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Signature New York

Signature New York

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
adventure,
arts + culture,
city,
design + architecture,
food,
luxury,
romantic,
shopping
Destinations: 
Financial District,
Gramercy,
New York,
New York City,
North America,
Soho,
United States,
Upper West Side,
West Village

As a Visa Signature cardholder, you get instant access to dozen of perks in New York. Start your night out on the town with premium service, such as private inventory of tickets and preferred seats to the hottest Broadway shows. After the final bow, relax with best available rates at a nearby Hilton Hotel and rest comfortably in "The City that Never Sleeps."

ITEMS

Hilton New York

See + Do

Theater in New York City, New York

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.

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See + Do

Central Park, New York

New York City, New York
Website: www.centralparknyc.org

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; www.thecentralparkboathouse.com). 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.

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Eating

Gramercy Tavern, New York

42 East 20th Street
New York City, New York 10003
Tel: 212 477 0777
Website: www.gramercytavern.com

Before Tom Colicchio hosted Top Chef, he was cooking bold and creative New American food at Gramercy Tavern, the place that took the starch out of New York fine dining and became one of the city's best-loved restaurants. Colicchio exited in 2006, but executive chef Michael Anthony, previously with Blue Hill at Stone Barns, has taken the helm of this dual-personality establishment (raucous and no-reservations in the front; more sedate, with white tablecloths and prix-fixe menus, in the back) and continues to put out seasonal dishes with an emphasis on fresh, local vegetables and ingredients. Much of the fare is delicate and considered: A "risotto" made with farro grains and carrot juice, sprinkled with pine nuts and edamame; an "open" ravioli of tender crabmeat and herbs, surrounded by exquisite mussels removed from their shells. There are still a few choices that evoke the gusto of the Colicchio days, such as a massive meatball stuffed with fontina and served over a potato puree, its richness cut by a tart onion marmalade. As always, the service is precise and astute, but never stiff or pretentious. New Yorkers and foodies everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2 pm, Sunday through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

See + Do

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York

Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets
New York City, New York
Tel: 212 875 5456
Website: www.lincolncenter.org

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.

Shop

Soho

The area south of Houston has come in and out of fashion over the years, but one thing remains consistent: its high-hip shopping status. Weekends can be chaotic in these parts, between the harried locals, out-of-towners window shopping, and beautiful people clogging the cafés (Downtown Cipriani makes a prime coffee-break spot, if only for the chance to ogle the Euro jet set who frequent it). If possible, visit Soho during the week, when things are quieter and shop attendants aren't quite as preoccupied.

Start on Broadway, worship at the altar of Prada, and work your way over to Sixth Avenue by way of the neighborhood's cobblestone side streets. 3.1 Phillip Lim, an airy, uncluttered space, highlights the architectural dresses and diaphanous cardigans of one of the city's biggest design stars. For something a little racier, head to Kiki de Montparnasse, an upscale lingerie and "intimacy products" store that feels like the parlor of a particularly sophisticated dominatrix. Ina is the place to go for near-new designer wear like Chanel and Balenciaga that's often only a season out of date (sometimes less).

Natural history buffs will love Evolution, where every kind of fossil, bone, skull, medical model, and animal skin can be found, as well as less startling specimens like tribal art and seashells. Continue the theme at Distant Origin, where you'll find antler-based table lamps, zebra-skin poufs, and fur throw pillows mixed with Lucite stag heads, Fortuny silk lamps, and black glass chandeliers. Further east, drop in on Filipino jeweler Federico de Vera, whose madcap shop is filled with interesting antiques like Khmer sculptures, ivory combs, tortoiseshell boxes, and blown-glass insects. Moss feels like a small museum with carefully curated items that run the gamut from porcelain busts to Scandinavian side tables. You'll find more classic pieces at Ted Muehling's small shop on Howard Street, on the neighborhood's southeast fringe. The delicate silver and gold pieces include slightly asymmetrical oval bangles and earrings resembling grains of rice.

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See + Do

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Pedestrian access at City Hall Park
New York City, New York 10007

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.

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Eating

La Esquina, New York

106 Kenmare Street, Soho
New York City, New York 10012
Tel: 646 613 7100
Website: www.esquinanyc.com

La Esquina is not a single restaurant but an entire Mexican food complex anchored by a grungy corner taqueria serving fine dirt-cheap soft tacos (grilled pork with pineapple, chorizo with cactus) until five in the morning. Around the corner, you'll find a mid-priced cantina—with outdoor seating in summer—offering those same toothsome tacos on an actual plate along with more involved dishes like stuffed poblanos and carne asada. Meanwhile, the main hot spot attraction, run by nightlife impresario Serge Becker (of the 205 Club, Joe's Pub, and the Box fame), is hidden like a Mexican speakeasy behind an unmarked door that's guarded at night by a gatekeeper with clipboard in hand. Accessible by reservation only, this subterranean brasserie features a velvet-rope vibe, potent icy margaritas, and big portions of high-end Mexican fare including an exceptionally succulent half chicken smothered in rich, complex mole.

Taqueria open Mondays through Fridays 8 to 11:30 am and noon to 5 am, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 am.

Café open Mondays through Fridays noon to midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to midnight.

Brasserie open Mondays through Sundays 6 pm to 2 am.

Eating

Spotted Pig, New York

314 W. 11th Street
New York City, New York 10014
Tel: 212 620 0393
Website: www.thespottedpig.com

When chef April Bloomfield (an alum of London's River Café) opened this happening West Village boîte in 2004 with Mario Batali as a backer, New Yorkers discovered the great joys of the gastropub, a brilliant British invention that joins convivial neighborhood bar with far-above-average food. A recent expansion has helped ease the legendary waits, but the Pig is still packed with herds of yuppies and hipsters clamoring for Bloomfield's spectacular gnudi (delicate ricotta dumplings splashed with vibrant pesto), and the rest of her inventive menu of upscale pub grub (a burger slapped with Roquefort; the best smoked haddock chowder this side of Scotland). Wash it all down with a pint of one of the hand-drawn house ales.

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