A) it’s too loud, smelly, overwhelming, gritty, and stressful
B) it’s exhausting, expensive, and yes, once more please, expensive
C) it’s dirty, you feel like you’ll get run over by a car at any minute, and the people are always angry
I get it. Granted, I’m in New York City on average twice a week, but I absolutely get it. However, I’m also going to do my best to change your mind. New York City cannot and should not be surmised entirely in negatives. Yes, like many other urban areas, there is a lot going on. (All the time). And while that can be taxing on the fragile cozy soul of the Sarah Lawrence student, I would encourage that same person to pursue the safe spaces New York City has to offer. The reward is infinitely worth it. The following is a list of spaces for those of us who are potential escapists, hermits, or otherwise delicate.
1). Natural History Museum
- From Grand Central take the shuttle to Times Square, and then the C to 81st/Natural History Museum.
- Once there, please take note of the newly renovated North American Wildlife Wing before entering the Hall of Biodiversity. There is a white adorable Snowy Owl (identical twin of Hedwig) replica perched just outside, who deserves to be admired. While listening to The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky, lie down on the dance floor-esque centerpiece in the Hall of Marine Life. You will be surrounded by couples from many different walks of life doing the very same thing. Suspended gracefully above you is a life-size blue whale, complete with rays of sunshine gently streaking through an ocean waves simulation coming from the windowed ceiling of this atrium. It’s peaceful, it’s pretty, and you’re surrounded by gorgeous renditions of the world’s most precious species. Best for a cloudy, cold day.
2). Spring Street
- On a warmer day that’s just a tad too cold for a stroll, head from Grand Central on the 6 train downtown to Spring Street.
- Best just before 11 am, turn on Local Natives’ new album Hummingbird and grab yourself a strawberries, butter, and sugar crepe from Vive la crêpe. Yes, it’s always pretty busy–but if you can handle the wait, your taste buds will sincerely thank you. About a three-minute walk away is The Evolution Store. Get there just as they’re opening at 11, and you should have the place to yourself. Upon entering, be prepared to be mystified. Endless collections of rare framed butterflies, pre-war German educational posters, and an impressive collection of creatures you weren’t sure existed await you. Check out more about Vive la crêpe and The Evolution Store here: http://www.vivelacrepe.fr/ http://theevolutionstore.com/
3). Bien Cuit
- From Grand Central take the Shuttle to Times Square and transfer to the downtown 1 train. Just a minute down the street, you’ll find Bien Cuit, a small and quiet but very authentic and beautifully decorated French cafè and bakery.
- Best at mid afternoon, between 2-4 pm, their slowest hours. While listening to Novö Piano by Maxence Cyrin, go for their fresh miniature baguettes and hot White Ginger Pear tea, simultaneously the best and cheapest things on the menu. Or, if you’re feeling both adventurous and fancy, the Maple Yam Danish will quickly become your go-to pastry. Make sure to appreciate the hand-made tables and chairs, and bask in the sunlight from the huge bay windows. Don’t forget to get a seat facing the outdoors, which conveniently looks onto the fantastically cobblestoned Christopher Street. Expect excellent people watching. Best for a sunny but chilly day with a good book. Check out more about Bien Cuit here: http://biencuit.com/
4). Pier 57, High Line
- If there’s not a cloud in the sky, take the Shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square camera in hand. Going downtown on the 1 train, get off at 14th street, transfer to the L and get off at 14th St/8 Av.
- About a 5 minute walk away will be pier 57, so turn on The Shins radio on your Pandora app. Be prepared for historic architecture, a cool breeze off of the Hudson, and a cityscape that will make you smile. From there, only a few blocks away is the High Line. Designed to be walked from one end to the other, make sure to appreciate the landscaping, most of which has occurred naturally over time. Take a minute, stop at one of the gelato stands, rest on one of the reclaimed wood benches, and know that New York City is much more than just smelly and expensive. Check out more about Pier 57 and the High Line here: http://pier-57.com/ http://www.thehighline.org/