A Long Weekend in Chelsea, NYC
New York City
Food & Wine
I’ve lived in Manhattan for most of my adult life. NYC isn’t a place where you can come for 72 hours, or 1 week, or even a month, and see it all. You can, maybe, just scratch the surface after a few years. And then, just as you think you’ve seen it all, something new will pop up, and one of your old favorites will close. NYC is alive! The best way to get to know it, short of moving in, is to take a long weekend and get to know a neighborhood. Then do it again. This is how to meet Chelsea.
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Where to stay
The Standard, NYC
A trendsetting urban oasis in the heart of NYC, blending contemporary style, vibrant energy and impeccable hospitality for an unforgettable stay in the city that never sleeps.
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The High Line Hotel
Boutique property in a converted redbrick dormitory from 1865 with chic rooms and suites.
The Hotel Chelsea
An eccentric, historic stay once favored by Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and other New York luminaries.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Day 1: Check in, Dinner, Nightlife
Check in to a hotel with a story. I recommend the Chelsea Hotel, where Patti Smith lived with Robert Mapplethorpe and Arthur Miller wrote After the Fall. It’s the setting for countless film scenes and the namesake of songs by Leonard Cohen, Nico, and Graham Nash.
Or maybe stay at the Standard Hotel, which certainly sees its share of current celebrities. Your jaw will drop at the view from its floor to ceiling windows straddling the highline. If you look up at it from the highline, well, your jaw may drop as you find out what the locals think it's famous for.
If that’s a bit much for you, stay at the High Line Hotel, where the modern rooms are actually the converted dormitories of Episcopalean priests (and their bar is an homage to a famous 70’s psychic).
After dropping off your bags, take a walk east along 23rd St to where the Flatiron district meets Chelsea. Stop at Eataly on 23rd and 5th for coffee and a pastry (north east corner), or some lunch (Pizza type focaccia is south west, near the checkout.) If there are any foodies expecting souvenirs from your trip to NYC, this is where to pick them up. Eataly is a gourmet grocery store with open seating restaurants and bars sprinkled throughout.
Exit on the east side and when you look to your right, you’ll see the triangular Flatiron building, just below where 5th Avenue and Broadway meet. The building points at Madison Square Park, which is only 3 blocks long. Take a walk through and check out whatever public art is on display. You can grab a shake at the original Shake Shack, or gaze up at the clock on my favorite building in the whole city, The Metropolitan Life Tower. If it’s 5PM, run to it and grab a seat at the bar of Eleven Madison Park. It’s very hard to get a reservation for their 6 or 9 course vegan tasting menu (it’s 3 Michelin stars, so if you’re balking at the veganism part, get over it and just accept it -- it’s ah-mazing!) Hot tip: The host told me that if you get there right as the doors open, you can order a la carte with a cocktail at the bar.
What should you do that night? Check out Gotham Comedy Club, only a few doors east of the Chelsea Hotel. It’s definitely worth investigating their lineup as I’ve seen John Oliver, Jim Gaffigan, Questlove, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, and many other comics here. I once attended a show where Jerry Seinfeld stopped by unannounced to try out some new material! (Bringing the kids? They have an all ages show on a Sunday afternoon almost monthly.) It’s a two drink minimum, even at the kid’s show, but they do have a food menu from Jake’s next door.
Day 2: Head out to the High Line
Head out to the High Line. Once an abandoned elevated train track, it is now a lovely mile-and-almost-a-half pedestrian walkway. Entrances can be found between 9th and 10th avenues every two or three blocks in Chelsea. If you are interested in American art, go south to reach the Whitney Museum at Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District. (If you are there during the Biennial, do not miss it!) Go north to head out of Chelsea and into Hudson Yards. In either direction, you’ll find public art and sculpture among the carefully landscaped, yet seemingly wild, gardens. Some nights, you’ll find dancing or live music under the 14th St passage.
Fashionable high end shops and restaurants permeate the Meatpacking District’s cobblestone streets while Hudson Yards is a new development with a high end shopping mall and José Andrés’ Spanish version of Eataly, Little Spain (I love all the smoky food at Leña).
