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New York See And Do

American Folk Art Museum
45 W. 53rd Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 265 1040

Like the Guggenheim, this Midtown museum, which opened in 2001, is as notable for its building as for its collections. The exterior is a patchwork of bronze alloy panels that change hue according to the position of the sun; the interior is a series of open spaces dramatically illuminated by skylights. The 4,000-object collection spans 300 years of folk art, including intricate quilts, weather vanes, and paintings.

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American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at W. 79th Street
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 769 5100

No child—or adult for that matter—who has strolled under the enormous blue whale has ever forgotten this cavernous museum on the Upper West Side. It's still best known for its dinosaur skeletons, but other perennial favorites include the stuffed animals, so carefully preserved that they appear ready to walk out of the dioramas and prowl down the corridors. Don't miss the hall of African mammals with its centerpiece herd of elephants. Temporary exhibits sometimes include live creatures, like the annual butterfly exhibit (October through May). The Rose Center for Earth and Space provides its own set of thrills: The space show, Journey to the Stars, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, can sell out so it's advisable to get tickets online in advance. Other highlights include a 15-ton meteor displayed in the Hall of the Universe.

Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th Street
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 531 5300

Built in 1914 as a burlesque theater, this Harlem landmark changed to its current status as a showcase for African-American talent in 1934, opening the stage on Amateur Night to anyone with the courage to face the notoriously tough audience. One of the first non-professionals to try her luck was a young singer named Ella Fitzgerald; others who have emerged via the same route over the years include James Brown and Lauryn Hill. Today, after a restoration that revitalized the theater's interior and facilities, established stars ranging from Prince to Tony Bennett regularly come to the theater for a performance. Amateur Night is still every Wednesday, and still a hoot.

Baseball in New York City

What rite of passage is as loaded with emotion, pride, and nostalgia as a summer day out at the baseball stadium? Both of the city's Major League teams—the Yankees and the Mets—both recently got new stadiums: The Mets' longtime home ground, Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, hosted its last game in late 2008, and was replaced by the Citi Field, a new stadium constructed in Shea's old parking lot. The Bronx-based Yankees swapped one Yankee Stadium for another in 2009. The rivalry between the two New York teams could be charitably described as fierce, but let's just say that between them they've produced some of the country's greatest sporting heroes: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Mays, to name a few. Even if you're not a sports fan, this is a classic New York experience and the perfect way to soak up some sunshine over hot dogs and beers (though the concessions aren't easy on the wallet). Purchase tickets in advance via the Major League Baseball site——or turn up at the stadium two and a half hours early on game day.

Beaches of the Hamptons

The Atlantic beaches of the Hamptons are some of the prettiest the country has to offer: clean, wide, often completely uncrowded—even on summer weekends—and set off by patchy wild dunes with no hulking, pink resort hotels to ruin the idyllic views. Finding a beautiful beach is as easy as turning down any of the small, zigzaggy lanes that run off Route 27 and continuing until you find some sandy parking spots off a dead-end road. Beware the limits on those choice parking spaces, though: Parking permits are required for the majority of beaches, and only residents can get them. Luckily, some of the better hotels buy them in bulk for guests—ask before you book. Otherwise, your options will likely come down to risking a ticket, walking or renting a bike instead, or stashing your car a good distance from the beach. Our favorite sandy strips follow, from west to east.

For access to Mecox Beach, a nice spot in Bridgehampton down Jobs Lane, be prepared to adopt one of the aforementioned strategies; the same goes for Sagaponack's Sagg Main Beach, to the east of Mecox, a popular social spot for a younger crowd. Farther down the coast is Gibson Beach, a nice, small stretch with a low-key, upper-crust vibe—if the upper crust can reliably be said to have vibes—and where, supposedly, women's tops are optional (parking permit required). Georgica Beach has an exclusive reputation and a prestigious location close to the mansions of Lily Pond Lane and Georgica Pond (parking permit only). East Hampton's Main Beach is the center of the action, with crowds and concession stands (a draw for some, a turnoff for others) and a see-and-be-seen energy (ditto); it's also one of only two beaches in East Hampton with daily summer parking, which costs $25 and is permitted only on weekdays. Close to the divide between East Hampton and Amagansett, Two Mile Hollow (same parking policy as East Hampton Main) has a reputation as a gay-friendly beach. Amagansett's Atlantic Avenue Beach offers $15 daily parking Monday through Friday, as well as lifeguards. Past Amagansett, where the Old Montauk Highway diverges from Route 27, Hither Hills State Park offers camping and fishing, a long beach, and the "walking" dunes of Napeague Harbor (entrance fee is $8 per car). Montauk's Kirk Park Beach, just off the two-lane highway, has $10 parking seven days a week, although youthful, fun Ditch Plains is the surfers' beach of choice in Montauk. While not quite as postcard-perfect as some East Hampton beaches, it has the Ditch Witch, a popular snack-stand hangout, and surfers to stare at as you while away another summer day. It once offered free parking; now, perhaps unsurprisingly, a town permit is required.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Big Onion Walking Tours
Tel: 212 439 1090

This walking-tour company has a wide range of trips exploring every facet of the city, from Brooklyn Heights to Chinatown to Harlem. Among the highlights: walking the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring Brooklyn Heights, a "Gangs of New York" tour, a gay and lesbian history tour, and a tour of Irish New York.

Bike Rentals in the Hamptons

Seriously consider pedaling to the beach: It's the best way to avoid the whole parking-permit dilemma and the slow torture of Route 27 traffic on a summer weekend. Bermuda Bikes rents street and hybrid bikes and will deliver them to your hotel or rental house—though delivery and pickup costs can soar up to $100 if you're as far out as Montauk (36 Gingerbread Ln., East Hampton; 631-324-6688).

Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx , New York
Tel: 718 367 1010

The scarcity of kid-friendly spaces in New York can be trying if you've got family in tow, especially since the few that do exist are notoriously crowded. That's why the Bronx Zoo is such a welcome respite. Spread across 265 acres of leafy woodlands, the zoo's primary mission is to provide natural settings for more than 4,000 animals. The "African Plains" exhibit mimics a savanna, with predators and prey roaming in the same environment, separated by moats. (The only problem with this setup is that the animals are often a long way from the paths, and small children might have trouble spotting them.) More exciting for little ones is the children's zoo and the Congo Gorilla Forest, a 6.5-acre habitat in which visitors get up close with the primates while wandering under a thick canopy of mist-shrouded leaves. Other highlights include Tiger Mountain and the "Himalayan Highlands," where the zoo's snow leopards can be seen lounging on steep rocky hills. Afterwards, drop by the New York Botanical Garden (just across the street), a bucolic 250-acre oasis complete with river, waterfall, endless flower species, and a 50-acre swath of native forest similar to what would once have covered the city. The zoo is accessible vis the Metro-North Harlem line from Grand Central, by subway, or by the BxM11 express bus with stops along Madison Avenue north of 26th Street.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm, weekends and holidays 10 am to 5.30 pm. Wednesday admissions are on a donation basis.

