New York: Uptown
SEE Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2 E. 91st St. at Fifth Ave., 212/849-8400, ndm.si.edu
The only museum in the U.S. dedicated solely to both historic and contemporary design. Run by the Smithsonian, it's housed in industrialist Andrew Carnegie's handsome 1901 mansion. Curiously, the museum is often overlooked, which makes it blessedly free of crowds. In good weather, the garden is magnificent, so snag a seat on the terrace or a find an outdoor table to call your own. Adults $10, students and seniors $7. Closed Mon.
SEE Beard Papa
2167 Broadway, 212/799-3770
A sleek Japanese pastry shop selling baked cream puffs with rich vanilla custard filling that have been known to cause stampedes.
EAT Gumbo Café
950 Columbus Ave., 212/222-2378
Great New Orleans basics like stuffed muffuletta sandwiches, smoky jambalaya and red beans, and buttery pecan tarts. The gumbo, made from chef/owner Dexter Stewart's family recipe, is the star-it's been savored for decades in the Big Easy. B.Y.O.B.
1 Central Park West, in the Trump International Hotel & Tower, 212/299-3900, jean-georges.com
The adjacent, more casual café (with outdoor terrace) at acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's self-named restaurant. A three-course $20 prix-fixe lunch is offered on weekdays ($24 for two courses in the formal dining room). The French-Asian menu sings with choices, and the desserts are edible jewels.
EAT Sassy's Sliders
1530 Third Ave., at E. 86th St., 212/828-6900, sassyssliders.com
Forget White Castle-these bite-size burgers are much better (i.e., not as greasy but just as flavorful). Available in turkey, beef, and veggie. All go perfectly with the golden hand-cut fries.
DRINK The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Ave., 212/535-7710, metmuseum.org
For a bird's-eye view of Central Park and a surefire way to ratchet up a romance, sip wine on the Cantor Roof Garden (open in warm weather only), or nurse a bottle on the Great Hall Balcony, where you can hear free live chamber music on Fri. and Sat., 5-8:30 p.m. $15 suggested donation.
SHOP Dylan's Candy Bar
1011 Third Ave., 646/735-0078, dylanscandybar.com
Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan, sells over 5,000 candies at her super-sized shrine to sugar, located across the street from Bloomies. Custom ice creams, such as "Candy Bar Blast," and an old-fashioned soda fountain with peppermint-stripe stools make visits extra sweet.
2245 Broadway, at W. 80 St., 212/787-2000, zabars.com
A beloved gourmet-food store known for its Jewish edibles-smoked fish, babkas, and an array of creamy bagel schmears. Go upstairs for some of the city's best bargains on kitchenware.
PLAY Sonic Vision
Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at W. 79th St., 212/769-5200, amnh.org
A regular museum music event, the "digitally animated alternative music show" features songs mixed by Moby and trippy graphics cast on the overhead planetarium screen. $15; Fri. and Sat., 7:30-10:30 p.m.
PLAY Rowboats in Central Park
Loeb Boathouse, E. 74th St., 212/517-2233, nycgovparks.org
From Mar.-Oct.when the weather permits, families, lovebirds, and groups of friends take to the lake in rowboats to laze and splash around, and spot wildlife. (Over 750 kinds of birds have been seen to date.) $10 for the first hour; $2.50 every 15 minutes thereafter. Note: A $30 cash deposit is required to rent. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Boats must be returned by 6:30 p.m.
PLAY Sit In on a Sotheby's Auction
1334 York Ave., sothebys.com
From Old Masters to the personal collection of Gianni Versace, you never know what might come up for sale. Private treasures are often on display, so sit back and watch the bidding begin. The excitement is contagious. Free Mon.-Fri. during the day.
SPLURGE Cabaret at Café Sabarsky
1048 Fifth Ave., 212/288-0665, neuegalerie.org
One of the best cabarets in the city, and the setting is dreamy-an elegant fin de siècle kaffeehaus on the ground floor of a 1914 mansion, once home to the Vanderbilts, now the Neue Galerie. See performances ranging from traditional German kabarett to contemporary acts, while enjoying buttery apple strudel. Cabaret and dinner from $90. Thursday only. Note: The cabaret goes on hiatus in the summer, but the café and gallery (adults $10, students and seniors $7) are open year-round.
Five-Star Street Food