WE STILL ❤ NY

The new and nev­erend­ing thrills of the big city

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - FRONT PAGE - KRISTIE KELLAHAN

New York City should come with a warn­ing: once bit­ten, forever smit­ten. This is not a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion you can visit once and tick off your “to do” list as done. There’s an en­ergy of pos­si­bil­ity, an ir­re­sistible vibe and pace that will get in your veins and make you fall in love so hard that you’ll be book­ing a re­turn trip be­fore you’ve even flown out of JFK.

I should know. A decade ago, I sub­let an apart­ment on the Up­per East Side for the sum­mer to im­merse my­self in all Man­hat­tan had to of­fer. I couldn’t have imag­ined that three months would turn into 10 years, that NYC would be­come my sec­ond home, a place where I’ve put down roots and made life­long friends.

If your first visit left you crav­ing more, you’re not alone. Sta­tis­tics from Visit USA re­veal that of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Aussies who visit NYC each year, al­most three-quar­ters of them are re­peat vis­i­tors. Go­ing back for a sec­ond or third bite of the Big Ap­ple is a great chance to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent sea­sons, see what’s new, or dis­cover an­other bor­ough.

Here’s a lo­cal’s take on where to go on your next trip, plus a few in­sider tips on get­ting the most from the city.

WHERE TO STAY NOW

Try a new ho­tel. The lat­est open­ings the lo­cals are talk­ing about in­clude Mr C Sea­port by Cipri­ani (mrc­sea­port.com) with knock­out views of Brook­lyn Bridge and on­point Belli­nis, and Ian Schrager’s stylish Times Square EDI­TION (mar­riott.com).

All eyes are on the mam­moth Hud­son Yards de­vel­op­ment, where the city’s first fit­ness-themed Equinox ho­tel is set to open. And the most hotly an­tic­i­pated ho­tel open­ing of 2019 would have to be the TWA Ho­tel at JFK Air­port (twa­ho­tel.com), which prom­ises to trans­port us all back to the golden age of fly­ing.

Low-cost ho­tels do ex­ist in Man­hat­tan, though you need to book well in ad­vance to get the best rates. The Pod Ho­tel (the­p­od­ho­tel.com), The Free­hand (free­hand­ho­tels.com) and The Jane (the­ja­nenyc.com) reg­u­larly of­fer well-priced deals.

Con­sider a stay off the island of Man­hat­tan and save on ho­tels such as Z NYC Ho­tel and Pa­per Fac­tory Ho­tel in Queens and Aloft in Brook­lyn. Con­nected to the city by sub­way, the bor­oughs of­fer some of the best ac­com­mo­da­tion dis­counts.

If you’re trav­el­ling in early Jan­uary, take ad­van­tage of Ho­tel Week NYC (hotel­weeknyc.com); rates are slashed to $US100, $US200 or $US300 at more than a dozen New York City ho­tels which typ­i­cally charge up­wards of $US500 a night.

IT’S IN THE BAG

Real talk: the Aussie dol­lar has lost some mojo this year, so bar­gain shop­ping has be­come even more at­trac­tive. In NYC that means trawl­ing the dis­count de­signer racks at Cen­tury 21 (c21­s­tores.com), near Wall St and at the new lo­ca­tion on the Up­per West Side. Fol­low the lo­cals to other money-sav­ing stores such as TJ Maxx (tj­maxx.com), De­signer Shoe Ware­house (dsw.com) and Bloom­ing­dale’s Up­per West Side Out­let (bloom­ing­dales.com).

Se­ri­ous shop­pers can head out of town for a day trip to Wood­bury Com­mon Pre­mium Out­lets (pre­mi­u­mout­lets.com). The trip takes about 90 min­utes; buses depart reg­u­larly from Port Au­thor­ity Ter­mi­nal in Man­hat­tan’s Mid­town. Wood­bury Com­mon’s 220 out­lets of­fer pulse-quick­en­ing sav­ings, of­ten up to 80 per cent off.

Soon, they won’t need to leave the city for these kinds of bargains. Any day now, Em­pire Out­lets is set to open on Staten Island. NYC’s first out­let des­ti­na­tion will have 125 de­signer shops, restau­rants and gobsmacking views of Man­hat­tan.

If you want to shop for lo­cal brands, ex­plore Soho, Wil­liams­burg and trendy Dumbo, all neigh­bour­hoods where you’ll find in­de­pen­dent fash­ion bou­tiques, art gal­leries and vin­tage stores full of one-of-a-kind trea­sures.

Also worth check­ing out: the gift shops at many of the city’s mu­se­ums and gal­leries. Stocked with fab­u­lous books on NYC’s his­tory and cul­ture, as well as cool gifts and city-branded sou­venirs, they should be on ev­ery shop­per’s go-to list. Three of the best are: Brook­lyn Mu­seum, the Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art, and the Mu­seum of the City of New York.