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Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue
Fort Greene
Brooklyn , New York
Tel: 718 636 4100
Subway: 4, 5, B, Q, 2, or 3 train to Atlantic Avenue

BAM is one of the premier avant-garde venues in the country, showcasing music, theater, and modern dance. Curators take chances that couldn't be taken in Manhattan, and the results can be dazzling. Radiohead played live as accompanists to a Merce Cunningham debut, for example, and Flaubert's Temptation of St. Anthony found itself adapted to theater and set to a gospel score. The schedule ramps up during the fall for the annual Next Wave festival: Highlights will include the U.S. premiere of Frank Wedekind's Lulu and a Sufjan Stevens video commission (a nod to the next generation of patrons, no doubt). BAM's 1908 terra-cotta pile in Fort Greene houses an opera house, café, and cinema featuring current indie releases and themed retrospectives. A separate building named after Harvey Lichtenstein, the dancer who served as BAM's executive director for 32 years, hosts a smaller theater with big-name performances such as Ian McKellen in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear.

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Brooklyn Bridge
Pedestrian access at City Hall Park
Financial District
New York City , New York

When it was completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a marvel of civil engineering—the longest suspension bridge in the world. Over 150,000 people walked across the bridge opening day. Today, the number of car crossings per day approaches that number, but the best views of the crisscrossing steel cables, neo-Gothic stone archways, and majestic cityscapes are still to be had by the commuters, tourists, and idling New Yorkers who cross the span by foot or bicycle. Stop under the arches to trace the history of the bridge, including the story of famed engineer Washington Roebling, who inherited the construction project after his father's death, and completed it via telescope from his apartment while suffering from the bends. Access the bridge near City Hall on the Manhattan side, or take the A train to High Street in Brooklyn and look for the stairs to the bridge walkway at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street, under the bridge's approach. Always be alert on the path; bicyclists gaining momentum on the way down from the center tend to swerve outside the dedicated lane. Once you're across the East River from Manhattan, use our Brooklyn Insider Guide to find places to eat and shop.

Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn , New York

This stage-set of a neighborhood remains the most expensive real estate in the borough. The Promenade was once the saddest place in New York, with its grandstand view of the burning twin towers—and it hosted many a candlelight vigil—but that same panorama of the (truncated) Lower Manhattan skyline remains a great sight. From there, amble the streets and ogle the Federal, Italianate, and Greek Revival brownstones, atmospheric backdrop for the many writers—Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Paul Bowles, and W.H. Auden—who have called this quarter home. A stop off at the Brooklyn Historical Society will put the surroundings in context (128 Pierrepont St.; 718-222-4111;; closed Mon. and Tues.). Be sure to pick up a pocket-sized map at the front desk listing architectural highlights. Henry and Montague Streets are lined with restaurants and shops, though there's a surprising dearth of decent food here, considering the moneyed surroundings. Jack the Horse Tavern, a gastropub on the Heights' northern edge, is probably your best bet (66 Hicks St.; 718-852-5084; At the southern end lies Brooklyn Borough Hall, a Greek Revival structure known as Brooklyn's oldest public building. Visit its farmer's market every Tuesday and Saturday year-round (as well as Thursdays from April to December). The New York Transit Museum hidden in plain sight on Schermerhorn Street below a sign that looks like an actual subway stop, is well worth your time—it has interactive exhibits and vintage train cars from all eras (corner of Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St.; 718-694-1600;

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Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn , New York
Tel: 718 638 5000
Subway: 2, 3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum

This Beaux Arts building houses the second-largest permanent collection in the city, with more than a million objects. Its gallery of American paintings (which includes works by John Singer Sargent and Georgia O'Keeffe) is considered to be one of the finest in the States, and it was the first museum to present American art as distinct from European. The ancient Egyptian exhibit is also world renowned. A $63 million glass entrance pavilion added in 2003 had the architectural community swooning, and its First Saturdays—when there's art, entertainment, as well as a cafe and a bar open until 11 pm—are as fun a night out in the borough as any. The solicitous zeal for community outreach isn't without grumbling in the arts world, however. Some complain that past exhibitions—Star Wars and hip-hop, for example—have been unabashedly populist. A well-received Basquiat retrospective and contemporary Caribbean Art exhibition, however, were both a compelling enough draw for Manhattanites and a tribute to the sea of Haitian and West Indian communities that surround them.

Open Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm; 11 am to 11 pm on first Saturdays

Carnegie Hall
57th Street and 7th Avenue
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 247 7800

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was determined to build the grandest concert hall in the country when he endowed this magnificent auditorium in 1889. Two years later the main hall and two other performance spaces opened in an imposing Renaissance-style building, with acoustics deemed to be virtually perfect. In the century since, the name Carnegie Hall has become synonymous with the apex of achievement in the musical field—the reason everyone from Pavarotti to the Beatles has performed here. But even if it's an unknown artist on stage, the whole experience—the red carpets, the curving balconies, the thrum of history—is a performance in itself.

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Central Park
New York City , New York

New York City without the park is a dismal thought. Created by visionary landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the mid-1800s, the 843-acre park stands as the calming yang to the city's fervent go-go yin, with ample nooks and open fields to allow for just about any pursuit. (Did you catch that guy playing violin on a unicycle?) Its boundaries run from 59th St. north to 110th St. and from Fifth Ave. on the east side to Central Park West. There are simply too many attractions to list: First-timers might pick a section and wander-go-lucky, or hunt down specific sights. A good option is to begin from the southeast corner at 59th St. and Fifth Ave., near the iconic, newly revamped Plaza Hotel, and head diagonally northwest—you'll likely pass the Zoo (sorry—the Wildlife Center); the Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre field that serves as a prime summer tanning and pickup spot; the area near the volleyball nets where a faithful set of characters roller-skate to old disco tunes every weekend; and then arrive at the Bethesda Terrace, where two sets of stately stairs lead down to the Angel of the Waters Fountain and its lake. The area is the most picturesque spot in the park. The Loeb Boathouse, on the east side near 72nd St., is where New Yorkers come to have brunch and watch boaters; if they're feeling romantic (and energetic), they might even rent a boat themselves (212-517-2233; If you find yourself in the northern tier, stroll through the Conservatory Gardens on the east side at 105th St.. The cheapest thrill in all of Manhattan is the Carousel at 64th Street—$1.50! The north end of the park, past the Reservoir, feels wilder and more remote, with trails that lead into the woods and past streams—you won't even feel like you're in New York. Always, you'll find characters, musicians, and a spot to be left alone—heaven in the city.

