Top Things to Do on a Long New York City Weekend
By Gregory George
It was the weekend before Thanksgiving. A time of all-American pride across the US, parades of billowing balloons… and ‘Black Friday’ shopping. The unusually balmy weather gave the city some pre-holiday giddiness that only added to the traditional New York City buzz. Heck, New Yorkers were even talking to strangers over shared tables at dinners (this happened twice on our extended New York City weekend).
For us, a whirlwind visit to NYC begged the question: how much can one pack into four days in the city that never sleeps? A lot, it seems. Tie on some comfy walking shoes and join us as we discover familiar and not so familiar things to do over a long New York City weekend.
Experience – The Other Park
We were lucky to experience some unusual late Indian summer-like weather during our New York City weekend, so hopped the F train to Brooklyn, exited at Flatbush and entered Prospect Park. We joined nannies with strollers, zealous joggers and cyclists, and instantly fell in love with the many paths and forested walkways of this Brooklyn oasis. Take a detour into the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or stop at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) for a concert or lecture on your way in or out of this lush and lovely green space that Frederick Law Olmstead, the renowned designer of Central Park, thought to be his most successful and accomplished park design.
Walk down Carroll Street through Park Slope and experience some of the neighborhoods’ beautiful Brownstone townhomes and, some 40 minutes later, find yourself on trendy Court Street in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, next door to historic Brooklyn Heights. Or perhaps head a little further north to the hip and gentrified Williamsburg.
Culture – Opera, Museums, Attractions
On any visit to New York, one should take in it’s many and splendid cultural institutions. If you have never experienced the Metropolitan Opera and a glass of champagne in her luscious red-carpeted period lobbies, now’s your chance. And while you’re in the mood to sate your cultural appetite, be sure to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art with its many exhibits and unique collections, and The Museum of the City of New York, popular for its excellent displays relating to the city’s rich history, as well as the occasional evening of live music and entertainment.
And, of course, no visit is complete without stopping at the The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center. Take a quiet two hours to enter this solemn space of remembrance and reflection, which attests to the triumph of human dignity over atrocity. Exit the museum and spend some time viewing the magnificent reflecting pools that sit within the original footprints of the Twin Towers. A challenging but inspiring morning.
Savour – Food, Glorious Food
A last minute reservation was made and with much anticipation we entered Pondicheri, chef and restaurateur Anita Jaisinghani‘s ode to beautiful family-inspired Indian nosh. This Houston-based restaurateur has been receiving rave reviews for her new venture, including two write-ups in the New York Times alone. We focused on the Thali menu, which we thrived on during our time in India. The word literally means ‘plate’: big silver platters, divided into sections, soon filled with heaping helpings of whatever vegetarian wonders are being cooked up in her kitchen that day. My partner scooped up the vegetarian Vishnu: red beet soup, smoked eggplant, spiced okra, sautéed greens, and sweet potato peanut samosa. I opted for the chicken with spiced okra, smoked eggplant, sautéed greens, and beet cashew raita, all washed down with cold pints of draught beer. The food gods, Vishnu included, were smiling on us on our first night in New York.
Eataly Flatiron continues to be a raucous, bustling, busy bite of Italy. Located at 200 5th Avenue with entrances on 23rd Street between 5th & 6th Avenue, we enjoyed their truffle and fungi inspired menu at the popular Manzo before heading uptown for our night at the opera. I savoured splendid tagliatelle with veal ragout, shavings of grano padano and truffles, while my partner was left speechless with his farrotto: lightly toasted farro with whipped parsnips, wild mushrooms, and parsnip chips. Second-night score, restaurant-wise!
The new Eataly NYC Downtown Italian marketplace debuted at 4 World Trade Center recently and features tastings, a sit-down southern Italian restaurant, bread bakery, Italian coffee bar, and several to-go options. Make sure you ask for a window seat for spectacular views over the National September 11 memorial and the radiant reflecting pools.
7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, offers tons of takeaway options, from small storefront eateries that combine fast food on the go with a sit-down dining experience that sometimes spills onto warm and sunny back patios. HANKI Everyday Korean brings a lot of soul to their Seoul inspired authentic Korean food. For meat lovers, the great Dak-Galbi ‘Hanki Set’ – fire-grilled chicken served with a spicy/sweet sauce with slivers of green jalapeños – warms the tongue and with its sides of veg japchae (cold sweet potato starch noodles) is a must. The Tofu Steak ‘Hanki Set’ is a vegetarian dream: smooth tofu, shiitake mushrooms and onion ‘steak’ grilled in soy with four sides of banchan. A generous side of seasoned brown rice finishes both sets. Wash it down with one of their signature warm or cold teas, and you are ready to finish your sunny amble of Brooklyn.
Brunch or a Burger at The NoMad Hotel
Locals hail The NoMad Hotel’s Chef Daniel Humm‘s vegetarian burger as the vegetarian burger to have in the city, and according to the table beside us, a pretty damn fine dry-aged beef burger as well. As good as the burger is the pleasant surrounds: seating is in the hotel’s atrium, also just the place to grab a sunny Sunday brunch or an intimate dinner under the canopy of a twinkling city.
We chose the brunch option, and as it was our last morning in the city, and started with a traditional bloody Mary and a Coffee Martini. Perfectly poached eggs benedict (sans fresh crab meat, I’m allergic) presented on slightly buttered cushions of house-made muffins draped with a tarragon-scented hollandaise. My partner opts for the spinach, chèvre, and mushroom omelet, served with toast slathered with the most exquisite butter.
Of course, there is that famous veggie burger: lentils, cremini mushrooms, and piquillo served quite simply, letting all the splendour of the burger shine through. Unobtrusive slick service adds to a lovely last morning spent enjoying a luxurious New York City weekend.
Contributor Gregory George is a world traveler, writer and co-founder / Editor-in-Chief of the www.followsummer.com travel site. You can follow Gregory’s travel inspirations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.