what to do in nyc: dumbo

okay, okay, so technically it's in brooklyn. well...i guess some of it's in manhattan too, but the dumbo i'm gonna talk about is across the bridge in the borough that is quickly becoming (well, actually, has been for a while) the place to be. 

dumbo stands for? down under the manhattan bridge overpass

to get there: from the 42nd street station take the A train (it's an express train--meaning it won't stop at every stop, but will get you there faster) to High Street. exit and orient yourself towards a large green park, walk through the park, veering to the left,  passing under a stone overpass and just head towards the water. eventually you'll run into brooklyn bridge park (an ideal picnic location) and home to many fun things in the summer--including, free movie showings on thursday nights.

or: get off the A at Chambers (home to city hall) and walk across the bridge. the views are amazing (though said to be more dramatic if you walk from brooklyn to manhattan). 

things to do:

1. Grimaldi's: uber-famous pizza parlor that you'll have to wait in line outside just to get into. i personally think the pizza is a wee-bit overrated, but it's an experience for sure, i've done it before (twice) and i'm sure i'll do it again.

2. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory: across the street from Grimaldi's the two go hand-in-hand. chances are you'll have to wait in line again, but it's refreshing and lovely to sit out on fulton-landing and take in the view. 

3. Five Front: it was here that my friend erica had her first date with a boy named chris. this past february they tied the knot and brought it full circle by celebrating at this delightfully charming restaurant. the food is good, the decor is homey and welcoming and it's a perfect place for a date, for sure. in fact, just talking about it now makes me want to go back. soon, very soon. 

the big appeal for me? cobble-stone streets and to-die-for views

right now i'm really into cheap things to do. and what's better than a picnic? i bought myself a 3 dollar piece of spinach pizza and a bottle of perrier and plopped down on the lawn to soak in the views. my friend carolyn came along . we listened to regina's new album as it played through carolyn's overturned headphones (albeit, very softly). and diana even came along for the ride. the only thing missing was our friend taza. she needs to come back to nyc for a visit soon. very, very soon. but i digress. 

that verizon building is a blight on the skyline. but what can you do?

we indulged in sweet treats from the ice cream factory. carolyn's familiar looking right? yup, you know her from taza's blog. told you so. and yes, she really is that beautiful. we did in fact all go to college together. 

"ice cream is the new health food": i need this sign for my kitchen. period. 

all in all it was a really fun, refreshing, and quite cheap outing. the cost of a subway ride (you gotta get the unlimited) and maybe, like 10 dollars in food. not bad. not bat at all. 

what to do in nyc: seek out a classic "only in the city" moment

many times street performers are more of a bother than anything else. 

but then, every once-in-a-while, you come across someone or something that takes your breath away and you think... i wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now, because this is perfect.

yesterday, waiting for the e train  at 53rd and lexington, i heard opera that gave me chills in the best possible way. and i don't even like opera.

and it was one of those, only in new york moments which can be found just often enough if you keep your eyes open. 

ps: when he finished, the entire station erupted in applause. yup, me too. it was that good.

what to do in nyc: riverside park

one of my absolute favorite parks in all of manhattan is riverside park. it stretches from 72nd to 125th street along the hudson river. 

new york is a very difficult place to live. so, i am always searching for places that take me out of "typical" city life, even if just for a moment. riverside park is one of those places. the pictures below really don't to it justice.

my best suggestion is to wake up early one morning and spend a good hour-plus enjoying the quiet, beauty, and waterfront views. if you still hope to get exercise in while on vacation, this is an excellent place to go. because it runs parallel to the hudson it is very difficult to get lost, whereas central park can be a bit of a maze for first-time visitors. 

and also...if you rent a bike while you're here (which many people seem to do, but which i have yet to try) this would be the place to go. 

ps: during spring and summer one can rent a kayak (no charge) at the southern tip of the park. but only on weekends and assuming the weather holds up.

pps: the second collage down--that's the garden where meg ryan met tom hanks at the end of you've got mail. but don't try to walk around in it (as they did), that's not allowed.

the pictures really just can't convey the size of its beauty. i think this is a must-experience for visitors. 
and a great picnic location! 

what to do in nyc: the subway (the 1 line)

when it comes to transportation, i advocate transport by foot at all times.

however, when it's too far to walk, take the subway. it is safe, easy, and a colorful slice of this city i love. 

if you're here for any amount of time over two days and plan on seeing things all over, buy yourself an mta week-long pass, even at $27 it's a steal--especially since the price of a single ride is going up to $2.25.

i can really only speak to the red line. the red line consists of the 1, 2, and 3 trains. the 1 train runs local, the 2 and 3 run express--meaning they only stop at a few of the stations. the 1 train is a west side staple.

the 1 line runs north to south from 242nd street to the south ferry. however, i began my rudimentary map at 116 for the purpose of focusing on the majority of the areas of interest. 

however, the best resource for travel directions via subway is HopStop.com
HopStop is like mapquest for those of us in the city.

and in creating my map, i referred to this mta website


  • things emphasized in red are my personal recommendations.
  • the double red lines under (96th, 72nd, 42nd, 34th, and 14th {i forgot them, but they should be there} denote the express 2/3 stops.
  • gray's papaya is the best hot dog joint in the city. don't eat hot dogs? walk by for the smell alone. on late nights during college we would head here to fortify the stomach.
  • i included fairway on 74th and whole foods at columbus circle for your picnic-outfitting needs.
  • magnolias (the oh-so-famous cupcake bakery) can be found in greenwich village (the original) or on the UWS (upper west side) at 68th and columbus. as well as a few other places around the city, but i can't speak to those locations.
  • the stores in red, Anthropologie (my scanner cut of the "a"), Zara's, H&M, Forever 21...are the places that I like to shop. i have yet to check out topshop--but when i do i'll be sure to add it to the list. 
  • arte around the corner, located between 72nd and 73rd on columbus is where i like to go to read, write, and sip on iced coffee. after a long day of pounding the pavement, get yourself a glass of wine, here. 
  • central park begins at columbus circle (59th street) and extends up to 110 (i tried to indicate that with the green scribble). i will do a post on the park itself, but my favorite places to check out include the bathesda fountain, the jackie onassis resevoir, and (my favorite) the conservatory gardens (enter on 5th avenue at 105th street). however, up near 103rd and central park west the park is home to a lovely little pond and some perfect picnicking spots.
  • to walk across the brooklyn Bridge for grimaldi's pizza get off the 1 line at chambers street
  • my favorite pizza in nyc can be found at big nick's on 71st and columbus (but this may just be just because i have fond college memories here). 
this is far from perfect, but it's a start.