The Dos and Donts of New York City

Patrick and I spent three short days in New York City walking the concrete streets, eating culinary extravagances, and fake shopping.  Though I am no expert, our short trip warrants a recap–both the highlights, and the places where we made serious blunders.

 1.  Don’t Pack One Big Bag
Since we couldn’t fly Southwest this time, Patrick and I were subjected to the horrid bag-fees that are now a part of the airport nightmare.  Thinking we were being frugal, we packed one big back to check, rather than two smaller bags.  Bad idea.  Imagine me, no, imagine Patrick walking up and down subway stairs lugging around 50 pounds.  Not fun… bring a small bag as a carry on.  It’s all you’ll need.

2. Do Stop in Tarrytown
On the way to the city, we stopped and ate at a delicious restaurant called Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown which was originally recommended to me by Joanna Goddard, a New Yorker and writer.  On the way from the train to the farm for our five-course meal, I spotted a series of coffee shops, boutiques, and galleries that were quaint and close together, all looking out over the river.  What a fun day-trip!

3. Do stay at the Inn on 23rd
Located directly between 6th and 7th Avenues just north of Chelsea Market, the Inn on 23rd provides concierge services, complimentary wine and cheese on Friday and Saturday nights, breakfast every day, and a cat to pet in your free time.  Each room is an art gallery with exposed brick walls, antique light fixtures, and eclectic art, making the budget-friendly B&B feel like an incredible steal.  Just below the inn’s twelve rooms is the first floor restaurant and bar, which was surprisingly busy–but never too loud to fall asleep after a long day of roaming the concrete jungle.

4. Don’t miss the Highline
In 2009,  New York City opened its first elevated greenway in an “up-cycle” project unlike any other.  Taking an abandoned rail line, donated to the city by CSX in 2005, the city transformed it into a garden oasis spanning a mile of New York’s busy Meatpacking district.  Looking down from above, the Highline provides great views of the city and an interesting take on how to transform the remnants of the past into functional space for the future.  The next section of the track is set to open this spring!

5. Do go to Brooklyn
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge will give you great views and a good workout.  Do it.

6. Don’t eat at Grimaldi’s
Once you get across the bridge, spend some time in DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and check out some cheap-ish boutiques (which will be a relief if you shop anywhere else in the city), and great views of the East River.  But don’t waste your time in line for Grimaldi’s.  It’s a pizza shop with a long line and a rude manager.  Thankfully, Patrick and I were able to salvage the mediocre lunch by having an interesting discussion about travel, half-marathon training, and politics with a couple from Paris.  C’est la vie.

7. Do find Top Shop in Soho 

8. Do wear heels at night
At some point after trudging around for hours the city in your tennies, you’re going to want to feel fancy.  You will instantly feel sexy, and not like a tourist if you put on a dress and a pair of heels.  By God, do it.  Walking around concrete in heels, though difficult, is worth it.  A New Yorker on the street looked at me at some point and said “Nice shoes.”  I had to do a double take and thought, was she just talking to me?  I think she was talking to me!  That was a great moment.   Plus, getting in and out of a taxi in heels made me feel like Carrie Bradshaw.  Just saying.

9. Don’t worry about looking like a tourist
You’re going to get lost.  You’re going to get turned around.  You’re going to want to look up.  So just do it!  Embrace the tourist in you, whip out the map, wear the backpack, and bring your own water bottle.  Though it’s tempting to run with the in crowd” that’s heading into work and looking swanky, but why would you try to do that?  You’re on vacation!