First posted April 25, 2014.
Tourist season is upon us. If you live in NYC, that means you’ll soon have friends and relatives coming in for the weekend and sleeping on your couch. Some of them have spent time in New York and just want to see you, but I guarantee you’ll have at least one visitor per year who hasn’t visited before – and if you don’t live in New York and are reading this, that visitor might be you.
You can always go back through back entries of this blog when looking for ideas (check out my “things to do” tag!). But in this post and a few others, I’ll outline some sample itineraries for a day with friends who want to explore the city. Because most of my visitors are twenty-somethings on a budget, most of my suggestions are free – though there are a lot of stores are on this itinerary, so remember to bring enough money for some small souvenirs! If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday evening, swing by the free hours at the Morgan Library & Museum. Grab some finger food at their café or have some sandwiches at the Pret around the corner before heading to bed early to rest up for a busy Saturday!
It’s been a long time since I was a true tourist in New York, someone who didn’t know her way around the city and got lost easily. I took the subway by myself for the first time as a sophomore in college, traveling from Grand Central all the way up to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, even navigating a service change. Since then I’ve made my way on my own. Okay, there’s the occasional brain fart where I forget which direction is west and which is east, but besides that, I can get myself around without too much trouble.
I am something of an expert on NYC restrooms.
Okay, that is probably not true. But I am very good at finding restrooms, and I am very good at remembering where they are for future moments of need. You laugh, but when you live in Brooklyn and you’re wandering Manhattan, out-of-town friends in tow, knowing where to find a restroom can be pretty important. This means, of course, that I have a few favorite restrooms scattered across the city, and today I’m going to share two of them.
I wrote recently about some of the joys and frustrations of commuting, but I didn’t mention one of my favorite things about the NYC subway system: the art. I was reminded of it when riding the B train from Brooklyn to Manhattan this week. As the train leaves the Dekalb stop, before it crosses the Manhattan Bridge, there is an art piece to the right of the train—an animation given motion by the movement of the train.
At (and in that case, between!) stations throughout the city, there are fun and thoughtful works of art. Spotting them as the train pulls in or as you wait on the platform can make a long commute far more interesting. The first time I noticed the grimy mosaics of steam trains on the Grand Central 4/5/6 platform was magical, even if I did wish they were a bit cleaner.