TAKE A BITE

New restau­rants and bars open in NYC at such a rapid pace, it can be a de­li­cious chal­lenge to keep up. The lat­est buzzy open­ings in­clude The Blue Box Cafe at Tif­fany (tif­fany.com) on Fifth Ave and Frenchette (frenchet­tenyc.com) in Tribeca. If you can’t get a reser­va­tion, try your luck as a walk-in.

At lunchtime, the views are bet­ter and the reser­va­tions more easy to come by at the lat­est of­fer­ing from

Danny Meyer, Man­hatta (man­hattarestau­rant.com). The FiDi restau­rant serves a three-course prix fixe menu at $US78 (about $110), in­clud­ing tip, in line with Meyer’s pol­icy to stamp out the awk­ward prac­tice of adding gra­tu­ities to bills – a pol­icy Aussies will no doubt ap­plaud.

The best money-sav­ing tip for food­ies is to for­get the din­ner menu and opt for lunch in­stead. Many fives­tar restau­rants of­fer a wal­let-pleas­ing three-course lunch prix fixe for less than $US50. Chef Jean-Ge­orges Von­gerichten is a crowd-pleaser, serv­ing great food at a great price in his restau­rants in­clud­ing Nouga­tine, Perry St and ABC Kitchen.

If you’re sav­ing your money to spend on shoes but you still need to eat, food trucks are your friend. Pop­u­lar in NYC, they serve waf­fles, dumplings, fried chicken and more. Fol­low the tweets of the Big Gay Ice Cream truck to find its lo­ca­tion, and look out for the Red Hook Lob­ster Pound’s rov­ing van.

Queues wrap around the block for the $US6 lamb and chicken plates from The Ha­lal Guys food truck on the corner of 53rd St and 6th Ave.

LOVE YOUR SELFIE

Ob­sessed with get­ting the right shot on your In­sta feed? For that “hey, here I am on top of the city” pic, you’ll need to get high.

Em­pire State Build­ing is iconic, but lo­cals know Top of the Rock (topofthe­rock­nyc.com) is also a must. The sweep­ing views from its 70thfloor Ob­ser­va­tion Deck at Rock­e­feller Cen­ter in­clude a bird’s-eye look at Em­pire State Build­ing. Go dur­ing Golden Hour – the hour af­ter sunrise and the hour be­fore sun­set – for the most flat­ter­ing nat­u­ral light­ing.

For fab­u­lous views from a down­town van­tage point, take the su­per-fast el­e­va­tor to the top of One World Ob­ser­va­tory (oneworld ob­ser­va­tory.com). Mov­ing and iconic, the ob­ser­va­tory is at the top of the tallest build­ing in the Western Hemi­sphere, One World Trade Cen­ter. Re­built as a sym­bol of New York City’s re­silience, a visit here is un­for­get­table, with views that stretch out to Brook­lyn, Staten Island and be­yond.

Who doesn’t love a selfie in one of the city’s coolest bars? Raise a cock­tail glass to the view from a well-placed rooftop or ter­race bar. Bar Six­tyFive, at Rain­bow Room (bar­six­ty­five.com) on the 65th floor of 30 Rock­e­feller Plaza, is NYC’s high­est ter­race bar and a thor­oughly glam check-in. Ex­pect to cap­ture some great pics through the 3m-high win­dows.

Fur­ther down­town, Top of the Stan­dard at The Stan­dard, High Line (stan­dard­ho­tels.com) is a celeb mag­net bar with stun­ning water views. Tip well or ask very nicely if you hope to nab a win­dow seat.

Ev­ery as­pir­ing In­sta in­flu­encer in New York counts down the days un­til cherry blos­som sea­son, that all-too­brief but oh-so-lovely pink haze in April that sig­nals spring has fi­nally sprung. There’s even a Bloom Watch app for Brook­lyn Botanic Gar­den (bbg.org), up­dat­ing in real time the days un­til peak pink bloom. Time it right and you will be re­warded with a gor­geous selfie back­drop.

Don some white shoes (never af­ter Labour Day) and a cute sailor’s cap and hop aboard one of Clas­sic Har­bor Line’s yachts (sail-nyc.com) for a sun­set sail/selfie-tak­ing jack­pot. You’re on a boat. There’s cham­pagne. Lady Lib­erty is your co-star.

Tick, tick, tick.

DIS­COVER THE BOR­OUGHS

When I first vis­ited NYC, I thought it be­gan and ended with Man­hat­tan. So wrong. There are five bor­oughs, and you can’t call your­self an as­pir­ing New Yorker un­til you get out there and ex­plore Brook­lyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

Of course you’ll want to ride a bike in Cen­tral Park and walk the High Line. But af­ter you’ve done that, try Brook­lyn Bridge Park and Prospect Park. If you’ve been to Chi­na­town and Lit­tle Italy, go see the “real” Chi­na­town in Flush­ing or Sun­set Park; and the “real” Lit­tle Italy in the Bronx.

