've seen lots of them) but there is something magic about seeing them in the middle of a bustling city, but tucked away, quiet.

  20. Hmm, High Line and Central Park are totally free and totally NYC. If you go to Central Park definitely go around the boathouse though it's quite chilly I'm sure now.

    As Anna pointed out, the Brooklyn Bridge walk is awesome and you get to end by having cheesecake in Brooklyn. Mmm.

    There are so many great museums and many have free or discounted times or admission with a friend (I'd bring you to the Met or Botanical Garden for free if I was there).

    I also love this site and usually post a great find every week:

  21. Walk across the BK bridge in day AND night...both are fantastic!

    And the cloisters are lovely.

    Jazz clubs in Harlem & in West Village.

    Eating a slice at 4 am.

    Bagels and Lox on Sunday morning.

  22. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge! That was my favorite part of a recent trip there. And I agree with the others here, Grimaldi's pizza is a must.
    I also loved hanging out in the parks, Central obviously, but I really loved Bryant. It's tucked in the middle of the city, just behind the library.

  23. I just saw this and thought of you - top New York restaurants by a wonderful cookery writer. Hope you enjoy...

  24. Chinatown! Free to walk around in and food is cheap. dim sum for brunch. The touristy streets like Canal are always fun to explore.

  25. I agree with Anonymous-

    Ride the Staten Island Ferry
    Get lost at Macys-find the wood escalators
    Eat a slice folded the long way with grease dripping down your arm
    Laugh at the naked cowboy in Times Square
    and I would like to add:
    visit Central Park- sit and relax in Strawberry Fields.

  26. I second Prippy Handbook. The Tenement Museum is my most favourite museum in all of New York.

    Although the Brooklyn Bridge is also fabulous and free.

  27. Oh Lord, I LOVE the Circle Line. I used to take Eastern Europeans in town for business on the Circle Line and we'd smuggle sandwiches and vodka on board and have a grand old time.

    Also, I love taking the Staten Island Ferry and it costs nothing - total cheap thrill. Ellis Island is also quite wonderful - the museum is very touching. Skip the Statue of Liberty, though. You can see it on the way to Ellis Island and wave.

    Totally agree about the Met and (especially) the Cloisters (but I don't count museums as tourist attractions because art is for everyone).

  28. Eat a cupcake from a cupcakery. A shop dedicated entirely to cupcakes is sheer wonderment to this little English girl.

    Find the turtles in Central Park.

    Visit Times Square at night.

    Go play in the giant life-sized Barbie house in Toys "R" Us on Times Square.

    Eat 3 huge slices of pizza for dinner from a diner (or better yet, a street vendor).

    The 9/11 exhibition in the Ellis Island museum was heartbreaking but beautiful. Not sure if it's still there though; does anyone know?

  29. This is SUCH a helpful post!! I am going to NYC in March and wish i had a reader base to ask this of. But you did for me, so thanks!

  30. After you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and eat at Grimaldi's, go to Barge Music if you enjoy chamber music, or really acoustic music in general:

  31. Grand Central Station (Oyster bar)
    The central library branch/Bryant Park
    The Morgan Library
    The Brooklyn Bridge


play nice.