Recently my nephew from Colorado (a soon-to-be-senior in high school), was in town with college apps on the brain and was eager to see NYU, so I immediately set up a tour. I was so impressed with the two-hour overview of all the school has to offer, I found myself feelin’ ready to go back to school myself. Fortunately, I brought my tweenager along, hoping it might plant a seed for the future and I dare say, it did!
In the first hour, the group meets at the gateless Washington Square campus. After watching a short film, one of the admissions officers offers a very interesting information session (I did not know that NYU was founded in 1831 and that there are two other global locations one can study: Abu Dhabi and Shanghai). In the second hour, the room is broken into groups and each is led by a student guide who can answer just about anything first hand, including, “Where should we go after the tour?” If you’ve got a few hours to kill, here are a few places you won’t want to miss – that is, after you’ve stopped into the NYU bookstore for a t-shirt, magnet or coffee mug (and used the 10% discount coupon you received from the tour).
1. Washington Square Park – this Greenwich Village resting spot (named after George Washington) is really the heart and soul of the NYU campus and its infamous arch is also an iconic symbol of the school. The park serves as a great place to escape the big city vibe, but is also a major meeting spot for students and nearby residents. Here you’ll find everything from a dog park, hard core chess player competitions and even a cemetery.
Washington Square Park – Corners of 5th Ave., Waverly Place, W. 4th Street and Macdougal St.
2. The Meatball Shop for lunch – From the crazy amazing meatball combinations (choices of hero sandwiches, sliders or even a meatball salad) to homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert, you will not leave this place hungry! Read up on the fascinating guys behind the meatball madness here!
The Meatball Shop – 64 Greenwich Ave – 212 982-7815
3. Magnolia Bakery – if you still have room after the meatballs and ice cream or simply want to see where Carrie Bradshaw indulged in one of their signature cupcakes, pop into this charming little bakery where it’s always tempting to buy a few tasty treats, even if it’s just for later. If the line is too long, make a note to try to stop into one of their other city locations, which are all newer and larger reproductions of this original spot.
Magnolia Bakery – 401 Bleecker St. 212 462-2572
4. Curious Candy – this is the downtown location of designer Cynthia Rowley’s unusual candy store where cotton candy is homemade on site (there’s even a champagne flavor) and you can buy dishes and silverware that are actually edible! This shop is tiny, but as charming and unique as Edward Scissorhands and definitely worth checking out.
Curious Candy – 396 Bleecker St. 212 675-4710
5. Dyptique – Ever since I stumbled into Diptyque’s West Village store, I’ve been a fan. Upon first sight of the elegant 50+ year-old Parisian perfumer, my impulse was, ‘that place has to be expensive – keep on walking.’ I was immediately taken over by the 270 gorgeous hand-painted mirrors that line the walls as well as the beautiful steel chandelier of 100 miniature hanging votives. From the scents to the sights, this small space really is modern Parisian luxe with all the lavish (you know what I mean).
6. Goorin Bros. Hat Shop – You may not realize it right now, but if you stop into this amazing San Francisco-based hat shop, you will surely leave with one proudly on your head – be it a fedora, a flat cap, a cadet or a beanie, they’ve got every size (even for kids) for every gender. The company has been around since 1895 and the decor in this era-inspired store is sure to make you feel you’ve gone back in time.
337 Bleecker Street – 212 256-1895
7. Murray’s Cheese – ok, you don’t want to get me started on this place. I’ve gone to Murray’s for one-off cheese purchases, hostess gifts and classes, including the private tour of their specialty cheese caves (which you can read about here). And now, there’s an ever-so-tempting cafe next door, Murray’s Cheese Bar that features, you guessed it!
254 Bleecker Street 212 243-3289
8. Matt Umanov Guitars – if you’re into guitars, whether they’re new, used, acoustic, electric, basses, amps, effects, or accessories, you have to stop in to this vintage guitar shop that’s been around since 1965. The staff here really know their instruments and if they don’t have something you’re looking for, they’re overly helpful in trying to help you find it.
273 Bleecker Street 212 675-2157
9. Stumptown Coffee – I got turned on to this place at their Ace Hotel location and haven’t looked back at Starbucks since. Here, you’ll find the true meaning of the word barista as you enjoy perfectly brewed espressos and the like from freshly roasted beans, served by vintage-dressed baristas, always sporting dapper hats. I hear they have free coffee tastings at the brew bar at 2 pm every day. Stumptown Coffee – 30 W. 8th Street 347 414-7802
10. Flight Club – when my nephew first came to NYC there was only one store on his list that he had to see: Flight Club. This is an unbelievable sneaker emporium that is so low key I am sure I passed it a number of times without even realizing what was inside. The store (there is also one in LA) carries hundreds of shoes and specializes in rare, limited edition and unworn vintage sneakers, from Air Jordans to Adidas, ranging from $40 to $7,000. You’ll find some hard core shoppers inside and almost all of them are wearing sneakers of course!
Flight Club – 812 Broadway 888 937-8020
So, there you have it. Did all of that in a mere 4.5 hours (including the NYU tour). From the whole afternoon, there’s only one thing I can tell you for sure: you are guaranteed to find at least 10 more amazing things to do along the way!
Map of Washington Square Park