What do you get when you ask a bunch of Mississippians turned New Yorkers to share their travel tips for the city that never sleeps? The best guide to the Big Apple ever. Their answers will have you singing “New York, New York” in no time.
Vicki and Ron Carter
Age: Both are 69 years old
From: Vicki grew up in Tupelo and Ron grew up in Ellisville. Both are graduates of the University of Southern Mississippi.
Jobs: Retired. Vicki was a musician in the theatre. Ron retired from a career as an executive coach and management consultant.
Currently resides: We moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1977 and lived there until 1990 when we moved to Maplewood, New Jersey, which is a 30-minute train ride to Penn Station in New York City. We now live in a high rise in East Orange, NJ with fabulous views of NYC.
What is your favorite show currently on Broadway?
What is your favorite restaurant for dinner in the city?
Vicki: Casa Noona, for happy hour and a meal
Ron: Happy hour at Casa Noona (310 West 38th Street)
Which tourist attraction is actually worth going to?
Vicki: Walk the High Line from the top to the Whitney Museum, with a stop at Chelsea Market.
Ron: Horse Carriage Ride in Central Park (The Carousel in the park) and The High Line.
What tips would you give someone traveling to NYC for the first time?
Vicki: In the Theatre District, walk west to 8th or 9th Avenues for the best restaurants. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Ron: Get a guide book. Take a hop off, hop on bus tour on your first or second day.
What do you love the most about NYC?
Vicki: The entire world comes together on this small island
in terms of restaurants, neighborhoods and art.
Ron: The variety of food choices.
Favorite season in NYC and why?
Vicki: Spring as there is so much energy after any long, cold
and dark winter. The trees are beginning to burst with color and there is a spring in everyone’s steps.
Ron: Autumn, for cooler temps and foliage
A couple of other tips from the Carters: Try seeing something in Queens or Brooklyn. Check the walking tours in New York Magazine and try one.
From: Olive Branch
Job: Intern Architect at Gensler New York
Currently resides: Ridgewood, Queens, and has lived in New York for about two years.
What is your favorite neighborhood/borough/area to explore and why? My favorite borough is Manhattan, but I live in Queens and appreciate the separation and contrasting scale of work and home. Chelsea, West Village, and Greenwich Village are my favorite areas to explore because of all of the quaint homes and shops; it does feel very village-like. It’s a different atmosphere from the rest of Manhattan. When someone visits me I always take them to Chelsea to the Whitney Museum on a Friday night (free!) to see a beautiful rooftop view of the city and to walk the High Line. Then, we cap off the day by eating tacos at Chelsea Market.
What is your favorite place to grab brunch with friends? Soco in Brooklyn. A group of fellow friends and creatives here from Mississippi meet quarterly for what has become known as “Mississippi in NYC” brunch. I’m constantly searching for anything that reminds me of home, whether it be food or atmosphere. Soco sells red velvet waffles with chicken! Home, for me, is soul food and fellowship and here you get both.
Which tourist attraction is actually worth going to? Central Park. There’s this beautiful moment when you’re walking through a cluster of buildings that block out the sun and you get to 59th Street, and the sky opens up, and suddenly, there are no more buildings and you see Central Park. Inside the park, it almost feels like you’re somewhere else if not for the views of the far away buildings that surround the 840-acre park on all four sides. It was the best planning move of all time.
What is the best off-the-beaten path activity for someone visiting NYC? The Brooklyn Bridge Park near DUMBO. It’s a beautiful park in the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO area that I don’t feel a lot of first-time visitors make it to. There are trails, activity courts, a carousel, piers and the best view of the Manhattan skyline. You can also enter the Brooklyn Bridge nearby. It’s a nice and fresh area to take a walk.
What tips would you give someone traveling to NYC for the first time? Get a $31 seven-day unlimited subway pass if you’re staying 4+ days to save money. And plan time to explore and wander. If you only go to the top of one building, go to the top of Rockefeller Center to see Central Park and the Empire State Building. For soul food, try Sylvia’s in Harlem. For thick-cut bacon and pizza, eat at Roberta’s in Bushwick. For BBQ and atmosphere, try Hometown BBQ in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn or Fette Sau in Williamsburg. My absolute favorite wings are at Old Town Bar and Restaurant around Union Square in Manhattan. You might recognize it as the bar that’s often featured in “Gotham” and one of the oldest bars in NYC.
