Essential guide to Manhattan

Get to the core of the Big Apple with Time Out’s essential New York neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood guide

Financial District

The Statue of Liberty is only a short sail away from the base of Manhattan and on a fine day it’s well worth the ride to see one of America’s most treasured monuments. The adventurous and those short on time should book a chopper ride with Heli NY and not only get breathtaking views of Liberty, but take a flight up and down Manhattan and see this island in all of its glory. Downtown Manhattan Heliport, Pier 6, New York. +1 212 355 0801.

Thirsty? There’s one bar in this part of town that’s rarely been rivalled across the planet over the last 12 months – the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog.Owners Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry are royalty in the global bartending fraternity and here the emphasis is firmly on classics – juleps, slings, flips and potent punches – and top bar comfort grub. In fact, it’s worth a visit just to tuck into the beef stew and the bourbon pecan bread pudding. 30 Water St, New York. +1 646 422 7906.

At Felice, in the lobby of the hip Gild Hall hotel, expect traditional Italian (don’t skip past the vongole) washed down with top drops from Piedmont. 15 Gold St, New York. +1 212 785 5950.

Bed down at Andaz Wall Street, where contemporary, spacious and high-ceilinged rooms abound. Order the mac and cheese on the room service menu and save time for a day spa treatment. 75 Wall St, New York. +1 212 590 1234.

Tribeca/SoHo

Known globally for its shopping, SoHo has so many flagship stories for the likes of Paul Smith, Uniqlo, J.Crew and Muji, with most located on Broadway or a stone’s throw away from the thoroughfare. Take the N or R train to Prince Street and walk south from there.

Along Mulberry Street, New York’s Little Australia, top pies are to be found at Rubirosa. Order the vodka pizza (yes, with vodka sauce) and wash it down with a pint of Allagash White from Maine. 235 Mulberry St, New York. +1 212 965 0500.

Tuck into the brioche French toast during the Sunday brunch or the Blue Point oysters at any other time at NYC dining institution Balthazar and don’t leave without grabbing a copy of founder Keith McNally’s cookbook. 80 Spring St, New York. +1 212 965 1414.

Look for the diner on the corner of Kenmare and Lafeyette and hidden inside is La Esquina, where you’ll sip on El Macizo Margaritas and order Elotes Callejeros (Mexican street corn) until the joint shuts. 114 Kenmare St, New York. +1 646 613 7100.

Boutique hotels on this planet don’t get any better than the Crosby Street Hotel, with its large, warehouse-style windows, quirkily elegant rooms designed by owner Kit Kemp, in-house cinema, guests-only courtyard and lobby bar that nails the sliders and Manhattans every time. 79 Crosby St, New York. +1 212 226 6400.

For a great value room a few blocks away, check in to the Sheraton Tribeca, the brand’s most modern hotel in the city and one that features a terrace with views up Manhattan. Book a Tribeca suite for extra space. 370 Canal St, New York. +1 212 966 3400.

West Village/Chelsea/Meatpacking

Take a walk above the traffic on the High Line, a former elevated train line that’s been converted into a linear park and walk that stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District right up to West 34th Street.

Along the way, stop into the Chelsea Market, which is located in a building once served by trains on the High Line. Here you’ll find over 35 purveyors of food, from wine to cheesecake, doughnuts and cheese. Best way to experience it is on a walk-around with Foods of NY Tours. 75 9th Ave, New York. +1 212 913 9964.

Also on the line, the Gagosian Gallery has a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition running until April 6 that’s a must see. Expect other top exhibits throughout the year. 555 W 24th St, New York. +1 212 741 1111.

It’s American fare and Aussie flair at Kingswood in the West Village, where mussels and burgers go hand-in-hand with Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. It’s owned by a group of Aussies that have generated a cult following in the city. 121 W 10th St, New York. +1 212 645 0018.

