Jessica Allen and Garrett Ziegler

Theater at the Museum of the Moving Image

Theater at the Museum of the Moving Image

New York is a movie town. Celebrities live and walk among us; nobody minds too much when a block is closed off to accommodate a shooting schedule, especially because you can sometimes sneak treats off the crafts services table. Most importantly, practically every movie released in the United States plays here, so there’s always something to see: from Bollywood imports to mainstream bromances to a way-past-our-bedtime screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For us, the best movie theaters have some combination of history, architectural impressiveness, comfy seats, excellent programming, and really good popcorn.

Gone are the famous theaters of yore like the Bleeker Street Cinema. But gritty realism hasn’t disappeared from the West Village’s Angelika, where the rumble of the F train next door occasionally obstructs the sound, a reminder of the days when the city was bankrupt and auteurs like Scorsese and Schrader ruled. The selection skews arthouse, with films like Restrepo and Blue Valentine opening. Frequently, writers, directors, or actors will pop in unannounced to introduce the very first showing and stay for a short Q&A. Excellent baked goods for sale in the cafe. Read More »

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Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian restaurant and grocery center

Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian restaurant and grocery center

Although we survived Snowcapolypse 2010, winter isn’t over. Nevertheless, tiny apartments or hotel rooms compel New Yorkers out into the low temps and wind tunnels created by those super-tall buildings. It’s a good thing, then, that this city is full of places that offer “two-for-one” experiences. Once you arrive at one of these eating-shopping combos, you don’t have to leave for a long, long time.

Jeffrey’s Grocery, a charming “groceraunt” in the West Village, sells basics like coffee and tp while serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pop in mid-afternoon for a refreshing selection from the raw bar and a glass of white. At Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery, you have to push past dusty shelves of Mexican staples and into the back. Here, out of a glorified supply closet, come some of the city’s best tacos. A few pollo and al pastor, a bottle of Jarrito fruit punch, and we’re set.

Stay at the Ace Hotel New York City, where you can hang out and snack on your goodies in the atmospheric lobby. Read More »

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2011

Spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square is one of those crazy things that everyone should try before they die. But if the thought of standing in the cold for twelve hours with a million of your closest friends and no bathrooms has you putting it off for another year, plenty of other fun things will be happening that night. Here’s a guide to the city’s best alternatives to New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

Fireworks
Starting at 10pm, New York Road Runners will be hosting a free party in Central Park, with dancing, a laser show, and a costume parade, followed by fireworks at midnight and a four-mile run. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to participate in the run.) Activities center around the Bandshell, which is easily reached on foot from the Surrey Hotel New York.

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A Christmas Carol

Sure, it starts to get dark at 4 p.m., but no place does the holidays like New York City. Stay at the New York Palace or the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, both near Christmas’s urban heart: Rockefeller Center. Then mix and match from the activities below, all guaranteed to make your spirits bright.

Animals
You know who loves presents? Animals, that’s who. On select days in December, you can watch New York City’s baboons, meercats, and Asiatic bears, among others, celebrate the season by foraging for things like apples and peanuts — very special treats for them – during “Presents For The Animals.” Unlike most humans, these creatures love the wrapping and packaging even more than the actual gift. See for yourself during December weekends at the Prospect Park Zoo (450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn) or Queens Zoo (53-51 111th Street, Flushing).

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Christmas wreaths

It’s been argued that the preponderance of chain stores — we’re looking at you, JC Penney, Pottery Barn, and Victoria’s Secret — have turned the streets of New York City into a giant mall. Escape that “we could be anywhere” feeling by shopping at the unique, holiday craft markets that pop up throughout the boroughs in November and December.

The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, Now through January 2nd, 2011

While most of us were still sorting Halloween candy into piles, the folks behind the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park had already begun setting up. Open from November 5th to January 2nd, this holiday market features 120 vendors packed around the New York Public Library. After loading up on kettle corn and throw pillows, leather goods and handmade earrings, you can go ice-skating for free at Citi Pond. Then treat yourself to a hot drink from Big Apple Cider.

Bryant Park is located between 40th and 42nd Streets at Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Stay nearby at the Bryant Park Hotel New York City.

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Old Time Favorites at Economy Candy

Old Time Favorites at Economy Candy

’Tis the season for candy. Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to indulge in your left-over trick-or-treat goodies. At our house, we usually buy one bag of fun-size Skittles to hand out to trick-or-treaters, buy two bags to snack on while waiting for the doorbell to ring. But in the future, we just might give out chocolate-dipped apricots, sesame chews, or some of the other amazing sweeties available at New York’s best candy stores.

