Over at her NYC-obsessed blog, The Avid Appetite, Rachel Cannon Humiston dutifully reports on New York’s best restaurants and cooks up her own tasty concoctions inspired by some of the city’s finest (rough life, right?). We can’t help but be envious which is why Rachel was the obvious choice to take us through the perfect urban adventure.
The Un-tourist’s Guide to Spring Break in Manhattan
One of my all-time favorite quotes says it best… “It would be a shame to miss New York in the Spring.” (Bonus if you can guess where that one’s from!*). And it really would. Budding blooms on tree-lined streets, fabulous shopping and outdoor seating at delectable restaurants make spring the best time to visit the biggest city in the world. Manhattan has something for everyone, whether a romantic trip with your significant other, a family sightseeing event or a girls weekend getaway.
Sure, you can get stuck in the crowds in Times Square and wait in line to get to the top of the Empire State Building, but this guide is for the un-tourists who want to see the real New York, sans crowds and fanny packs…just remember to bring your camera! Though you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to see in NYC, here are just a few of the lesser known must-see’s. There’s a lot to cram into your getaway, so let’s get down to it!
Take a stroll through Central Park.
It’s one of Manhattan’s natural wonders; a sprawling, perfectly green park with lush lawns and amazing views extending over 50 city blocks. Sure, you can book a tour or go on a guided walk, but you’re doing things the un-touristy way. Skip the schedule and pick up a map and outline your own tour. Make time for sunning on the Great Lawn, strolling in the shade and, if you’re feeling adventurous, taking a paddle on the Central Park row boats. Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure to stroll down 5th Avenue a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Located below the southern end of the park, it’s the home of truly fabulous flagship stores including Henri Bendel, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co, and Bergdorf Goodman, among others. Even for window shopping and star gazing, it’s worth the trek.
Scope out the local goods.
New York isn’t your typical town and the Union Square Greenmarket isn’t your typical outdoor market. One of the largest in Manhattan, it’s overflowing with locally grown produce, fresh cheese, maple syrup, hot cider, and lots of free samples and events including cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. Heck, even famous top chefs get their goods here so if it’s good enough for them…
Score a Broadway show or museum visit on the cheap.
This is the one touristy item on the list because a visit to New York without partaking in its cultural offerings would be a major miss. If you’re open to seeing any show available, visit TKTS in Times Square for significant discounts within hours of the show. Museums like The Morgan Library & Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) offer free admission on Friday evenings.
Eat without spending a fortune and have dinner in Hell’s Kitchen or Greenwich Village.
Not only are these neighborhoods a hot spot for young adults, they boast a plethora of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars, which are really the best kind. After all, Manhattan is about great food and it doesn’t have to come with an outrageous price tag. Whether rustic Italian fare at Cara Mia or a juicy diner-chic burger at Five Napkin Burger, you really can’t go wrong. Looking for something in a low-key neighborhood? Try Cowgirl, Keste or Otto Enoteca in Greenwich Village. All of these eateries are cozy, chic, completely affordable and over-the-top tasty to boot.
Do something scandalous.
After all, you are on vacation! Whether with your man or your best gals, the Meatpacking District is the place to be. Located all the way on the West Side just below 14th Street, what was once exactly how it sounds is now a bona fide hot spot for chic restaurants and bars hidden along the dark, cobblestone streets. A word to the wise, take caution when sporting stilettos. For a real Manhattan nightclub experience, try Kiss ‘n Fly. With pumpin’ music, fun lighting and dancing until the wee hours, it’s sure to be a night to remember. Looking for something a little more low-key? Have a glass of wine at 675 Bar, an underground cavelike bar with different rooms and activities among them including billiards, darts, foosball and a good old fashioned library.
Some quick tips:
Pick up a subway map – Do it like a local and ride the train from sight to sight. This is a one-of-a-kind experience in itself. If you need to hail a cab, remember the movie-style whistle generally won’t work. Instead, find one with its top light on and stick out your arm to wave one down.
Do some street shopping – Some of the best jewelry can be found on the streets of New York (literally). A favorite for handmade goods is on the corner of Spring and Mercer Streets in SoHo.
Swing by South Street Seaport – A great view, more shopping, a mini boardwalk, and a sweet photo op to boot!
Catch a game – If you’re less into shopping and more into sports, catch a game at Yankee Stadium, home of the World Series Champs (and the best baseball franchise of all time).
Pamper yourself - For some pampering along the way a haircut at Bumble & Bumble or a spa session at Bliss just might do the trick.
The most important thing to remember is to take stock of what you want to see before you get there and make your plan. In the city that never sleeps, you’ll never have a shortage of fun!
*Yup, it’s from You’ve Got Mail, pure viewing pleasure and one of the best chick flicks with a New York City backdrop.