What is your favorite building in the city? The Chrysler Building. Its elegant Art Deco style stands out against the new, homogenous glass skyscrapers that are popping up around the city.
What do you love the most about NYC? I love the moments of serendipity that are unique to a place like New York. Every neighborhood is different. You could enter the subway from an area where the buildings tower over you and it feels like a typical, commercial downtown, and by the time you exit five blocks away, the buildings are only three stories and it feels almost residential. One minute it could be an ordinary day at work and the next, that changes. Once I looked out my window at work and James Corden was recording his latest skit with Zendaya, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman right outside of our office, which is across the street from the Late Show on Broadway. New York can be a hard place to live, but always after long streaks of bad weather or crowds, it surprises you, reminding you of what makes it like no other city, making you feel like anything is possible.
Kerry and Elizabeth Coke
Age: 61 and 24
Job: Kerry is the executive director, Global Management Strategies, Estée Lauder Companies; Elizabeth is receiving her master’s degree in integrated marketing
this month from New York University while working for Estée Lauder Companies, Travel Retail Worldwide
Currently resides: East Side, Midtown, NY
What is your favorite neighborhood to explore and why?
Kerry: SoHo. The streets have a quaint feel with great shops, both expected and some cool little boutiques. The Mac Bar is a must-visit with mac and cheese in all varieties.
Elizabeth: My favorite area to explore most recently has been SoHo. There is just something about those cobblestone streets in the middle of the concrete jungle that transport you. SoHo is filled with lots of unique restaurants from hole-in-the-walls to the bougie five-star Cipriani (Kim Kardashian’s fave Italian spot). The area is filled with beautiful architecture and just has an overall laid back vibe that I love.
What is your favorite restaurant in the city?
Kerry: BLT – the best steakhouse, right in our neighborhood. Amazing steak, salmon and of course, potatoes.
Elizabeth: I’m a major foodie, so narrowing it down to one spot is hard for me. It would probably have to be The Smith. It’s a classic, casual American Brasserie with multiple locations throughout the city, each with its own unique personality. There’s not one thing on the menu that isn’t delicious… and I say that with confidence because I’ve pretty much had it all!
Which tourist attraction is actually worth seeing?
Kerry: The 9/11 memorial. It’s a somber visit but really a must-see.
Elizabeth: There are two I always recommend, cheesecake at Junior’s in Time Square and Top of the Rock. Top of the Rock is always my recommendation instead of the Empire State Building for three reasons: it’s cheaper, the wait is shorter and the view is way more incredible. You can’t go wrong visiting during the day or at night.
What is the best off-the-beaten-path activity for someone visiting NYC?
Kerry: Explore the Upper West Side. Great everything! It’s a real New York neighborhood.
Elizabeth: If you come in the summer, it’s fun to go over to Brooklyn for Smorgasborg. It’s this outdoor food festival that pops up on the shore of the river every Saturday from about April until October depending on the weather. There are also lots of cool places to explore in Brooklyn, so if you have time it’s nice to get out of the big city where it’s a little more chill.
What tips would you give someone traveling to NYC for the first time?
Kerry: Do not leave the airport with one of the guys standing around saying, ‘Need a car?’ Take a taxi.
Elizabeth: See everything. Do everything. Eat everything. Wake up early and go to bed late, but don’t be sad when it’s time to leave and you still have not accomplished half of the things on your list, it just means you have to come back!
Best views in the city?
Kerry: So many – the High Line is a great walk with great views, or pick any rooftop bar for amazing nighttime views.
Elizabeth: To get a really incredible view I recommend going outside of the city to Westlight in Brooklyn. This rooftop bar has panoramic views of the city that are unreal. They will absolutely take your breath away at sunset.
What do you love most about NYC?
Kerry: I love this city. It’s easier to tell you what I don’t like – the subway.
Elizabeth: Honestly, I walk down the streets some days and feel like I’m in a movie. Like there is no way this is really my life, because I dreamt about it for so long. I love the energy of the city and the ability to be whoever and whatever I want. This place is filled with unique individuals who aren’t afraid to express themselves. There’s always something going on, somewhere new to explore and I thrive off of the hustle and bustle. There is just something about it that makes me feel alive, like I’m right where I’m supposed to be.