It’s worth the half-hour wait for a table at Café Gitane in the lobby of the affordably hip Jane Hotel. This was a favourite for the late Philip Seymour Hoffman who would slip into this spot for salads, burgers, croissants and sandwiches, French-style. 113 Jane St, New York. +1 212 255 4113.

Upstairs at the Jane Hotel, bunk rooms start from $122 per night and both WiFi and bicycle hire are free. 113 Jane St, New York. +1 212 924 6700.

The rooms are triple the price at the Standard High Line hotel, one of the most hyped and fashionable hotels in the city. There’s an ice rink during winter, the city’s best beer garden (Biergarten) year-round and a rooftop bar and creperie. 848 Washington St, New York. +1 212 645 4646.

Flatiron District

Forget the outlet malls at Woodbury Common and go shopping at Nordstrom Rack, the outlet shop of the famous department store where you’ll find, amongst many big brand bargains, For All Mankind jeans at a third of the cost. 60 E 14th St, New York. +1 212 220 2080.

Bookworms will be in heaven at the Strand Book Store, home to 18 miles of new, used and rare books spanning every topic imaginable. 828 Broadway, New York. +1 212 473 1452.

The sandwiches and wraps hit the spot every time at the Coffee Shop in Union Square. It’s ideal for brunch – order the California wrap or BBQ chicken sandwich – or a late night snack (it’s open 23 hours). 29 Union Sq W, New York. +1 212 243 7969.

At the Gramercy Tavern, it’s fine dining with a fresh seasonal twist and expect top East Coast fare (Katama Bay oysters? Yes please) alongside an impressive wine list that features Californian and Oregonian drops. 42 E 20th St, New York. +1 212 477 0777.

The W New York Union Square might be one of the oldest W hotels in the world, but it’s still our favourite thanks to its location, recently remodelled designer rooms, lobby bar and impeccable service. 201 Park Ave S, New York. +1 212 253 9119.

A few blocks up, a top nights’ sleep is also to be had at the Gansevoort Park, a hotel that’s known for its hip, oversized rooms, and its rooftop, which features the best poolside bar north of Union Square. 420 Park Ave South, New York. +1 212 317 2900.

Midtown/Theatre District

For views across Central Park and right across Manhattan don’t go to the top of the Empire State Building, but look at that architecture marvel, and tens of others, from the Top of the Rock – the roof of the Rockefeller Centre. 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York. +1 212 698 2000.

The cheapest way to see the Top of the Rock and five other attractions is with a City Pass, which is great value at USD$109 for adults and kids for $82.

Use your City Pass to visit MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art), one of the world’s greatest collections of modern Western masterpieces that include works from Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Monet, and Cézanne. 11 W 53 St, New York. +1 212 708 9400.

They might not be in Midtown, but grab a 4, 5 or 6 train up to 86 Street and visit the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After you take in the Met, hit the rooftop bar for sundowners overlooking Central Park and the apartment buildings lining it in sunset glory. 1000 5th Ave, New York. +1 212 535 7710.

For a caffeine fix, you won’t find a better coffee anywhere in Manhattan than at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the lobby of the affordably cool Ace Hotel. 20 West 29th St, New York. +1 212 679 2222.

Broadway musical capturing the attention at the moment are Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys and the Lion King. For reviews and tickets, check out the Time Out New York website.

Fresh from an overhaul, the Novotel New York Times Square has brought bang-for-buck value to Midtown and the Theatre District. The hotel has a restaurant and terrace bar (Supernova), which offers a unique view of the action down in of Times Square and modern rooms that are comfortable for a week-long visit. 226 W 52nd St, New York. +1 212 315 0100.

Getting there

Qantas flies daily to New York via Los Angeles. Onboard, expect top Australian wine, food by Neil Perry, great service and hours of entertainment across all three cabins on the Boeing 747-400s that operate on the route. Qantas operates its own aircraft from LA to NY, and that means top quality service and comfort all the way to the Big Apple.

First published on 10 Feb 2014. Updated on 7 Apr 2014.

By James Wilkinson   |  
 

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