New York City And Why It Keeps Calling Me Back

There is no place like New York City.  The first time I visited the Big Apple was when I was in my 20’s making custom clothing and draperies.  I went with my business partner to shop in the Garment District for fabrics, buttons, and trims.  I saw my first Broadway show, Sunset Boulevard, and I still love the famous line, “I’m ready for my close-up”.  Since that visit, I’ve been back to New York at least 30 times, some for business and many times for pleasure.  Now when I go I feel very familiar, but I try to visit new places nearly every time.  I’ve never written about my experiences in New York, but after so many visits, I thought it was time to share some of my favorite things to do there.

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I have to recommend the food tours that are offered in New York City and its many burroughs. I’ve done at least seven different tours, including East Village, West Village, Soho, Chelsea Market, Chinatown, Dumbo (Brooklyn), and Williamsburg (Brooklyn).  I’ve used a couple of different tour companies, but the most memorable were through Foods of New York Tours.  Food tours not only expose you to great markets, restaurants, and bars that you may never find on your own, you also learn about the history of the neighborhoods, and the famous people who live there.  Some of the places you’ll get to visit are Murrays Cheese Shop, which has been in Greenwich Village.  They’ve been in business since 1940, and they have one of the best cheese selections in the world.  Others visits are Jacques Torres Chocolates in Brooklyn, with delectable chocolate truffles, and Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar where you can watch cigars being rolled while sipping a mojito.

I also recommend using the subway system in New York City.  It took me a few times to get the hang of it, but it’s really quite easy, and you’ll get to your destination so much faster (and cheaper) than taking a taxi or Uber.  If I ever look lost or confused in the subway station, people are very helpful and friendly to get me where I need to go.  On the other hand, I also love to walk.  So, when I’ve got the time (and appropriate footwear) I walk all over the city.  With that said, I recommend you keep a package of bandages with you for those blisters that appear out of nowhere. 

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Did you know there are over 70 museums in the New York City area? I certainly haven’t seen them all, but the Museum of Natural History is a must-see, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my favorite), 9/11 Memorial Museum (you will cry), Tenament Museum, Ellis Island, and Museum of Modern Art.  The one I really want to visit is the Museum of the City of New York, and I’ll see it before the end of this year.  The Empire State Building is always a destination for tourists, but I prefer the view at Top of The Rock at Rockefeller Center.  And if you can visit New York City in December, it is absolutely magical.  The tree at Rockefeller Center, the lights strung across the streets, and the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman Department Store and Saks Fifth Avenue are just incredible. 

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Last January I spent three days in Harlem with my friend, Kho Kian Lam who taught me to cook Chinese food in his apartment.  I was so impressed with Harlem and the variety of restaurants that were there.  I’ve heard there are food tours in Harlem, and I hope to participate in the near future.  There are also some beautiful parks in Harlem, as well as The Studio Museum, which showcases African American art.

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Of course, everyone wants to see Time Square when they visit New York City for the first time.  The only time I go there is when I’m going to a theater because I can’t stand the crowds and people in costume trying to lure tourists for a photo.  The lights and billboards are pretty spectacular, but for me, I enjoy other parts of the city much more.  If you’re going to see a Broadway show, you should see Times Square at night, and if you’re looking for a good place to dine before the show, I recommend Don Antonio’s for fabulous Italian food and great service.  After the show, go to the bar, Top Of The Standard at the High Line to see a stunning view of New York from the top floor of the building.  The bar is beautiful, and they have creative cocktails.

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If you’ve got your walking shoes on, you should walk or bicycle across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s just over a mile long, and there are some spectacular views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn.  If you go on a weekend, you should go to the Brooklyn Flea, which is an outdoor flea market with loads of vintage treasures, as well as a great line-up of food trucks.  On Saturdays go to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and eat your way through Smorgasburg, the coolest outdoor food market where many local restaurants and food entrepreneurs sell their best dishes.  There’s a lot of great shopping in Brooklyn too, and a really cool place to visit is The Meat Hook where you can take a variety of classes in meat butchering.  They’ve become so famous you have to book classes far in advance.

I’m asked all the time for my favorite restaurants in New York City, and it’s a really difficult answer for me.  There are so many great restaurants, and new ones popping up all the time.  I love ABC Kitchen, Bar Americain, Nur, Eleven Madison Park, Casa Mona, and Union Square Cafe.  But you can’t beat a slice of pizza at Joe’s Pizza (and Ray’s Pizza).  Everyone has their favorite spots to eat, and I’m always looking for new ones.

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One of my most memorable trips to New York was in 2013 when I took my parents.  My mother had cancer, and was going through chemo, and she hadn’t been to New York since she was in high school.  My husband and I took my dad on long walks every morning to see the city before it got too busy.  We took a carriage ride through Central Park, which seems like a touristy thing to do, but it was quite wonderful.  The carriage driver told great stories about the surrounding buildings and the park itself.  My mother loved every minute of it.  We also took a pedi-cab to Grand Central Station from our hotel, and Mom laughed the entire way.  It was very expensive, but so much fun and worth the look on my mom’s face as we were pedaled through busy traffic.

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I will always love New York with its mix of beautiful people, food from every corner of the world, shops with anything you could possibly need or want, and architecture that makes your neck hurt from staring up at it.  Everyone should visit at least once, and take in all the smells and sometimes crazy things you get to see.  There’s really no place like it in the world.

Evan Wei-Haas