Help me plan a birthday trip to NYC (in August)

And the next day you can read War and Peace in the morning and Ulysses in the afternoon. That’s quite a lot to see in one day.
There used to be another, smaller Met in midtown, which I went to, but it looks like it didn’t survive Covid.

I’m not planning on doing anything with the car other than parking it at the hotel. Is this the best use of money? No parking in NJ and taking the train across is probably better, but honestly with luggage
… Eh. It’s not THAT much less expensive. And I know what August is like. I sort of hate that it’s my birthday month because heat and I don’t mix, but you do what you gotta. Also, that’s when/where the concert it. I will deal. (I hope).

I love the Tenement museum idea. I have also not been to Summit One yet and I’ve done the Empire State building but not at sunrise which does sound super cool.

I am bookmarking all the restaurants @gkster suggested too! Thanks for the start! I’m open to any more ideas people have. Keep em coming!

Best pizza in the world. They open at 11:30 and you should be there by 11 if you don’t want to wait in line for hours. Location directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, so you could walk over from Manhattan to build up an appetite.

Also seconding the Tenement Museum idea.

That reminds me of what I hated most about living in NYC. I’m one of those people who (with rare exceptions) just won’t wait in line to for a meal.

To the OP, if you’re thinking about Circle Line (which I have done several times and enjoyed) consider this as a little upscale option

I chartered a boat for a private function, and it was spectacular. Next time I’m in the city, I’m going to try their architectural tour.

ETA: On a hot August day, I’d really prefer to be on the water.

Additional information. In discussing pizza with my wife she pointed out that I have never actually set foot in Brooklyn (she lived there in 2002 but it’s been 20 years since she has been back)

So if you have other Brooklyn suggestions I’m thinking we are going to spend most of Saturday there.

Trips to Wave Hill and the New York Botanical Garden (also in the Bronx) would provide a nice break from city noise and traffic.

Also, the Staten Island Zoo has been famed for its reptile collection.

“The visitor is led along an educational experience, through graphics on one side, and live venomous snakes on the other, winding them through the body of a snake and its relationship to humans and the environment.”

“Sunday in Brooklyn” is a trendy restaurant in a very gentrified part of Williamsburg with great food. It attracts a younger crowd (20s to 40s) https://www.sundayinbrooklyn.com/ It’s a few blocks from Domino Park right on the East River which has good views, and just a couple of subway stops from the Tenement Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Garden and Prospect Park are all nice. And another pizza place: the iconic Grimaldi’s, which some people don’t like because the pizza is well toasted (AKA almost burnt) The Best NY Pizza in Brooklyn, New York | The Original Grimaldi's at 1 Front Street

Parking at Manhattan hotels (if they have it) is usually an extra fee, which is one reason I included the parking link in my post above.

As for The Cloisters and the Met being a lot to do in one day, yes, if you’re trying to see everything in the Met, which is crazy. The best advice I ever heard for dealing with the Met was to look at it like a supermarket trip–you don’t look at every product on every shelf, you just focus on what you’re most interested in. A 3 hour visit seeing 5 or 6 galleries that are of interest is much better than a 6 hour visit that runs you ragged. I must have visited it 50 times and I haven’t seen everything yet, which is fine with me.

Here’s a new Manhattan attraction on the water right near the High Line: Little Island — Hudson River Park
Another attraction that comes up on touring lists of Manhattan is Hudson Yards, which I don’t like too much; it’s a great location but not much there apart from a high-end mall and The Vessel, from which several people have leapt to their deaths :frowning:

Juliana’s actually is the original original Grimaldi’s. My understanding is that Grimaldi sold the business and its name, then decided he wanted to stay in business after all. At some point the new owners of Grimaldi’s lost their lease and moved next door to the 1 Front St. location. Subsequently Grimaldi moved back into the original space and started doing business as Juliana’s. It’s a long story…

For me, the Tenement Museum was too much like school. The guide wanted to instill some learnings and forced some dialog out of the group of tourists. Maybe it has changed. Self-guided was not an option at the time.

The Met had offered a quick guided tour (one hour I believe) where the tour guide ran us around to about 10 exhibits. I was amazed at how interesting the guide made some exhibits, which in my ignorance I wouldn’t have given a second glance.

