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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 visited New York City often after a dear friend and coworker relocated there. It felt terribly fancy to be a regular visitor, to stay with my friend and his partner in their lovely home, and to have HABITS in the city. Glamorous, even!

Here is a list of favorite spots, the 'short list' I share with friends.

Public Excellence

Grand Central Station (grandcentralterminal.com). 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. Downstairs, a level below the main hall, there is a large food court where you can grab hot, inexpensive food to take on your train ride home. The upper levels of the building contain other kinds of food shops (bakeries, wine shops, stationery stores, chocolatiers,) and gift shops. Be sure to visit the transit museum, if you are a transit geek, as I am. Midtown.

The New York Public Library Schwartzmann Building (nypl.org). 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 (shop.nypl.org), 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 (thehighline.org/). 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 (nyc.gov). The views are great, the bridge is great, the air is fresh. You'll be glad you did. Chinatown to/from Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge Park (brooklynbridgepark.org). 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 (centralparknyc.org). 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 (911memorial.org). 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 Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org/). This is a massive museum complex containing archeology and art from around the world. I was especially thrilled by their rooms devoted to Oceana and Africa, especially after reading that some of the pieces I so admire were commissioned by the museum and purchased from living artisans!! I spent TWO DAYS here during my most recent visit, and felt that I still could have spent more time... It is a delight. Upper East Side.

The Museum of Art and Design (madmuseum.org). Also highly contemporary. On Columbus Circle.

THE original Museum of Modern Art (moma.org). Art you know in an amazing building. Midtown.

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

The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art (rubinmuseum.org/). 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.

The Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org). 20th Century art from many big names. I especially enjoy their Biennial shows, which are edgier and involve art that feels newer and more contemporary than the main collection. At the southern terminus of the High Line, at the southern edge of Chelsea and the northern edge of Greenwich Village.


Ceiling at Franchia, photograph by A.E. Graves

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

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

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images and original text Copyright © 2002 - 2019 A. E. Graves

(November 29, 2014, refreshed January 2019)

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