Times Square is where it all happens. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the bright lights, big screens and big crowds perfectly embody the excitement of the big city. For the greatest effect, visit after sunset—all that wattage will make you think it's still light out. And now that much of the area is closed to vehicles, you can safely stroll in the streets. While you're in the area, dine at one of the popular eateries on Restaurant Row, or shop in the huge flagship stores with spectacular extras that are attractions in and of themselves. (Toys "R" Us, for example, has an indoor Ferris wheel.) From Times Square, take a 15-minute stroll—heading north on Sixth Avenue, passing iconic sites like Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall—to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where you can visit one of the world’s finest collections of contemporary art.
With its countless stores, boutiques, pop-up shops, vintage havens and designer showrooms, New York City lives up to its reputation as a shopping capital. With so many possibilities, there's just one problem—where to begin? The best bet is to start big, with the iconic department stores, where you can experience a grand bazaar's worth of offerings in one location. You can ogle high-priced designer wares, pick up more affordable gifts for loved ones (or yourself) and enjoy beautifully crafted and, at times, over-the-top window displays.
Nobody does live theatre like NYC. Whether you're into dramas, comedies or musicals, you'll find them in the City's Theatre District, where the shows burst with eye-popping sets, A-list stars and, above all, pizzazz. This season's productions include an outrageous dark comedy (A Behanding in Spokane), a star-studded screen-to-stage adaptation (Promises, Promises) and a punk-rock musical (American Idiot). All of them demonstrate why this famed NYC thoroughfare has become synonymous with theater itself. Visit the TKTS Discount Booth in Times Square for discounted tickets to some shows, and climb the red steps for an unmatched view of the area.
There's no more authentic way to start your day in NYC than with a fresh-baked bagel, such as at the bohemian Murray's Bagels in Greenwich Village. Get in line with the locals and make up your mind among standard flavors ($1 each) and organic options ($1.35 each) and supplemental spreads. If you're in the mood for a bona fide diner experience, the East Village's Stage Restaurant is rich in character and couldn't be more humble in ambience and prices, slapping down filling plates of eggs and bacon. Veselka is another East Village favorite, serving Ukrainian soul food (blintzes, potato pancakes, borscht) 24 hours a day. For lunch, try the sandwich of the moment: the Vietnamese bánh mì, sold at a number of take-out shops. Spicy-sweet meat (pork, beef, chicken, steak, pâté) in a crisp baguette runs under $10 at Num Pang, near Union Square; Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches in the East Village and in Downtown Brooklyn; and at Baoguette's three branches around town. Need a hit of sugar to make it through the afternoon? Take a chocolate-chip-cookie break at the sublime City Bakery, off of Union Square. And who says you can't find a good, cheap dinner in Manhattan? At Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown, it can be as little as $10 per person, since dishes are shareable (don't miss the crab-and-pork steamed buns) and pots of tea are free (the restaurant also has locations in Midtown and Flushing, Queens). The landmark Arturo's, on the edge of SoHo, has terrific coal-oven pizza and frequent live jazz. In addition to low prices, both bustling venues have the same brusque service in common. If you're not quite ready for bed, try a low-key downtown nightspot like the Lower East Side's Clandestino, playing good music till 4am, or The Magician, also on the Lower East Side, where happy hour is from 5 to 8pm every day of the week. copyright www.nycgo.com