They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but it certainly has over the past year. The eerie emptiness makes sense given the current times, though as more people begin to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, the energy and frenetic pace are more than likely about to come roaring back with a vengeance (hell, even weed is legal now). So really, there’s no better time to take a staycation, which may very well be the key to preserving your mental health during what’s hopefully the near end of a pandemic that upended life as we once knew it. After all, spring is here, the cherry blossoms in Central Park are blooming, and there are plenty of ways to savor all there is to enjoy in a healthy and safe way. Here’s how to spend your time off if you’re craving a change of scenery, or just want to shake up your everyday work-from-home routine.
Where to Stay
With hundreds of hotels across five boroughs, there’s no shortage of places to book for a night (or two, or three). As you mull over the plethora of options, keep in mind location, price, and whether or not COVID-19 protocols are in place on-site. Deal-seekers should note that tons of properties are enticing visitors with promotions like free extra nights, spa treatments, and heavily discounted rates to fill rooms, so choose wisely.
The Rockaway Hotel
Newly opened and located right by the beach, The Rockaway Hotel is a solid choice if you’re seeking an escape that’s still accessible by subway or bus (i.e. far but not too far). Throughout the month of April, the hotel teamed up with East Hampton-based design company Destination Haus to launch a decorated bungalow replete with exclusive private dining, beachy décor, and a romantic, intimate picnic setup.
Price: From $230/night
The Standard, High Line
If The Standard still conjures up images of dancers in lit-up windows, or a scantily clad Michael Fassbender, for fans of the movie Shame, well, you’re right on point. The iconic property overlooking the High Line in the Meatpacking District is a downtown mainstay for a reason. Whether you’re noshing on a to-go pretzel from the Biergarten or catching a movie at its outdoor plaza, complete with a special menu, you’re in for some genuine fun.
Price: From $179/night
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
With a rooftop pool and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, the eco-conscious, nature-inspired urban oasis in Dumbo is the epitome of luxury, with an edge. Indulge in a moment of zen as you drink a handcrafted cocktail, or amble along the waterfront by Jane’s Carousel. The vibe is decidedly chill, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Price: From $515/night
Where to Eat
Best for Breakfast: The Smile
Kick off your morning at The Smile on Bond Street, where chef Melia Marden prepares healthy and not at all showy breakfast fare (think: Almond butter toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos). Either get the goods to go or grab a seat in the modest outdoor dining area.
Best for Lunch: Pastis
For lunch, Pastis offers incomparable people watching and one of the most COVID-friendly setups in the city, not to mention a great salade niçoise which pairs well with a glass of sauvignon blanc — remember, you’re on vacation!
Best for Variety: Chelsea Market
If you’d prefer a quick takeout option as opposed to a leisurely meal, Chelsea Market has just about everything you could imagine, from tacos to falafels, baos, and kimbap, and it’s all pretty darn delicious.
Best for Cocktails: Dante
Continue savoring the flavors of the city with an aperitivo at Dante nearby in the West Village. The legendary cafe is known for its cocktails, and we suggest its signature drink, the Garibaldi, made with Campari and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Best for Dinner: Anton’s
Come dinnertime, head over to Anton’s, situated on a charming street corner, for comforting dishes like bucatini pasta and bourbon pecan pie by candlelight.
Best for Tacos: Tacombi
A restaurant with multiple locations throughout NYC, Tacombi is a perfect destination for Mexican tacos and beers, plus vegetarian options. This Mexico City-style restaurant is also perfect for groups so long as you reserve ahead of time.
Best for Middle Eastern Cuisine: Qanoon Restaurant
Does Palestinian cheesecake or knafeh sound good to you? Of course it does. Your tastebuds will go on a Palestine-inspired journey with traditional dishes such as Kofta (meatballs baked with cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, and tahini sauce).
Best for Entertainment: City Winery
Close out your evening by visiting City Winery’s new location at Pier 57 — the outdoor deck perched over the Hudson is the ideal venue for a socially distanced glass of locally produced wine. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music too.
Best for Takeout: Saigon Social
Looking for comfort food? Saigon Social is a Vietnamese restaurant with the best combo of wings and garlic noodles around. If you’re in the Lower East Side and want to pick up takeout, this is the best place to grab some delicious comfort food.
What to Do
From biking across bridges to traversing parks, or museum hopping, options abound. The Whitney’s latest exhibition, Madeline Hollander: Flatwing, features video installations by the artist and choreographer that will surely hold your attention. Make sure to check out the roof for a drink before you leave, or stop by Untitled to order an oat-milk cappuccino. Bonus: Next month, the museum is developing a public art project with David Hammons in Hudson River Park, so you can soak up some culture away from the crowds on your way out. And if you prefer water-borne outings, we highly recommend one of Classic Harbor Line‘s sunset cruises to soak up the sights and history of the city.
Public Records, the music venue-slash-restaurant-slash-social space is worth the trek to Gowanus, if only for its vegan ramen nights in the outdoor garden against the backdrop of music spun by rotating DJs.
And if you can make the trip to Queens, Skyline Drive-In NYC, an outdoor theater on the East River, boasts a stunning view and roster of crowd-pleasing films, including Get Out, Clueless, and Sex and the City, to name just a few.
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