Whenever I meet someone here who has not visited New York City, a look of bemusement fills my face, and I usually say something like, “You should check it out. It’s a great city.” Because it’s the city that has served as the setting of numerous blockbuster films and has produced an endless stream of cultural touchstones (Madonna’s coming-of-age; Sex and the City; The Stonewall Inn, site of the riots that helped spark the public movement for LGBT equality), it’s no wonder that people have a wide range of preconceived notions: It’s loud, dirty, rude, nonstop—just a few of the more common ones. Even so, there are thousands of reasons to imbibe (the Cubbyhole in the West Village is a favorite bar), eat (Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg is superb) and explore (Check out “Keith Haring: 1978-1982” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It’s a quick subway ride away!)
Take the L train—try to go before rush hour in the afternoon or later in the evening to avoid a claustrophobic ride underneath the East River—and explore one of NYC’s famously gentrified (and hipster, for lack of a better word) areas: Williamsburg. Get off at Bedford Avenue: The number of skinny jeans- clad twentysomethings is now matched by skyscraping glass condo towers with ridiculous amenities and views that cost from $300,000 to $2 million.
Head up to the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, a secluded branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and find solitude in its lush gardens while you contemplate art and feel at ease in the big city.
Spend an afternoon in the New York Public Library’s main branch, a Beaux- Arts masterpiece at Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street that houses some 15 million items, showcases a rotating series of exhibits, and is home to the majestic Rose Main Reading Room. Measuring 78 by 297 feet, the space is perfect for cracking open a book or working on your great American novel.
Walk the entire length of the glorious High Line, the city’s one of a kind, beautiful urban park in the sky that’s situated on a historic elevated freight train line on Manhattan’s west side and runs from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street. It’s free and open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
If you want to get married, it’s pretty easy. Submit an application to the City Clerk’s office online, go in person to complete it and bring your prospective spouse (and a valid, government-issued ID). Upon arriving at the City Clerk’s office, head to the information desk and wait while your marriage license is processed. Check for mistakes! Their office can perform the civil marriage ceremony for you, or you can take the license with you and do it your own way. By law, there’s a 24-hour waiting period before your ceremony can be performed (for those getting cold feet). Fees: $35 for a marriage license and $25 for a ceremony at the City Clerk’s office, payable with money order or credit card. Couples who reside in other states are more than welcome to marry in New York. Lastly, head to whatever venue, public space, inn, rooftop, garden or private home you’ve planned to hold your ceremony and get to the good part—eat, drink, be merry and give your new wife (or husband) a big kiss.
A MetroCard (one way, $2.25; unlimited weekly, $29, and monthly, $104 passes are available) will get you everywhere in the city. The country’s busiest mass transit system serves 11 million passengers system wide on an average weekday across 12 counties in New York and two in Connecticut.
A map is always useful, and you can find one at any number of shops in Midtown. But truly, one of the pleasures of NYC is simply walking and seeing where you end up. The Village, Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn Heights, Harlem, and the Upper East Side are just a few of the neigh- borhoods worth exploring. That old ad- age about rudeness? Not true. If you’re lost, ask a local. Easiest way to spot one— they’re walking super fast and sporting all black in the middle of June.
TRIED AND TRUE
Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial—yes, they’re all swarming with tourists, but there’s a reason for that. Arrive early and check ‘em off your list. For more tips on what to see, flip to page 20 on the G side.