New York City Guide

I'm in NYC at least once a year, sometimes more for work, and I thought I would share my favorite spots with you.  Whenever I am preparing to go to NYC, I always look for new places I haven’t visited before (it’s so big and ever-changing that no matter how ofter you visit you will never discover it all!)  So I thought you may be in the same boat.  A few of these places and events listed I try to visit every time because they are so inspiring to me.

Broadway–Once is fantastic!

Bryant Park Movie–In the Summertime don’t miss the Bryant Park Monday night movie sponsored by HBO.  It’s a classic NYC event and it’s FREE!  It’s a lot of fun to sit on a blanket in the park with hundreds of others and watch a movie.  Get there right before 5PM to get a spot on the lawn for your blanket.  Be prepared to wait it out till 9PM showing, but don’t worry there are good places to grab a picnic meal at the park.  NOTE: do not even think about bringing in a blanket with a plastic backing on it–banned, and enforced.  I have done this twice (the Monday night movie, I mean. Not the banned-plastic-backing-blanket-thing, that I did only ONCE)  The first movie I saw was a Hitchock movie and this past summer the movie was Saturday Night Fever.

Shakespeare in the Park–A few summers ago, my daughter, my sister and I saw Amy Adams in, Into The Woods.  I highly recommend this FREE public theatre.  Only happens in the summertime.  The line for the free tickets begins to form at the Central Park ticket box at zero-dark-thirty AM, but I arrived in line (with a bag lunch from Shake Shack!) at 1PM and still got tickets.  Maybe that was only because it was raining and the idea of standing in line and getting wet on your lunch hour was a turn-off to most folks, as it was for my daughter.  But hey, it was AMY ADAMS!

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A must visit for me.  Their exhibits of ancient jewelry always inspire me and the Impressionists exhibits are fabulous too.  There is so much to see you can visit again and again.  The Fashion Institute exhibits have been a favorite of mine for years!  The installations are top-notch and educational.  This summer I went to the roof garden bar for the first time.  Another fun NY experience with a beautiful view of the skyline.  Did you know that the five enormous fresh floral arrangements in the foyer of the museum are provided by a donation to the museum by an individual benefactor?  Those arrangements are always stunning, always fresh.  You just have to stop and look and say “thank you” to whomever made the donation.  In the photo below you get an idea of the scale of these arrangements.

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Below is one of my favorite paintings.  It is one of Gauguin’s paintings he painted while living in Tahiti.  It is at The Met.  Visit it.

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The above photograph is from the Charles James exhibit by the Fashion Institute at The Met summer of 2014.  Did you know that the puffy down ski jacket (also worn by hunters) was originally designed by James as an alternative to all of the fur coats women were wearing in the 1930’s? It was originally a ladies coat!  See below photo of the original puffer jacket:

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The Roof Garden at The Met (there is a bar up there, ya’ll)

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The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station.  What a treasure!  All I can say is you must visit this time-capsule of a lounge.  You will feel like you have stepped right off the streets of NYC into some other era and you will actually be experiencing a piece of NYC history as you sip your drink.  The Campbell Apartment was formerly the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon, John W. Campbell.  You may be able to visit broadway theatres in “street clothes” and “tourist chic” but don’t try that here.  Proper attire is required, besides once you stepped inside your baseball cap and grungy shoes would stand out like a sore thumb!  Go early to skip the crowd.  It’s not a very large place and more people are starting to discover what was once one of NYC’s “best kept secrets.”

Billy Reid in the Bowery– OK so you must visit this store because 1) Billy Reid is based in Alabama (yes, an award winning fashion designer in Alabama!) 2) the store is beautifully crafted from architectural pieces (like the entire staircase) from salvaged Alabama homes and buildings.  3) the clothes are beautiful.  After visiting Billy Reid, I always walk down the street to Paula Rubenstein.  Don’t miss the interesting architecture along the walk.

TIP if you are traveling with a pre-teen girl who likes to shop–you will find nothing. nothing. and certainly nothing special in the big stores.  If you want good, local boutique shopping for children (and tweens) in NYC go to the Upper West Side.  That’s where a lot of families live and you can find great shops with clothes that fit your tween.  Great shoes at Tip Top Shoes.

Good eats:
Great Jones on Grand in the Bowery (if you like hole-in-the-wall-local-joints go here.  Good food. NOLA inspired. Menu painted on the wall. Has jukebox.)
Bianca on Bleecker St & Bowery (tiny, true Italian.  Cash only!)
Freeman’s Alley (great interiors.  Feels like home)
Macelleria  in Meat Packing district (don’t dismiss their roasted chicken–do.not.dismiss–wow!)
Gemma at the Bowery Hotel (I recommend the french toast!)
Balthazar in SOHO (YUM. I once sat at a table next to Robert Plant, so be on the lookout for some celeb sightings.)
Crema in Chelsea (wow. just wow.)

Snapshot from inside Balthazar:

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Snap of my salad at Crema (that’s fried cheese on top of the salad–yep.  I love seeing my niece, Louise in this pic even if it is just her chubby little arm) The meal across the table from me is a top recommendation also it is salmon and eggs on top of hashbrowns.  I don’t usually take photos of my food.  Maybe it was the all-you-can-drink bloody Marys?

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Boutique hotels which are probably not found in the off-the-rack-at-Books-A-Million guide book:
The Jane in the West Village.  Quirky and fun. Great location.  I recommend a river view room.
The Bowery Hotel Beautiful with bohemian 1920’s interiors.  The rooms are fabulous, feels like home.  One of the few remaining live music clubs is right next door (The Bowery Electric.)  Great restaurant (Gemma) and don’t miss your opportunity (guests only) to sit on the loggia at night and have a cocktail.
Inside The Bowery Hotel:

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Some of My Other Favorite Places to Visit:
The Highline
The Tenement Museum  (if you love history, like me, take one of their informative tours in an authentic tenement apartment.)
The view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry
The windows at Bergdorf Goodman
Snapshots from The Highline:

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While in SOHO visit:
Calypso boutique
Atelier Cologne on Elizabeth St. (oh my goodness, their scents are so clean and fresh.  All pure ingredients. No synthetics.  They give you a leather case for your perfume and emboss it with your monogram right there in the store with a vintage embosser.  I actually found them in Paris when I stumbled upon their store.  I discovered they had a NYC store when I mentioned, “This store reminds me of SOHO!”)
Michele Varian

On the restaurant list for my next visits:
Fedora restaurant in the Village
Sant Ambroeous in West Village
Jacks Wife Frieda
the bar at Hotel Chelsea
The East Pole in Upper East Side
Entwine in West Village
La Lanterna di Vittorio in West Village for drinks in outside patio garden

On My List to try:
–Sunset sail
–Smalls jazz club in West Village on MacDougal St

Elizabeth Adams