Currently, my aunt, uncle, and cousin are enjoying actual spring weather overseas while visiting my cousin, Max, in Barcelona. #JEALOUS. Last week, Max posted an inspired entry about what to do when your parents come to visit. This got me thinking. Now that it's finally getting warmer out (sort of), friends and family are coming out of hibernation to visit me. I love when people come to visit me in New York. And by "love," I mean I have a full-fledged panic attack not knowing WTF to do with someone over a few days. Yes, yes, I know -- visitors are here to see me, not to "do things." But come on, if you're going to spend four to six hours traveling, you're not going to be happy sitting on a couch watching reruns of "Vanderpump Rules" with me. (Or are you? Because if you are, come on over! #RealTalk)
When I find out someone is coming to visit, whether it's friends or family, I immediately go into a mode that some close to me describe as "insane." Is it insane to frantically search for anything and everything happening in NYC during any given weekend? Or to quiz coworkers on their neighborhoods? Or to confirm reservations at a restaurant five times? I don't know. I don't have all the answers.
What I do have are some old standby activities that I can go to should my attempts at scouring weekend agendas and harassing coworkers for information fail me.
Here are my go-tos:
DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is great for a few reasons. It has fantastic photo ops on the Brooklyn promenade, there are tons of cool shops and great restaurants. Plus, you can walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan. There are also fun things to do on weekends like a tour and tasting at King's Country Distillery (where visitors can also pick up a yummy souvenir or two…or three), and Brooklyn Flea where you can eat and shop simultaneously -- my two favorite things.
Brunch recommendation: Sociale -- cute, away from the crowds and delicious!
Drink recommendation: Floyd -- If a jukebox, homemade beer cheese, and BYO food don't do it for your visitors, there's also a bocce ball court and cheap drinks.
The High Line
This one is a fairly obviously go-to for out-of-towners, but it's still worth a visit. It's a beautiful piece of green space in an unexpected place with spectacular views of the Hudson. There's not much to do on the High Line other than walk and grab a small bite along the way, but it'll kill a few hours, and it's pretty. Afterward, you can take your visitors around Chelsea Market or grab a drink at the Standard Hotel Biergarten. If you somehow haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out Sleep No More.
Brunch recommendation: Cookshop -- A rustic, Greenmarket-inspired spot under the High Line.
Drink recommendation: The Tippler - Forgo the typical meatpacking crowd and head to this chill space under Chelsea Market. Go early (before 10 p.m.) to avoid lines. Complete with photo booth, old-school drinks, lots of space, and decent music.
The island was only open to the public a few years ago, but since then, it's become a go-to destination for New Yorkers in the summer (its only open May-October). In the past year, they've completely revamped the island and put in a hammock grove, baseball fields, and rolling hills. The $2 ferry ride gets you to the island in just 10 minutes. Once there, you can rent a bike (or bring your own!) and start exploring. You can usually count on there being an art fair, food truck event, concert or jazz party. Even if theres nothing going on, it's a relaxing getaway and a fun place to picnic.
Brunch recommendation: Hit up Whole Foods, and bring a picnic!
Drink recommendation: Little Eva's Beer Garden -- you can't bring booze onto the island (they check your bags thoroughly before getting on the ferry), so you're pretty much limited to what they sell there.
Long Island City
LIC is still relatively under the radar for tourists, and that makes it a great place to take your visitors. For art lovers, check out MOMA's PS1 which also holds weekend dance parties in the summer. For film and TV buffs, be sure to stop by the Museum of Moving Image which has a fantastic permanent collection including costumes and set pieces used in films as well as a special exhibit (this month featuring "Mad Men"!). If you feel so compelled, take a walk across the Queensboro Bridge back to Manhattan (just beware of bikers and car fumes!).
Brunch recommendation: LIC Market -_ A cute space with fantastic food. This place gets busy, so come early!
Drink recommendation: Dutch Kills -- Do you like robber-baron-era cocktails made with hand-cut ice and ragtime bands playing in a sawdust-strewn room? Then this place is for you! Seriously though, its a cool spot and the drinks aren't priced too high.
This one seems obvious -- it's a New York institution after all. What most people don't realize is that it's pay as you wish, so its practically free! There are also great rotating fashion exhibits for those not so much into sculpture and painting. The museum is so large there's bound to be something for everyone to like. My favorite part of the Met has to be the rooftop. Most people don't even know about it, so it's sure to impress your visitors! The rooftop has a martini bar, spectacular views of the city (go during sunset!), and a rotating exhibit.
Brunch recommendation: Parlor Steakhouse -- not gonna lie, good brunchin' on the UES isn't easy, but Parlor has a prix fix with unlimited drinks for $29, so that's gotta count for something
*UPDATE: It's come to my attention that The Penrose is where its at! Avocado toast, chicken & waffles, bacon & oyster sandwich PLUS $8 brunch cocktails? I'm there!
Drink recommendation: Rooftop of the Met -- martinis, art, views… what more do you need?
Williamsburg Bridge & Smorgasburg
Yes, yes, Williamsburg isn't what it used to be, and all the douchebags are taking over. I get it. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth hanging out in. At least for a few hours. :) After all, its still home of Smorgasburg and my favorite indie boutiques! Start the day with a walk across the Williamsburg Bridge (my favorite in the city) and head north toward Smorgasburg. Along the way, be sure to pop in a few shops, sample the chocolate at Mast Brothers, and tour the Brooklyn Brewery. I like taking the East River Ferry back to the city. It's a fun way to get back to the city and much more scenic than the subway.
Brunch recommendation: Rye -- It's not hard to find decent brunch in this area, so you can really choose any spot and get a decent meal. Rye stands out because it usually doesn't have a wait.
Drink recommendation: Iona -- Like brunch spots, you really can't go wrong with most of the bars in this area (except if you want to avoid prevention -- good luck!). I love Iona because of its backyard garden and chill vibes.
It's no secret that I love CP. There's a reason for that (besides being a great spot for long runs). Its beautiful no matter what season and large enough that you don't feel like you're in a major metropolis. Every time I go, I discover a new corner of the park or trail or field. The Belvedere Castle, the reservoir and Strawberry Fields are visitor favorites. Go during summer evenings to catch a free concert and fireworks by the NY Phil Harmonic or watch Summerstage shows with comics and well-known bands. Of course you could just spend the day like every other NYC-er stuck in the city during summer: sunbathing and people watching.
Brunch recommendation: Jacob's Pickles - Specializes in fried chicken and waffles. Need I say more?
Drink Recommendation: E's Bar - Finding a douche-free bar in this part of town can be a challenge. Luckily, there's E's Bar with its chill crowd, decently priced drinks and games like Jenga, Cards Against Humanity, and Uno.
Did I miss anything? Where do you take your NYC visitors?