Playing Tourist: Things to do in New York


We were incredibly blessed to be invaded by family the past week and a half straight.  Our first visitor, my beautiful mom, came for a week which wasn’t nearly long enough.  In the span of days we fit what could easily have filled weeks, and afterward we (with watery eyes) tucked her into her cab with sore feet and a full heart.  It did both her and I good to explore mine and Jay’s new home together as we ventured into the heart of the city in hunt of exquisite shopping, good food and new running trails. I could not ask for a better excuse to be a tourist than her.

Then the evening after we waved good bye to mom, my dad, Peter, arrived.  His entrance into the city was eventful with a less than ideal foray into the Bronx, complete with unhelpful misdirections from locals amidst the bombarding, cacophony of rush hour traffic. However, after his unwanted adventure we at last laid eyes on him and settled him into our apartment, turning him into our second excuse to explore the city a little further.

I should have been studying for midterms, and I should have been completing my literature review but instead I paused and tried my best to balance my demands with soaking in family and our city.  In the midst of it all my little heart was filled to overflowing as both my parents assured me just how wholly proud of me they are and how excited they were for what waits us in the coming year as we plant roots in this crazy, overwhelmingly wonderful city.  Below are some of our highlights, and suggestions for must do NYC tourist activities that make every study break that much more invigorating.

1. The Brooklyn Bridge


I have previously mentioned that Jay and I come from an ocean lined island where you are never far from the beach.  So the towering sky scrapers and urban grit can at times be hard to adjust to for this west coast heart.  However, if you are ever feeling trapped in the gray and steel jungle that New York can become I suggest you take the train to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk. Just get out an walk.  It may not be Dallas road, but you can see for miles, the air is fresh and the view spectacular. It truly gives you a whole new perspective on the city you either call home or has undoubtably  captured a small part of your heart during your visit.

2. Take a night out on the town


I am learning that this truly is the city that never sleeps, and this really affronts my uncool, homebody approach to life.  So I am taking a when in NYC do as New Yorkers do attitude and attempting to forcefully keep my head from hitting the pillow prior to 10pm.  I have learned that it makes it easier to stay up until 4 am when you get lost in conversation with wonderful, brilliant and thought provoking friends (Yes, I stayed out until 4. On the same night I saw my first rat. You are allowed to be proud).  So when my mom arrived I forced her to relive her twenties by coming out to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday at Houston Hall.  Jay lasted later into the morning than we did, but nonetheless mom and I gave it our best effort as she sipped away the night among graduate students in a raucous West Village bar. That is a success by any measure.

3. See the landmarks


When you live in the city sometimes you overlook the big and glossy in search of the small, out of the way and ornate.  However, there is a reason why people have been flocking to Rockafellar center, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty for decades. Simply put, they are awesome. So although finding the hidden gems, and roads less travelled are part of the innate charm and allure of New York City, so too are the standard sights. Don’t underestimate the fun that awaits as you dodge canon cameras in Times Square, or have your breathe taken as you view central park from Top of the Rock.

3. Shop


In theme with not underestimating the cliché, when you come to Manhattan whether you enjoy it or not you better shop.  I myself detest shopping, which I am sure my wardrobe reflects as I rely heavily on hand-me-downs from more fashion forward friends.   Whereas my husband and mom are what you could consider avid and adept connoisseurs of garments.  So with them as my motivation and unbridled inspiration we set out to browse the plenty on the SoHo main drag, in the NoLita boutiques and a few consumer gems on the Upper West Side.  From one hater to another, I have to admit it was some of the most fun I have had over the past few weeks (Maybe because my mom bought me new shoes).

4. Laugh

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The New York comedy festival is right around the corner, and there are not shortage of comedic clubs on the island of Manhattan.  Jay is on a continue troll of comedy listings to locate the next Louis C.K. show so that he can leave the city a fulfilled man.  Since that opportunity has still not arisen we settled on taking our company to the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea.  They have shows 7 days a week, multiple shows a night and with talent such as Amy Poehler heralding from their stage there really is no excuse not to go.

5. Eat

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One of the best parts of having your parents in town is that they feed you. I don’t think I have ever been so overjoyed as when we walked in to show my mom Trader Joes and she gave us carte blache to load up a basket full of our favorite things. Or when after dinner we went to grab bananas for the morning and new items were slipped into the cart.  I may have an aversion to shopping, but grocery shopping is a whole other ball game because the end reward is eating.  Other culinary highlights were Sunday brunch at the Le Pain Quotidien aprés church (see what I did there. Classy I know) with mom and a burger from Shake Shack before the comedy club.

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