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A New York State of Mind – A City Guide to NYC

August 19th, 2010 No Comments

(My latest travel feature for the Houston Chronicle published on Aug 19, 2010)

The skyscrapers and streets of New York City radiate heat like you’ve never felt before.

If you find yourself here before the fall chill sets in and you want to take a big bite out of the Big Apple, here’s an outdoor-indoor pairing to help you explore the intricate culture and beat the heat.

Classic Manhattan in Midtown

Central Park is one of the quintessential New York attractions. No matter where you enter the plush green land, you’ll find a shaded path to stroll down or a grassy knoll to sit and picnic. Fashionistas can find a cool refuge in nearby Henri Bendel or Barneys, while art lovers might want to browse the exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org). If you happen to be in the park at night, see if tickets are available for Shakespeare in the Park (publictheater.org).

Style by the mile on the West Side

The High Line (thehighline.org) in the Meatpacking District is one of New York’s newest enhancements. Built in the 1930s, the raised railroad track was used to transport meat and other goods uptown and has recently been converted to a walking path lined with greenery. It offers a colorful and artistic experience as you walk alongside the river. Back on the ground, stroll down the streets studded with the stores of your favorite designers: Stella McCartney, Yigal Azrouel (who is often there himself), Trina Turk and Alexander McQueen. Also check out Scoop and Jeffrey, two of New York’s most well respected boutiques for their eclectic collections. My favorite place to cool down is the new Standard Hotel (standardhotels.com). If you’re in flip-flops, opt for the biergarten and play ping-pong. For those of you dressed to the nines, head to the posh penthouse bar for a gorgeous view of the water while you enjoy lite bites and refreshing cocktails among the trendsetters.

Venture off the island

Pick up the New York Times or talk to a local and you’ll be overwhelmed with how many great attractions there are in Brooklyn. It’s not the easiest place to navigate for a tourist, but once you plot a map, you will enjoy the adventure. For your sanity’s sake, take a cab to Cobble Hill, specifically Court Street and grab a coffee at Cafe Pedlar for your stroll through the neighborhood. Make your way east to the Brooklyn Museum, where you can bask in modern art instead of the hot sun. For lunch, enjoy a picnic in the park or head to Al Di La Trattoria (aldilatrattoria.com) for some of the freshest Italian outside of Italy. Enjoy a walk down Fifth and Seventh avenues, which are lined with unique boutiques such as Eponymy, Diana Kane, OTTO and Sterling Place. Should you be looking for the hipster-hood of Brooklyn, opt for a day in Williamsburg instead.

Shop till you drop

I would be remiss if I didn’t list window-shopping in SoHo and Nolita as a wonderful way to spend a New York day. Zigzag down the cobblestone streets and you’ll find more of your favorite designers and brands at a variety of price points. Must shop spots include Max Azria, Reiss, Intermix, Ilori Sunglasses, Vosges Haut-Chocolat, A.P.C., Mango, H&M, Prada (because the store itself is impeccable), Ina, Malia Mills, Sigerson Morrison Wholesale, Barker Black, Charlotte Ronson and Lord Willy’s. To step out of the heat, grab a table at Cafe Habana for Cuban corn, Ruby’s for an Aussie spread, Bread for healthy American fare or BarBossa for a Hoegaarden and delicious daily specials.

The most important thing to remember when venturing around these neighborhoods is to keep your head up and eyes open. There is so much to take in with every turn. Don’t rush to see more — relax and soak in all that is around you.

(My article was first published in The Houston Chronicle on Aug 18, 2010)

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