Chelsea Gallery District
W. 13th to W. 29th Streets from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway
New York City , New York

There's no better place to survey the most buzzed-about names in contemporary art than in west Chelsea. On Saturdays, these blocks crawl with curious onlookers and art investors on the prowl for the next Jeff Koons. Though some critics carp about Chelsea's increasing predictability (yes, that's another Warhol), there's still plenty of cutting-edge fare on display. The area is home to 230 venues, from the not-for-profit, contemporary gallery CUE Art Foundation (511 W. 25th St.; 212-206-3583; to blue-chip dealers such as PaceWildenstein (545 W. 22nd St. and 534 W. 25th St.; 212-989-4258; and the Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th St. and 522 W. 21st St.; 212-741-1111; When planning your stroll, keep in mind that galleries often keep limited hours or are open by appointment only; provides a good overview of the area. Art critic Merrily Kerr runs excellent tours of the neighborhood, taking you to a range of galleries and helping to put the pieces into context with what's going on in the larger art world.

Puzzling over video installations and abstract paintings is bound to leave you hungry—luckily, the district happens to be flanked by Tenth Avenue's excellent swath of restaurants, like Cookshop's locally sourced American cuisine (156 Tenth Ave.; 212-924-4440; After lunch, wander above it all on the High Line, a former elevated train line that has been converted into a park overlooking the city and the Hudson River.

New York City , New York

The largest Asian community in North America has expanded its territory over the years, reaching into the Lower East Side and Little Italy; Manhattan's Chinatown now extends from Worth St. to Broome St. between Broadway and Madison St., but the main streets are Canal and Mott. The area is packed with markets overflowing with vegetables and fish, restaurants and noodle shops, stores selling everything from silk robes to discount luggage, and basement massage parlors where you can get a good, cheap shiatsu. If you don't like crowds, though, beware: It's a virtual mosh pit of humanity down here, and challenging to negotiate on foot. But there's also a spiritual side, particularly in the Eastern States Buddhist Temple on Mott St., where golden Buddhas are lit by candlelight.

Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue at E. 42nd Street
Midtown East
New York City , New York

Automotive tycoon Walter Chrysler wanted to build the tallest building in the world, and when this stainless-steel skyscraper opened in 1930, it was—at least until the Empire State Building was completed a few months later. His edifice may no longer have the height advantage, but architecture critics (and many New Yorkers) give it the edge on style, thanks to the automotive themes that rev up its Jazz Age design—the overlapping hubcaps that make up the building's crown and the eagle hood ornaments that extend from eight corners of the 61st floor. (For a behind-the-scenes look at Condé Nast Traveler's September 2006 cover shoot with Naomi Watts atop one of the 61st-floor gargoyles, click here.) It's a romantic building, particularly when lit up at night. Visitors can also check out the lobby during regular business hours, with its airplane ceiling mural and carved-wood elevator doors.

The Cloisters
Fort Tryon Park
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 923 3700

A branch of the Met devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, the Cloisters is a series of medieval passageways reconstructed from French monasteries and incorporated within a modern museum. Situated in Fort Tyron Park at the northern tip of Manhattan above 189th Street, the museum exists largely thanks to a generous endowment from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who helped the Met purchase not only the collection but the new building and 700 acres of land in New Jersey, which preserves the bucolic views across the Hudson. The collection includes tapestries, stained-glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, and sculpture, mainly from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The Cloisters is a popular destination on sweltering summer days, when strolling the cool, calm passageways and gardens is a heavenly respite from the urban madness.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 am to 4:45 pm (November to February), 9:30 am to 5:15 pm (March to October). M-4 bus, with stops along Madison Avenue above 34th Street, is best direct transit to the park. You can also take the 1 train on the subway.

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Brooklyn , New York

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass was a wasteland not long ago. You could practically see tumbleweed bowling down Front Street. Now it's all lofts and home stores and converted factories, but it has a totally different feel from other gentrified Brooklyn 'hoods, since the real estate here is nearly all warehouses. The first section of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in spring 2010 as a seven-acre expanse at Pier 1 with grass lawns for picnicking and long rows of benches with views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The ambitious park will eventually occupy 85 acres along the waterfront. Braving the line at Grimaldi's Pizzeria is something of a Brooklyn tradition, and it's certainly worth a stab to sample one of the coal brick-oven fired pies—try the fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil (19 Old Fulton St.; 718-858-4300). For a pick-me-up afterwards, swing by Jacques Torres on Water Street—its signature hot chocolate, a heady mix of cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, and sweet ancho chile peppers, packs a nice punch (66 Water St.; 718-875-9772). Keep walking east on Front and you reach a curious neighborhood called Vinegar Hill, a cluster of small Federal-era brick row houses. If you keep walking east (it gets a bit hard to navigate through the housing projects), you reach the Navy Yard, a massive former U.S. Navy shipyard that now provides work spaces for a burgeoning population of artists and craftspeople and also houses Steiner Studios, a film production complex.

East Village
New York City , New York

From Houston Street up to 14th Street, and east from Broadway to Avenue C, the East Village has been home to 19th-century millionaires, waves of immigrants, and more recently, decades of counterculture. The Beat Generation arrived in the '50s, hippies in the '60s, punks in the '70s, and Madonna in the '80s. Today, gentrification has made it safe for the rest of us. The seedy drug dens of Alphabet City (Avenues A, B, and C) now house upscale restaurants and of-the-moment bars; Tompkins Square Park, where squatters incited by the police rioted in 1998, is now filled with strollers and dog-walkers; and an array of shopping choices means you can procure anything from New Age decoupage to a bustier designed by Chloë Sevigny or a garden gnome from the estate of Squire Van Tuyl, thanks to quirky auction house Everything Must Go ( But don't worry, there are still plenty of places in the neighborhood to get a tattoo—or a haircut that will drive your parents nuts.

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Ellis Island
New York Harbor
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 363 3200

Roughly 12 million immigrants passed through this island as they entered America from the late 1800s through the mid-1950s, sometimes at the rate of thousands a day. Their reception was not always welcoming, and their stories of hope and struggle are re-created today in the restored hall and museum. Walking through the Baggage Room and up to the Registry Room, visitors experience the path just as the immigrants did, tracing their fates through photographs, artifacts, and oral histories. Outside, the American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a testament to about 600,000 of those new Americans. Anyone who wants to research his or her ancestors can start a search at the American Family Immigration History Center, or on the island's website. This is history in a very palatable medium—trust us, you'll like it. To get there, board the Circle Line-Statue of Liberty ferry from Battery Park (at the southern tip of Manhattan). Tickets can be purchased at Statue Cruises. It's recommended that you arrive at the ferry two hours before your tour time, as boarding is on a first-come, first-serve basis—there are airport-style security measures—and the lines can get very long, especially during the summer.

Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 736 3100

With the tragic demise of the World Trade Center, this symbol of New York is again the city's most recognizable skyscraper and, at 1,050 feet, its tallest. Since the 86th-floor observatory opened in 1931, 110 million visitors—including King Kong, as well as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—have taken in the panoramic views. On a clear day, this is one tourist experience that actually lives up to its billing. Waits can exceed three hours in peak season, as masses of would-be gawkers proceed through security, ticket lines, and waits for the elevator. You can skip one of those lines when you buy a ticket online; midweek at 8 a.m. (opening time) and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. are generally the least crowded times. The speediest option, a $40 express ticket, guarantees that you'll be at the top in 20 minutes once you have a ticket in hand (though you still have to clear security).

Brooklyn , New York

Brooklyn may not have as many obvious tourist draws as its neighbor across the river, but its parties and festivals are not to be missed. If you can't get to Carnaval in Rio, the West Indian Carnival held each Labor Day is a boisterous, pulsating conga line of feathers, sequins, and steel drums blaring down Eastern Parkway ( The Mermaid Parade, held in Coney Island on the last Sunday of June, is the nation's largest arts parade, with thousands of revelers decked out in elaborate—and sometimes risqué—sea-inspired costumes. (Mermaids have a tendency to drift off into the ocean for a dip, which makes for quite the spectacle.) Celebrities such as David Byrne, Queen Latifah, and Moby have all sat in as parade royalty ( DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival is the biggest weekend in DUMBO, with interactive and guerilla-style art installations popping up all over the neighborhood (; last weekend in September). And Celebrate Brooklyn!, a summerlong outdoor festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell, boasts a dizzying spectrum of musical acts from indie stalwarts including TV On the Radio and Latin-punk superstars Manu Chao (

Forbes Galleries
62 Fifth Avenue
West Village
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 206 5548

The late publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes was an idiosyncratic and highly specific collector. A generous one, too: His finds are on view without charge in this gallery in Greenwich Village. The exhibits rotate, but on any given day, visitors can see Forbes' collection of antique toy soldiers, cast-iron toy boats from the 19th century, or handmade vintage Monopoly games. Forbes was known for his lavish lifestyle, but the quaint artifacts displayed here in magnificent detail are an ode to subtlety and nuance.

Prearranged groups only on Thursdays; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Frick Collection
1 E. 70th Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 288 0700

A real find among the city's museums, this collection housed in an exquisite Beaux Arts mansion on the Upper East Side represents the personal holdings of Henry Clay Frick. The 19th-century industrialist had excellent taste: Among the exhibits are rare collections of Limoges enamels, Chinese porcelains, French 18th-century furniture, and a who's who of painters from Rembrandt to Gainsborough to Vermeer. Proust scholars will enjoy Whistler's dark-hued portrait of Robert de Montesquiou, Arrangement in Black and Gold, the inspiration for the Baron de Charlus in Remembrance of Things Past. The quasi-residential setting—the antithesis of the Metropolitan Museum—lets you imagine living amongst this exquisite art.

Closed Mondays.

Governors Island
Tel: 212 440 2200

This 172-acre former military facility situated off the southern tip of Manhattan has become something of a warm-weather playground for open space–deprived downtowners and Brooklynites. Around 92 acres of the island's northern section are a National Historic Landmark District and open to the public during summer and early fall. Expansive lawns and shaded walkways are beyond bucolic, while the stately brick mansions and clapboard houses (formerly Army and Coast Guard housing) give the island the slightly spooky air of a quaint neighborhood abandoned when its inhabitants fled an unknown disaster. Ranger-led historic tours will give you perspective on the history of the island and a look inside the supposedly haunted Castle Williams, built in the early 1800s and used as a Civil War military prison. The best way to see the island is by bike, and a company called Bike and Roll rents everything from retro cruisers to family-friendly quadcycles for riding the road that encircles the island, giving you views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn. Once you've worked up an appetite, hit Water Taxi Beach for burgers, hot dogs, and beer to enjoy at picnic tables set on imported sand. Or pick up one of their Picnic Pouches (sandwiches, bottled water, and fruit plus a beach ball) and snag a prime spot under the trees.

To reach the island, take one of the free ferries from lower Manhattan's Battery Maritime Building near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Boats leave Manhattan every hour until 3 pm, and the last ferry departs Governors Island at 5 pm.—Emma Sloley

Open Fridays through Sundays late May through mid October, plus Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Grand Central Terminal
42nd Street and Park Avenue
Midtown East
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 340 2345 (tours)

In the entrance pavilion to this truly grand terminal, there is a small plaque dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It doesn't celebrate her status as a former First Lady—it thanks her for almost single-handedly saving this extraordinary Beaux Arts building from destruction when a skyscraper was planned to replace it. In 1976, largely due to her efforts, Grand Central was declared a National Historic Landmark, though only in recent years has it been restored to a state worthy of that title. From its exterior, with imposing statues of Minerva, Hercules, and Mercury flanking a 13-foot clock, to the epic 375-foot-long main concourse with its celestial ceiling, complete with zodiac constellations, this is a building of unquestionable beauty. Now, with the addition of shops and restaurants, it has also become a place for even noncommuters to congregate. Take a seat at one of the restaurants in the mezzanine and watch the throngs zig-zag their way around each other at rush hour. Among the terminal's lesser-known treasures: The Campbell Apartment, a 1920s cocktail bar that was once a private office and salon (212-953-0409;; the basement Oyster Bar, a slice of Old New York and still a great place for a martini (212-490-6650;; closed Sundays); and the tiny dark patch on the northwest corner of the ceiling's sky mural, a grubby memento of what the station looked like before its recent overhaul.

Greenwich Village/West Village
New York City , New York

The West Village extends from Houston to 14th streets and from the Hudson River to Broadway, where the East Village unofficially begins. Farmland in colonial times, it's now home to some of the most beautiful streets in the city: leafy, sometimes cobbled lanes dotted with 18th- and 19th-century brownstones and outdoor cafés. Poets, artists, writers, and anyone with an alternative lifestyle has long been drawn here. The gay community that used to make its headquarters along Christopher Street has mostly moved to Chelsea with the artists, but still takes to the Village streets for Gay Pride Day the last Sunday of June and for the nation's largest Halloween parade. Bleecker Street, which cuts a diagonal swath through the village from Hudson Street to Sixth Avenue, has become the epicenter of interest for visitors, thanks in part to landmarks such as Magnolia Bakery and a micro-neighborhood of swanky boutiques. Escalating real-estate prices mean many of the original pioneers have been replaced by high-income families and NYU college students, and national chains have replaced a number of the small, independently owned shops that used to give the area much of its character. But it's still easily the most charming neighborhood in Manhattan.