The Met does have great guided tours, but they’re relatively limited right now. Here’s what they have for a week in May: https://www.metmuseum.org/events/whats-on?tab=Events&page=4
There are several video highlight tours on Youtube that might give you ideas. Or if you have a favorite artist or period, focus on them? My kids love the Arms and Armor and musical instruments galleries, as well as the Temple of Dendur and the Native American gallery. Some of my own faves are the Impressionists, the American Wing courtyard with the Tiffany windows, the Japanese art gallery and the Chinese Scholar’s Garden.

And @Thing.Fish I knew there was a story with Juliana’s and “original” Grimaldi’s, didn’t know how complicated it was.

@K364 ugh on that Tenement Museum tour, I hate it when guides act like they’re teachers.

Several companies run reasonably priced or free walking tours of interesting neighborhoods like Greenwich Village or the Theater District or Brooklyn Heights which you might want to look into.

The Tenement Museum has greatly expanded its repertoire of tours since I last went, and now have multiple tour options basically covering tenement apartments restored/furnished to different time periods and different ethnicities. Self-guided is not an option and would be pointless anyway, as the “exhibits” are mostly sparsely-furnished apartments lived in by poor people who didn’t have much stuff. You need the interpretation.

Quite a few places (including the Tenement Museum) recommend reserving tickets in advance as they have capacity restrictions, though that might change by August. If you do go to the Tenement Museum, there is quite a bit of stuff within easy walking distance: Katz’s Delicatessen, Russ & Daughters Appetizing (The sit-down cafe is still closed for now, but the original store is still open and a great place for breakfast.), Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery (all of there are on the same block on Houston Street). You also have the New Museum, the International Museum of Photography, the Eldridge Street Synagogue Museum, and original St Patrick’s Cathedral within a pretty narrow radius. Essex Market and The Market Line at Essex Crossing bring a lot of Lower East Side vendors and restaurants under the same roof (The above-mentioned Veselka has a branch at The Market Line). The Tenement Museum itself is on or Orchard Street, which is known for its eclectic shops and bars.

More general stuff:

-There are more museums than you can shake a stick at in Manhattan and they come in all different sizes. I’m guessing you’ve been to the major ones because you’ve said you’ve done the basic tourist stuff. Big museums take a good chunk of the day. Check for special exhibits at various museums. You might luck out and be in town for something you really want to see.

-Food halls have become a big thing in Manhattan (and Brooklyn) over the past decade or so. There’s at least a dozen in Manhattan and for a while it seemed like one was opening every month, but the trend might have hit its saturation point. The food hall outside Penn Station, the Pennsy, has closed down. I was going to recommend it for dinner before your concert, as the area around MSG doesn’t have a lot of food options. Manhattan’s Koreatown is only a block or two away. Food halls are a great concept, kind of a platonic version of the mall food court. They bring a lot of quality vendors under the same roof and are great options if you want to try different things or have a group that can’t pick decide one type of food.

One water-based excursion I’d recommend is the ferry to Governor’s Island. Governor’s Island is in New York Harbor iff the south end of Manhattan. You can catch the ferry near Battery Park next to the Staten Island Ferry.

GI has the best views of Lower Manhattan and is an attraction in its own right. It used to be the fort defending the harbor and then was a major Coast Guard base. A lot of the island has been landscaped into open space and gardens and a lot of the old coast guard building have been turned into exhibits and mini-museums, or given over to arts or civic groups. Fort Jay and Castle Williams are under the aegis of the National Park Service. Tip: Always take the Park Ranger tour at NPS historical sites. The island has food trucks and restaurants, picnic areas, and bike rentals. It also has another ferry on the other side the island that goes to various points in Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, and DUMBO.

I’ll second this. I love the High Line. Great walk. At the southern end (or near enough) is Chelsea Market which is fun to walk through and grab a bite to eat and/or have a drink.

Also, the World Trade Center memorial is a must visit for everyone at least once. It is emotionally more powerful than you might expect. I won’t say it is a pilgrimage all Americans must make but it’s close. If you are in Manhattan take the time to see it. If your GF has not seen it but you have, take her to see it (or vice-versa…just make sure everyone in the travel party has seen it).

The nearby World Trade Center Transportation Hub is pretty cool too.

I also recommend the High Line. In addition to Chelsea Market, the lower end of the High Line has the relocated Whitney Museum’s new digs. The end goes almost as far as Hudson Yards.The downside is that the High Line is so popular it can get crowded.

