Note: This journal entry is best read alongside the croons of Harry Connick, Jr. in the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack. I’ll pause while you queue it up.
NYC is the attentive artist’s dream; there’s a reason so much of the world’s music, theatre, visual artistry, and more originate within its busy streets. I felt the urge to pause on many a street corner to memorialize the moment with medium format film, often at multiple angles. While those of you who know will know the Contax 645 is not often chosen for photographers on the go (arm workout!), I love these images and wouldn’t trade the format for this special trip.
When traveling, my husband and I try to strike a delicate balance between walking “with a purpose” while also allowing the day to take us to unexpected nooks and crannies. I’ve gathered our favorite spots below, as well as a loose itinerary you may choose to implement on your next stay in the Big Apple! We tend to be ambitious with our use of the subway and our good ole feet, so if you’re a taxi-kinda-gal or want to stick to one part of the City, use my suggestions to simply narrow down your desires!
To Stay: Andaz 5th Ave | Thompson Central Park
To Eat: Jack’s Wife Freda | Balthazar | Keens Steakhouse | Russ & Daughters | Levain Bakery | Milk Bar | John’s Pizeria of Bleecker Street | Jacob’s Pickles
To Shop: The Meadow | Greenwich Letterpress
To See: A Broadway show! We loved Hadestown | Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra | Metropolitan Museum of Art
To Explore: Little Island Park | DUMBO & the Brooklyn Bridge | The High Line | Central Park | Bryant Park | West Village
Wear your walking shoes! Begin your day with a walk through Chelsea to the Little Island, a feat of engineering with views of the Whitney Museum and Weehawken, NJ. Now it’s time for brunch – good thing Jack’s Wife Freda has a location nearby. Order the Green Dean cocktail and Green Shakshuka; you will not be disappointed. The Grilled Haloumi is everything you want an appetizer to be. After you’re pleasantly buzzed and recharged (and maybe waited out a brief rainstorm like we did), it’s time to walk The High Line! Enjoy the unique vantage point of the city, eavesdrop on New Yorkers on their lunch break walk, and sigh: aren’t they living the life? If you take it to the north end, you’ll land by The Vessel and can pop into Mercado Little Spain for a snack.
Hopefully you have enough time to take the subway up to The Met (although maybe you’re there on a weekend, when it’s open until 9pm Fri-Sat)! Plan ahead of time which highlights you want to catch – whether The Temple of Dendur, van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat,” or the Greek & Roman sculpture court … there is so much to marvel at. And since you have our walking shoes on, you’re happy to stroll back to your midtown hotel through Central Park, making sure to mark your path through The Mall & Literary Walk. Breathe in the green spaces, watch out for the many cyclists, runners, and horse-drawn carriages you’ll encounter, and live your best main character life.
Freshen up for dinner – you’re going to Balthazar! And you planned ahead and made a reservation, perhaps stipulating that you’d like a cozy table. If you do so, you may just be placed across from a celebrity … speaking from personal experience. Order the French 75 and escargot and anything else because it will all be delicious. A long stroll after dinner will find you at Village Vanguard for a 10pm jazz show (we happened to be there on a Monday, when the namesake Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra plays). You’ll be asked to put away your phones and order a drink or two, but that only heightens the experience. And I almost forgot! Right on the way to Village Vanguard, you’ll get to stop at Milk Bar for their cereal milk ice cream with toasted corn flakes. The perfect treat.
You awaken with a confident thought: it’s time for a great New York bagel. Take that subway to Russ & Daughters, and prepare yourself for a somewhat chaotic yet delightful ordering experience (take a number – the counters to the left are for your bagel and smoked fish orders). Take your bagel slathered in cream cheese, smoked fish, and red onions, and enjoy on a bench outside. Maybe go back in for another. While you’re not too far now from the Manhattan entry to the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ve chosen to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan for better views, so you take the subway into Brooklyn. You explore DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park and then hop onto the pedestrian section of the Brooklyn Bridge. Be glad you wore sunscreen!
Back on the Manhattan side, you extend your stroll all the way to SoHo. The Meadow for chocolates, salts, and bitters is on your list, but you pop into many a store that looks inviting from the street (we spontaneously grabbed a matcha lemonade, yummm). Aromas of chocolate and walnut waft from Levain Bakery, so that’s a must-stop. On the other side of SoHo you enter the West Village, where NYU students throng in Washington Square Park and chess aficionados do their thing at the picturesque checkered tables. Just a little farther and you arrive at John’s of Bleecker for a New York slice. Whole pies only, so bring a friend or prepare for leftovers.
Now you find yourself with some free hours before a late dinner, so maybe it’s time for a hotel nap or seeking out an early happy hour in the Village. Jeffrey’s Grocery has a couple open bar seats, so you head in for an amiable dialogue with the bartender and enjoy Oyster Happy Hour (be sure to pop in the restroom while you’re there for CUTE wallpaper). Now it’s time for dinner! A reservation at Keens Steakhouse has been made, and your Alison-Roman-loving-heart is ready to see what all the hype is about. Since 1885, this portal through time has been serving up incredible steaks and dirty martinis. Get yourself both, and flank them with shrimp cocktail, wedge salads, and creamed spinach if you’ve got room. Hot fudge sundaes top it all off, and you and your dinner date share all your favorite parts of your whirlwind 48 hours in NYC … and start planning your next visit.
Curious what’s still on our list to try & to do? Here’s what we just didn’t have time for but can’t wait to add to our next trip: Mercado Little Spain | 9/11 Museum | Per Se | Flatiron Building | Momofuku | Wu’s Wonton King | exploring the Upper West Side | Employees Only | exploring Little Italy
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