First off, I’m far from an expert. I’ve never lived there and don’t visit that often. I’m just posting my favorites here and will probably expand in the future as I know more.
I’ll put events first since they might go away.
You absolutely, positively, must go see, no, experience Sleep No More. Best if you’ve read MacBeth, or at least the Cliff notes, prior. Wear some comfortable shoes and plan on spending a few hours. Do as they say and split off on your own if you’re with a group. And take some time to just pause and enjoy the experience. It is more than it appears. I’m going tonight for a second time. Have an absinthe at the hotel’s rooftop garden oasis Gallow Green before or after.
Two tips after my second visit. First, go early. They wrap it up around 10:30 and you really need three hours, so get in by 7. Second, they say to follow the actors, but there are enough people there that I felt like a lemming. The acting was ok, but the spaces are surreal. If you don’t follow the actors you can often be completely alone and just enjoy the environment.
Fuerza Bruta was fun, though only playing in the summer. Kind of Cirque de Sole crossed with a rave. Hard to explain, watch the video. The giant overhead transparent slip-n-slide was an engineering marvel, and the slip-n-sliders weren’t bad either.
On to places…
The High Line is an urban planning coup. Walk or run from one end of the other on what was an elevated railway. Fantastic!
The High Line runs through Chelsea which is a very nice neighborhood to stay in. Hotels suck, AirBnB rocks. TiaPol has good tapas, but the restaurants are endless.
The Standard High Line Hotel anchors the south end of the elevated walkway. Head to the Le Bain rooftop bar and experience the epic Marco Brambilla Civilization video that plays in the elevator on the way up. The video has played on my ceiling at many a party.
The first floor of the rooftop bar is enclosed and has a hot tub! And on hot days it’s a cool tub. Either way, win! They have towels, bag check, and changing rooms so bring your suit. The individual bathrooms have floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking an incredible view. And locks on the door too, just sayin’… Use your own judgement there. Walk upstairs for an astro-turfed wonderland overlooking the Hudson.
Just blocks away is another exceptional rooftop spot. As with the Standard enter the Hotel Gansevoort and take the elevator to the top.
To the right is a a nice, enclosed, room for cooler days. Straight ahead is the bar. Get yerself a drink and tip well (details later). There’s a door to an indulgent wraparound deck with comfy couches. But on hot days, the gem is to the left. There is a changing room with non-locked lockers, so you don’t have to wear you suit through the lobby looking all suspicious and not at all like a hotel guest. And then the pool.
There is a very small “hotel guests only” sign, but have you ever been asked if you were a guest? I haven’t. Especially not when ordering $20 drinks and tipping another $10. The pool is a glorious escape from a hot Manhattan day. Open a tab and spend a few hours. I sat in the big round lounger with my Mac and free wifi preparing for a conference presentation. (that’s my leg there, recovering after way too much walking after break/surgery) Oh, and they bring you cups with frozen grapes, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Hudson River Park is a great escape. If the High Line is not enough then continue on to the Staten Island Ferry. Or get a CitiBike and ride it.
Pok Pok Brooklyn is the New York version of Andy Ricker’s famous Portland Thai restaurant. Awesome food! And they serve it in the bar across the street as well if it’s crowded. The cookbook is amazing too. Brooklyn seems kind of far away, but it’s only 20 minutes on the subway.
Barbes Brooklyn has an amazing and eclectic lineup almost every night. See my Spotify playlist of the same name for some of the bands. The calendar is online so even if you don’t go, check out the bands and the music. Seriously unique!
Further north, up in Harlem, is the restaurant of Marcus Samuelsson – Red Rooster. We read his book, Yes Chef, for book club and then visited the restaurant. He even came and talked to us while we had dinner.
CitiBike is a fun option for getting around – a cross between Amsterdam and Mad Max. There are bike lanes on many streets, use them. Left turners are a serious problem, you’ll see. Swerve right when they stop for pedestrians then sharp left before a taxi takes you out. And beware the Prius taxis – ” silent killers” as they’re known. And dark. After a few drinks the video-game-like rush of bombing down Broadway between taxis without a helmet is very real. But so is death. So, don’t be like me.
Of course, Central Park is incredible.
Uncle Boons thai was just ok. Get the mango salad and leave.
Poi Poi looks promising but the oppressive flood from the theater district overwhelmed my desire to try it.
Buvette is a beautiful, simple breakfast. But at $36, it’s not that practical. Instead, buy a pound of lox, a dozen eggs, and good bread, and make breakfast for a week!
That’s all for now.