I wish I had a more mobile job. Right now, I'm just a tense three-toed sloth parked in front of a computer. If I were a bike messenger, I'd be super fit and I'd have photos to share from all over the place. As the weather gets better and the daylight longer, I'll start venturing out of my comfort zone. For now, these will have to do!
I was thinking about what I'd recommend for a visitor to see. I love having people over. There's nothing like seeing a place where you live through someone else's eyeballs.
So what would I recommend for visitors to this fine city?
1. Walk. Just plain walk.
Walk around and experience the streets, where life is. Start down in Wall Street. Work your way to the World Trade Center. Then journey through lovely Tribeca to Chinatown and have a big lunch. Wander through Soho and browse through the boutiques. Then wind up in a bar somewhere in the Village.
These neighborhoods are so different, but they're practically on top of each other. I can't imagine a better day.
2. Take a bus ride, and not a double decker.
I can see how the double decker can give you information about what you're seeing, but a simple bus ride can be pretty neat. I suggest the M5, which runs between the Upper West Side and The Village, via Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
You'll pass Lincoln Square, Columbus Circle and Central Park South, turning onto Fifth Avenue. Then you'll travel through midtown, passing Rockefeller Center and follow Fifth all the way past the graceful Flatiron Building, until you hit Houston Street. This route has a bit of everything, and it only costs two bucks!
3. Get thee a drink. Pronto.
There are several different types of cool bars, depending what you call cool. I've been out of the loop for a while, so my suggestions are dated.
There are the 'old New York' bars that I love, that have a certain something. Call it charm, or age, or patina. Chumley's in the Village comes to mind, as do Old Town in the Flatiron District and Walker's in Tribeca.
Then there are the cool bars in a different vein, which are one of a kind. These look like movie sets, while remaining low key. I'm thinking of Pravda near Soho (complete with Chocolate Martinis), the high-tech Brasserie in midtown, the pretty and the nautical Lure Fish Bar in Soho.
Then there are designer hotel bars, like those by Julian Schnabel (the the Gramercy Park Hotel) and Philippe Starck (The Hudson and The Royalton). Each of these is unique and fantastical - the over-the-top faux medieval of the the Gramercy, the yellow light of The Hudson, the people-watching layout of The Royalton.
This said, flip through the internet or a Time Out Magazine. Look up a bunch of places before coming. There are tons of places to choose from. It's like visiting a gaggle of your oddest relatives.
4. Go to the Park.
Visit one of the many parks on a weekend and have fun. Whether it's people and performer-watching in Central Park, strolling along the water in Battery Park City, or dodging roller bladers in Riverside Park, you're bound to enjoy yourself. Pack a picnic!
5. Ellis Island.
Without hesitation, Mark suggests visiting the entranceway for so many New Yorkers of the past. I've never been, but have heard great things. Exhibits include what people brought with them over the years and what they had to endure to be granted access.
6. Take the Ferry.
The ferry ride to Staten Island
7. Eat. A lot. Cheaply.
You don't have to spend megabucks here, and you can get anything, including Ethiopian, Afghani, Turkish, Australian, European and all the various Asian cuisines.
Notice I don't mention any museums. There are tons of excellent museums for every interest, but I recommend that you get out and walk around.
Go shopping. Eat. Drink. Enjoy.
(Fellow New Yorkers, I'd love to hear your suggestions!)