Trip Coach: February 5, 2008
Amy Langfield of NewYorkology.com, a blog about NYC activities and event-listings, answered your questions on New York City.
New York, N.Y.: Can you recommend a laid back sort of bar with a great view of New York City to take out of town friends to?
Amy Langfield: If the weather works, I'd hit one of the rooftop bars, such as 230 Fifth. White Horse Tavern in the West Village gets you a slower, street-vibe, but very laid back in a classic New York Bar with a room dedicated to too-frequent guest Dylan Thomas.
Austin, Tex.: Hello, my daughter (19-years-old) is going to NYC with two girlfriends on March 7. I would really appreciate if you can tell us anything that could be useful for them, like which area to stay in that is safe (we were planning close to Times Square so they are close to attractions and theaters), what to do in 5 days, and mainly how to enjoy NYC without spending too much money! Thank you! —Ida
Amy Langfield: Hi, Austin. Crime shouldn't be a problem just about anywhere in Manhattan. She may just want to avoid the late-night clubs at closing time when some fights have spilled out onto the sidewalks as of late. Though if your daughter is anything like I was at 19, I'm sure she'd never ever go near a club where they serve alcohol and boys prowl for scantily-clad girls. So don't worry on that count.
As for the not spending too much money, almost all of the museums have free hours each week. Many/most Broadway shows and cultural events have student rush, cheap-seats lotteries or standing-room tickets available. Lots of the city's iconic sights are free—Central Park, the Staten Island Ferry, Times Square, Bryant Park, walking the bridges and the subway's only $2. Oh, and book signings are often overlooked, but they're free and a legit way to get face-time with celebrities. Also, if you want to hit a few "splurge"-type restaurants, do it at lunch rather than dinner.
Oacoma, S.D.: What time of the year is best to visit NYC without all the crowds, but not freezing weather either? Also, for a first-timer in NYC with 5 days, what are some "must-see" activities you'd recommend?
Amy Langfield: You should do OK in April or May with the weather. August feels empty-ish as the New Yorkers head off to the beaches to avoid the heat (but there will still be lots of tourists, in, you know, the tourist spots). September tends to be one of the best months of the year because school vacations are over, everyone's back from the beach and getting down to business. The museums are opening with new exhibitions and the air loses that stench and picks up the first hint of crisp. However, the mood of the city understandably remains melancholy the first half of the month around the September 11 anniversary.
I've discussed a number of the top attractions in the earlier questions, so I won't rehash here—except to caution that you're not gonna see all the "must-sees" in one trip, and if you try you probably won't have a lot of fun. NY is indeed a great city for walking, meandering and spontaneity. Yeah, you've probably got to set foot in Times Square and Central Park but beyond that one of the best way to do it is to have a short list of things that sound fun and then sorta go with the flow and know what you might be able to group together in specific neighborhoods.
Personally, I love Top of the Rock, the Met, MoMA, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and Ellis Island. And maybe a little shopping in NoLiTa, a drink under the Old King Cole Mural at the St. Regis and a bag of three-for-$1 wedding cookies from City Bakery. But don't let anyone tell you your New York is any less than the next guy's. New York is a lot of things to a lot of people—and it's a whole lot of fun waking up every day finding out what more it has to offer.
Amy Langfield: And maybe that's a good way to wrap this chat up—on this fine February day when the city is celebrating the NY Giants Super Bowl championship with a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Never mind that they actually play in New Jersey, it's about the New York state of mind today, and hopefully that's where you all are if you've stuck with me this long. Thanks again for the great questions and taking part in this chat. If you want to see more of what I do, check out the NewYorkology Travel blog at Newyorkology.com. Cheers!