There was a very good article a few days ago on Lonely Planet that mapped out how to have a perfect day in New York. I thought I’d supplement it here with a few additional tips of my own.
Skip Times Square. If you do not absolutely have to, do not venture onto Times Square. It is extremely crowded and there isn’t much to see. Unfortunately, I have to pass by Times Square on my way to work, and to class as the midtown building of NYU is located at West 42nd. It is painful getting through and you could use the time exploring Central Park or one of New York’s many museums.
Do not be afraid to try smaller restaurants. New York has a wealth of eclectic fare for diverse tastes. In midtown, for example, Sake Bar Hagi is a hidden gem of a yakitori restaurant. It is open from 5 pm – 2 am so if you find yourself trying to find food really late this is a place that is open. (I would suggest getting there early or after the rush hour as they are a place where locals go. You would have a little bit longer wait, but better quality and great food.) If you do not mind venturing a little bit downtown to MacDougal Street, go to La Lanterna. It is a cozy Italian cafe with great atmosphere and good food.
Famous movie spots. Speaking of cafes, arguably the most famous cafe in the city, Cafe Lalo, is located at West 83rd Street. It is most famous for the quintissential scene in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan’s character decides to meet Tom Hanks’ character with whom she has been talking online in person. The cafe is dessert heaven, so bring your sweet tooth. If you have limited time, opt for this place vs. Serendipity, which would take you a minimum of three hours to get in.
Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building. Instead of climbing up the top of the Empire State Building, go to Rockefeller Center and see better views — including the Empire State Building — at the Top of the Rock. You would also be able to see better views of Central Park.
I hope these are helpful tips. More food finds on the Best of New York section of this blog. I will write more next time.