Midtown, NYC covers a lot of ground. There are distinctions, of course–in my mind, what I include as parts of Midtown are probably more appropriately called Murray Hill, Lenox Hill, Hudson Yards (this is new) etc. It’s good to have those neighborhood lines, especially when we all have maps on our phones. But it all still feels a little nebulous to me. I find it’s best to have a destination in mind to navigate it…like one of the below!
Do, west Midtown: The Vessel, 20 Hudson Yards.
Climb this structure while you still can–it’s free and open ‘til 9 p.m., but once the 15 million dollar apartments surrounding it start selling, I can’t imagine that will all stay the same. (Though, to be fair, the Highline has stayed free and open, so perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic).
As mentioned, tickets are free, though not without a catch: they come with an assigned entry time, and one doesn’t necessarily get to pick what that is. The stairs aren’t as bad as they look, and there is an elevator.
Service: Haircut, Carsten Institute of Cosmetology, 290 Madison Avenue 5th Floor
$22 a haircut. Yes, it’s done by a student. Yes, it may take a little longer than usual, because their teacher needs to sign off on literally every snip of hair they take. But I was able to describe the exact bangs I wanted, and they took into account that my hair would be worn both straight and curly. I haven’t been this pleased about a haircut in awhile.
Bring cash for the tip, and…yes, tip your stylist.
Drink: The Shakespeare at The William Hotel, 24 E 39th St (39th and Madison)
The vibe is casual, but it’s still cute and cozy enough to make this pub/restaurant below the The William Hotel a worthy dinner destination for friends, family and dates. The pub only has two tables in the corner, but there’s additional wall seating across from the bar. Be warned: the happy hour (4-7, $5 drafts and $7 wines) gets very busy, starting around 4 p.m.
Dinner is also an excellent choice—the dining room is well-decorated and adorable. The cocktails were nicely-made and food delicious, but what I’ve really remembered is the sticky toffee pudding. I’d go for just that, honestly.
Fun fact: The William also houses the uptown Raines Law Room, a place that’s been on my to-go list for ages…yet The Shakespeare always wins.
Drink, option two: Junction, 329 Lexington Avenue (39th and Lexington)
Upscale dive bar with surprisingly excellent margaritas.
I was trying to meet my cousin at The Shakespeare on a Friday at 4:30 p.m. for a life catch-up…but alas, it was a little too happening. We walked around the corner to Junction, and spent a lovely time tucked into a corner, until it also got too happening. (Friday in NYC…this former restaurant hostess should know better). Still, I very much enjoyed my pink Junction Margarita (it has guava, and is $8 during happy hour), and will be back next time I’m in the area and need a good bar.
Caffeinate: Lucid Cafe, 311 Lexington Avenue (corner of 38th and Lexington)
It’s a tiny place, and their prices are par-for-the-NYC-course, but I’ve also had the best matcha lattes here. Their coffee is pretty good (not a coffee drinker), and I seem to remember enjoying the pastries.