In the spirit of new beginnings, here’s a resolution you can finally keep: to get out and see everything you might have missed in New York City in 2015. While over 55 million visitors came to the Big Apple last year, there is so much to see, do, and eat that even the most ambitious tourist would have to be picky. For those that make a home in the city that never sleeps, it’s often difficult to break out of routine and see the city with the fresh eyes of a visitor. Whether you’re just stopping through or you’ve never left, we’ve compiled all the must-dos from 2015 for you to add to this year’s bucket list. While New York is widely known as one of the world’s most expensive and cutthroat cities, the healthy competition created by the constant turnover means that only the best businesses, exhibits, shows, and restaurants can afford to keep up with the demands of the bustling and discerning New York clientele. As a result, those that have made it through the year enter 2016 as the cream of the crop—time tested and trial-approved by the country’s most opinionated crowds, who have long been seen as determiners of global culture stemming out from New York. So, instead of starting a new diet or quitting a bad habit this New Year, we invite you to join us in a year of living, New York style, eating, wearing, seeing, and cheering for the best our city has to offer.
New York’s restaurant culture is among the best in the world—with globally renowned chefs constantly innovating their cuisine to keep up with the changing palettes of their customers. Three of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year were from New York City, including #5 ranked Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Avenue), where Chef Daniel Humm’s three Michelin stars contribute to a decadent and delicious menu. The beautiful restaurant is worth a visit, and the 11-course, 3.5 hour tasting menu is truly the experience of a lifetime. For a dining option that’s not as fancy but no less delightful, stop into Gramercy Tavern (42 E. 20th Street), which was honored with the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef in 2015. The food will still be fantastic, but some of the early hype might have died down enough to actually get a reservation in either the sophisticated dining room, or the swanky tavern itself. However, perhaps one of the most-hyped restaurant openings of the year, The Polo Bar (1 E. 55th Street) by Ralph Lauren caused quite a stir among more than just the culinary crowd. Located just around the corner from the flagship store, the designer’s first NYC restaurant has a similar exclusivity as other Manhattan socialite hotspots, and features many of the same aesthetic principles that have made Ralph Lauren famous. Like his brand, we are sure that the restaurant will become more accessible for the rest of us to get a reservation, while continuing to be a go-to for the celebrity clientele.
For a brand based in the pop culture scene, it’s natural that Eleven Paris (6 Prince Street) would seek retail space in New York, and its opening in Soho last year smartly translates the brand’s intentional designed contrast that combines a refined aesthetic and a fun-loving spirit to their collection. Why not embrace their mission of “feeling good in the city and your clothes” this year, by popping into their Prince Street location? With the highest concentration of its stores based in NYC, H&M (1328 Broadway) is no stranger to Manhattan, but the brand affirmed its place in the Big Apple with the construction of its monumental flagship in Herald Square last year. At 63,000 square feet, the store is the largest in the world, housing the traditional clothing offerings along with H&M Home, and a shoe department. The sheer variety alone makes it worth braving the Herald Square crowds to visit a true one-stop shop for affordable fashion for the whole family. Lastly, make sure even your basics get an elegant upgrade, by turning to Made-in-US brands like Velvet by Graham & Spencer (1133 Madison Avenue) tees. It’s no surprise that a collection designed and manufactured in Los Angeles would epitomize the city’s laidback and luxe vibe. The Manhattan store, placed on Madison Avenue in the heart of the Upper East Side, channels the clean beachy vibe of California with a light wood interior and organized racks.
The 2015 Tonys were a tight race, with Fun Home going neck-to-neck with American in Paris for Best Musical. Fun Home won out in the end, making history as the first Broadway show with a lesbian protagonist. All of the principle cast were also nominated, with one taking home Best Actor. The superbly acted, creative and funny show tells the story of the protagonist’s unique childhood, as she grapples not only with her own sexual orientation, but also with her father’s. Quirky, sweet, and entertaining, it is definitely worth a see! A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime didn’t just take home Best Play, but swept 4 additional Tony Awards as well, making it the most awarded play of the year. Inspired by the best-selling novel, the play follows the story of Christopher, a highly intelligent 15-year-old who struggles to understand and interpret social interactions. With rave reviews from the New York Times and other renowned critics, you must go see for yourself why they are calling it a theatrical phenomenon. Though it premiered on Broadway in 1951, The King and I’s successful revival last year demonstrated its sustaining relevance. The plot follows a Siamese dictator struggling to come to terms with Western influences and a confident woman unafraid of speaking her mind. The director felt as though the juxtaposition of serious questions and delightful performances made it an excellent choice for contemporary audiences.
It’s a good time to be a hockey fan in New York City. The Rangers closed out 2015 with an exciting Playoffs Run, which culminated in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Certainly, being so close to the cup will only make the competition fiercer this year. Meanwhile, the Islanders have fresh ice, and are currently in their inaugural season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Head over to the state-of-the-art facility to see if the upgrade from Nassau Coliseum holds the same luck! Although the New York Knicks endured a tough season, the year was interspersed with some bright spots on the NYC basketball scene. NYC was chosen to host the All Star Game at Madison Square Garden, and the festivities of the weekend continued at the Brooklyn Net’s home arena, the Barclays Center. While Carmelo Anthony left the Knicks with a season-ending knee injury, his surgery allowed him to enter training camp this year fully recovered and injury-free. No matter the outcome of the game, a visit to a Knicks game is still a New York must-do, and the courtside seats still attract the brightest starts from Hollywood to the NFL.
New Attraction Openings
Fourteen years after 9/11, Ground Zero has been rebuilt to host the One World Observatory, which opened last year atop the 104-story skyscraper on the former site of the Twin Towers. At 1,776 feet, the building is the nation’s tallest, providing an incredible view extending 50 miles past the skyline of the city. Visitors can see all five boroughs, as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On a clear day, the perspective offers one of the most stunning views of NYC from above. The center has become a magnet for visitors from around the world, offering not only a unique view of the city, but also serving as a symbol of the pride and resilience of New York. On a lighter note, the SNL 40th anniversary show was one of the year’s most watched television events, but the rich history of the beloved comedy show extends far beyond the special. For those who might never get to sit in the coveted audience seats, an SNL exhibition opened last year, packed with SNL memorabilia, history, and even original sets from famous skits. This is your chance to take a selfie from behind the Weekend Update desk, hop on the Wayne’s World couch, and interact with a variety of other props and costumes. Also, if you brave the crowds at Times Square, the Discovery Times Square’s unique interactive exhibits are certainly worth the visit. For Hunger Games fans, the opportunity to sit behind the Gamemaker’s table is irresistible. Visitors can make their own propaganda videos, learn fight stances and, via the magic of a green-screen, take their own twirl through a chariot parade around the Capitol. For other iconic film fans, the Star Wars exhibit showcases an array of famous costumes, as well as interviews with creative professionals from the film creation process. Lastly, The New York Times called the new Whitney Museum a “cultural anchor” at the base of the High Line, where 63,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor galleries allow the museum to customize their expanding gallery needs in a modern, industrial site. The dramatic architecture complements the contemporary Meatpacking neighborhood, and furnishes entertainment and awe for even the most museum-reluctant visitor.
(Photo Credit: One World Observatory)