The prettiest neighborhoods to amble through, in my opinion, are West Village, Soho, Nolita, and Brooklyn Heights. In particular, my favorite streets are:
- West 4th Street between the West Side Highway and 7th Avenue
- Hudson Street between Gansevoort and Houston
- Mott, Mulberry, and Elizabeth and between Houston and Broome
- Prince or Spring between Bowery and Lafayette
- Wooster, Greene, and Mercer between Canal and Houston
- Grand and Broome between 6th Avenue and Broadway
- Jorelemon between Court Street and Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Henry Street between Clark and Union
Union Square Greenmarket is in full swing on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It's my favorite place to buy produce, eggs, and fresh flowers.
New Amsterdam Market is starting to run on Sundays more regularly; check their website before you head out. It has a higher ratio of snack/meal vendors (Porchetta, Luke's Lobster) and food products (Mast Bros. Chocolates, The Bent Spoon) than the Union Square Greenmarket. Blogged here, here, and here.
Antiques Garage A parking garage becomes a treasure trove on weekends. Unlike the Brooklyn Flea, there's no food, and merchants are selling old things, not products they've created. Blogged here.
Brooklyn Flea There's something for everyone here: blistered pizza, grilled cheese, packaged food like pickles and chocolates, vintage furniture and knick-knacks, plus small etsy-type crafters hawking their wares. Blogged here, here, and here.
High Line Park is one of the city's gems. Stroll along an abandoned, elevated railroad track over the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. Look out of a sunken observatory onto 10th Avenue or loll about on a wide chaise attached to the rail. Blogged here andhere.
Brooklyn Bridge Park just opened in 2010. It offers stunning views of Manhattan and is the perfect place to bring your Almondine croissants on a lazy weekend morning. Blogged here and here.
Chelsea Piers Driving Range You simply rent a bucket with a finite number of balls (along with a club) and pretend you're hitting them from the tiered building (seen in the movie Serendipity) into the Hudson River. Blogged here.
Bryant Park Summer Film Festival Pack a picnic (with covert wine opener) and a blanket and get there early to secure a spot on the grass. Marvel at the tall buildings all around you as the sun sets and you're waiting for your movie to start.
Water Taxi You can hop on and off at various points around the city. In warm weather, sitting on the top level and letting the speed of the boat cool you down is divine. Blogged here, here, and here.
Brooklyn Museum is large (but somehow not overwhelming) and its collections - both permanent and temporary - are amazing. Blogged here.
MoMA PS1 in Queens is much more manageable than the giant Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan. (It's also usually much less crowded.) Their mixed-media (often interactive) installations are worth the trip alone. Time your visit right and you can go to Dutch Kills for a cocktail after. Blogged here.
Chelsea Market is a shopping mall for food-lovers: there are stores specializing in wine, olive oils, cheese, chocolate, nuts, baked goods, and Thai provisions, among other things. If you're hungry, there's a gelato counter, a crepe place, and several other restaurants. A bookstore, an Anthropologie, and a Moroccan furnishings shop are also fun to browse through. Blogged here, here, and here.
Eataly is an Italian-food emporium. It's always crowded with gawkers, and not just of the food: I met Mario Batali on my first visit, and my folks spotted him AND Giada when they went! Blogged here.
Economy Candy Sweets of all types - old, new, and imported are crammed into this Lower East Side institution. It's guaranteed to bring out the kid in anyone; I always bring visitors to the city here. Blogged here.
Fishs Eddie has everything you need for your dining room at reasonable prices. If you're looking for a very specific type of glass for your latest cocktail creation, they'll have it. The whimsical novelty items (bottle openers, spoon rests) are pretty cool too.
Modern Anthology One of the manliest stores I've ever been in, what with its dark walls, cracked leather couches, and taxidermy. This Dumbo, Brooklyn shop has most of the hip home-furnishing pieces you've seen online (ie that knotted rope doorstop) for prices that aren't unreasonable.
The Upper Rust in the East Village is owned by a man who scours flea markets, estate sales, and antique stores across the country and brings back the coolest stuff. This store is almost single-handedly responsible for my conversion to a more eclectic design sense. Blogged here.
Pink Olive This stationery and trinket store in the East Village (there's also a Park Slope, Brooklyn location) carries awesome cards, like those from Rifle Paper Co.
Tokio 7 in the East Village is the place to go for new or gently-worn mid- and high-end fashion.
Topshop is not to be missed, because you can't buy it anywhere else without a passport (except for the internet, obviously). Soho's Broadway is crammed with chain stores you can visit elsewhere (Victoria's Secret, H&M) and chintzy Charlotte Russe wannebe shops, but it's worth braving the crowds to come here.
Uniqlo Steps from Topshop, this store is the only US location of "the Japanese Gap." The basics are great, but the designed collaborations (Jil Sander, Graham & Spencer) are the true draw.
Nos Boutique You know how "well-edited" is usually an euphemism for "sparse"? This is a well-edited shop, and I mean that in the best possible way. I would wear every.single.thing this Dumbo, Brooklyn boutique is selling.
Aedes De Venustas in Greenwich Village has virtually every fragrance line worth stocking in one teeny store. Customer service is phenomenal as well.
One Girl Cookies to learn how to make pies and macarons in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Butter Lane to perfect your cupcake-making in East Village (blogged here)
Miette Culinary Institute to master gnocchi in Greenwich Village
Also, check out my guest post for my friend Vanessa's blog about New York City themed gifts, which includes a section on cooking classes.