Guild Hall
158 Main Street
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 0806

Established in 1931, this museum, theater, and gathering place serves as a reminder of an era when the East End was as much a magnet for artists as it was for millionaires. Guild Hall hosts an annual gala as well as a members' exhibition, benefits, film series, and theater openings. The 2011 schedule includes a stand-up show by late-night comedian Colin Quinn, a conversation with chef Eric Ripert, and Roundabout Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. There's also a small permanent collection of works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Saul Steinberg, Chuck Close, and Larry Rivers. For event tickets, call the box office at 631-324-4050.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Hampton's Gym Corp
2 Fithian Lane
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 4499

On the East End, exercising is as fashionable as dining out. Alexis Stewart and her mother, Martha, are principal owners of this upscale mini-chain of fitness centers where, for $30 a day, you can work out at the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, or Southampton locations. (The latter is the biggest and newest of the three.) The Southampton and Sag Harbor branches offer classes ranging from cycling and kickboxing to yoga and Pilates, the price of which is included in your day-use fee. Alternatively, training director Chris Cosich can hook you up with a personal trainer, if you're willing to spend $75–$150 an hour to look beach-ready.

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The High Line
Manhattan's West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 500 6035

New York City's newest park, the High Line is brilliantly executed, hugely popular, and has become an instant must-see. Occupying an unused elevated rail line that parallels the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, the 1.5 mile–long promenade embodies the spirit of the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea—a nexus of art, design, commerce, and nightlife. Begin by climbing the stairs at Gansevoort Street or Chelsea Market, a painstakingly restored 1913 Nabisco factory turned gourmet emporium that runs from Ninth to Tenth avenues at West 15th Street. (The park has several other entrances, as well, including two with elevators.) Once up on the walkway, stroll along the concrete and wood pavings, grooved to echo the former train tracks. The park winds its way through and under buildings (including the Standard hotel), past art installations, and at eye level with apartments, billboards, water towers, and other elements of the New York City skyline. (Another ten-block section opened in June 2011; a third phase is planned if funds can be raised.)

The architecture, by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is clever, with benches, walkways, and planters seamlessly flowing together; there's even a set of bleachers overlooking the traffic on Tenth Avenue. Field Operations did the landscaping, using mostly native grasses and flowersa reminder of the weeds that covered the abandoned railway's surface for years before the park opened in 2009. It all comes together perfectly, a feat of engineering, imagination, and gumption (neighborhood residents lobbied tirelessly to get the park built). The High Line is the sort of fabulous project you expect to read about in a Wallpaper magazine story about some small, design-obsessed city in Europe, not in crass, commercial New York. But here it is, and New York couldn't be prouder.—Peter Frank

Open daily 7 am to 8 pm in winter, 7 am to 10 pm in summer.

Hudson River Park
Between Battery Place and W. 59th Street along the Hudson River
New York City , New York

A five-mile sliver of green between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River, this is downtown's open-space alternative to Central Park. Reclamation of the downtrodden waterfront is ongoing—though the area south of 23rd Street is already flourishing. Chelsea Piers (between W. 18th and W. 21st streets) is a year-round sports and recreation center with a driving range, bowling alley, restaurants, marina, and more. Pier 54 (at W. 13th St.) hosts film screenings and concerts. Further south, kids splash in the fountains on the Pier 51 playground (at Jane St.), and picnic space on the grassy knolls can be hard to come by when the temperature rises, especially on cruisey Pier 45 (at W. 10th St.), where the West Village's gay population comes to preen and sunbathe—this is the best place to get a glimpse of locals' enviable roof decks and the Richard Meier towers at Perry and Charles streets. The park's southernmost tier is a multi-million-dollar work in progress: Construction is underway to create lawns, bike paths, beach volleyball courts, a dog run, boat moorings, and a whole lot more, with the majority of work due to be completed in 2010. (For updates on progress, visit The popular Trapeze School New York, which teaches you to fly through the air 24 feet up (with a safety net, naturally), has relocated to the top of Pier 40 for the duration of the construction. Aspiring trapeze artists can test their mettle from April until October while taking in views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty (212 242 8769,

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 875 5456

By the sheer size of its facilities and the scope of its performances—approximately 400 events every year—this cultural complex, which opened in the mid-1960s and is in the midst of a massive, multiyear reconstruction project, claims the crown as the city's preeminent center for the performing arts. The Metropolitan Opera is based at, naturally, the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater, the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. Individual events and festivals are scattered throughout these and other performance halls, including the newest addition, Jazz at Lincoln Center, located several blocks south in the Time Warner complex. Summer sees special outdoor events, including Midsummer Night Swing, when the public boogies to live bands on the plaza, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors, a festival of free open-air performances.

Mashomack Preserve
Shelter Island , New York
Tel: 631 749 1001

With over 2,000 acres of woodlands, salt marshes, and pristine coastline, the Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve covers nearly a third of bucolic Shelter Island (take the car ferry to reach it). There are self-guided nature walks of various lengths, easy-to-follow maps, and the promise of a few hours of getting blissfully lost and forgetting all about the big city to the west.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm, July and August only.

Meatpacking District

Not so long ago, this was New York City's version of the Wild West—a warren of cobblestone streets abutting the West Side Highway, home to butchers and alternative-lifestyle night owls. Very little of that world exists now that the beef carcasses have moved out and the megaclubs, boutiques, and restaurants have moved in, with the stiletto-and-Prada crowd tottering swiftly behind. Still-standing stalwarts include Hogs & Heifers, where the shtick of bullhorn-shouting female bartenders who berate patrons and cut off their neckties with scissors was born (859 Washington St.; 212-929-0655;, and the first upscale joint to move to the hood, Keith McNally's always good, always packed bistro, Pastis (9 Ninth Ave.; 212-929-4844; Others haven't been so lucky—the classic all-night diner Florent, whose walls could no doubt tell some hair-raising stories, was shuttered as of mid-2008, pushed out by exorbitant rents. Lately places seem to open up more quickly than one can follow—the Hotel Gansevoort and clubs like Aer already seem kind of, well, old. While the neighborhood is fun and the shopping can be stellar (or should that be Stella?), it's also seeing the inevitable backlash—stop by during the week; weekends are elbow-to-elbow with way-too-drunk amateurs. Still, everyone can agree that the High Line elevated park and the hip (and affordable) Standard Hotel have gone a long way towards bringing the best of Meatpacking's past into its hip future.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 535 7710

Philippe de Montebello, who was the director of this epic museum for 31 years, once said that you can tour its highlights in an hour if you look selectively and walk very fast. Not to argue with the man, but we're not sure we believe it. You could spend weeks here admiring the collections. Among the highlights: a European painting gallery packed with masterpieces (Rembrandt, Giotto, Caravaggio, Raphael, Goya, El Greco, Turner, Vermeer, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne are all represented); a trove of Egyptian art and artifacts, including the showstopping reconstructed Temple of Dendur; an impressive selection of Greek and Roman statuary; American paintings and sculpture from colonial times through the present day; and prehistoric artifacts from all over the globe. Our suggestion is to pick two or three small sections you'd like to see, and then return another day for a few more. Or browse some of the less-appreciated and less crowded—but no less stunning—collections, such as the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, or the smallish but exquisite galleries of Modern Art. The museum's Costume Institute displays portions of its extensive collection of clothing from around the world in themed exhibits twice a year. Also make time to sit and people-watch in the common areas, such as the space by the American Wing Café, overlooking a fountain—you'll rarely hear as many languages spoken in one place. And if you're looking to actually meet one of those people, let us suggest the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (closed in winter), accessed by the southwest elevators on the first floor. It has amazing views of Central Park, hosts sculpture exhibits, and serves up simple drinks such as beer and wine. The Met is pretty much always buzzing, but the crowds thin on Friday and Saturday nights, when the museum stays open until 9:00 p.m.; members can get into some exhibits half an hour before they open to the public in the mornings.

