A Brief Guide to New York City

sheep meadow central park

Attractions

Out of doors

Wave Hill
Not only is it home to the Wolly Senecio, my favorite succulent, Wave Hill is a lovely garden with views of a lesser state's better features. Take the 1 to Van Cortland Park and catch the shuttle bus 10 min after the hour. Free Saturdays before noon.
Staten Island Ferry
I acknowledge that the words "Staten Island" are verboten—a hiss and a byword for any hip New Yorker—but take the ferry after dark and see Manhattan recede gloriously into the dark as you pass Lady Liberty, then hurry back onto the Manhattan-bound ferry once you arrive. If you're brave, leave the ferry station and walk to the Postcards 9/11 memorial.
Staple Street in Tribeca
A quirky alleyway in Tribeca that features a suspended walkway connecting two halves of a former hospital.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
This is New York's original Highline. At 4 stories, you tower over the BQE and see southern Manhattan the way it should be seen. Oh, and it's much more impressive if you see it first from below. And then see it again at night.
Conservatory Gardens, Central Park
In northeast corner of Central Park below the Harlem Meer you'll find lovely gardens.
Highline
It's a park built on old train tracks. You've probably been. If not, you really should go.
City Island
A small island in the Bronx; take the bus to the end of the line and get decent seafood/wander through the side-streets.
Roosevelt Island Tram
Take a cable car to a small island; leave island immediately.
Transmitter Park in Greenpoint
Come here after Paulie Gee's to digest your honey-laced pizza and enjoy the breeze/cold, depending on the time of year. Oh, and there are now two piers to enjoy, too.

Some of the most rewarding places in New York are not merely locations on a map, but intersections of place and time. The following fall in that class.

Teardrop Park in Battery Park City
An enchanting oasis amidst towering luxury apartments. Go late at night and have fun evading the security guard as you use the slide (tell her I say 'hey'). Pro-tip: If you pants cause too much friction on the slide for you to go fast, take a handful of sand and toss it on the slide just before you jump; you'll fly.
The Central Park Bandshell at Midnight
By day it's a staid relic of a more musical past. But at midnight it becomes your personal XFactor/American Idol stage. Bring a boombox or iPhone for accompaniment as you sing and dance your heart out. No one is there to watch but the raccoons and rats.

Indoors

MoMA
My favorite secular places in New York; it's free (and crowded) on Friday nights, but I love the energy.
Whale Room in the Natural History Museum
You will find a delightful place of respite on the first floor of the Natural History Museum in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Walk down the stairs to the central wooden floor, lay down and ponder life as you gaze at the life-size replica of a blue whale. The blue hues of the room, low ambient light levels, high ceilings, faux sky light, and humidified subterranean-air provide the perfect napping spot on the Upper West Side.
The Strand Bookstore
I love books. I love the strand.
Cree and Gow Curio Shop
If you find yourself on the Upper East Side (after the Met or something), consider stopping at this curio shop. They have lots of weird, expensive things.

Restaurants

Burgers

  • Burger Joint - Great place to go after the MoMA; honestly it's more for the atmosphere than the burgers.
  • Peter Lugers is known for their steaks. Brigham Barnes, however, showed me their burgers which are made from their steaks.
  • Shake Shack - everyone does it; significantly better than In-N-Out. They switched back to crinkle fries, though (which are not worth it).
  • Pizza

  • Paulie Gee's - It's simple: order the Cherry Jones & Hellboy (both of which have honey on them) and say hi when Paulie stops by.
  • Keste - Get the Keste.
  • Grimaldi's in the limelight cafe is as good as the one by the Brooklyn Bridge and effectively never has a wait. Delicious, under $20, and easy to get to.
  • Luzzo's: Delicious; they also have set a table on the ceiling.
  • Artichoke Basille’s Pizza - basically it's a pizza covered in artichoke dip (1 slice should be enough).
  • American

  • Pies 'N Thighs - Get the fried chicken biscuit (butter + hot sauce + biscuit + fried chicken + butter).
  • Katz's Delicatessen - Reuben sandwhich, don't lose your ticket.
  • Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque - Brisket sandwich. Add lots of barbeque sauce. Feel ill. Repeat.
  • Parisi Bakery - Get the Dennis and you won't need to eat again for a day.
  • Asian

    Not the "most Asian" of Asian restaurants, but these are where I most frequently eat:

  • Shanghai 456 - Umm, get the red bean pancake, scallion pancake, soup dumplings, and roasted garlic eggplant
  • Prosperity Dumpling - Sesame Pancake and dumplings
  • Laut - Pad See Ew with Beef
  • Shanghai Cafe - Get the roasted garlic eggplant
  • Nyonya - Beef Rendeng
  • Grand Sichuan International (Chelsea) - Salt Baked Shrimp, Dry Sautéed Green Beans with Pork, Aui Zhou Spicy Chicken
  • Naruto Ramen - Tiny, a bit of a wait, but lovely. Uh, get the Naruto Ramen.
  • Num Pang - Pork Belly Sandwhich
  • Dessert

  • Morgensterns - Chocolate Oat ice cream (a vanilla base with a hint of oatmeal and chocolate pieces). This is the only place on earth where I am known by name.
  • Momofuku Milk Bar - Get the Crack Pie Soft Serve (with crunch) or the original Crack Pie.
  • Ample Hills - I am partial to the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream and the Nonna D's Oatmeal Lace.