New York is a city where people come and go, whether those people be tourists, summer renters or longtime residents. It’s also a city with millions of things to do and not enough time to do it, no matter how long you decide to stay. But if you’re a resident who must depart, you won’t want to exit without hitting those places you should have gone to but didn’t and visiting (or revisiting) the spots that make this city what it is. Visitors who want the inside scoop should also perk up and consider this your guide. Pizza, bagels, pastrami, opera, art, parks — New York City does these things better than anywhere else in the world (yes, we’re feeling grandiose), and here’s how to pay tribute to them before you leave.
1. Wait in line for a Brooklyn pie at Di Fara Pizza, in Midwood.
Di Fara’s is held up as one of the best pizza restaurants in New York City for good reason, but getting your hands on this crackling thin-crust wonder isn’t going to be easy. A true hole-in-the-wall, the shop is located on a corner of Avenue J, deep along the Q train in the mostly residential neighborhood of Midwood. Once you’re there, prepare to wait hours in line with other pizza-loving New Yorkers to enter the small, dingy dining space. What everyone is waiting for are pies and slices ($5) that the owner, Domenico DeMarco, has turned out since 1964. DeMarco is so integral to the joint’s operation that it closes when he is not available. Watch him work his magic at the end — the freshly snipped basil and generous drizzle of olive oil are his signature. 1424 Ave. J,718-258-1367, difara.com
2. Visit the Guggenheim, followed by a drink at nearby Cafe Sabarksy.
The number of museums to visit in this city is overwhelming, but the Guggenheim stands as a bucket-list pick for its spectacular architecture, as well as a manageable art collection that you can view in an afternoon. No matter what exhibit is on display, the slow, circular wind up the building is unlike any other museum experience in New York. Afterward, be sure to stop at Café Sabarksy, located two blocks away in the Neue Galerie, for coffee. Inspired by old-world Vienna, this insanely charming spot will bring you to another era. And there’s no better time to spend $6 on a coffee — served atop a silver tray, no less — than right before you leave New York. Guggenheim: 1071 5th Ave., 212-423-3500, guggenheim.org; Café Sabarsky: 1048 5th Ave., 212-288-0665, kg-ny.com/cafe-sabarsky
3. Visit the Conservatory Garden in north Central Park.
Central Park is a must-visit destination for anybody walking the streets of New York. For a unique experience, and to escape the hustle and bustle of the park, travel north. It’s there you’ll find the Conservatory Garden, located at Fifth Avenue and 110th Street. This is Central Park’s only formal garden, and it’s spectacularly maintained. Visit in the spring or summer to stroll through six-acres of seasonal plants, which are arranged in English, French and Italian styles. 104th St. and Fifth Ave., centralpark.com
4. Eat pastrami at Katz’s.
There are many places to get a solid pastrami sandwich in New York, but there is something inherently New York about eating one at Katz’s. This historic delicatessen has served up sandwiches in the Lower East Side since 1888 and was made infamous by a scene in the film When Harry Met Sally. It’s no frills, cash only, and you better not lose your meal ticket. Always go for the sandwich, but sides like the matzo ball soup, knishes, and French fries stand out too. And don’t forget to try the kishka, a sort of Jewish Thanksgiving stuffing. 205 E. Houston St.,212-254-2246, katzsdelicatessen.com
5. Order a bagel with lox at Russ and Daughters.
Another Lower East Side food staple, Russ and Daughters has mastered the art of the New York bagel. Open since 1914, the folks at Russ and Daughters serve bagels with lox to perfection alongside other smoked fish, latkes, caviar and specialty foods. A slightly toasted bagel, packed with smoky, sliced-to-order salmon, specialty cream cheese, onions, capers and tomatoes: Are you drooling yet? It’s the perfect breakfast — and if you duck next door to the shop’s cafe, which opened in spring 2014, you can have a new/old New York moment. 179 E. Houston St., 212-475-4880, russanddaughters.com
6. Go gallery hopping through Chelsea.
Even many New Yorkers don’t realize that museum-worthy art is on display throughout west Chelsea, and it’s all completely free. Begin on the corner of 20th Street and 10th Avenue. From there, wind between 10th and 11th avenues all the way up to 26thStreet. The blocks are lined with galleries with rotating art exhibits — don’t worry about researching beforehand, just stop at what looks interesting and expand your art horizons. Be sure to hit popular galleries like David Zwirner, Paula Cooper, Gagosian, Gladstone, Pace and Luhring Augustine.
7. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Dumbo.
The walk across this iconic bridge provides some of the best views of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. Once you’ve crossed into Brooklyn, settle at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you’ll find expansive green lawns, walking and biking paths, rec facilities and views, views, views. The park is a perfect place for a picnic (there are also concessions within the park), but if you’d like to splurge, make a reservation at the River Café. Nestled at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, this classic restaurant serves top-notch New American cuisine (Niman Ranch strip steak, poached lobster) with even more amazing vistas of the city. River Cafe: 1 Water St.,718-522-5200, therivercafe.com
8. Explore Queens.
Plan a visit to an immigrant-heavy neighborhood in Queens. Do your research: Jackson Heights boasts a rich Southeast Asian population, a large influx of Spanish immigrants live in Corona, and Flushing has a Chinatown that easily rivals Manhattan’s. Plan to spend the day exploring the neighborhood and most importantly, eat everything in site. Queens is home to some of the best, most authentic ethnic food in New York at the cheapest prices. Try a stroll down Roosevelt Avenue anywhere between the Corona Plaza and the 82 Street/Jackson Heights 7 train stops — this short strip packs in food from seemingly every country in the world. Or visit the malls like New World Mall Food Court in Flushing, with jam-packed food courts serving up cheap, authentic and varied Asian cuisine.
9. Go to the opera, any opera, at the Metropolitan Opera.
You may think that the opera will bore you to tears. You may think a ticket will break the bank. Go against assumptions and buy a ticket — any ticket! — to see an opera at the Met in its season (September-May). It’s an unforgettable evening in New York if there ever was one. You’ll arrive at Lincoln Plaza and gawk at its imposing fountain; enter the spangled Metropolitan Opera House and ooh and awe over its plush appointments; gawk at posh New Yorkers wearing fur and evening gowns; and then be treated to a world-class elaborate production on stage. Get tickets in season
10. Take one last stroll along the High Line.
It’s true, the Highline is almost too popular for its own good. But it’s one of those rare destinations in New York that appeal equally to tourists and born-and-bred New Yorkers. The meticulously landscaped walkway changes with flowers and plants of every type throughout the seasons; it’s never the same stroll twice. The High Line is also a great place to watch people and the evolving Manhattan skyline. Try taking your walk on a weekday, just when the sun’s about to set. The crowds will have thinned a little, and the view of nighttime falling over the city from here is the only way you’d want to remember New York. Gansevoort St. through 30th St. along 10th Ave., thehighline.org
Great article courtesy of newyork.com