Visiting the Big Apple? Here Are Two Options for Top Things to Do by a New Yorker & a Frequent Californian Visitor

Upper West Side Stroll
New York is an amazing city. Because there’s so much to enjoy—there’s no way to cover it all in one day. If you only have a few hours to spare
and would rather skip wading through throngs of tourists at Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building, here’s a leisurely and entertaining walk you can take in the afternoon or early evening.

Time Warner Center

A good place to start is in the center of town, beginning with a visit to Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle on 59th Street and Broadway. On the surface it may appear like any other high-end shopping center you’ve seen, but if you’re in the area, it’s a great place to get away
from the bustle of the city streets and stroll at your leisure in the comfort of heating or air conditioning.

It’s added a few new shops since it first opened, such as J. Crew Men’s Shop; C Wonder, a new women’s clothing brand- (inexpensive and on-trend). In addition, a couple of favorite jeans companies—Lucky Brand and True Religion now have a home there.

If you’re not shopping, there are a few other good reasons to visit Time Warner Center. Hop on the elevator and go to the 4th floor. There you’ll find the Stone Rose Lounge. With its sleek, posh atmosphere that’s both warm and masculine (think polished wood and comfy leather chairs), its greatest feature is the giant wall-to-ceiling window overlooking central park and the glittering city rushing by below.

Across the hall is the entrance to Jazz at LincolnCenter. A must-visit in the evening for those who love live Jazz. This venue features several concert spaces featuring some of today’s greatest names in Jazz music. If you don’t want to commit to a full concert, I highly recommend Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. An intimate and inviting space, it’s roomier and less dark than most Jazz clubs in New York. And like the other restaurants at the Time Warner Center, it also has a grand window with a view. You can enjoy a live show with a full dinner while watching the sunset over the city. What could be better?

For those with less time and a smaller budget, definitely go downstairs below the lobby level to Whole Foods Supermarket. “Supermarket” you say? Don’t let its identity fool you. This Whole Foods has the most extensive and amazing prepared foods section in the city. Enjoy a hand-made flatbread pizza, or sizzling rotisserie chicken with your choice of side dishes, a Mexican buffet, and surprisingly good sushi made fresh right there. There’s a cafeteria-style seating area where you can enjoy your goodies.

And to my surprise—they also have a Beer bar called On Tap where they offer beers on tap, local wines by the glass, and hundreds of bottled beer selections.

Now that you’ve satisfied your appetite, head north along Broadway to Lincoln Center, home of The Metropolitan Opera. If you’re visiting New York City, this is a place you should not miss—even if just to take a photo of yourself in front if its famous fountain. If you do like opera, there’s no place like the Met. A grand spiral staircase takes you up to the theater. (Be prepared for tiny seats however—this isn’t the movies). When the show begins, the hanging chandeliers lift upwards into the ceiling as the room goes dark.

If you’re there early in the day, or don’t have time to see a show, The Met has a worthy gift shop with everything from men’s haberdashery, ladies costume jewelry and accessories, cute items for the kitchen like a violin-shaped cutting board, or a cool apron that says “Trebble in the kitchen” for $28.00. If you’re looking for a souvenir for someone with discerning taste (a miniature Statue of Liberty won’t do)—this is a great place to stop. And a big well-kept secret is the back end of the shop.  Back there is a room filled with opera CDs (Yes CDs!)  Here you’ll find Gershwin, Handel, Bellini, Busoni, and the list goes on. They even have operas on DVD for those really avid fans. And please don’t leave without getting a pair of genuine opera glasses ($60).

Now head North to 66th Street and Broadway, and visit Century 21 department store. What makes this place noteworthy is that you can find great high-fashion designer pieces at big discounts. Keep in mind that they only offer pieces from previous seasons—but who cares? These are fashions that you would love to own, but maybe can’t buy at full price. You’ll see designers like Rochas, Jil Sander, Zac Posen, Burberry and Margiela. But I only recommend going if you have time—Century 21 doesn’t organize their racks as neatly as other stores do, so you will have to have patience to go through all of the possible hidden fashion gems. But when you do find that perfect dress or handbag, it’s like striking gold! (And just to let you know—there’s another bigger Century 21 in lower Manhattan across from the Freedom Tower)

Leave Century 21, and walk east around the corner to Columbus Avenue and go north. Columbus Avenue is a nice little shopping district (Yes, clothes again), featuring shops like Rag & Bone, Reiss, Burberry, Kate Spade, Theory and a few other favorites. One of my favorite stops is the Kangol shop on 69th Street. This tiny space is packed with the latest seasonal hats –all from Kangol for both men and women. Prices are reasonable. A knit cap is about $55.

