New York is a sensual feast. Since you have visited as tourists, I suggest exploring NYC as “residents”of different neighborhoods. Each community area in NYC has a distinctive feel. I suggest beginning your adventure in the Tribeca/Battery Park. Staying in each neighborhood will make you feel more local.
Take advantage of this artist’s colony by popping in to local galleries; peruse hip shops and graze through the neighborhood’s fabulous eateries. If you don’t mind suitcase living, it’s fun to change hotels each night in order to immerse yourselves. Move from Tribeca to Hell’s Kitchen. Visit the famous flea/food markets and enjoy incredible shopping, restaurants, bakeries as well as a thriving off-Broadway theater scene. Nightlife is exciting in Hell’s Kitchen…that is if you still have energy! For a completely different experience, move next to gorgeous Brooklyn Heights. You will undoubtedly be drawn to its photo-friendly streets of glorious row houses but this area is not too trendy or commercialized. This is a vibrant neighborhood with unique stores, innovative restaurants and exciting local culture such as the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Heights Players. Before heading back to The Open,finish up in trendy Chelsea. It is rife with incredible food favorites, gorgeous shops, galleries and the unique High Line Park and Big Onion Walking Tours.
Seeing NYC – Local Style
It is an easy train ride from the US Open into Manhattan and your first stop in the city. It will be about a 40 minute ride and the US Open has directions and train schedules.
Your first day will be exploring TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal) – and close-by Battery Park/Soho. TriBeCa has really come in to its own since the tragedy of 9-11 through the efforts of actor Robert DeNiro. In addition to establishing TriBeCa Productions, he is also a founding member of the World Class TriBeCa Film Festival. His influence also extends to hotels and restaurants in the neighborhood, further bolstering its reputation and popularity. TriBeCa may be adjacent to the high-energy skyscrapers of the Financial District, the World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty, but you will enter a lovely neighborhood that is home to quintessential NYC loft apartments, cobblestone streets, lovely boutiques and fabulous restaurants.
There are many elegant, luxurious, top-shelf accommodations in TriBeCa including the Ritz-Carlton and W Hotels but since you are using this trip to see New York City in a different way, you may want to consider The Cosmopolitan. This hotel is owned by local New Yorkers and has only 150 guest rooms. The rooms are a bit on the small side (as is common in The City) but they are peaceful and private. Free wifi, a great location and friendly staff feels much more personal than many larger chains. Another nice amenity by the Cosmopolitan is their free hosted walking tours. Their tours are on Fridays but they have reciprocity with other area hotels (for their walking tours) for the other days of the week. Other excellent options for accommodations include DeNiro’s hotel, The Greenwich or The Smyth Tribeca. The Cosmopolitan has a 3:00 pm check-in but you may call and receive an earlier check in if your room is ready – or the hotel will be happy to safely store your luggage until your room is available.
After getting settled, grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a sweet treat) at the local Kaffee 1668. This neighborhood coffee shop serves an excellent brew and is a neighborhood favorite. After you are refreshed, get ready to explore. Franklin Street is enhanced by cobblestone streets lined with converted warehouses which now house art galleries, home decor shops, antique stores and bars. You may want to visit the Soho Photo Gallery which has the works of over 100 photographic artists inside a converted egg warehouse.
When you have worked up an appetite, try the tiny Sole Di Capri, which may be small in size but is huge with popularity. This Italian eatery prepares a variety of affordable, yet delicious hand-made to order pastas and other dishes.
After lunch, head over the Chelsea and walk along the Hudson River Park and River Promenade. Watch runners, bikers, rollerbladers and kids playing gin the park. You can even rent a free Kayak and stop at the Nike Runners kiosk to “try out” some running shoes.
For dinner, you have a wealth of wonderful choices. Bubby’s is a neighborhood institution, serving organic, locally-sourced foods in an American interpretation. DeNiro’s Locanda Verde is a spot popular with “the beautiful people” serving beautiful meals. Other choices like Odeon and Nobu (another DeNiro partnership offering modern Japanese) and the ever legendary Bouley all provide a great evening out.
The Metropolitan Opera will be holding their free Outdoor Summer Series while you are there. If so inclined, head over to Lincoln Center and watch Opera on the big screen as only NYC can do it.
Heavenly Hell’s Kitchen
This neighborhood may have gotten it’s name, Hell’s Kitchen, from its rough and tumble start as a slum for the city’s poor Irish immigrants. Today, its central proximity to midtown Manhattan has led to a gentrification and sophistication. The tree-lined streets are home to places such as the world famous Actor’s Studio and nearby Broadway theaters make Hell’s Kitchen an exciting place to visit.