Enjoy a long lunch and then head to the galleries! While there are galleries popping up on the LES and in Chinatown, the early adopters left Soho in the early 90’s and found their homes between 10th Avenue and the West Side Highway, from 19th St to 25th St. If something catches your eye, just open the door, walk in, and check out the art. There is no fee to do this. You can take a guided tour (for which there is a fee) where you will learn about the most talked about pieces of the moment, or you can just drop by on your own. Be sure to visit the galleries that are not on the ground floors, too! (My personal favorites are the Gagosian, Dia Chelsea, Pace, and the David Zwirner galleries, though any of the galleries could have something amazing!)
For your evening’s entertainment - try Sid Gold’s Request Room. This is not your typical karaoke bar - you sing with live piano accompaniment! If you are lucky, Joe McGinty of Loser’s Lounge and the Psychedelic Furs will be at the keys that night. (I will warn you that they do see more than their fair share of really excellent vocalists.) If you’re too shy for that, check out some of our lovely speakeasies - Patent Pending and La Noxe are two of my favorites.
Day 3: Shopping
Is it the weekend? Early risers and collectors will love Chelsea Flea, which takes over a parking lot on 25th Street at 8AM, but only on Saturday and Sunday.
You could also take a walk over to Little Island, the overwater park on stilts whose pathways resemble a children’s board game. In summer, they have a full calendar of events happening each day, all day, from Drag Bingo and Poetry Readings to Hip Hop Dance Performances.
Then cross back into Chelsea and visit Chelsea Market. The building is home to our local news station, NY1, loads of yummy restaurants, and many great shops (whilst you’re there, be sure to check out Artist & Fleas - my favorite place to get gifts for every occasion). Chelsea Market, too, has an events calendar full of music, yoga, and kids activities. My absolute favorite time to be there is on Halloween when the place comes alive with stilt walkers, live creepy clowns, and kids from every neighborhood trick or treating!
Where to eat
La Bergamote - 177 Ninth Ave at 20th St. They make the best almond croissant on the planet. Or, choose another pastry (or eggs, or quiche, or croque monsieur -- you get the idea) at this French-owned patisserie.
Empire Diner - 210 Tenth Ave at 22nd St. This old-school, art-deco diner looks like it belongs in a movie, not in this neighborhood. Be sure to look up and check out the installment of Eduardo Kobra’s rainbow series featuring Warhol, Kahlo, Haring, and Basquiat above it.
If you haven’t gotten your fill from Eataly, Little Spain (they cook everything over embers at Leña, so yum!), or Chelsea Market, try Chop-Shop (245 10th Ave between 24th and 25th) for the perfect cucumber salad. If you’d like something more formal, Cookshop’s open kitchen never disappoints, and it’s THE go-to place for brunch.
Almost every place I’ve mentioned within will accommodate you for dinner - be sure to reserve, so you are not disappointed. If that’s not enough, try:
Tia Pol (205 Tenth Ave) - Actually, come here for happy hour and grab some fried chickpeas and a glass of sangria. Or their gin and tonic is so clovey and yummy.
Cosme (35 East 21st St.) - Ok, technically, it’s half a block outside of Chelsea, but this is just amazing Mexican food. Like the rest of NY, you’ll leave asking why they don’t have a star.
El Quijote (226 West 23rd St, under the Chelsea Hotel) - Because you want to sit at Andy’s regular table, or have dinner where Jimi Hendrix had one of his last meals in NYC.
Lastly, spend some time at the McKittrick Hotel. Preferably late at night, but Gallow Green is also a wonderful place for day drinking, just saying. Get tickets well in advance if you’d like to see a show.
Kids in Chelsea
Playgrounds: Northeast corner of Madison Square Park, Seal Park on 10th Ave at 22nd St, Chelsea Green on 20th between 6th and 7th, and there is a water playground on 11th and 23rd in summer.
Other Fun Stuff: Harry Potter Store on 5th Ave at 22nd St., There’s ice skating in a small rink in front of the Standard Hotel in winter, The Museum of Illusions on 8th Ave and 14th St., MoMath museum (this is actually super interactive and really cool - my family were members for years and hit it almost every rainy day for a while) on 26th across the north side of Madison Square Park, Gotham Comedy Club has a semi-monthly all ages show on a Sunday afternoon.
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