Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Things to do in Manhattan or a guide to stalking Pantrygirl

My cousin asked for suggestions of places to shop and visit during her trip this weekend to Manhattan.

I figured I’d share my suggestions with the world wide web as well.

Take them or leave them.

Village to dos (east and west side):
Places to eat that are cheap and yummy that come to mind are on the lower east side. They are a bit out of the way from most places but if you're hanging out in the west village, it's not that bad of a stroll.

For noodles, try Momofuku Noodle Bar 1st & 10th.
For yummy arepas (stuffed corn pita pockets), try Caracas on 7th & 1st.

Again, these places are out of the way but if the day is nice and you can stroll from the West Village to the East Village quickly.

There are a few funky kitsch shops on W8th & 6th. There are a lot of tiny shoe shops and stuff there. The NYU area has tons of tiny stores you can check out and street artists & chess players at Washington Square Park to check out.

If you walk south on Broadway towards Spring Street, you’ll hit another set of name brand shops.

Union Square to dos (eastside):

Around the Gramercy/Union Square area, there are tons on name brand shops on 5th & 20th. There's a Daffy's on the corner of 16th around the corner from Victoria's Secret I like to shop at.

If you keep walking down to 14th and make a left, you'll hit Union Square. Check out Sephora, Filene's, Virgin Records and DSW. You can also check out the latest protesters. Someone is always peacefully protesting at Union Square. It's like the US version of Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. They also have a greenmarket which is fun to browse but it may be too cold for most vendors.

You’ll see a diner looking spot. The Coffee Shop is always crowded and the service has been poor. I prefer the eats on the eastside of the square but Lrudlrick would tell you differently as he spent many a years working on 5th & 19th.

Around the corner from Shoe Mania (the one closer to Virgin), on Broadway & 13th is Max Brenner's a yummy place to get a quick sweet chocolate fix.

Midtown West to dos (Westside):

If you want to stay midtown, closer to Times Square and the Theatre district, there's Macy's on 34th & 6th and the Manhattan Mall two blocks down. They’re not cheap but not expensive. It's mall fair. I always tell people who have to shop at Macy's to shop on Wednesdays when it's coupon day.

If you're in the neighborhood, go to Korea town (32nd) for some yummy Korean BBQ & my favorite Asian Hello Kitty bubble eye characters shop, Opane. Sure it’s expensive but what 30-something year old woman doesn’t need a Hello Kitty pencil kit with pencil sharpener.

Afterwards, go to 34th & 5th and go to the Observation deck of the Empire State Building or burn off the BBQ and walk up Broadway to 42nd St and Times Square to the TKTS booth for discounted day of theatre tickets. Get there before 3pm for evening performances and 10am for matinees (Wed/Sat only). Don’t expect ‘Jersey Boys’ but there are plenty of great shows available. Just avoid the time share guys that harass you online. (Yes, they try to sell time shares of NY apartments.)

Upper Eastside (obviously, eastside):

Honestly, the only time I go to the upper eastside is for work purposes & the museums. I have nothing against the eastside, just find my home is on the Westside so I stay within proximity.

If you like classic European art, check out Mr. Frick’s private collection on display at the Frick Museum (5th & 70th).

The Guggenheim is on 88th and one of my favorites, the Met on 82nd. On a nice summer day, you can find me on the roof top enjoying a cocktail and surveying Central Park.

MoMA (53rd & 5th) is awesome. If you like Modern Art, MoMA is a great place to spend the day. Personally, I call MoMA a Westside museum 'cause it's on the cusp of East and West Manhattan but I'm biased.

H&M (5th & 52nd) is my favorite place to stock up on clothing staples cheaply. Although, I read an article about how cheap clothes equals quick throwaways and I may be adding to the trash problem. I’m not a one timer girl though so I think I’m ok. I mean, I still have a pair of pants from 10 years ago I wear. No, there not PVC leather pants.

4 blocks down on 50th is Rockefeller Center. Avoid buying anything there as nothing is cheap but feel free to ice skate. The tree is down but you can always go to the Nintendo Store and play some games.

Upper Westside (hello, Westside):
Many of days were spent hovered over the viewing monitors at the Museum of Television and Radio (52nd & 5th). They have interesting events and collections.

If you like to check out the high end shops, check out the Time Warner building (Columbus Circle aka Broadway & 59th) You can get a nice smoothie at Whole Foods’ Jamba Juice.

Walk up Broadway or Columbus Ave and you’re at Lincoln Center (W62nd). I also spent many a days in the Performing Arts Library. If you like theatre, you can pretty much find anything and everything in this library.

The Metropolitan Opera House is a having a great season. I believe this Opera in the movie theatre is bringing a new audience to Opera.

If you keep walking up Broadway, you’ll hit the IMAX theatre and Ollie’s, a chain noodle shop. Further up on 72nd is the sodium processed meat paradise, ‘Gray’s Papaya’. My parents love Gray’s. It’s a quick cheap eat that fuels you for Barney’s Co-op (76th) for your trendy clothing needs.

The Museum of Natural History (CPW & 77th) , the famous ‘Night at the Museum’ museum which incidentally wasn’t really shot in the museum, has a exhibit on the evolution of man that looks really interesting. I went to the Gold exhibit last month which Lrudlrick swears was fake gold. “The museum would never display that much real gold.”

The Hayden Planetarium is housed next door. I saw a Slim Goodbody show there when I was in elementary school. I’m probably dating myself. Nevertheless, the laser lightshow is still a hit with potheads.

Central Park to dos:

You really need nothing to do at Central Park. I love the park. You can just walk around the lakes and meadows. Of course, it jumps during warmer weather but in the winter, it provides solace nonetheless. It’s the oasis in the heart of the bustling city.

My favorite places to check out include: Belvedere Castle, the Boathouse, the Zoo, Wollman Rink, the Ramble, the Discovery Center and the Bandshell. Of course Balto & the Carousel is nice too but you can’t hang out there too long without a kid without looking a bit weird.

For me the best times to check out the park are the summer and the fall/winter. The Park’s personality changes with the season. Be safe though and don’t go running off the beaten path alone. It’s much safer than it was when I was a kid but always be careful.

I haven’t mentioned my favorite places in Harlem, Washington Heights, the Lower East Side & the outer boroughs but I just realized, I spent the last half hour composing this instead of working. Plus, I’m sure this can give you ideas for your trip.

Other museums I haven’t mentioned that are worth the trip: The New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, The Cloisters (Medieval Art), Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum (E91st & 5th) & The Museum of Chinese in the Americas (Eastside Manhattan, Mulberry & Bayard).

I plan to check out these soon: The Taipei Gallery of Chinese arts (6th & 47th) & El Museo del Barrio (5th & 104th).

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