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001: travel: North America : USA : New York: favorite things to do in New York City

Grand Central Station and Chrysler Building in the evening, New York City, photography by A.E. Graves

I have visited New York City quite a bit in recent years. Here is a list of favorite spots. I'll write about individual places more in separate entries, but this is the 'short list' I share with friends.

Public Excellence

Grand Central Station. So grand AND so central! Arriving by train and emerging into the gorgeous main hall is not to be missed. You'll recognize it from countless films. Down below the main hall is a food court where you can grab some hot, inexpensive food to take on your train ride home; the upper levels contain other kinds of food shops (bakeries, wine shops) and gift shops. Midtown.

The New York Public Library - Main Building. One of the world's foremost reference libraries is open to all - you can apply for a library card, and have nearly anything in their amazing collection brought to you in one of the grand reading rooms. There are great art exhibits on the main and second floors. They also have a fabulous book & gift shop, Readers & Writers, which not only has an excellent selection of books you hadn't realized you want to read, but also has New York-themed gifts and, to my great joy, fountain pen ink cartridges. *happy dance.* Midtown.

The High Line. This is a MUST VISIT public park: elevated train rails have been converted into a heavily planted, paved park, filled with sunbathers and people watchers on weekends. The line goes through openings in high rises, passes some interesting buildings, and has many interesting characters on it, especially in warm weather. Chelsea, more or less.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge. The views are great, the bridge is great, the air is fresh. You'll be glad you did. Chinatown to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is something of a walk from the actual Brooklyn Bridge, but you see the whole Manhattan skyline and waterfront from there. There is a nicely restored/developed park in progress, with interesting old buildings, sculptures, a merry-go-round, and amazing views. It goes on for miles. Brooklyn.

Any historic district in Brooklyn. You'll see historic brownstones; try not to be trampled by yuppies with SUV-style strollers.

Central Park. Trees, lakes, and nice views of the skyscrapers lining the park. Above 59th Street.

Walking around SoHo. Experience a boutique overdose in a neighborhood of very cool old buildings. SoHo means South of Houston, and that second street is pronounced hooo-stun.

The National September 11th Memorial and Museum. The most moving monument to loss I have experienced. Beautiful and very sad. The scale of it is stunning. Lower Manhattan.

scene inside MoMA, which you really must visit


THE original Museum of Modern Art. Art you know in an amazing building. Midtown.

The New Museum. Very, very, very contemporary work. In the Bowery (which is more or less the edge of the SoHo boutique district, somehow).

The Museum of Art and Design. Also highly contemporary. On Columbus Circle.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Especially great during the Biennial! Upper East Side.

The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art. This gorgeous museum in an old, posh department store building has an amazing recreated temple room that is authentic enough to freak me out. Chelsea.


Ceiling at Franchia, photograph by A.E. Graves

Cafe 2 in MoMA. Fresh, delicious, Italian foods. Inside MoMA, Midtown.

Franchia. Amazing vegan Korean food. Wonderful teas. Just outside of Koreatown, which is near the Empire State.

HanGawi. Amazing Korean food in a nearly temple-like setting, from the same owner as Franchia. Koreatown.

'SNice. Vegetarian sandwiches and tasty coffees and tees, served by people who look like I should know them from here in SF. Multiple locations.

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images and original text Copyright © 2002 - 2014 A. E. Graves

(November 29, 2014, code updated September 13, 2015)

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