Pope Francis has a visit to New York City on his schedule. Do you? If you are planning such a trip or speculating or dreaming about such a journey, Lonely Planet’s Make My Day New York City offers an unusual way to sort out your choices and organize your days as you think about what you’d like to see.
Thinking about what people enjoy about electronic travel guides and how the best of those things might work in print, the folks at Lonely Planet came up with the idea of creating a series of city guidebooks s that are, physically, a bit like flipbooks — each book like three flipbooks in one, actually, one each with sites and activities for morning, afternoon, and evening. With the physical structure of the pages, you can flip through and choose any combinations of sites and activities you like and make a wide range of changing combinations.
What makes this work: each mini page, or card, if you will, has roughly seven well thought out and well designed elements: a photograph and a headline or tag line on the facing portion, and on the main page or card a short paragraph about why you’d want to see the attraction or do the activity along with contact information, hours, and the like; a mini (really mini) map to help you orient the attraction to the nearest cross streets and public transportation stop; icons that allow you to figure out ways to get to your next destination by foot, bus, subway; and a suggestion of one place to eat nearby.
In practice, for example, you might use the guide to choose to spend the morning hitting the highlights at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the afternoon exploring the food and shopping at Chelsea Market, and the evening taking in a performance at Lincoln Center, with the the basic details all laid out for you and right in your hand. Decide you’d rather spend the afternoon at Washington Square Park? Flip a few cards and you’ve made a change. Looking for inspiration for a return visit, or a selection of highlights for a first time visit? Flip things around and mix and match. As it’s in book form, this makes an easy way to share and discuss with your travel companions and to make notes, more readily than showing things on an electronic device.
It is a streamlined guidebook, and I was at first a bit skeptical as to how useful it could be given that. The thirty nine experiences featured are, though, true highlights. Some of them wouldn’t have been my choices, but they are varied and quintessential New York experiences, with both classics such as the Statue of Liberty and Central Park and things you may not have thought of such as the New York Public Library and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
There are several other features, including a few pages of advice on practical matters such as cash points/ATMs, subway fares and the like, a map at the beginning of the book to help you locate the attractions in relation to each other, and a larger pull out map at the back with a street index and details that will help you navigate the city. At the back of the book there are also several blank pages for your own notes.
Several of my favorites of Lonely Planet’s choices, aside from the Met and Lincoln Center, include Carnegie Hall, Central Park, and the New York Public Library. I was reminded that it has been far too long since I’ve visited the Brooklyn Museum, and that I might enjoy the street markets in Brooklyn while I’m there.
For those blank pages, here are several of my personal favorites that didn’t make it into Make My Day New York City:
In addition to Saint John the Divine, I enjoy visiting Saint Patrick’s. It’s often a quieter situation than Saint John’s though both are well worth your time to visit or attend services. Side note: Saint John’s is Episcopal, Saint Patrick’s is Roman Catholic.
Ireland and Irish music are a vibrant part of New York City’s present and past. The Irish Arts Center is a fine place to find out what’s going on in New York’s Irish community through arts, music, drama, talks…
The restaurant recommendations in Make My Day New York City range from pizza to Korean vegan to upscale French cuisine. One I’d add is Dallas Barbecue on the Upper East Side (there are other locations in the city too). The decor may be trying just a touch too hard to be Texan but the food is great, from ribs to salads to their justly famous onion loaf. With a good range of hot vegetables, salads, several vegetable based main dishes and that onion loaf those who do not eat meat will be happy too.
South Street Seaport Museum: New York is a harbor city, a port, a city connected to both river and ocean. This is a fine place to explore those connections and learn about the city’s seafaring history.
Speaking of the water, and the mighty Hudson River: take a day cruise on a ferry up to Bear Mountain. It’s a fine way to appreciate the river, the city, and the natural world that exists beyond the city streets.
Photographs of Lincoln Center, the Central Park Ramble, street vendors in Manhattan, and the Brookyn Bridge at evening are copyrighted by and used with permission from NYC & Company. Thank you for respecting copyright.
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