Closed most Mondays.

Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue
Midtown East
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 685 0008

Worth visiting for its architecture alone, the 1906 personal library of Pierpont Morgan, the late 19th-century industrialist, was designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead and White. It's clear that no expense was spared—beneath an ornately painted ceiling, literary types will marvel at three tiers stacked with texts, as well as Thoreau's Walden Pond journal and preliminary sketches from the children's book Babar. Music lovers can peruse original manuscripts by Beethoven. A gallery upstairs in the Renzo Piano addition—an airy glass-and-steel structure completed in 2006 that unites three historic buildings—houses more adventurous special exhibits, compared with the somewhat staid permanent collection.

Closed Mondays.

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Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 708 9400

The world's preeminent museum for modern art reopened in November 2004 on its original site in a new building designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The new structure extensively expanded gallery space and added a soaring light-filled atrium 110 feet high. The walls themselves were designed to seem as if they float in space, reinforcing the idea that the building itself is an attraction. (Curiously, the new design also seems to bring in a lot more ambient noise than before, so on crowded days the resulting roar can be very distracting.) Then of course there's the art: The masterpieces in the permanent collection are too numerous to mention—among them Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Dalí's The Persistence of Memory, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon—and the collections of contemporary architecture, design, and photography could fill museums of their own. There's so much, in fact, that visitors are advised to keep their eyes peeled at all times—a very important piece, Matisse's Dance (I), hangs unceremoniously over the back stairwell, for example. If your schedule allows, avoid the steep $20 admission fee by attending "Free Fridays" from 4 pm to 8 pm (although it can get very crowded); the ever-present crowds dwindle a bit on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Inspired to take a piece of art home but don't fancy getting involved in a heist? The MoMa Design Store (there's also a Soho outpost) is a must-see, with everything from Frank Gehry stools to Banksy books to delicate metal light fixtures by Tord Boontje.

Neue Galerie
1048 Fifth Avenue
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 628 6200

Between the Met and the Guggenheim sits the Neue Galerie, the most recent (2001) addition to Museum Mile. A former home of society grande dame Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III, it displays a modest but focused collection of early 20th-century Austrian and German art and design—Egon Schiele's disconcerting studies of male-female relationships; Gustav Klimt's dazzling first portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, with its luminous patchwork of gold and silver; an elegantly simple table fan by Josef Hoffman. The museum's founders, Austrian art dealer Serge Sabarsky and cosmetics mogul Ronald Lauder, have put in a tiny design shop and Café Sabarsky, which evokes a Viennese café, in fitting with the theme (212-288-0665;

Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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The New Museum
235 Bowery
Lower East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 219 1222

Towering over the Bowery like a beacon of all things shiny and forward-thinking, the New Museum is one of the city's most talked-about landmarks. Designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in conjunction with Gensler New York, the building consists of six rectangular boxes covered in aluminum mesh and stacked precariously on top of one another like some giant children's toy. If the art doesn't always live up to the lofty exterior (the rotating contemporary exhibitions can be uneven), the great bookstore and panoramic roof terrace (open only on weekends) make it worth the visit, as do the ongoing "Night School" public seminars encompassing everything from 1970s seminal film screenings to performances from rockers such as Andrew WK.

Open Wednesdays, noon to 6 pm; Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 10 pm; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 pm. Admission free on Thursdays from 7 to 10 pm.

New York Botanical Garden
Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road
New York City , New York
Tel: 718 817 8700

Established in 1891, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden is an oasis for pavement-pounding city dwellers, just a 20-minute Metro North ride from Grand Central. Cedar, fir, and spruce trees shade winding paths that connect 50-plus gardens, plantings, and greenhouses populated by countless species of native and exotic flora. Among the highlights are the Magnolia Grove (blooms in April), Rockefeller Rose Garden (peaks in June and September), and the Irwin Perennial Garden (where there's something to see year-round). Inside the Victorian Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the "World of Plants" immerses visitors in ferns, palms, African euphorbias (a cousin of the cactus), and other tropical tendrils. In the Children's Adventure Garden, kids can explore a maze, jump on plastic lily pads to make water jets shoot up, or do a fun weekend workshop. Nearby are the Garden's research facility and a rare orchid collection with 6,000 different species hunted down by botanists and studied extensively on-site. The Garden's gates are open year-round but visiting is, of course, best (and busiest) in the spring.

Closed Mondays (except holidays).

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New York Harbor Tours

Touristy? Sure. Kinda cheesy? Check. But don't let that stop you from enjoying a perspective that's vastly underrated—seeing New York City from the water. Circle Line Sightseeing tours depart from Pier 83 on West 42nd Street and follow various routes: A three-hour tour encompasses the entire island, while the two-hour Semi-Circle and Harbor Lights cruises take in lower Manhattan (and provide what's arguably the most impressive view you'll ever get of the Statue of Liberty). It's a great way to get a handle on the history and geography of the city. And there's a bar on board if you need to calm your nerves after jostling with other out-of-towners for skyline photos. However, be sure to eat before your trip: The onboard food tastes as if it's been under warming lamps since before Lady Liberty graced the harbor. Purchase tickets online to avoid long lines at the pier. For a more sophisticated, intimate (and slightly pricier) maritime experience, try Shearwater Sailing, which offers morning, afternoon, sunset, and evening tours aboard a magnificent 1920s 82-foot Georgia Pine schooner, as well as Sunday brunch and wine-tasting cruises. There's a lot to be said for the elemental experience of sailing out into the Hudson with the wind in your hair, particularly on a balmy summer's night. Cruises depart daily from the North Cove Marina in Battery Park and go out beyond the Statue of Liberty.

New York City , New York

When the rents in SoHo zoomed, many smaller, idiosyncratic designers and shops moved to the area "North of Little Italy": Mulberry, Mott, and Elizabeth streets between Houston and Broome. What was once predominantly a working-class Italian neighborhood is now full of creative restaurants and cutting-edge boutiques displaying contemporary furnishings, fashion, and jewelry. Basically, it makes for a great wander, where you're likely to happen onto items that you never thought you needed or imagined you might be hungry for. The Mexican-style grilled corn drenched in butter and cheese from Café Habana is a great on-the-go snack (17 Prince St.; 212-625-2002; One nonshopping landmark: the original St. Patrick's Cathedral, now known as Old St. Patrick's. Located at Prince and Mulberry streets, it was the inspiration for the cathedral in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York.

