Just organized this agenda for friends visiting from Germany (one is a first-timer and one has been here several times). I’ve put together the list with a focus on specific areas of Manhattan, walkability, and weather conditions. I have not included obvious tourist attractions like the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. I have, however, included substitutes that give you the same experience but from a local’s perspective. Also have focused on Manhattan vs. Brooklyn or Queens to keep it easy.
Governor’s Island- LOVE this if the weather is good!
Governors Island is open for visitors every day from May 23-September 27. Free ferry on weekends and $2 per person during the week. Ferries start at 10am from downtown at the Battery Maritime Building.
Good place to rent a bike and great views of Manhattan and Statue of Liberty. A great vibe and in the summer lots of art installations and fun events on the weekends including food trucks.
Schedule for the ferry, here.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The Memorial and the Museum are located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.
The 9/11 Memorial is free of charge and open to the public daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is $24 a ticket.
WTC Observation Deck (weather needs to be good – don’t waste your money if it is cloudy or raining)
One World Observatory opened May 29, 2015 at the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Observatory is located on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center.
Buy tickets online approx. $30-$35 per person/timed entry. It’s a hot ticket so best to buy in advance (but with an eye on the weather!).
Brookfield Place (Hudson Eats, Le District, fashion retail and more)
230 Vesey Street, open from 10am – 9pm
Located in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, and bordered by West Street, the Hudson River, Vesey and Liberty Streets.
Hudson Eats is my favorite food court especially Blue Ribbon Sushi, Num Pang, Parm, Sprinkles cupcakes, Umami Burger, Dig Inn.
Le District is the new French market with restaurants and take-out.
Stores and services: J. Crew, Lululemon, Theory, Tory Burch, Vince and many more.
NOTE: This works both if weather is great (eat outside overlooking the water and the marina) but also if it’s raining (lots of indoor seating and activities).
DOWNTOWN/MIDTOWN WEST SIDE
High Line (weather has to be good)
The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. It is one of NYC’s top destinations with over 5MM people visiting each year.
Open from 7am – 10pm – GET HERE EARLY!!! By noon, it’ll be jampacked and not nearly as much fun. Check out art installations on the way, fantastic views of the city, delicious paleta ices (the pineapple/jalapeno is my favorite sprinkled with chili powder), or stop for a glass of wine at Terroir.
You can start at 34th Street and 12th Avenue (across from Javits Center) and walk downtown to the Whitney or start downtown and head up to 34th street.
Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new building includes approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces facing the High Line. It’s my favorite new museum – a really dreamy space!!
Open 10:30am-6pm (closed Tuesday)
Newly opened, a really hot spot, order tickets online if interested.
If weather is nice, great outdoor spaces.
Santina restaurant, 820 Washington Street
Sleek, glassed-in space under the High Line for Italian seafood & grilled fare by the Carbone team.
Delicious, very popular, new. Definitely need reservation. Also have outside seating.
Gansevoort Market, 52 Gansevoort Street
Open daily from 8am – 9pm
Rustic-industrial food hall with a variety of popular counter-serve eateries, produce stalls & more. Options include sandwiches, pizza, tacos (tacombi truck is there), empanadas, sushi, coffee and more.
Other Meatpacking/Chelsea places worth checking out:
Fun neighborhood to walk around and explore. Wide variety of shopping options here from Theory, AllSaints, Vince, Scoop, Warby Parker, Kiehl’s, Lululemon, Tory Burch, Asics, Levi’s, Intermix and Owen.
Apple Store, 401 West 14th Street
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue at 16th Street
Chelsea Market is a food hall, shopping mall, office building and television production facility.
Galleries: Top contemporary galleries with consistently outstanding shows at Gagosian, David Zwirner, Pace, Marlborough and many more.
FLATIRON/ CHELSEA/ GRAMERCY PARK
Union Square Farmers Market
Friday and Saturday 8am – 6pm
The world-famous Union Square Greenmarket began with just a few farmers in 1976. Now, in peak season 140 regional farmers, fishers, and bakers sell their products to a dedicated legion of city dwellers.
ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway @19th Street
ABC Carpet & Home’s six-floor Manhattan flagship is a top destination for NYC stylists, decorators and creatives who check it out regularly for design ideas and inspiration. It retains a warehouse aesthetic: Worn hardwood floors creak under your feet, glittering chandeliers and gigantic antique carpets adorn the high ceilings, and furniture vignettes are everywhere.
Eataly, 200 5th Avenue at 23rd street (10am-11pm daily)
An “experience like no other”, this mammoth Flatiron food hall from the Batali-Bastianich team is a foodie’s dream come true, with its all-Italian array of counters selling cheese, coffee, fish, gelati, pasta, pizza, vegetables and wine, plus a new Nutella bar. This mind-blowing enterprise is a definite must for anyone who likes to eat.
Lego Store, 200 5th Avenue @ 23rd street
Open 10am-8pm daily
One of my favorite stores because it is so magical and creatively inspiring. Always seems to attract as many young adults as kids.
Shake Shack, Southeast corner of Madison Square Park nr Madison and E. 23rd (open daily 11am-11pm)
The original 10-year-old outpost of Danny Meyer’s cult burger stand reopened recently, having been rebuilt from the ground up. Always expect a line a mile long but also remember that if you’re not getting burgers e.g. only drinks or frozen custard, there is a much shorter line!!
On sunny summer days, Madison Square Park becomes one of the city’s hottest destinations. Lines of hungry visitors craving a taste of the Shake Shack’s milkshakes and hamburgers wrap around the block. There’s always top-notch, beautiful art to be found in the park as well. And if you’ve been doing a lot of walking, it’s a fabulous place to sit down, chill out, have a burger or frozen custard along with a beer or a glass of wine. A special place for NYC.
