Iconic suspension bridge has an upper level promenade for pedestrians and cyclists. The views are second-to-none, and are best observed early morning or after midnight, when you can have a little peace and quiet. The bridge empties out in Dumbo. Stroll down to Empire Fulton-Ferry State Park, a wide and grassy knoll level with the East River.
The gallery district generally stretches from West 20th to West 28th Street, between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues, making it very easy to hop from one reclaimed industrial building to another. Galleries coordinate exhibition openings Thursday evenings; Barbara Gladstone, Andrea Rosen, David Zwirner, Marian Goodman, Paula Cooper, Pace, and Danziger Projects are the biggies not-to-miss.
The historic neighborhood north of Central Park has rows of brownstone buildings, jazz landmarks, destination restaurants, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Apollo Theater. Morningside Heights is home to Columbia University and its campus charms. St. John the Divine Cathedral has beautiful grounds and hosts interesting performances (along with regular service). Weekends are for strolling, shopping African markets, and people-watching churchgoers in their Sunday Best.
It's an impressive repurposing of space: The long defunct elevated railway on lower Manhattan's west side is now a beautiful bustling promenade and garden soaring high above the streets of NY. From April through November, stargazing enthusiasts set up telescopes every Tuesday night.
On a quiet cobblestone street wedged between Chinatown and Tribeca, a small elevator shaft has been transformed into a "modern natural history museum" dedicated to one topic at a time, and able to fit about one or two visitors at a time. Past exhibitions have included toothpaste tubes from around the world, things found in copying machines, and objects made by prisoners for prisoners. A teenie, tiny "gift shop" serves espressos and sells small branded items (pens, pins).
Wildly influential house of modern and contemporary art. Go on Friday evening, when admission is free (4-8 p.m.). Follow up with cocktails and dinner at the design-minded (award-winning) restaurant, The Modern.
Between the lions exists a Beaux-Arts oasis of quiet calm where you can catch up on e-mails, marvel at the original Guttenberg Bible, and peruse literary exhibitions. Take a breather or a quick cat nap in the Rose Reading Room. A free one-hour tour happens Thursdays at 2 p.m. (meet at reception).
The soaring Seventh Regiment Armory, with all its Gothic architecture and period details, operates as a not-for-profit enabling artists to post unconventional artwork and performances that are not suited to traditional museums and theaters. Highlights have included a residency with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Robert Wilson's powerful staging with Marina Abramovic, and Ann Hamilton's enormous, dream-like swing set.
A quiet, bucolic stretch of green (canopy of trees, tidy gardens, mint-condition asphalt) sandwiched between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive. Waterfront views, and urban New England feel.
A bounty of food, flower, and provision stalls from local purveyors. Chef sightings are highly probable. Happens Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
A longtime gathering spot for all things counter-cultural, today's park benches and giant fountain are filled with NYU students, chess players, street performers, folk singers, skateboarders, and downtown locals looking to hang out, make friends, and people watch.