Gotham Is Better than Ever. 10 Must-Dos for
Natives and Newcomers Alike.
—by David Graver
After more than a year on pause, New York City is reopening at last—and there’s no better way to reignite your passion for its splendors than to indulge in the activities favored by tourists. After all, such cultural and culinary escapades, not to mention visits to world-recognizable monuments, form the iconography of the city. They fuel the myths of Gotham and pepper the TV shows and films that paint a picture of NYC for the world. They’re enchanting enough to make even the most cynical of city dwellers fall in love again.
1. STROLL THE HIGH LINE
When it comes to outdoor attractions, there’s no public place to experience the wonders of the city—and its changing seasons—quite like the High Line. The 1.45-mile elevated park, once a rail track through the Meatpacking District, lets visitors walk among loosely manicured local flora, coupled with surprising land art and striking views of the West Village, West Chelsea, and the ever-growing footprint of Hudson Yards. It’s idyllic for a romantic ramble or a reflective solo stroll.
Searching for other bucolic places to walk? Try the Botanical Gardens, Prospect Park, the new Little Island development in the Hudson River, or the most famous of them all, Central Park.
2. VISIT THE MET’S ROOF GARDEN
Internationally acclaimed cultural institutions anchor virtually every neighborhood of the city, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is arguably the best known. However, its must-see rooftop is familiar to far fewer locals. The roof garden features its own rotating, site-specific work, commissioned by the museum—and it affords a magnificent opportunity to admire the foliage in Central Park when it’s at its most breathtaking come autumn.
Additional cultural venues to put on your must-visit list include The Cloisters in Washington Heights and Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image.
3. BOOK A STAYCATION IN A HOTEL
One downside to being a local is that it generally means missing out on the city’s luxurious hotel scene. Check in to The Beekman, The Bowery Hotel downtown, or The Mark uptown for a night of luxury. Even JFK airport has its own design mecca—the TWA Hotel, worth a stayover for those who long to relive the golden era of air travel.
4. GET A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
Unless New Yorkers live or work in a high-rise, there are few opportunities to see the city from the sky—a guaranteed way to change your perspective and refresh your sense of awe. One World Trade Center Observation Deck is a spectacular experience, highlighting the history of NYC as you rise up in the elevator. You can enjoy the same dizzying delight from The Edge (the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere) at 30 Hudson Yards or the Manhatta Restaurant at 28 Liberty.
5. TAKE A FERRY RIDE
New Yorkers sometimes forget Manhattan is an island. Why not remind yourself by boarding a boat? See the fabled sights of Lower Manhattan, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty, from the East River Ferry or the Staten Island Ferry. Other ferries take visitors to beaches like Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Fort Tilden, which offer quiet, windswept beauty in the offseason. Another option: Enjoy a day cruise on a classic yacht or a sunset sail on a 19th-century-style schooner through Classic Harbor Line.
6. EXPLORE A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD
One of the best ways to see New York afresh is to visit an area that was never on your radar. Stroll around and admire the architecture, visit a historic site, or check out a restaurant recommended by local reviewers. A few good bets: Red Hook, Ditmas Park, Sheepshead Bay, or Governors Island (open through October).
7. SAVOR A SELF-GUIDED FOOD TOUR
New Yorkers know they do bagels, pizza, pastrami, and cheesecake better than anywhere else. Still, it’s easy to fall into a routine. To broaden your culinary horizons, pay a visit to Chelsea Market, take a trek through Koreatown, or head to Chinatown for dumplings and green tea ice cream. Looking for food to take home? Union Square Greenmarket never fails to inspire.
8. CATCH A JAZZ PERFORMANCE
NYC’s iconic jazz venues never go out of style. Options abound, from Barbès in Park Slope to Fine & Rare in the Flatiron District to the Blue Note in the Village and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Musical delights range from emerging artists in open-air venues to nostalgic soundtracks in settings atmospheric enough to make you feel as if you’ve traveled back to the Prohibition era.
9. ENJOY A DOWNTOWN ART CRAWL
While Chelsea has long been the premier destination for art lovers, the galleries on the Bowery, the Lower East Side, and Tribeca now command creative attention for the caliber of art and artists they represent. In fact, downtown galleries like The Hole and Perrotin rival Pace and Gagosian in Chelsea for the awe they impart.
10. TOAST THE TOWN
The city’s craft cocktail scene ranks among the best in the world. Although several downtown venues raise the bar on drinks culture, midtown and uptown are richer in heritage. Treat yourself to a martini at The Modern or a Manhattan at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, surrounded by the whimsical wall art of Ludwig Bemelmans, author and illustrator of the classic Madeline children’s books.