Big Lights, Big City,
Headed to New York sometime soon? Check out these spots to get a taste of what the city's really about.
There are a few sites in New York City that are definite must-see stops: The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park and, naturally, the Naked Cowboy, who can be spotted strumming his guitar in the middle of Times Square in nothing but his skivvies.
But New Yorkers — young, old, new, veterans and in between — know the reason their home is called "the city that never sleeps" is because some of the best spots require very little grandeur to make them a knockout find.
If Belinda Carlisle was right and "heaven is a place on Earth," then she must have had a cupcake or two from Sweet Revenge. Pairing imported wines and beers with artisan, internationally inspired cupcakes and savory cakes, the eatery offers delectable bites, like the Sweet Revenge signature cupcake, a peanut butter cake with ganache filling and peanut butter fudge frosting. Breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and a lighter fare savory menu are also available.
The High Line
The High Line is a 1-mile linear park built on a 1.45-mile section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line, which runs along the Lower West Side of Manhattan. The area has been redesigned as a home for wildflowers and features chairs for lounging and even naked hotel sightings at the Standard Hotel, which sits just in the middle of the aerial greenway. Guests at the hotel began putting on peep shows for park-goers when the High Line opened in 2009 by standing in front of the windows in nothing more than their birthday suits. The hotel has since discouraged the activity, but that hasn't stopped the occasional guest from breaking the rules.
The go, go, go nature of the city makes eating on the fly a must. So when food trucks began parking outside of various spots a few years ago, the trend immediately caught on. Not only could hungry folks grab a quick bit on their lunch breaks, but the mobile nature of the eateries made them an actual event, leading to tracking apps that had dumpling lovers yearning for Rickshaw Truck Thursdays, and those with a sweet tooth praying The Treats Truck would be stationed close by during the afternoon slump. Die-hard truck fans track their favorites by using apps, like TruxMap, to plug in their location and see what's close by.
Vegans and vegetarians have a number of eateries available to them throughout the city, but an all-time favorite is Candle Cafe, with two locations — one in Manhattan's Upper East Side and one in the Upper West Side. Sip on fresh juices and smoothies while waiting for your main course, which might include the restaurant's Tuscan lasagna or paradise casserole, a layered sweet potato, black bean, millet and steamed greens dish. Top off your meal with one of their desserts, like carrot cake with vanilla cream frosting or brownie cheesecake topped with chocolate sauce. The restaurant also offers several gluten-free options.
Known as the home to 18 miles of books, the Strand Book Store houses new, used, rare and out-of-print books in its Union Square home. The endless shelves of books, magazines, maps and more offer an oasis to book lovers and can easily turn into a several-hours-later adventure. Music and movie buffs will also discover great finds, and the Strand regularly hosts events like author readings and book signings.
Want to score Broadway tickets without breaking the bank? Check out one of TKTS' booths, located in Times Square, Downtown Brooklyn or the South Street Seaport, for discounted tickets. Offering tickets to musicals, plays and other events for up to 50 percent off, TKTS profits help support the Theatre Development Fund's services and programs.
More insider city news
Inside Austin's music scene
Bayou City: Houston's best-kept secrets
10 Things you must do in San Antonio
Photo credit: anouchka/iStockphoto, apigurt/iStockphoto