48 hours in New York
Our off-the-beaten-path guide to a weekend in one of the world’s best cities
Planning a weekend in New York can be daunting. There are—quite literally—tens of thousands of amazing things to see, eat and do. Millions of tourists think so too, which is why we like to skip the usual suspects in midtown and uptown—Central Park, the Empire State Building, Times Square—and stick to Lower Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Six new ferry routes have been added in the past couple of years, so a trip doesn’t have to include a sweaty subway ride. Even for those who think they’ve seen all New York has to offer, there are always up-and-coming neighbourhoods to explore—and so, so much to eat. Here, our picks for a summer long weekend in New York.
Public Hotel, Lower East Side
Ian Schrager’s two-year-old Nolita hotel is an exercise in contrast—it’s nestled at the end of an old-fashioned ivy-covered path, but also features neon-lit mirrored escalators. It’s packed with designer furniture and a Jean-Georges restaurant, but has no bellhops or front desk. It offers free bike rentals, plus touch-controlled blackout shades, Bang and Olufsen Bluetooth speakers in each room and—our favourite touch—complimentary milk and warm cookies at bedtime. 215 Chrystie St., 212-735-6000, publichotels.com.
Boro Hotel, Long Island City
The recently opened Boro in Long Island City has a minimalist concrete-and-hardwood design. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the stunning Queensboro Bridge, and the bathrooms are outfitted in porcelain and teak. A huge rooftop patio offers sweeping vistas of Manhattan and Queens. But the best thing about Boro is its borough: with a rejuvenated waterfront, a host of museums and a truly eclectic variety of independent restaurants, Queens is becoming the new Brooklyn. 38-28 27th St., 718-433-1375, borohotel.com.
Barca, Staten Island
Chef Dave Pasternack and restaurateur Victor Rallo are behind this new haunt on Staten Island’s shore. (The Staten Island Ferry, by the way, is free.) The place is sleek and sexy, with a bright, backlit wall of wine bottles and a view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. They specialize in Italian seafood dishes like crudo, Sicilian-style fish stew and lobster spaghetti. 44 Navy Pier Ct., 718-556-9300, barcany.com.
Ugly Baby, Carroll Gardens
Carroll Gardens, the latest of Brooklyn’s brownstone-lined neighbourhoods to be hipsterized, is home to one of New York’s most promising new restaurants. The brainchild of Bangkok-bred chef Sirichai Sreparplarn, Ugly Baby serves authentic cuisine from each of Thailand’s five culinary territories. Heat freaks will appreciate the punishing spice of the curries and stews; the tender-palated may prefer the popular tue ka ko, slightly sweet coconut milk cakes with black beans and taro. 407 Smith St., 347-689-3075, uglybabynyc.com.
Mint Kitchen, Flatiron District
This fast-casual 50-seater from Israeli chef and baker Erez Komarovsky is the latest in a string of stylish Middle Eastern restaurants. The menu is geared toward the health-conscious—nothing is fried, not even the falafel, which is baked in a tabun oven. The absolute must-try is the creamy tahini, so rich it’s even in the chocolate truffles. 83 University Pl., 646-905-3720, mintkitch.com.
Books Are Magic, Cobble Hill
When Brooklyn-based novelist Emma Straub’s favourite indie bookstore shut down, she and her husband took action: “There were only two clear choices: open a bookstore or move.” They chose the former, launching Books Are Magic in 2017. The store hosts readings with big-name authors pretty much every evening, most of which are free. 225 Smith St., 718-246-2665, booksaremagic.net.
The City Reliquary, Williamsburg
This Williamsburg storefront is a “community museum” packed with vintage subway tokens, Statue of Liberty trading cards, city signage and more. The place regularly hosts eccentric gatherings—like a recent opportunity to meet the man who coordinates the Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti drop. 370 Metropolitan Ave., 718-782-4842, cityreliquary.org.
Seaport District, Lower Manhattan
The Seaport District’s cobblestoned promenade offers summertime strollers the chance to browse charming boutiques and indulge in soft-serve from the effervescently named Big Gay Ice Cream. The cornerstone of the neighbourhood is Pier 17, a giant glass complex at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge that hosts rooftop summer concerts; this year’s lineup includes Sheryl Crow and Passion Pit. seaportdistrict.nyc.