by Joanna Citrinbaum, 07/03/2013
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Got only a few precious hours to enjoy New York City? Figuring out what to do with the kids? Feet tired from all the walking you’ve been doing? We’ve got the perfect solution: our miniature itineraries (or, as we like to call them, mini itinies). Straight to the point, these jaunts—built around food, waterfront exploration, shopping, entertainment and art—cover some of the City’s must-see neighborhoods, and most of the stops on each are within walking distance of one another. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo: Marley White
Dine Out in Brooklyn
The first itiny begins with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Start on the Manhattan side, and be sure to take plenty of photos during this leisurely stroll. Once you’ve crossed into Brooklyn, you’ve no doubt walked—er, worked—up an appetite, so head straight for one of DUMBO’s pizza purveyors: the legendary Grimaldi’s, located only a few steps from its original spot, or neighborhood newbie Juliana’s Pizza, which is in the former Grimaldi’s space. Afterward, head down to Fulton Ferry Landing for some cool, creamy dessert at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, stationed in a former fireboat house, and take in the waterfront views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. These same gorgeous panoramas can also be enjoyed from adjacent green space Brooklyn Bridge Park (and kids will love its Pier 1 Playground). Have more time to spend in the area? Catch a (sometimes free!) chamber music performance in a “floating concert hall”—with Manhattan visible through a glass wall—courtesy of Bargemusic.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Photo: Marley White
Explore Staten Island
The free 25-minute ride on the Staten Island Ferry is not only a convenient way to get from Manhattan to Staten Island (and vice versa) but is also one of the best (and most affordable) methods of seeing the Statue of Liberty. After you disembark, head straight for the North Shore Waterfront Esplanade, which offers views of Lower Manhattan. Take time to reflect at the Staten Island September 11 Memorial, titled Postcards, located along the pathway. When observed from straight behind, the sculpture, which honors Staten Islanders who lost their lives on 9/11, frames the spot where the World Trade Center once stood across New York Harbor. After walking the remainder of the esplanade, double back to savor some scrumptious Spanish cuisine at Beso, and learn about natural science, art and history at the Staten Island Museum. During baseball season, catch a Staten Island Yankees game—the club is the Single-A minor-league affiliate of the New York Yankees—at the waterfront Richmond County Bank Ballpark, which looks out to the Lower Manhattan skyline; alternatively, see if there’s a show taking place at nearby St. George Theatre. Farther afield, but worth the bus ride if you’ve got time, is Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, home to the Staten Island Children’s Museum and a botanical garden, among other cultural venues.
Bergdorf Goodman. Photo: Will Steacy
Shop Around Midtown
This itiny is geared toward those with children or anyone who wants to give their tired, aching feet a break—each stop is right across the street from the next. Begin the day in Central Park—no visit to Manhattan is complete without seeing it. Stick to the extreme southeast corner and you’ll enjoy the quietude of The Pond; head a few blocks north—perhaps a stretch for this particular circuit—and you’ll reach the Central Park Zoo, at Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street. Move on to the storied Plaza Hotel, where you can wander around lavish areas like The Palm Court and The Rose Club, peruse high-end shops and grab a bite to eat at the subterranean Todd English Food Hall. Upon exiting, swing by Pulitzer Fountain, where F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were rumored to once have a late-night swim, and cross Fifth Avenue to the City’s flagship Apple Store, open 24 hours a day. Right next door is FAO Schwarz, where your kids (or the kid in you) will have a blast ogling toys and, of course, playing the floor piano made famous in the movie Big. Last, but certainly not least, go shopping at department store Bergdorf Goodman. The designer goods may be pricey, but the view of Central Park from BG Restaurant, on the seventh floor, is priceless.
Sylvia's. Photo: Clayton Cotterell
Be Entertained in Harlem
Craving culture, comfort food and cocktails? Head uptown to Harlem. Start at Sylvia’s, a neighborhood institution since 1962, best known for its chicken and waffles. Afterward, go to The Studio Museum in Harlem, which features works from artists of African heritage as well as pieces inspired by black culture. Next, take a tour of the world-famous Apollo Theater and get a behind-the-scenes look at the home of Amateur Night and the launching pad for stars including Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. Amateur Night is held Wednesdays from March through November, and all kinds of other performances take place throughout the year. Over at neighborhood hotspot Red Rooster, Chef Marcus Samuelsson serves up satisfying American cuisine that pays homage to the neighborhood. Downstairs from Red Rooster is Ginny’s Supper Club, a live-jazz venue in a speakeasy-like setting where you can sip signature drinks such as the Harlem Mule and the Rooster Colada.
M. Wells Dinette. Photo: Jesse Winter
Support the Arts in Queens
Queens is said to be the most diverse of New York City’s five boroughs. It’s also known for art, especially in Long Island City. Make MoMA PS1 your first stop and admire contemporary works from the artists of today and tomorrow. Inside the institution is New American restaurant M. Wells Dinette, whose classroom-like setting is a nod to the museum building’s past life as a schoolhouse. Follow a meal there with a treasure hunt—and, if you’re still hungry, snacks from local vendors—at LIC Flea & Food, from which you can see the east side of Manhattan. For more breathtaking views and, of course, more art, stop by the outdoor, waterfront (and free) Socrates Sculpture Park. Finally, treat yourself to a down-home dinner at Sage General Store, whose decor is reminiscent of that of a luncheonette in the Midwest, or feast on seafood in a romantic setting along the East River (with a panorama of the Manhattan skyline, of course) at Water’s Edge Restaurant.