After all of that shopping, you may want a snack. Walk west back to Broadway, and go to the corner of 72nd street for an authentic New York hot dog at Grays Papaya. This place has stood the test of time because all they sell are hot dogs-- all day long. These are better by far than the overcooked, flavorless dogs they sell at the umbrella carts throughout Manhattan. These are grilled to give you the charbroiled taste outside, and a juicy flavorful hotdog inside. Add your favorite toppings, and splash down a cold pineapple juice. And for less than $5.00, it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
Contributor: J. Davis Kone, NYC


Stick to Fifth! 

New York City is enormous and there are so many things to do, I sometimes find it hard to focus when I’m there. Ket asked me to share where I would spend my time and to lend you some focus – my idea is stick to 5th, one of the most expensive streets in the world. Enjoy art, culture and the great out-of-doors, maybe some shopping along the way. Another benefit of this mode is that it is difficult to get lost.

It is a major thoroughfare in Manhattan. There are a lot of over-the-top shopping opportunities on Fifth Avenue that will satisfy every shopper’s tastes:

Start your journey at the Guggenheim and create your own chronology, personally my day is punctuated by refreshments and rest stops, and in this case, brunch, tea, cocktails at sunset. New York seems to be built for occupying the leisure hours.

Get fortified with brunch and an exhibit of a living artist at the Guggenheim. Afterwards, make your way into Central Park, head towards the Central Park Boathouse – why not take a paddle, admiring the views of the city, the park and the people (fascinating at any time of day). Be rowed around on a gondola, if you do not feel the need to do it yourself. Alternatively, rent a bike, and see how much ground you can cover. At this lovely place, you will also find quite decent bloody marys, should you be thirsty.

Wind your way through the park and head back out to Fifth, at the corner of 5th & 59th Street, you’ll find an old icon and a new – the Plaza Hotel and the Apple Store. Just across the street begins the true shopping – the traditional department store, Bergdorf Goodman, with Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue just a stroll away. For a visit to the New York we see in the movies, the Rockefeller Center and St Patrick’s Cathedral will be just ahead.

Keep track of time – get back to the Met in time to see sunset from the roof – unbelievable view of the New York City skyline with Central Park in the foreground. This is art and city life mixed together.

North to South, some of my favorite places on Fifth Avenue, along with some current happenings (the chronology is up to you):

The Guggenheim and Brunch
Exhibit - Carrie Weems at the Guggenheim

Sunday brunch at The Wright (located at Fifth Avenue and 88th Street, make reservations through Open Table or by calling 212 427 5690)

Sunday hours: 10:00am-5:45pm, brunch 11:00am-3:30pm
Admission: Adults $22, Children under 12 free

The Met and Sunset
Thinking big, bringing art to Americans of the 19th century, a group of American philanthropists brought their idea of culture to life.

Exhibit to see: Gallery of Egyptian Art
Sunset will be between 7:30-7:45pm, get to the roof, get a fancy drink from the bar and watch the sun go down over Central Park.
New York Pass -

Central Park Boat House
Rent a boat or a bike at the Central Park Boat House:

The Frick Collection
Cool, a lecture by an iconic American artist!
Artists, Poets, and Writers Lecture Series: "Jeff Koons on Sculpture," Jeff Koons, artist Thursday, April 24, 2014, 6-7p.m.

Lectures take place in the Music Room
Join Us
Free, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not accepted.

Don’t miss the Whistler – and the mansion itself is a tribute to the pursuit of culture. Do rich people still seek culture, or only fame?
Admission: $20, but on Sundays, pay what you wish from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – this does, however, conflict with brunch plans

Apple Store Fifth Avenue
767 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10153
(212) 336-1440
Store hours:
24/7, 365 days a year
(you read it right, every day, all day – plus, gratis wifi, don’t have your own device? Just log on to one of the display devices and make a call or write an e-mail)

Bergdorf Goodman
Department store, American style – at the corner of 5th & 58th
Contributor: K. Long

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