DOWNTOWN/ EAST VILLAGE
Washington Square Park, at 5th Avenue and Waverly Place
Washington Square Park is one of the best-known of New York City’s 1,900 public parks. At 9.75 acres, it is a landmark in Greenwich Village, as well as a meeting place for NYU students. Neighboring streets are filled with beautiful brownstones – especially on the north side of the park.
Other places worth checking out:
Broadway – from 8th Street to Prince Street you’ll come across Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Crate and Barrel, Dean & De Luca and Uniqlo among others.
Standard Hotel East Village, 25 Cooper Square at 6th Street
One of my favorite hangouts especially in the warmer months when I can eat and drink outside in the cafe, the restaurant garden or the South Garden. Very chill spot. And Narcissa Restaurant is one of my favorites.
Rockefeller Center @ 48th Street and 5th Avenue
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st streets.
Guided Tour is worthwhile at $20 a ticket. An expert historian will guide you through the Center’s most significant buildings, gardens and spaces. Follow along with your own personal headset and enjoy this uninterrupted account through a closed circuit connection.
Uniqlo, 666 5th Avenue @ 53rd street (hours 10am-9pm)
Clothing retailer producing a collection of casualwear & accessories for men, women & children – especially popular with guys.
Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street bet 5th avenue and 6th avenue (open daily from 10:30am-5:30pm)
MOMA is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world.
Plaza Hotel/ Todd English Food Hall, 1 west 59th street (hours 10am-10pm)
One of my absolute favorites when I am in this part of town. The Todd English Food Hall was designed by renowned architect Jeffrey Beers and mirrors the aesthetics of the finest food specialty markets throughout the world.
UPPER EAST SIDE – MUSEUM ROW/ALONG 5TH AVENUE AND CENTRAL PARK
Metropolitan Museum, 1000 5th Avenue @ 82nd Street (open daily from 10am-5:30pm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world.
Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Avenue @ 89th St (open 10am-5:45; closed Thursday)
Frank Lloyd Wright–designed modern-art museum with an architecturally significant spiral rotunda.
Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is located in a historic townhouse on the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile. Love this museum – especially since its recent renovation.
Great walking tour. My preference would be to start uptown at Grant’s Tomb and then wend my way gradually down the west side via Central Park West.
Grant’s Tomb, West 122nd Street and Riverside Drive (open Wednesday thru Sunday 9am-5pm)
Grant’s Tomb, now formally known as General Grant National Memorial, is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant.
Columbia University, 116th Street and Broadway (huge beautiful, leafy campus)
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university located in Morningside Heights, in Upper Manhattan.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue @112th Street (open daily from 7:30am-6pm)
Immense, historic church known for its concerts, Sunday service & annual blessing of the animals and bikes. The adjacent Peace Garden is one of the most whimsical places in the city.
Walk down Central Park West Historic District, From 97th Street to 61st Street along Central Park West
The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 1982. The district contains a number of prominent New York City landmarks, including The Dakota Apartments, a National Historic Landmark. The buildings date from the late 19th century to the early 1940s and exhibit a variety of popular architectural styles. The majority of the district’s buildings are of neo-Italian Renaissance style, but Art Deco is a popular theme as well.
Museum of Natural History, 77-79th Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
As you approach 77th Street, you’ll see the grounds of the American Museum of Natural History. This is one of New York’s top attractions, with a world-class collection of dinosaurs. Stop in if you have time, or take the path through the museum lawn, passing the New York Times time capsule (established at the turn of the millenium and designed by Santiago Calatrava) at 79th Street.
Noteworthy Buildings Enroute
This link provides detailed information on every building on Central Park West.
Beresford, 211 Central Park West @ 81st Street
At the corner of 81st Street and Central Park West rise the three cupola-topped towers of the Beresford, a grand apartment building. Jerry Seinfeld has a multimillion-dollar duplex here, and is currently building a private garage on 83rd Street with space for his collection of 20 Porsches.
San Remo, 145-146 Central Park West @75th Street
Between 75th and 74th Streets stands the San Remo, another landmark apartment building designed by Emery Roth, architect of the Beresford. In the depths of the Depression, the projects fared poorly, and the two buildings were sold together for the total sum of $25,000.
The Dakota, 1 West 72nd Street
At Central Park West and 72nd Street stands the brooding fortress-like hulk of the Dakota (so named because the developer’s friends told him the site was so far north that it might as well be in Dakota territory). Though it’s been home to an illustrious group of tenants over the years-Lauren Bacall, Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, and many more, the Dakota will forever be associated with John Lennon, who was tragically gunned down outside its gates on 72nd Street. John’s widow, Yoko Ono, still lives here.
It’s only appropriate, after visiting the Dakota, to make a pilgrimage into Central Park across the way. Just inside the 72nd Street entrance is Strawberry Fields, a beautifully landscaped area dedicated to Lennon’s memory. It’s one of the loveliest, most tranquil spots in the park.
Ghostbusters Building, 55 Central Park West
Informally known as “Ghostbusters Building” since the 1984 movie was filmed there. In the film, the building (referred to as “Spook Central”) was said to have been designed by mad architect Ivo Shandor, in reality, the Art Deco building was constructed in 1929 and designed by Schwartz & Gross. The 19-floor building was portrayed as taller in the film.
Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle @ 59th Street/Central Park West (open daily from 10am-9pm)
Brand-name fashion shops & upscale eateries share space around a soaring five-story central atrium. Definitely check out the basement Whole Foods