Parrish Art Museum
25 Jobs Lane
Southampton , New York
Tel: 631 283 2118

Founded by art collector and benefactor Samuel Longstreth Parrish in 1897, this museum's collection is centered around American paintings of the late 19th and 20th centuries. It includes many of the artists, like Larry Rivers, who worked out of Eastern Long Island studios in the 1950s, as well as contemporary artists (such as Elizabeth Peyton and Erich Fischl) with Hamptons connections and the turn-of-the-century American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Southampton's first (and only) art museum is also in the midst of planning a major makeover: In 2012, it's expected to move to a new, 34,000-square-foot space in nearby Water Mill designed by Herzog & de Meuron.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mid-September through late May.

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Pollock Krasner House & Study Center
830 Springs-Fireplace Road
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 4929

It's hard to imagine Jackson Pollock mingling with the royalty-collecting creative set that has made the Hamptons its haunt in recent decades. Thanks to the preservation efforts of the Stony Brook Foundation, however, it's remarkably easy to imagine him painting here. Several miles outside East Hampton's flashy center, the farmhouse that Pollock shared with the artist Lee Krasner, his wife, sits within view of a gentle bend in the Accabonac Creek; a few steps away, inside the barn where he worked, jumbles of pencils, paint tubes, and stubs of chalk are piled in old cigar boxes. Pollock famously put his canvases on the floor, and his studio floor, more than a half-century after his death in 1956, is a colorful palimpsest of drips and swirls, some of them recognizable parts of his paintings One and Autumn Rhythm. The walls are decorated with photos of the artist at work; in the house, which looks as though Krasner (who died in 1984) only just vacated it, twice-a-year changing exhibitions are devoted to 20th-century American art.—Darrell Hartman

Open Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 5 pm, June through August; by appointment only Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm, September, October, and May.

Prospect Park
Park Slope
Brooklyn , New York
Subway: 2, 3 to Grand Army Plaza; B, Q to Prospect Park

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was reportedly more proud of this 585-acre idyll than anything else in his repertoire. He and partner Calvert Vaux secured the commission of Central Park several years prior but approached the design of Prospect Park, which was completed in 1868, with a vastly different vision. Think of it as a wilder, free-spirited version of its more famous cousin, with a lake for fishing, forested ravines, and horseback riding trails. Many formerly decaying landmarks have been restored, such as Lefferts Historic House, a quaint example of 18th-century farm life in Brooklyn, and the Beaux Arts boathouse, home to the country's first Audubon center. Overall, though, it's the grand sweep of the 90-acre Long Meadow that thrills, and where polyglot Brooklyn, with its lesbian softball leagues, Honduran soccer teams, and moneyed brownstoners all commingles in a hopeful, heartening display. There are multiple entrances, but the most convenient from Manhattan is via Grand Army Plaza, whose magisterial arch was built as a tribute to the victorious Union in the late 1800s.

Red Hook
Brooklyn , New York

Times have changed since Red Hook housed the city's longshoremen. The docks now greet the Queen Mary 2 when it cruises into town, and the same locale is home to the huge yellow and blue warehouse that is IKEA. Gentrification on Van Brunt Street is proceeding apace, and this happening strip is a good starting point for a visit. Stop by Hope and Anchor for delish veggie omelets and Bloody Marys (347 Van Brunt St.; 718-237-0276). Baked is like an edgier Magnolia Bakery, with frosted Bundt cake, Wi-Fi, and a groovy interior by local firm Hivemindesign (359 Van Brunt St.; 718-222-0345). Red Hook Bait & Tackle has emerged as the neighborhood's de facto watering hole, where artists and old-timers down Blue Point ale and play darts (320 Van Brunt St.; 718-797-4892). A bit to the north lies Brooklyn Collective, a design coop featuring hand-dyed Milton Carter T-shirts and chunky gold-chain bracelets by Jess Yam (196 Columbia St.; 718-596-6231). Red Hook isn't accessible via subway—indeed, its remoteness is part of the appeal—but the New York Water Taxi runs a shuttle every hour on the weekends from Pier 11, on the corner of Wall Street and South Street in downtown Manhattan.

Rockefeller Center
W. 47th Street to W. 51st Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 332 6868

John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s Art Deco masterpiece, Radio City Music Hall, was the first component of his eponymous Midtown development. The stage, with its signature 60-foot-tall proscenium arch, is still a venue for major concerts and events, as well as the totally campy Christmas Spectacular, featuring the high-kicking Rockettes. On a backstage tour, you can watch them rehearse, and admire the ornate ceilings, plush red seats, and the hydraulic system that's been in use since the 1930s (1260 Ave. of the Americas; 212-307-7171; Even if you can't do a triple lutz, it's almost obligatory to take a spin around the skating rink, flanked by skyscrapers and open from October through early April (between W. 49th St. and W. 50th St., just off Fifth Ave.; 212-332-7654). The 70th-story Top of the Rock observation deck, originally opened by Rockefeller in 1933, reopened in November 2005. Its panoramic views of the city stretch from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty (30 Rockefeller Center; 212-698-2000; tickets can be purchased at The view is equally impressive five floors below, in the legendary Rainbow Room, but the glamorous Art Deco restaurant and bar, along with its famous dance floor are closed while the property owners search for a new operator (30 Rockefeller Plaza; 212-632-5100;


This area, bounded by Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south and stretching from Lafayette Street to Varick Street, has gone from a manufacturing center to an artists' haven to an upscale shopping area. Unfortunately the quirkier designers have been elbowed aside by big-ticket international brands, though sometimes with designer architecture to match—don't miss the undulating magnetic staircase at Longchamp or Rem Koolhaas's over-the-top design for Prada. Despite the crowds of shoppers on weekends, parts of Soho are still very New York: The grande dame of downtown bistros, Raoul's, has been turning out its signature steak au poivre since the '70s—its peppercorn excellence must be tasted to be understood. Not far away is Bar 89, infamous for its single-occupant bathrooms upstairs: The doors are glass, but they frost over as soon as you close them. Stop in for a drink at Soho Grand, get a bowl of exceptional homemade soup from the stand on the corner of Mercer and Spring, and note the historic cast-iron buildings and the feeling of an older New York (except for the apartments that rent for $3,500 a month). On the southern stretches, around Broome, Grand, and Howard streets, you'll still see holdover individual boutiques mixed in with the Vuittons and Chanels; Mercer, Wooster, and Greene streets host a number of high-end furniture shops, and throughout the neighborhood street vendors hawk everything from handmade greeting cards to jewelry to vintage dresses. After hours, hit Blue Ribbon for late-night comfort food or La Esquina for haute-Mexican in a speakeasy setting.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue at E. 89th Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 423 3500

The unique spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—reluctantly, since he thought New York was too overbuilt—tends to overshadow the collections within. Designed as a reverse version of a Babylonian temple, the Guggenheim completely changed museum-going, sending visitors to the top floor first and then allowing them to wind their way down along a corkscrew ramp. What they see as they go are special exhibitions, like the 2008 installation by Cai Guo-Qiang that saw cars suspended from the central atrium—an exhibition described by Guggenheim director Thomas Krens as one of the "best artistic transformations of the Frank Lloyd Wright space we've ever seen." There are also rooms devoted to selections from the Guggenheim Foundation's eclectic collection, including sculptures by Brancusi and Arp and paintings by Picasso, Pissarro, de Kooning, Klee, and Jeff Koons. There are frequent traveling exhibitions, and since the museum has outposts in other cities such as Bilbao and Venice, pieces may circulate from other locations.

