NYC is the most energy-pulsing, culturally rich, architecturally splendid city in the world, steeped in centuries of history, interwoven neighbourhoods and diverse communities.
It’s the second most walkable city in the US, after San Francisco, according to Walkscore, the third most walkable city in the world, after Venice and Paris, according to Christie’s.
Put on your sneakers and get walking
We walked over 43 miles in 5.5 days, up and down several of the major thoroughfares – north up Broadway, 9th Ave. south through Hudson St., next up 8th Ave. into Times Square, back down to 5th Ave. west along Bleecker St. in to Greenwich Village, east along Spring St., past the luxury shops of Soho.
We hopped up to walk the High Line on the west side, starting in the Chelsea Market area, and down through the Meatpacking District. Then north again up to Central Park, then east, then south through the Bowery, then Little Italy, to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan (to the exact spot where Kendall pondered suicide in the final Succession episode).
Washington Square Park
Looking to take a trip to New York? Turn off the news first
All I am saying is don’t make what you are seeing the media the reason why you are not taking a trip to New York.
One morning we walked over to a GNC on 8th Ave., and found the door to be locked. The store manager opened it for us, telling us how retail smash and grabs are up over the past year in shops on 8th Ave. – actually all over Manhattan, the woman added.
So there’s that. Several drug stores had their some of their product locked down, with a security guard at the front door. We have more security guards in downtown Toronto retail stores now as well. It’s a reality everywhere it seems.
Use common sense
I am not diminishing what I have been seeing on the news about NYC – crime in the subways, migrant hotels – and sure, my wife and I saw mentally ill people wandering the streets, gridlock traffic with motorists trying to make the Lincoln Tunnel, crawling, losing their minds, on their horns for 30 seconds straight. New York is not as clean as the mayor Guiliani years, and early mayor Bloomberg years, around 2008, the first time we came here.
Just don’t buy the media spin and get some perspective. Always be cautious. Use common sense. Being in New York, I always get the feeling that people there look out for you, a tapestry of neighbourhood watches.
5 things during our trip to New York that stood out
Stayed at the Arlo Hotel Midtown
This is what came out of one of the fortune cookies next to our bed when we checked into the luxury boutique hotel on W 38th St.: “Have the courage to get a little lost. You’ll find your way back (if you need to).”
That resonated with us, since no other city we’ve been to compares to New York if your objective when you travel is to walk and explore, get lost, meander, take it all in. Put down the Fodor’s book – this is how we stumbled across some of our favourite spots over the years.
Arlo has three boutique hotels in Manhattan – Midtown, SoHo, and NoMad. The original purpose behind booking Arlo was because we heard NYC was a descending crime zone, on the same level as Liberal-run cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, after we had been watching too much skewed news coverage (“Pravda” of the right in this case), or so we thought. After researching Arlo, it appeared it represented a proper respite, even an oasis, from all the carnage. We wanted to go see our favourite city for ourselves.
Relaxed, cool vibe
Two things emerged after just a few days staying at the hotel. One, Arlo Hotel Midtown was everything we had hoped for. The headlines for us were an instantaneous, relaxed “cool” vibe when you walk through the front door, an embrace of nature and greenery, an uber-friendly, welcoming, helpful staff.
There was a “chill-alternative” soundtrack (think silky smooth Bob Moses) that pumps all through the entrance area, and back through the communal work/sitting areas (some of which you can close off for meetings or privacy), with wide, plush couches and contemporary chairs and couches, even a fireplace. Such an inviting space, peaceful.
Two, the room – a premium city view. It was small, and yes my wife and I often bumped into each at the base of the bed getting organized every morning. But that’s part of the deal if you want to vacation in New York, as another guest in an elevator said to me, another Arlo lover who had also stayed at the company’s Miami property with more spacious rooms. The construction on the outside street was a bit of a drag, but that’s of course temporary. 4/5 STARS
View from our window
Dinner at John’s of Bleecker St.
The Italian restaurant, recommended to us, around since 1929, sits in Greenwich Village, and it didn’t disappoint. Small, quaint, there was a lineup outside when we visited, but the staff there kept things moving.
We had a 15-minute wait, tops. Inside it’s an well-oiled operation. You get a sense why this place has to be money machine for the owners. Food arrives fast, staff are constantly buzzing about, taking away dishes, bringing in food from the kitchen, cleaning tables, topping up supplies. Just a great buzz, vibrant, lots of fun. And the thin crust pizza with chicken, green pepper and mushrooms in my case, ranks as one of the best I ever had. 4/5 STARS
Dinner at Katz’s Delicatessen
We had heard about Katz’s for a long time – the famous Jewish delicatessen, based in the lower east side for over 100 years. Getting there was a trek – a 3.5-mile walk from Central Park, south down 5th Ave., east to 1st Ave., through Bowery, east on E Houston St. for a few blocks. And where we arrived there around 3 p.m. we were met by a long line outside. I wanted to leave. My wife wanted to stay. We stayed.
However, like John’s of Bleecker St., the entire operation is one of high efficiency. That line moved fast, and within 20 minutes we were seated with our pastrami on rye. People in line had either been there before or were excited, since this was their first time. I never thought I was a pastrami guy until one of the Katz people handed me a sample, suddenly I was a pastrami guy. 4/5 STARS
Pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen
Walking The High Line
The High Line is a must-visit for walkers, especially in the summer time. Beautiful landscaped gardens with a focus on sustainability, seating areas with views of the Hudson River, public art installations and ice cream stops. Just the picture of serenity all around.
The High Line is an elevated urban park, a former railway line, opened to the public in phases starting from 2009. It was carefully designed working in elements of the original railway, such as the tracks and steel framework, while introducing modern amenities.
A cigar and scotch at Hudson Bar and Books on Hudson St.
Definitely check this out on a trip to New York if cigars and scotch are your thing. Hudson Bar and Books is a cigar bar on the west side, close to Meatpacking District, known for its elegant atmosphere, kind of a refined, dark moody ambience that will remind you of a traditional English gentlemen’s club.
I had a Lagavulin 16 Year Old and a Partagas with Dominican Republic tobacco (still can’t buy Cuban cigars in the U.S.), sitting out on the small patio out front. Can’t beat that on a summer evening. Very cool, and great service. 5/5 STARS
Top image: Walking through Little Italy