Here’s some stuff I pulled from an old thread a few years ago and edited slightly. The OP was looking more at NYC on a limited budget. I would still recommend lower Manhattan as a destination because there a lot of things to see/do, none of which will command a lot of your time:

Possibilities in Lower Manhattan:

-You’re not going to be going up One World Tower to the Observatory Level, but you can certainly get some good views of the skyscraper from Battery Park (not as good as Governor’s Island). The 9/11 Museum is not free, but the Memorial/Reflecting Pools are there to see. The new World Trade Center is also includes The Oculus, the quite new, striking transportation hub for lower Manhattan.
-There are also several large new retail/dining/shopping complexes in/around the World Trade Center area, such as Brookfiled Place and the concourse of shops in the World Trade Center buildings.
-Also around there is the downtown branch ofEataly, a wonderful Italian mark/food stall/restaurant space. There is also a similar French-based concept called the District.
-Battery Park is small, but has a lot of stuff in it. The ferries to Liberty Island leave from there, so watch out for pushy touts smelling tourist dollars.
Next to the Liberty Island ferries are that slips for the Staten Island Ferry and the Governor’s Island Ferry. Castle Clinton has Park Rangers giving tours. You can also walk along the harbor promenade
-Adjoining Battery Park is Bowling Green, where the famous Charging Bull/Standing Girl statures are located. Bowling Green is also the terminus of the Canyon of Heroes down Broadway. If you look down at the sidewalks while you walk along B’way there is a plaque to mark every ticker tape parade the city has ever held.
-Off Bowling Green is the stately old US Customs House, which now holds the free National Museum of the American Indian.
-Trinity Church is not only a historic church, its adjoining cemetery holds such luminaries as Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton. You can walk two minutes down Wall Street past the NYSE to Federal Hall, our nations’s first capital. Like all National Park Service monuments, it’s free, and has ranger-led tours. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Saturdays, but the outside is certainly striking.
-A little further north is The African Burial Ground National Monument, which is also run by the NPS.
-Lower Manhattan also several smaller, but still engaging, affordably-price museums. There’s the Museum of Jewish Heritage ($8, but closed on Saturdays), The Skyscraper Museum ($5), and Fraunces Tavern ($7), where Washington gave his farewell speech to his troops and is now a rather nice museum on colonial-era New York upstairs with a nice tavern/restaurant downstairs)

Cont’d cut and paste:

From Lower Manhattan, it’s a short walk to Chinatown. Just walk past City Hall (an impressive old building in its own right) and the Manhattan Distict Court buildings (likely to see wedding parties outside) and you’ll be at the end of Mott Street, the traditional heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown. Wo Hop is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Chinatown and has been there since the 30s. It hasn’t changed much since I first went in '76. Go eat downstairs in the basement and not the dining room upstairs.

Chinatown is probably the best neighborhood in Manhattan to eat on a budget. You can go to a cheap noodle or dumpling house, a dim sum place, or an old-school Cantonese place with shared plates, where you can spilt five or six dishes among 7 people and probably not finish them all.

Chinatown is also a great area for walking around in to see the sights and poke through stores. From there, there are enough subway connections along Canal Street to get to any other part of Manhattan. You can also continue walking to the Lower East Side, or SoHo or up toe the East Village or as far as Union Square.

Edited cut and paste continued:

Someone above asked where to get a good view of the Empire State Building. I found that Madison Square Park, about 10 blocks south of ESB in the Flatiron District offers really good views from the south end of the park.

I once had to wait a while in the area to meet someone running late, so I sat in an outdoor-seating cafe drinking a coffee across the street from the Flatiron Building as dusk was setting in the ESB’s lights came on. Great view.

Flatiron isn’t a great tourist destination, but might be a good place to end the day, as it’s a short walk to MSG or your Midtown South hotel from there. In addition to the ESB view and the historic triangular Flatiron Building, there’s are some interesting things to while away an hour or two in the area. There’s the original Eataly, large combined Italian market/food court with a rooftop beer garden. Next door is a giant Lego store full of ginormous Lego dioramas. There’s a cluster of interesting home design/furnshing stores in the area, and some good relatively inexpensive food options, such as the original Shake Shack in the park and Hill Country Chicken, along with famous high end dining at 11 Madison Park, the Gramercy Tavern, and Craft.

Midtown South has a few museums in the area: The Rubin Museum (focusing on Himalayan art), the Morgan Library and Museum (former home of the ol’ Robber Baron himself, with great rotating special exhibits), and the National Park Service-run Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace (his childhood home, plus a lot of TR saw, including the bloody shirt he was wearing when shot by a would-be assassin.)