If there is one thing that practically every native New Yorker knows from birth, itâ€™s that it is actually impossible to eat at every restaurant in the city.Â Even if you were to eat out for three meals a day, every day, the sheer volume and turnover of restaurants in the city means youâ€™d have to have twice the normal human life span to eat at them all.Â Itâ€™s with this wisdom I offer you my advice on spending a weekend in my city.Â You canâ€™t do everything.Â And, if you truly want to experience my city, you need to do it not like a tourist (letâ€™s face it, Iâ€™ve been to the top of the Empire State Building once â€“ on a second grade class trip), but like a local.
Once you get settled in on Friday afternoon, you should head to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street), which is open until 9pm on both Fridays and Saturdays.Â Admission, like all New Yorkâ€™s museums is pricey ($20 for adults), but here itâ€™s â€œrecommended.â€Â That is, they will admit you with whatever you can afford.Â Just tell the folks at the register what you wish to pay.Â Once in the museum be sure to explore the legendary Egyptian wing.Â Other areas of prime interest include excellent costume exhibits, exhibits of American and European home dÃ©cor, stunning displays of medieval and renaissance religious art, the always popular arms and armor exhibit, and the not frequented at all enough South Asian galleries.Â Try to narrow it down to 3 or 4 areas you wish to see before you go, as you probably wonâ€™t get to more.
After the museum, walk east (that is, away from Central Park) to Second Avenue to grab dinner.Â This vibrant strip from approximate 79th â€“ 86th Street contains dozens of restaurants of every cuisine and price range imaginable from great diners, to formal Italian kosher dining, itâ€™s all here.Â Restaurants here will offer dinner until at least 11pm in almost all cases, some later.Â There are also a range of pubs and bars if you want to keep the evening going.Â
Saturday morning, head downtown to Union Square (14th to 17th Street bounded by Park Avenue South and Broadway) to explore the lively year-round farmers market.Â Get breakfast in the form of fresh baked bread and hand-crafted cheese or pastries or muffins.Â Purchase local wines, homemade jam, apple cider, maple sugar candy, yarn from local sheep and beautiful plants.Â If you have a kitchen in your accommodations, fresh meats, eggs and fish also await you.Â The market is cash only and small bills are appreciated.Â In the holiday season part of the square is dedicated to a holiday market (crowded, but wonderful, it runs from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve), but year round many vendors (mostly art or t-shirts) are on hand.Â Union square is also a center of political activity, and banners and bakes sales supporting one cause or another are common.Â Post-9/11 Union Square was one of the cityâ€™s around-the-clock gathering places; you may recognize it from photos of that time.
By now, you may want lunch or an indoor snack.Â If so, head one more block downtown on Broadway to the newly opened Max Brenner (841 Broadway), an incredible chocolate shop and cafÃ© (donâ€™t worry, they have real, healthy, non-chocolate food too) that originated in Australia and have only been available outside of Asia Pacific very recently.Â Expect to wait about fifteen minutes for a table.Â For proper food, I recommend the chili grilled chicken salad.Â For the chocolate, itâ€™s all fantastic.Â Those with celiac disease and wheat sensitivities should be aware that many of Max Brennerâ€™s chocolate contain waffle bits and arenâ€™t safe to eat.Â Stick with his pure dark or white chocolates and youâ€™ll be fine though.Â
When youâ€™re done at Max Brenner, continue down Broadway one block to The Strand (828 Broadway), a store which contains 18 miles of used, rare and out of print books and is not to be missed.Â If youâ€™re a big love of books though, be prepared to ship your purchases home.
Once youâ€™re done at The Strand, turn left to head into the East Village.Â This neighborhood has changed drastically over the years and is now a hub of great shopping, food and nightlife with an artsy edge.Â And while its easternmost part, Alphabet City contains the avenues A, B, C and D that were once known as Assault, Battery, Crime and Death, itâ€™s perfectly safe these days; among other tings, the criminals canâ€™t afford the rents.Â 9th Street between from 2nd Avenue to A is particularly great for shopping, and St. Marks Place (8th Street) is full or touristy punk rock shopping between 2nd and 3rd, and fun casual restaurants between 1st and A.Â When itâ€™s time for dinner, consider The Sunburnt Cow (137 Avenue C), a fantastic Australian restaurant with healthy and innovative tapas, great drinks, a live DJ, a dining room with a retractable roof (in the warmer months) and fantastic traditional Aussie desserts like lamingtons and pavlova.Â Â The neighborhood also has a great string of casual sushi restaurants; Takahachi (85 Avenue A) is probably the best.Â Afterwards, visit on of the neighborhoods lively bars or smaller dance clubs, which I confess are too numerous to mention.Â And, once youâ€™re done with the night, if you need a disco snack before retiring for the evening, check out either the incredible Snack Dragon Taco Shack (199 E. 3rd Street) or 7A (predictable on the corner of 7th and A) for your anytime food needs.Â
Sunday morning, itâ€™s time to enjoy the institution of brunch in New York.Â Generally, restaurants start serving it at 10am and go until 4pm, but sometimes as late as 5pm.Â Later is crowded though, so youâ€™re best getting an early start if you can manage it.Â Expect drinks (coffee _and_ mimosas) to be included with most brunch specials, which generally range in price from $9.95 to $16.95 depending on where you go.
Sunday afternoon relax with a visit to Central Park, a stroll around the Seaport (an area which now includes shopping and museums) or a visit to the American Museum of Natural History (82nd and Central Park West).Â Generations of Manhattan children have sat under the whale in the Hall of Oceans to worry of grades and dates, and thereâ€™s no more true New York place you could visit.Â Plus, with the museumâ€™s recent renovations (check out the Hall of Evolution) and the fabulous new Rose Science Center (replacing the old planetarium), the museum is a lot more than stuffed animals behind glass.Â Itâ€™s interactive and fun for children of all ages.Â Plus, dinos!Â You canâ€™t go wrong with dinos.Â
Whatever you do on your trip to New York, be willing to deviate from your plan.Â In a city as crowded as ours, serendipity strikes often.Â If something catches your fancy, follow it.Â In just a weekend, Iâ€™ve left our dozens of things you absolutely should do, from proper soul food in Harlem to visiting St. Patrickâ€™s and St. John the Divine to exploring Chinatown and the increasingly vibrant borough of Brooklyn (which was, actually, a separate city until just over 100 years ago).Â So consider this your first foray into a life-long exploration.
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