Trip Coach: February 26, 2008
Maria Burwell, editor of "Fodor's New York City 2009," answered your questions on the Big Apple.
Maria Burwell: Hi, Denise! I always love hearing about visitors that want to discover the history and architecture of New York City. First let me encourage you to follow in the footsteps of New York's literati. Go visit the peaceful square around Gramercy Park. The garden is enclosed, but in June you'll be able to admire the lush green oasis that is rimmed with buildings dating to the 1800's. Nos., 3 and 4 belonged to the founder of Harper Publishing House. No. 38 was the home of John Steinbeck, and you can tour No. 15, the National Arts Club. Keep strolling downtown on Broadway and you'll pass The Strand, a New York institution for used books that is a beacon drawing booklovers from near and far. You could spend half a day poking through the stacks. If you continue south, you'll hit Washington Mews, a rare cobble-stoned street that looks like it was leftover from Henry James's era. You'll also hit Washington Square Park, a great mix of classic architecture and vibrant modern street life. I also suggest you leave Manhattan altogether. Follow writers like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer and flee Manhattan for Brooklyn Heights. (Take the 2, 3 train to Clark St. or the A, C to High St.) Here you can walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with postcard-perfect views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You can also stroll among the houses that are so stunning, they were declared New York's first historic district. Definitely worth discovering!
New York City, N.Y.: Where is the best place to shop for womens apparel at great bargain prices? Also, where's an affordable place to hotel to stay for 1 to 2 nights? Thanks
Maria Burwell: Century 21 in lower Manhattan has a cult following for delivering dozens of designer goods at marked down prices. You'll have to do some digging to find the keepers, but it's a saving grace for New Yorkers whose taste for the good life reaches beyond their paycheck. Another spot to hunt for discounted Prada is Find Outlet in NoLita. Also check online for sample sales. Barney's New York has a sample sale that makes shopping a competitive sport.
As for affordable accommodations, New York has a shortage. Good budget options include the Pod Hotel and the Larchmont Hotel. If you don't mind sacrificing color-coordinated decor, La Quinta Inn has some of the most affordable rates in Manhattan (below $200).
Huntington Woods, Mich.: Hi Maria- I (50 yr old mom) am taking my 15 year old (musical theater loving) daughter to NY May 23-25 because she "has" to see Spring Awakening. She has been to NY once before to see Wicked and some of the major sites (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Tenement Museum, Chinatown, Times Sq.,NBC-Today Show crowd). That time we stayed at the Marriott across from Ground Zero- not a fabulous location but it was ok.
I'd like a better location this time. I am fine with small or quirky places- trying to stay under $300/night. Also looking for things that would be special fun for musical theater kind of teenager. We have the show tickets (Friday night) but haven't booked our tickets yet. Ideas for hotel, fun, food? Thanks in advance
Maria Burwell: Sounds like you have a future Broadway diva on your hands! First, let's talk lodging. Under $300 a night, you could stay at the Pod Hotel. The rooms are teeny-tiny, but ultra hip and with cool extras, like iPod docks, that your fifteen-year-old might appreciate! Another idea is to stay at Hotel 41, again, the rooms are small, but you'll have DVD players and Aveda bath products. Both of these are more or less in Midtown, closer to all the attractions there. Your best bet might be to stay at the Casablanca Hotel. It's right next to Time Square and even comes with a complimentary breakfast.
Aside from the tour I recommended above for a fourteen-year-old fashionista, you could take your theater-loving teen to the Ziegfeld movie theater. This place really ups the bling ratio, and you'll feel like wearing opera-length gloves to the concession stand. (No worries, jeans are just fine here.) You can also take her outside of Broadway for a bit of Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions. In Brooklyn, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) has brilliant theater with actors like the great Cate Blanchett and chorographers like Mark Morris. Or you can check out Fuerzabruta at the Daryl Roth Theater.
If you go to the Daryl Roth Theater, eat at some of the hip places around Union Square. The Stand on 12th Street offers up some mean burgers with artisanal milkshakes, and Republic (on Union Square's Westside) has budget Asian noodles and fried wontons.