New York Vacation in October, what to do?

I’m from So. Calif. and am going to New York with my wife in October. We’re leaving our three kids at home, and hitting the big city!

So, what to do? See a show, obviously. There’s museums. Eat.

We had a brief stay there once before there when our first was 15 months old. We did one of those bus tours to see the big sites, and we went and saw the Statue of Liberty.

I’m looking for suggestions, but when I ask friends I know out here that are from New York, all they can think to tell me are restaurants that they miss. If there’s something really special about a restaurant I’d certainly like to hear about it, but I’m not really going to keep a list of places to eat just because “it’s the best knish on the East Side”.

Any suggestions on what not to do? Is riding the subway fun, or just smelly and dangerous? As an “Angeleno” should it be obvious to me as to what parts of town are dangerous?

We’re landing the 6th and flying out the 13th. I don’t plan on renting a car.

Stroll. Especially the Village (West and East). Lovely historic sites, gorgeous architecture, colorful shops and people. When I hit a city I’ve never been to before, I take a guided tour: 85% of what bus-tour drivers tell you is wrong, but it gives you a nice physical overview of the town and lets you figure what neighborhoods you want to go back and explore on your own later.

Oh, and we must do drinks at the Algonquin!

Big Onion walking tours are great for getting to know NY.

You might want to do a bit of research about the city as pertaining to your interests, and find the places that have a significant history. A person who’s interested in the early criminal aspect of NY a la “Gangs of New York” might want to visit a different place than someone who’s into the Harlem Renneisance or the 1970’s punk scene.

Last resort, help me celebrate my birthday on the 10th…

Oh, don’t fear the subway. It’s just a very convenient way to get from one place to another. If you want to be cautious, you might avoid travelling outside the city (that is, Manhattan) very late at night, especially if you look like a tourist.

What you do want to watch out for are the constant stations repairs and reroutings of subways. On any given day, trains may not run, run express, avoid certain stations, or run on another line. Just keep your eyes and ears open for announcements and remember that the New York subway system is very well linked, and you can always just transfer to another line. If I am unsure about what trains are going to be trouble, I just check the MTA website ahead of time.

Also, get familiar with the Metrocard system so you don’t end up spending too much money. You can get unlimited cards that you can use as many times as you want for a certain number of days, or you can get a pay-per-ride card that will just give you whatever amount of fares you paid for. The unlimited cards are a good value if you’re going to be using them three or four times per day, but you might just use them twice a day or sometimes not at all in which case it doesn’t pay off.

Take the Circle Line Tour. It is wonderful. You take a guided boat ride around the entire island of Manhattan. You will see interesting things, and get a good sense of the geography of Manhattan. On a clear October day it will be lovely. Take the full three-hour tour.

Visit Grand Central Station. It is beautiful. Visit the station when it is busy, but not insanely crowded - say 9:30 AM. You will feel you are standing at one of the major crossroads of the world. Look up at the ceiling. But don’t stand in the way of the commuters. Eat lunch at the Oyster Bar, downstairs in the station. Eat oysters at the lunch counter.

A link to the picture of the interior of Grand Central Station:

A link to a picture of counter at The Oyster Bar:

When we took this tour, there was a guy on the Jersey shore mooning the tour boat.

Do you like Letterman? You can request tickets for the show from the Late Night web site.

If you get good weather, a visit to Central Park is a must! You could easily spend a day there, especially on a Sunday. You’ll get a good a cross section of New Yorkers to watch, there are always street fair-type things going on, food from hotdogs to Tavern on The Green, The Met is right there, you can just hang at the Sheep Meadow or rent bikes and join the parade that flows thru the various roads…