It’s the city that never sleeps so how to keep up with it? Make the most of every New York Minute – without jostling with tourists.
Enjoy a little brownstone jazz
You’d never guess it from the quiet residential exterior but the brownstone townhouse at 107 Macon Street in Bedford- Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, contains one of the city’s best-kept secrets: a weekly jazz concert. Every Friday at 9pm the front parlour of Sankofa Aban Bed and Breakfast fills with musicians huddling around a piano, strumming double basses or tinkling percussion instruments. Patrons dress in their “Sunday finest”, fanning themselves in the warmer months. Stick around for a post-show “fish fry” to meet the locals.
Have brunch at Russ & Daughters Cafe
Brunch is an institution in New York. And so is Jewish food: smoked fish, bagels and chocolate babka. Combine the two at Russ & Daughters Cafe, a recent venture by a family that has been peddling goods on the Lower East Side since 1914. The original, appetising Russ & Daughters store is still going strong on East Houston Street while the café, just around the corner on Orchard Street, offers a modern twist with Champagne and booths. Start with chopped liver and then order a tasting platter piled high with sturgeon and kippered salmon. The egg cream floats will leave you verklempt (too emotional to speak).
Run around Central Park
Capturing Central Park in a single visit is impossible but jogging around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir probably comes close. Frequented by locals and luminaries, the recently resurfaced 2.5-kilometre running track stretches right across the park and takes you past birdwatchers, hot-dog stands, cherry blossoms (in spring) and nearly four billion litres of water.
Get your culture fix at the Whitney
Sceptics were silenced last year when the Whitney Museum of American Art opened at a new address in the Meatpacking District. Sure, Renzo Piano’s angular building is an acquired taste but the interior galleries are astonishing boxes of light. Until May 14, the fifth floor is home to Open Plan, a five-part exhibition featuring pianist Cecil Taylor and filmmaker Steve McQueen, among others. Check out the stepped terraces high above the High Line and during the warmer months, visit “after hours” on Friday and Saturday.
Experience the legend of the Rainbow Room
Located on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the iconic Rainbow Room reopened in 2014 after extensive renovations. While it’s often booked out for private parties, Sunday brunch is usually a good bet with an advance booking. Or just head to the adjoining SixtyFive lounge, which offers some of the best views in the city from its wraparound terrace. This is one to appreciate with a classic cocktail such as a Manhattan.
Get surreal at Sleep No More
Imagine a cross between Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the masked ball in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Sleep No More remains one of New York’s most unusual experiences. Guests are assigned Venetian masks at the door then set loose in “The McKittrick Hotel”, a multi-floor theatre set where actors perform the show all around you. Forget attempting to follow the plot; just let it wash over you like a surreal dream. Then grab a drink at the rooftop bar, Gallow Green, and compare notes with your friends.
SEE ALSO: First-timer's Guide to NYC
Hit the road in Brooklyn
For the past few years New York has made a concerted effort to be nicer to cyclists. The pick of bicycle tour companies is Get Up and Ride – its five-hour Brooklyn jaunt shows off the borough at its best: artisan pizza, Hasidic Jews and an organic rooftop farm overlooking the harbour.
Expect the unexpected at Joe’s Pub
Bustling yet intimate, mainstream yet avant-garde, Joe’s Pub at The Public is difficult to categorise but is unmistakably one of New York’s best performance venues. In a single month you could catch anything here, such as camp comedian Pam Ann, a Lionel Richie tribute band, drag queens or R&B. Tickets are reasonably priced. Drinks are dependably strong. Crowds are enthusiastic.
Eat up at Smorgasburg
Most New Yorkers will readily admit that the most interesting culinary developments are happening in Brooklyn right now. Finding them, however, can be a futile treasure hunt. One great solution is the weekly Smorgasburg, a self-described “flea food market” that acts as a tasting plate for the entire borough. From cold-brew coffee to homemade Colombian food, you’re sure to find it here.
People-watch at The Polo Bar
Not content to conquer the market in polo shirts, suits and sheets, Ralph Lauren is now in the New York restaurant business, adding The Polo Bar to his list of other establishments (in Chicago and Paris). The food is “modern American” – crab cakes and spaghettiandmeatballs–but, honestly, eating is secondary to people-watching here. As the current haunt of the city’s glitterati, The Polo Bar is loved by power players and movie stars. Book ahead and dress glamorously.
Catch American Psycho on Broadway
Fresh from a sold-out London run, American Psycho is the latest unlikely Broadway musical. Based on the 1991 cult novel by Bret Easton Ellis – a book so notorious that it legally must be sold in plastic wrap in Australia – it tells the story of a serial-killer investment banker named Patrick Bateman. Expect spectacle, artful gore and 1980s-inspired synth tunes by Duncan Sheik.
Cross Brooklyn Bridge (Without the Crowds)
The neo-Gothic bridge spanning the East River is every bit as glorious as people say but if you want to see it, forget the overcrowded pedestrian promenade. Instead, hit the Brooklyn Bridge at night. Catch a taxi in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Dumbo and direct the driver to take you to Manhattan. As you cross the bridge, the glittering skyline rushes towards you full of promise.
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