Every year, I haul out my old, ripped-in-half, marked-up map of New York and follow a pretty little path of inspiration that starts in midtown Manhattan, where I always seem to stay, and takes me past bakeries and pumpkins, libraries and parks, and shop windows filled with tinsel.
First stop: The New York Public Library, to say hello to the lions. (If you’ve never been in, go inside, and read poems in the Rose Reading Room.)
You could, if you wanted, have a Magnolia Bakery cupcake for breakfast along the way. I might have done that once. Or twice.
Then duck into MJ Trim, the ribbon/button/nailhead/rhinestone extravaganza.
Around the corner, my beloved Tinsel Trading Co., home of Wendy Addison glittered glories and vintage ribbons galore. This is my favorite store in New York, bar none.
(And don’t forget to peek into the window of the flower shop next door: pumpkins!)
From there, walk a straight shot down Fifth Avenue to Eataly! (which requires an explanation point, and well-rehearsed elbows, and a big appetite, and patience to endure). But Mario Batali’s food emporium is an incredible experience. This was Cindy’s favorite thing we did in New York. Share a sandwich from the panini bar, if you’re hungry, but save room for lunch a few blocks away. Also: Gelato. You must.
Even the tonic water at Eataly is pretty and posh.
Say hello to the Flatiron Building (and admire the rotating art exhibit in the front window).
Continue down Broadway to Fish’s Eddy, my second favorite store in New York. They sell sassy dishes and Alice in Wonderland glassware and vintage glove molds — think little pieces of heaven. My box should arrive any day. They ship. (This, you will find, is important.)
ABC Carpet and Home is across the street. SEVEN floors. You could spend seven hours. I love to window shop on the first floor. Don’t forget to look up and admire the dizzying chandeliers.
Continue down Broadway to Union Square, where on most days, there will be a Farmer’s Market and pumpkins galore. If you go in the fall, make sure to buy tastes of freshly pressed apple cider, and concord grapes — which taste like no other grapes on earth.
Laugh at the signs.
Wish to be at home in New York, so you could make dinner from the farmers market bounty.
Hungry? (Try to be.) I love to share gnocchi and a salad with a girlfriend for lunch at the Union Square Cafe — which is The Barefoot Contessa’s favorite restaurant in New York. Have dessert and think of all the walking you”ve done today. (Also nearby: City Bakery, for a pretzel croissant to save for later.)
Bookworms: walk two more blocks down Broadway to The Strand. Climb up on a ladder and think about all the ideas and gorgeous sentences on each shelf. Buy a book about New York — E.B. White, perhaps.
From here, you can continue to Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park, and SOHO — like Marni and I did last year, or walk back to the Union Square Subway Station and ride the train to the Brooklyn Bridge, like Cindy and I did this year.
To me, walking that bridge feels like strolling down the infinite center of a perspective drawing.
New York does that to a girl.