Eat your way around Brook­lyn’s hottest new spot, Domino Park, fol­low the hip-hop his­tory trail in the Bronx and dis­cover the best pizza in Staten Island. Take the 7 sub­way train to Queens – dubbed the In­ter­na­tional Ex­press – and you’ll pass through Mex­i­can, In­dian, Chi­nese and Colom­bian neigh­bour­hoods where the restau­rants are as au­then­tic as the res­i­dents.

In Man­hat­tan, down­town is what’s up. From the el­e­gance of Four Sea­sons Ho­tel New York Down­town (foursea­sons.com) to shop­ping and din­ing at Brook­field Place, this is a ’hood ev­ery­one is talk­ing about.

NYC & Com­pany has de­vel­oped de­tailed guides and you can ac­cess them at ny­cgo.com/neigh­bor­hoods.

CUL­TURE FIX

You can never visit the Met too many times. Next time, see if the rooftop bar is open. It’s a great spot for sun­down­ers with a view of Cen­tral Park. To see more of the vast art col­lec­tion, head up­town to The Met Clois­ters, or over to The Met Breuer, where you’ll find mod­ern art.

MoMA and the Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art are great – a new Andy Warhol ex­hibit opens at the Whit­ney in Novem­ber – but make time to check out one of New York’s other great mu­se­ums. The Ten­e­ment Mu­seum (ten­e­ment.org) brings to life the true sto­ries of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies – of­ten heart­break­ing, al­ways back­break­ing – through vis­its to au­then­ti­cally re­stored apart­ments of former res­i­dents from the 1870s to the 1970s.

Fas­ci­nated by the in­trigue of es­pi­onage? Your mis­sion, should you choose to ac­cept it, is to visit SPYSCAPE (spyscape.com). This new high-tech mu­seum and im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence is all about spy­ing, with in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays that re­ally cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion.

Built in 1906 to house J.P. Mor­gan’s pri­vate li­brary, The Mor­gan Li­brary & Mu­seum (the­mor­gan.org) now hosts com­pelling ex­hi­bi­tions, an ele­gant din­ing room and Fri­day night recitals in an atrium de­signed by ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano.

Block­buster ex­hibits are par for the course at the Brook­lyn Mu­seum (brook­lyn­mu­seum.org) and Mu­seum of the Mov­ing Im­age (movingim­age.us), so be sure to check out what’s on. For the ul­ti­mate theatre fix, keep on en­ter­ing that on­line lot­tery for $US10 Hamil­ton tick­ets. Some­body has to win, right? But in the mean­time, nab hot Broad­way tick­ets to Dear Evan Hansen, Sum­mer: The Donna Sum­mer Mu­si­cal and My Fair Lady.

Do ven­ture fur­ther than Times Square though, and you’ll be re­warded with mag­nif­i­cent bal­let, opera, theatre and or­ches­tral per­for­mances at Lin­coln Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts (lin­col­n­cen­ter.org), live jazz in an in­ti­mate set­ting at Blue Note Jazz Club (bluenote.net) and in­stantly recog­nis­able co­me­di­ans at Gotham Com­edy Club (gotham­com­e­dy­club.com).

’TIS THE SEA­SON

NYC is blessed with four very dis­tinct sea­sons and each one is worth a visit. Spring­time is for tulips and mag­no­lias blooming in Cen­tral Park, the great Easter hat pa­rade on Fifth Ave and the open­ing pitch of the sea­son at Yan­kee Sta­dium. The long, hot sum­mer days bring out­door mu­sic fes­ti­vals, glamping on Gov­er­nors Island, trips to Rock­away Beach and the US Open ten­nis cham­pi­onships in Flush­ing.

By au­tumn, it’s leaf-peep­ing prime time, as the fo­liage changes to beau­ti­ful hues of gold, or­ange and red. It’s also spooky-tas­tic Hal­loween, and the op­por­tu­nity to join in the grand West Vil­lage pa­rade.

The win­ter chill months are the sea­son of out­door ice-skat­ing, gor­geous Fifth Ave hol­i­day win­dow dis­plays and a white Christ­mas, if you’re lucky. Plan to tick all four sea­sons off your NYC bucket list.

Next year prom­ises to be a mon­u­men­tal time to visit, with the Statue of Lib­erty Mu­seum open­ing, Hud­son Yards de­vel­op­ment tak­ing shape, and the city set to host WorldPride. What are you wait­ing for?

YOU’RE ON A BOAT. THERE’S CHAM­PAGNE. LADY LIB­ERTY IS YOUR CO-STAR. TICK, TICK, TICK

PIC­TURES: COURT PRATHER, DAVID MITCHELL, TIF­FANY & CO, DANIEL KRIEGER

Lo­cals know Top of the Rock views are a must; TWA Ho­tel’s open­ing is hotly an­tic­i­pated; blue’s in vogue for break­fast at Tif­fany’s; and lunchtime is a good time to make a reser­va­tion at Man­hatta.

PICTURE: ISTOCK

Cherry blos­som sea­son is keenly an­tic­i­pated – there’s even a Bloom Watch app for Brook­lyn Botanic Gar­den.

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