A few months into her stint at National Geographic Traveler, editorial intern Husna Haq took a stab at a favorite staff ritual, the Big Apple weekend. Like all good interns, she took notes:
Hoping to escape a steamy D.C. weekend, I headed to N.Y.C. intern-style—via New Century Travel’s $35 round-trip bus. Chinatown buses are a cheap way to go, but I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way: Book ahead because climbing gas prices = full buses; get there early to get a seat in the front of the bus (back = eau de toilette, literally); and map out pick-up and drop-off locations or arrange for a ride when you arrive to avoid wandering under bridges and alleyways in search of a subway station in dark and chaotic Chinatown near midnight on a Friday night (but that’s another blog entry).
Having avoided those pitfalls this time around and safely heaved my belongings through Chinatown, I settled at my friend’s Battery Park studio and we hit the town. In the West Village we enjoyed funky stores and great people-watching, as well as Dragonfly, a Pan-Asian restaurant that serves tasty food at reasonable prices.
I can’t pass a used bookstore without ducking in, and The Strand—which boasts ‘18 Miles of Books‘ including everything from $1 bargain books to rare editions of Dickens to eccentric staff picks—was no exception. It passed my test: I lost track of time, and got lost, literally, in its labyrinthine rows of shelves.
A discovery: Times Square’s TKTS booth isn’t the only place to get discounted Broadway tickets the day of the performance. Head to the lesser-known South St. Seaport location for significantly shorter lines. The booth opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday; get there earlier for the best choice and the shortest lines. TKTS doesn’t accept credit cards, so bring cash or traveler’s checks. And have a backup play in mind in case your first choice sells out. Lucky for us, we scored our first choice: 50 percent discounted orchestra tickets to Phantom of the Opera.
When our lazy Sunday morning in SoHo turned into a steamy afternoon, we slipped into the closest coffee bar (and the closest I’ll get to Paris in a while), Le Petit Café (156 Spring St., +1 212 219 9723), for cold gazpacho and iced coffee.