Hell’s Kitchen is a very short distance from TriBeCa but being a distinct neighborhood, but during your visit you can feel a “world away”. Should you decide to leave the Cosmopolitan for new digs, Kimpton Hotels has a funky and hip property Ink48. Ink48 is a short walk to the Theater District and local restaurants and provides that Kimpton clean-crisp style and modern atmosphere. Once again, you may call-ahead for early check-in and/or leave your bags with the bellman. Then off to explore!
First stop should be the Annex Hell’s Kitchen Antiques and Flea Market, which is said to be one of the very best flea markets in the USA. Or you can visit their Ninth Street outpost at the Housing Works Thrift Shops. Named one of the Ten Best Shopping Streets in the World by National Geographic, one could lose oneself for hours poking around the stalls of these unique vendors.
If you want to continue the visit like a local theme, visit one of the local, ethnic restaurants that make this area so exciting. Enjoy a true Parisienne-style brasserie with a lunch at Marseilles. Bouillabaisse, perfect tagines and steak frites are all popular choices. Or drop by Gazala’s Palace and try some delightfully different Israeli Druze cuisine. For dinner, the popular New American food with a twist at eatery or the chic interiors and eclectic cuisine of HK will be a fun choice.
Being so close to all that theater action, you may want to grab some last minute tickets to a show or simply grab some cocktails with the theater crowd.
Getting a “High” from Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn Heights will make you feel like you are living in a Woody Allen version of New York City. Its streets of impeccably-renovated row houses and leafy, tree-lined streets are a photographer’s dream. But Brooklyn Heights is much more than a photo-op – this vibrant neighborhood is filled with lovely stores, innovative restaurants and interesting destinations such as the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Height’s Players theater group.
The NU Hotel is a chic, crisp boutique hotel that is perfect for your modern New York story. Stay in a suite that feels like an inspired artist’s loft and Google your itinerary on their loaner i pads. Once you are ready, borrow a couple of complimentary bicycles from the concierge and get out exploring.
First head to the Brooklyn Bridge, which is about a fifteen minute walk (or less on bike). Walk across the bridge and back. Head over to Pierrepont Street to see the historic Victorian homes and imagine the lifestyle of wealthy Brooklyn residents from the late 19th century. You may want to continue your “walk through history”with a visit to the Historical Society or you may have worked up a powerful appetite that needs feeding. Enjoy some hearty meat at BrisketTown or some inventive pizza sitting in the breezy back yard garden at Pete Zaaz.
At night you may want to continue with your photographer’s view of Brooklyn by heading to the end of Montagne Street and take in some of the most iconic and picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline. Head toward the Promenade and snap pics of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Harbor. Ask your concierge about the free Summer Film Series and watch a movie under the stars with your fellow Brooklynites. If there is nothing playing, see which production is on from the Heights Players. If we are still enjoying being locals, stop in for a bite at the classic Armando’s. Since 1936, famous folks (including Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller and the Brooklyn Dodgers) used this place as their hideaway. The menu and interior have been renovated but it continues to be a favorite spot for locals searching for classic Italian cuisine. Or for an eclectic, seasonal farm-to-table influence menu, try Superfine, which is a neighborhood institution.
Chelsea, We Want to Know Ye
Opulent Bohemians – that is who you are in Chelsea. Begin your Chelsea day with a check in at NoMad Hotel. Divine interiors, designed by the famed Jacques Garcia, were styled with Garcia’s former Parisienne apartment in mind and include king size beds, many rooms with clawfoot bathtubs, reclaimed maple floors, Argan bath essentials, Frette and Sferra sheets and much more.
As “bohemians,”you see beauty in life and everything is art, so take advantage of Chelsea’s incredible contemporary art scene with a visit to the Gagosian Gallery or Agora Gallery.
No visit to Chelsea is complete without a stroll through the Chelsea Market. This incredible place is one of the top indoor markets in the world and features 35 purveyors hawking food of every conceivable type. After visiting Chelsea Market, you will surely be famished and need some sustenance.
In keeping with your bohemian adventure,enjoy a little taste of France with dejeuner (lunch) at Le Grannine authentic bistro. You will have worked up an appetite strolling through galleries and walking the Market – a Croque Monsieur may fit the bill nicely.
After lunch, take in a neighborhood tour with Big Onion Walking tours. They offer tours specific to local neighborhoods and in Chelsea, they focus on the internationally-know High Line. You certainly do not need a tour to enjoy the High Line. It is a 1.45 long walking trail that follows a former rail line through Chelsea. The High Line has been planted with wildflowers and grasses and is one of the most special places in all of NYC to visit during a summertime vacation.
To finish up your Chelsea stay, you need look no further than the NoMad Restaurant in your hotel. It features casually elegan food under the supervision of Chef Daniel Humm and Restaurateur Will Guidara. The restaurant is rooted in the same traditions as its Michelin three-starred sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park and the menu was inspired by the Chefs world-wide travels.