Open Saturdays through Wednesdays 10 am to 5:45 pm, Fridays 10 am to 7:45 pm (admission is by donation after 5:45 pm).

St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
Upper West Side
New York City
Tel: 212 316 7540

Affectionately known as "St. John the Unfinished" by inhabitants of its Morningside Heights neighborhood, the world's largest Gothic cathedral has staunchly remained under construction since the laying of its cornerstone in 1892. Construction was already slated to continue for decades when a 2001 fire forced yet another halt. The cathedral's cavernous nave—the length of a football field—will be closed until late June 2008 while cleaners scrub soot off its stones. Later in the summer, visitors will gain access to previously concealed attractions such as the Great Rose Window (a 40-foot stained-glass masterpiece); the Poets' Corner (which honors America's literary elite); and 13 other themed bays saluting pursuits both religious and secular. In turn, the east end choir and chapel will close for the reinstallation of the Great Organ, whose 8,035 smoke-damaged pipes were removed for cleaning: November 30, 2008, will see the grand reopening of the entire interior, when regular concerts will resume there. Outside, on the grounds, you'll find live peacocks and the Peace Fountain, a bizarre sculptural piece depicting an animal version of Armageddon that includes giraffes, a smiling sun and moon, an enormous crab, and a decapitated Satan. On the first Sunday in October, St. John's holds its annual Blessing of the Animals in recognition of St. Francis's feast day. Tours are held Tuesday through Sunday. Call to inquire about the Vertical Tour, to take in heavenly views accessed by a hellish climb up and down an 11-story circular staircase.

Tours Tuesdays through Saturdays at 11 am and 1 pm, Sundays at 2 pm.

Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 363 3200

It's hard to imagine a more evocative and familiar symbol of the United States than the lady with the torch, who has been welcoming travelers from across the ocean for more than 120 years. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's copper statue, which is wrapped around a framework designed by Gustav Eiffel, opened to the public in 1886. The statue's interior was temporarily closed following the September 11 attacks, but it reopened in 2004 with a new addition, a glass ceiling that allows visitors to look into the intricate inner structure of the statue. Visitors can also get a spellbinding view of the city from the observation deck in the crown, now (finally!) also reopened. Time passes are required and can be obtained by calling 866-782-8834 or reserving online at

Theater in New York City
New York City , New York

For many people, the quintessential New York City experience is going to the theater. Despite (justified) complaints that today's offerings have become too middlebrow and overly focused on Hollywood stars, no city in the world has a scene as accomplished and varied as that of New York. There are stagings all over town, but the Theater District around Times Square is where you can expect to find most of the long-playing musicals. The Broadway Ticket Center is one-stop shopping for all Broadway and several Off-Broadway productions. You can book both that day's performances and future dates for just a few dollars more than the box office price, subject to availability.

The choice is reduced but the prices are lower—generally half-price—at the TKTS booths. The Times Square booth in a glorious red glass structure on 47th Street and Broadway opens at 3 pm for evening performances, 10 am for matinees on Wednesday and Saturday, and 11 am for Sunday matinees. Tickets are for that day's performance only; available shows are listed on the board. The downtown booth at South Street Seaport is open from 11 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday; matinee tickets are available the day before.

For more consistently highbrow fare (often Shakespeare), aficionados head to the 50-year-old Public Theater in the East Village, where alumni Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline once trod the boards. The same organization puts on the sell-out (and free) Shakespeare in the Park performances during summer months.

Note that most Broadway theaters are dark on Mondays; many Tuesday and Sunday evening performances start an hour earlier, at 7 pm.

United Nations Headquarters
46th Street at First Avenue
Midtown East
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 963 8687

Home to the United Nations, these six midtown blocks along the East River are an international territory collectively owned by the 192 member nations. Security is expectedly tight, but the public is permitted inside the General Assembly and Conference buildings, built in 1952 by a team of architects that included Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer. Tours are more like a history lesson than a sneak peek behind the scenes—you won't see Ban Ki-moon brush by you in the hallway, but you will learn a lot about the UN's founding and its past and present peacekeeping operations. Artwork (gifts from member nations) adorns the halls; the disarmament exhibit of post-bomb remnants from Hiroshima (deformed jars, burned clothes, a charred statue) is a chilling reminder of what happens when nuclear weapons are used. Visitors are permitted a glimpse inside the General Assembly hall and the Security Council chambers (when those delegates are not meeting). Expect long lines; catch one of the morning tours (beginning at 9:30 a.m.) or visit midweek to avoid the crowds. Children under five are not admitted.

Closed for tours weekends in January and February.

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at E. 75th Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 800 944 8639 (toll-free)
Tel: 212 570 3676

American art of the 20th and 21st centuries is on display in this contemporary building by Marcel Breuer smack in the middle of the haute shopping section of upper Madison Ave. Among the 12,000-strong collection of drawings, sculptures, photographs, and prints are works by Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and Reginald Marsh. The high-profile Biennial and the changing exhibits tend to draw mixed reviews but plenty of press.

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Wine Tasting in the Hamptons

You'll find a few vineyards on the South Fork, namely Channing Daughters (631-537-7224), Wölffer Estate (631-537-5106), and Duck Walk (631-726-7555), but the real wine-tasting trail is on the North Fork. Take your car aboard the South Ferry (631-749-1200) from North Haven to Shelter Island, and then go from Shelter Island to Greenport on the North Ferry (631-749-0139). Follow roadside signs to the local wineries. Be sure to sample the Merlot at the award-winning Bedell Cellars (631-734-7537) and Lenz's Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer (631-734-6010).

World Trade Center Site/Ground Zero
Bordered by Church, Barclay, Liberty, and West Streets
Financial District
New York City , New York

The devastating events of September 11, 2001, are still painfully fresh memories to all New Yorkers. The 16-acre site that once held the World Trade Center is now a vast construction site, where the new tower complex and memorial is taking shape and projected for completion in 2013. A Tribute Center opened in September 2006 as a gallery and information center. Guides affiliated with the Tribute Center also offer tours of the perimeter of the Trade Center site, interweaving narratives of the events of September 11 with personal accounts of that day (120 Liberty St.; 212-393-9160).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.