With the strength of the Euro making travel across the pond less desirable for many Americans, why not explore some of the wonders right across the river? If you can't have April in Paris, make this year's Spring Break an April in New York. We've devised several ways to spend a spectacular day in the Big Apple, so whether you're a shopaholic, a foodie, an art lover, or have kids in tow, let us lead the way.
By Stacey Stapleton
Food, Glorious Food
If you like to eat well, chances are you can find whatever you fancy in New York. And although the city is rife with first-rate restaurants, there are also scores of emporiums that specialize in selling everything from cheese to tiramisu.
One of New York’s best destinations for the food lover is Bleecker Street. On this quaint stretch of asphalt in the heart of the West Village there’s something to tempt every palette. Your first stop should be Murray’s (245 Bleecker Street), the oldest cheese shop in New York, which is so popular with locals that the original Cornelia Street outpost had to relocate to their current larger space. Murray’s also recently opened an Annex in the Grand Central Terminal Market. After Murray’s it’s on to Faicco’s Pork Store (260 Bleecker Street), a top-quality butcher shop selling a full range of meats along with Faicco’s famous sausage in countless varieties and, best of all, the aracini, scrumptious crispy risotto balls. Further East you’ll find the Porto Rico Importing Company (201 Bleecker Street), purveyors of an endless array of coffees and teas. The shop has been around since 1907 and is still owned and operated by the founding family. And just in case your initial purchase results in a java addiction they accept phone and Internet orders (www.portorico.com). We suggest ending your Bleecker Street stroll at Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Cafe (243 Bleecker Street), which has been serving to-die-for pastries and sinfully rich espresso and cappuccino since 1972. Whether you choose the old-world table service or quick take-out, be sure to check your diet at the door.
If you prefer to venture uptown for your gourmet eats, head to the upper west side, home of the famous Fairway Market and Zabar’s. Arrive at Fairway (2127 Broadway) around lunchtime and enjoy the menu at their rustic 2nd floor café and steakhouse, where chef Mitchell London has recently been recognized for creating one of New York City’s best burgers. In addition to the café, Fairway offers the freshest produce, meats, sushi, delicatessen, and their own line of olive oil, sauces, and spices. Just a few blocks north on Broadway is Zabar’s (2245 Broadway), where you’ll discover another bounty of gourmet items including Zabar’s famous coffee and a bakery with so many mouth-watering breads you’ll wish carbs were back in fashion. Zabar’s is also unique for their wonderful selection of high-end housewares rivaled only by Williams-Sonoma.
Art Lover’s Paradise
If it’s high culture you’re after, then head straight for New York’s world-famous Museum Mile, home to several fine art museums including The Museum of the City of New York, The Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney
Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Modern Art. Some of the exhibits you should plan to visit this spring include:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (closed Mondays)
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
Jasper Johns: Grey (through May 4th), featuring this American artist’s use of the color grey
Poussain and Nature: Arcadian Visions (through May 11th), which displays the influential landscapes of French painter Nicolas Poussain
The Met also has a wonderful café and wine bar set amid the dramatic Petrie Court, so plan to be there around lunchtime.
The Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
Under the New York Skies: Nocturnes by Yvonne Jacquette (through May 4th), featuring 30 paintings of New York City’s architecture, signage, bridges, streets, and waterways
The New Museum of Contemporary Art
(closed Mondays and Tuesdays) 235 Bowery
New Museum reopened last December in this custom-built $50-million structure at the heart of New York’s trendy Bowery district. A highlight for first-time visitors are the free tours offered throughout the day.
Shop Till You Drop
Sure you could go to Barney’s or Bergdorf’s, but why fill your closet with the same couture everyone else is
snapping up? Instead, do what stylish New Yorkers do and visit the fabulously unique boutiques in NOHO. Short for North of Houston, NOHO encompasses the stretch of town between Astor Place and Houston Street (from North to South) and the Bowery and Broadway (from East to West).
Start at the northern end of NOHO and visit Oak, a small boutique with super-chic, edgy items you’re guaranteed not to find anywhere else. There are also shelves of jeans and a wall of art books to improve your mind as well as your sense of style. You can even pick up a few things for the guy in your life since half the store is devoted to menswear. Further downtown you’ll find things for your home at John Derrian Antiques, a shop which could just as easily be found on Paris’s quaint left bank. Full of nineteenth-century French decorative accessories like trays and bowls, all beautifully displayed, this store is a must-see for the avid decorator.
Once you hit Bleecker Street, the shopping options really heat up. If you’ve ever wished you could go shopping in your most fashionable friend’s closet, then don’t miss Ina (15 Bleecker Street), a truly upscale consignment shop chockablock full of labels like Marc Jacobs, Prada, Gucci, Tory Burch, Chanel, Diane Von Furstenburg, and more. Continue walking West on Bleecker and you’ll run right into The NOHO Star (330 Lafayette Street), where we suggest you stop for lunch (try the tuna salad or chicken sandwich with curry mayo). Named for the NOHO star building, in which it resides, the simple menu also features scads of salads, homemade ginger ale, and, after 6 p.m., a Chinese menu as well. After lunch, cross Bleecker and visit Edge NY NOHO for Emerging Designers (65 Bleecker Street). This large space is divided into individual booths that feature up-and-coming style setters offering everything from jewelry to clothing. The shop’s days and hours vary, so check out www.edgeny.com for details. Last (but certainly not least) at the corner of Bleecker and Broadway is Atrium (644 Broadway), a cavernous boutique with pulsating music to keep you grooving while you peruse their wide selection of designer jeans, perfect tees in every imaginable color, and a great selection of Sam Edelman flats. Rock-star mommies will also find super-cool threads for their stylish tots. And if after all of this you’re still up for more, amble south of Houston on Elizabeth Street to the NoLita area where you’ll find even more boutiques.
Despite its sophistication, New York City is teeming with activities to thrill even the youngest visitors, so why not bring the kids?
Some of the more popular (read: crowded) family destinations include the Central Park Zoo, Children’s Museum of Manhattan (ideal for the preschool set), and the American Museum of Natural History, which always wins rave reviews for the displays of dinosaur skeletons, jaw-dropping IMAX films, and the Hayden Planetarium. But for a more off-the-beaten-path activity visit the Scholastic Store in SOHO (557 Broadway). At this 6,000-plus square-foot store, children have been known to linger for hours—and who doesn’t love to watch their kids hanging out in a bookstore? The store also boasts educational toys, games, and computer software; a giant doghouse with a life-size Clifford The Big Red Dog; and a Magic School Bus replica that little ones can sit in and pretend to drive. The store also offers story times and many other events, so call 212-343-6166 for details.
If you’re having trouble coaxing a smile out of your surly tween, consider a wet and wild ride on the East River. At the South Street Seaport (where parking is always plentiful) you can hop aboard the Shark Speedboat (open May through October; children must be at least 40 inches tall to ride) and take in views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge while enjoying a fast, bumpy, and very wet ride. The Shark is also relatively reasonable by NYC standards; tickets are approximately $20 for adults and $14 for kids, although you can save a few dollars by ordering in advance at 866-9CLINE1. (Hint: We hear riders at the front of the boat don’t get quite as wet.) The seaport also offers tamer boat excursions for families with small children.