How to Spend a Dazzling Few Days in New York City

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How to Spend a Dazzling Few Days in New York City

She’s boisterous, beautiful, and so dynamic that prolonged exposure to her charms is known to weaken the senses. New York City is a siren. Give her a few days and she will seduce you with her beguiling brand of grit and glamour. Pick your passion. Art? Iconic edifices? Broadway shows? Shopping? Generation defining restaurants? All of this-and a few slices of killer pizza- are at your disposal. Plan well and dream big. It’s the NYC way.

 

1. Shopping (Retail therapy)
Fact: New York is ground zero for fashion. But, shopping requires a game plan. For pomp and circumstance of the Devil Wears Prada variety, hit the Upper East Side. Barney’s New York is all about whimsy and pushing-the-envelope trends. Nine floors brim with accessories, beauty, home and a show stopping mélange of indie and straight-from-the-runway designer garb for men and women. Fivestory is just up the street, an elegant townhouse-as- shopping sanctuary thoughtfully curated with cutting-edge clothing and objet, chic ultra suede sofas strategically positioned for post-purchase relaxation. When the ladies who lunch have to glam it up for a gala, they have a singular destination: Bergdorf Goodman. From gloves and sleek suiting to black tie gowns and furs, this grand, 100 year old department store perfectly marries old school service with au courant style. The men’s store-equally as elegant-is across the street from the main edifice. (Note: The BG restaurant is THE place to power lunch)
Bergdorf Goodman Shoe Salon

Bergdorf Goodman Shoe Salon

Downtown is different vibe. In Soho, Kirna Zabete serves up quantum cool in a neon bathed, 10,000 sf boutique flush with top tier and up and coming designers. Fashion folk flock to subscription beauty brand Birchbox’s West Broadway shop to score  hard-to-find products upstairs and quickie blowouts and nail services downstairs. Zero Maria Cornejo is a master of architectural minimalist design. Her Nolita shop is teems with expertly draped dresses, structured jackets and esoteric accessories. Around the corner, Babel Fair serves up wow factor pieces sourced from every corner of the globe. For out-of-the-box gifts and home décor, don’t miss The Moma Design Store.

 

2. Sights/major attractions (Spectacular sights)
An abandoned railway repurposed as an elevated public park is now  a star attraction in New York City. Replete with a meandering garden, art installations, food vendors and thoughtful programming (children’s activities, teen nights, tai chi,concerts and garden tours).  The High Line is a 1.45 mile urban oasis. You could trek to all of NYC’s iconic buildings. Or, get an aerial perspective atop the Empire State Building. For serious bragging rights, head to the just-opened One World’s Observatory, a tri-level sightseeing perch which, at 102 floors above ground, ranks as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Remember to take a deep breath as the “sky pod elevator” whisks you to the top in just 60 seconds.
One World Observatory

One World Observatory

For adventurous types, a helicopter ride is a memorable way to take in the sights. And, avoid  pesky lines. A Liberty Helicopter Tour will fly you over iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium and Coney Island in just twenty minutes.

 

3. Cultural activities/galleries etc (Culture vulture)
World class art collections are a large feather in New York City’s cap. Clocking in as America’s largest museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-stop for culture vultures. Key exhibits: European paintings, the Egyptian art and the renowned Costume Institute which showcases seven centuries of fashionable dress from five continents. In midtown, the boundary-breaking paintings, sculpture, film and design at MOMA reflect international visual expression from the late 19th century through today.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sculpture in the Charles Engelhard Court at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Then, there is the Whitney Museum of American Art, gatekeeper of America’s contemporary artistic daredevils. The glistening new Renzo Piano designed edifice downtown (it’s next to the High Line) is almost as exciting as the contents inside.
Apps to help you plan your visit:
MetroMet App

 

4. Outdoor/active activities/parks and open space (The great outdoors)
The Lake. The Zoo. The Great Lawn. The Loch, The Obelisk. The Carousel. If you want to live like a local, take the time to explore Central Park’s verdant nooks and waterfall adjacent crannies. Created in 1853, this sprawling 758 acre green space boasts endless activities (cycling, boating ice skating, basketball, jogging, yoga) and points of interest. Central Park Conservancy’s handy, dandy interactive map offers self guided walking tours and a printable version to simplify a visit. Another stellar outdoor activity is crossing the storied Brooklyn Bridge. Traversing this 1883 landmark by foot or bicycle (there is a pedestrian crosswalk)  offers spectacular vistas of the NYC skyline (and people watching).
Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Once in Brooklyn, tackle the hipster boutiques and old school pizza joints. When bike share system Citibike debuted in NYC, it opened up a completely new, hyper efficient avenue for tourists to experience the city. Just rent a bike from one of the thousands of stations (open 24/7) around the city, and sightsee at your leisure.

 

5. Restaurants and dining (All in good taste)
Eating in NYC is a great pleasure. Both for the food and the trend forward ambiance. Ralph Lauren’s tony new Polo Bar emanates Upper East Side bravado. The menu is upscale Americana; burgers, grilled fish, and a deluxe corned beef sandwich dripping with house made horseradish coleslaw. Le Bilbouquet is another uptown gem, it’s classic French bistro fare (matched by haute Parisian attitude) is as noteworthy as the glamorous clientele. You won’t find white tablecloths or tufted leather banquets downtown. Here, hipster boites with international flavors abound. Best bets: Santina (Italian)Cosme (Greek), Dirty French (French) or Untitled (American), Danny Meyer’s new restaurant within the futuristic Whitney Museum. The Mandarin Oriental has no shortage of culinary options. At Asiate, Asian elegance meets Big Apple verve. At 35 floors above the Time Warner building, the view is stellar. The menu-inspired riffs on traditional plates-is honest and flavorful.
Asiate

Dining with a Manhattan panorama at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Asiate

 

6. Nights out/evening entertainments (Go out with a bang)
A Broadway show should top the must-do list of every visitor to New York. Experiencing the power of the stage-and maneuvering through the perma-hustle of Times Square – is a souvenir that will last a lifetime. Love culture?  Spend an evening at Lincoln Center of Performing Arts, home to the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theater and Metropolitan Opera. For less traditional performances, check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music. For over a century, this multi-arts space has showcased cutting edge visual, artists, filmmakers, theater and comedy. New York City is rife with old school jazz joints. Bemelmans Bar is, hands down, the best one. A beacon for A-listers, this throwback cabaret lounge (famously decorated with murals by writer and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans of Madeline fame) is at once elegant and entertaining with a nightly lineup that ranges from Broadway headliners to Woody Allen, a Monday night regular accompanied by The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band.
Bemelmans Bar

Bemelmans Bar

 

7. Spa MO
While many spas promise a transformative experience, the MO spa delivers next level pampering that effectively soaks, steams and detoxifies stressed guests into a blissdom. It’s not just the Eastern tinged services (think a four handed Oriental harmony massage) but the harmonious blend of  luxurious amenities-(amethyst steam room, vitality pool, rain shower), Zen setting and post treatment euphoria realized in a tea lounge 35 feet above the bustling city street.

Amethyst Crystal Steam Room

Amethyst Crystal Steam Room at Mandarin Oriental Spa

 

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Amy Tara Koch
Amy Tara Koch
amy@amytarakoch.com

Amy Tara Koch is an author, journalist and television personality. Amy has appeared on CNN, Today, Steve Harvey, Access Hollywood, FOX and the CBS Early Show. Koch is a family travel expert for The New York Times and Travel + Leisure and contributes to The New York Times, T+L, Food & Wine, Marie Claire, Huffington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Town & Country, Departures, American Way and Mandarin Oriental Magazine.