Carry On Tea & Sympathy
At this retail emporium in the West Village, trucks are lorries, “cheers” means “thanks,” and the Union Jack flaps proudly in the breeze. In addition to teas, soft drinks, biscuits, and other sundries from across the pond, Carry on Tea & Sympathy stocks a tremendous assortment of British candy bars, including Curly Wurlys (a delicate swirl of milk chocolate-coated caramel) and Kit Kat Chunkies (same flavor as, but at least six times the girth of, a regular Kit Kat). If you prefer your treats fruity and chewy, try the wine gums. God save the owner!

Stay at the Standard New York City, a few blocks west of Carry On (110 Greenwich Avenue, 212.989.9735).

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Tiles for America in Greenwich Village

The tiles for America 9/11 memorial in Greenwich Village

Every great city memorializes its heroes, those paragons of virtue or suffering. As we gaze upon these monuments in everlasting metal, we’re meant to feel both thankful and uplifted, perhaps even capable of great feats in our own lives. Here are some of New York’s most moving memorials.

African Burial Ground
In 1991, construction workers discovered that the spot carefully chosen as the setting for a federal office building in Lower Manhattan was actually a burial ground used by Africans and African-Americans from 1626 to the late 1700s. After much controversy, the National Park Service took over the site, which now consists of a large granite sculpture with running water and engravings from various African cultures. Its center has a scalloped design that lists the few known facts of those buried there, all likely enslaved, most killed by malnutrition, violence, or punishment. Open daily from 9 am to 5 p.m., the park is located at the corners of Duane and Elk Streets, about a mile from Gild Hall.

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Cellist at The Procession of the Ghouls at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cellist at The Procession of the Ghouls at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Come late October, eeriness abounds in New York City: leaves crackle underfoot, trees sigh in the wind, and darkness creeps in earlier and earlier. Away from the bright lights of Times Square, the following activities invite locals and visitors alike to savor the frightful spirits of the year’s darkest holiday. Wa-haaa-haaaaaaaa!

The Procession of the Ghouls at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
On October 29, demonic forces will take over this massive and still unfinished Gothic cathedral in Morningside Heights. Following a screening of a classic silent horror film (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari this year) with live organ accompaniment, a procession of devils, imps, and goblins marches through the nave, waving their claws and gnashing their fangs at delighted attendees. The intricately designed costumes and ominous musical score pay homage to Halloween’s serious roots; tradition dictates that giving evil a chance to come out and play will help keep it away the rest of the year.

Buy your tickets online, and then go early to get an aisle seat for the best view. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is on Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street. Stay at On the Ave and take the 1 train uptown to the 110th Street stop.

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NY Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum

Together, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim possess some of the world’s most stunning (and priciest) works: Monet landscapes, hooded figures by Rodin, nightscapes by van Gogh, a plethora of Picassos — the list of art worth seeing goes on and on.

But none of these illustrious museums has salt-and-pepper shakers resembling condoms. To see that, you have to go to the Museum of Sex. And if you want to see a hilarious send-up of modern mores by Roz Chast, you need to stop into the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. In other words, what the offbeat and unique museums listed below lack in canonical paintings, they make up for in charm and coolness.

The City Reliquary

This miniscule museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, initially appears to be just another store along a block that boasts bodegas and hair salons. Inside the City Reliquary, however, are various ancient artifacts from the five boroughs, such as coasters from long-gone bars, matchbooks from the 1940 World’s Fair, naked lady pens, jelly molds, and postcards of the Statue of Liberty — the kind of stuff that gets tossed into a drawer or buried in a basement. Taken out and lovingly showcased, the musty objects form a monument to New York kitsch. Open Thursdays, 7–10 pm, and Saturday–Sunday, 12–6 pm. The museum is located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue. Stay at the Cooper Square Hotel in Manhattan, close to the L train that will take you to Brooklyn.

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Mint chocolate chip ice cream, Brooklyn Farmacy

Take a few scoops of ice cream, add in some milk, maybe some syrup, and blend… the recipe for a milkshake couldn’t be any simpler. So why do so few places get them right?

We don’t know exactly, but in the meantime, the places listed below know their way around a blender. They produce thick, frothy elixirs, perfect for sating thirst or filling you up when you’ve missed a meal.

brgr
What brgr is missing in vowels, it makes up for in taste. All milkshakes use ingredients from the excellent Ronnybrook Dairy, a sustainable, family-owned farm in upstate New York. In addition to vanilla and strawberry, brgr mixes up a black and white (half vanilla with chocolate syrup) and a blueberry-pomegranate. The Chelsea location is at 287 Seventh Avenue, close to the Eventi hotel, while the recently opened Upper East Side location is at 1026 3rd Avenue. Both are open 11 am–11 pm, Monday–Thursday; 11 am–12 am, Friday–Saturday; and 11 am–9 pm, Sunday.

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