There's Nothing Like the Big City
When was the last time you wore heels? The last time you went dancing--other than at a wedding? The last time you ate at a restaurant without crayons on the table? The last time you stayed up past midnight?
New York: If You Can Make It There . . .
Where to Kick Up Your Heels
Grown-up drinks: On every table at Pegu Club are droppers with lime juice and mixers for individualized drink calibration--if the obsessive bartenders didn't master your concoction from the get-go.
Outdoor seating: Overlook the Meatpacking District nightlife scene without ever leaving it at Plunge, the poolside rooftop lounge of Hotel Gansevoort.
Till midnight: Italian wines and paninis are served at both of Bar Veloce's intimate, counter-and-bar-stool outposts.
Till 3 A.M.: On the 20th floor of an office tower, 230 Fifth is a 20,000-square-foot club on two levels, with Versace-meets-Versailles decor and a spectacular terrace with 500 chairs.
Till dawn: Les Enfants Terribles is a French-African restaurant by day; later, it's a hotspot for those in the know.
Something you'll regret: Kitschy Mexican joint Tortilla Flats rocks all night, especially after 1 A.M. on weekends, when margarita pitchers are $5 off.
Must-See Museum Show
The Whitney's Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era--paintings, album covers, posters, photographs, and sculptures that came out of the social changes of the 1960s and '70s.
Streets That Are Made for Shopping
Elizabeth Street (bet. Houston and Spring): independent boutiques with stylish heels and dresses.
East Seventh and East Ninth Streets (bet. Second Avenue and Avenue A): funky vintage threads.
Madison Avenue (bet. 57th and 72nd Streets): celebrity designers like Donna and Calvin.
You Gotta Do at Least One . . .
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; then wander through the neighborhood of Dumbo, stopping for pizza at Grimaldi's and dessert at Jacques Torres Chocolate.
See the Manhattan skyline from the Staten Island Ferry (it's free!).
Venture up to the three-floor art deco observation deck at Rockefeller Center--it reopened in 2005 as Top of the Rock, and the views are wow.
Row a boat around the Central Park Lake for a lazy afternoon.
Shops You Can't Find Everywhere
Patricia Field Boutique: The store of the stylist and fashion guru behind Sex and the City stocks her own label and those of her favorite designers.
The Market NYC: Up-and-coming clothing and jewelry designers sell their wares in booths (FYI, it's also known as Young Designer's Market).
Kate's Paperie: The company's five Manhattan locations are filled to the brim with unique note cards, calendars, journals, handmade wrapping paper, and racks of fine stationery; the SoHo store is the best.
Dylan's Candy Bar: Flagship of the burgeoning sweets empire of Ralph Lauren's daughter features hard-to-find candy, cute candy-related clothes and gifts, and a retro soda fountain (love the peppermint-striped stools!).
INA: Four locations sell seasonal, high-end women's clothing on consignment.
We Love Brunch
The quintessential uptown New York brunch destination, Sarabeth's is renowned for its signature pumpkin muffins and scones and the mighty eggs Benedict.
Bliss's flagship spa in SoHo is where the brand got its start. New on the menu: a soaking-and-scrubbing for your achy feet (it's called Heel Magnolias, natch).
Chef Will Goldfarb regularly changes the menu at his dessert-only restaurant, Room 4 Dessert. Particular favorites include layers of flavors in a champagne flute (above), and dessert flights--one plate with four variations on a theme.
Rooms at Hotel Gansevoort, in the popular Meatpacking District, come with down duvets, feather beds, and 400-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets. And there's a spa downstairs when you need some TLC.
The Bentley Hotel has bright, airy rooms--and the hotel gets bonus points for being near Bloomingdale's.
The suites at the Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square overlook the Theater District and fit up to six with two beds in one room and a pullout sofa in the other.
What's for Dinner?
Spice Market, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's popular Meatpacking District restaurant, attracts a high-profile clientele with its intense Asian-fusion flavors, like an appetizer of mango, crystallized tamarind, and cherry tomatoes, and its wooden-temple decor.