You can see New York City, or you can see New York City, which is done best with a splash. So, whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, romantic date or just a wonderful weeknight, these iconic Big Apple activities are worth the splurge and then some.
Have brunch at the Rainbow Room
Any true New Yorker knows that brunch is the most important meal of the day. The legendary Rainbow Room has the most lavish spread you will find in the city; we’re talking a Greek yogurt parfait station, fresh-pressed juices, a raw seafood bar, pancakes and crêpes on demand, tropical fruits and a carved-to-order bacon station.
You can also order from the à la carte menu, which features indulgences like the lobster bérnaise Benedict and the Lugar omelet, which is filled with pieces of dry-aged New York strip steak. Pace yourself, though, because you will need to save room for the dessert bar.
You’ll dine on all of this alongside extravagant décor like the famous oversized chandelier and crystal curtains, and don’t even get us started on the live jazz band and the sweeping views spanning from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty.
Listen to live music at Café Carlyle
Café Carlyle is a supper club reminiscent of New York’s Golden Age that will transport you to yesteryear for a timeless night out on the town. Cozy banquettes line walls that are covered in murals by famed artist Marcel Vertès.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel‘s restaurant is the premier destination for cabaret. Celebrated artists from Judy Collins to Sutton Foster have belted out standards like “My Way” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” here. Woody Allen even rocks out regularly with the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band on Monday nights (now through June 19).
Splurge for premium seating and enjoy a sophisticated evening among other well-heeled guests with quality music taste. Upcoming headliners include Suzanne Vega (through March 25) and John O’Hurley (March 28 to April 8).
Gaze at the Times Square lights from above
The frenetic energy of Times Square is amazing — until it’s not. For a more refined visit, enjoy the crowds from a safe distance. Perched high above the billboards and naked cowboys sits The View Restaurant and Lounge — the city’s only revolving dining establishment. Unsurprisingly, it offers some of the best panoramic views in town.
Over the course of an hour, you’ll slowly rotate an entire 360 degrees, so you can take in all of the sites that the city has to offer (including the Chrysler Building). Have drinks on the 48th floor at The View Lounge, or for a more formal dining experience, reserve a table at The View Restaurant. We recommend ordering The View Fizz cocktail and the killer crab cake appetizer.
Sip afternoon Tea at The Plaza, A Fairmont Managed Hotel
Put your pinkie up and treat yourself to the most celebrated afternoon tea in New York City at Four-Star The Plaza. The elegance of old Gotham is alive and well in the landmark hotel’s The Palm Court, which exudes a contemporary luxuriousness that would gain even Jay Gatsby’s approval.
You can sip 25 varieties of Palais des Thés as well as nibble on high-tea staples like freshly baked scones and crustless sandwiches. There are literature-inspired cocktails to sample as well. You can even bring the kids, who will delight in a fabulous Eloise-themed experience featuring a child-friendly menu and the ever-popular peppermint cotton candy.
Visit the Metropolitan Opera House
The Met stages over 200 operas each season that feature some of the world’s finest performers on perhaps the world’s greatest stage. Beyond bold showings like Aida (through April 20) and Cyrano de Bergerac (May 2 to 13), true enthusiasts can also take a backstage tour to see dressing rooms and really feel the behind-the-scenes magic. Enter through the dramatic entryway, and don’t forget to savor the Marc Chagall murals in the lobby.
Do dinner and a Broadway show
Snagging tickets to see a big-budget Broadway spectacle is a New York must. Thanks to some fellow named Alexander Hamilton, Broadway theater is more popular than ever right now. In order to procure seats to this season’s hottest shows, of course, you’ll have to plan ahead.
However, if you are staying in the right hotels (and money is no object), the concierges at Five-Star gems The Peninsula New York and Four Seasons Hotel New York have the right connections to snag hard-to-get seats for you.
Stop by Four-Star The Lambs Club for a pre-show dinner or for a delicious weekend brunch that features live tunes. Or pop by Blue Bar at The Algonquin Hotel for a nightcap. This lounge earned its colorful image after actor John Barrymore convinced the general manager that “one looks most attractive under blue lighting.” Some of Blue Bar’s other famous patrons include Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Ella Fitzgerald and Maya Angelou.
See all that downtown has to offer
Visit One World Observatory, located on the three highest floors of the World Trade Center. Express elevators transport you to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere in less than 60 seconds for heart-stopping views. Spend extra for the priority tickets, which grant VIP entry, allow you to bypass the general admission line and offer a few extra minutes for photos before the crowds descend.
Round out your VIP experience with a stop less than a mile away at the new Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. Cozy up in the hotel’s large and lavish Royal Suite, which includes butler service and round-trip private helicopter transfers to the airport. Share the wealth of square footage with friends by hosting a dinner party for up to 10 guests in the palatial space.
Take a private luxury yacht tour
Ironically, one of our favorite ways to enjoy New York City is by actually leaving it. Climb aboard a luxury yacht from a company like Hornblower Cruises and take a step away from Manhattan’s hustle and bustle. Enjoy the city’s breathtaking skyline as you relax, sip champagne and cruise past the Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Hornblower offers champagne brunch outings, sightseeing tours and even themed rides such as the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour or Rock the Yacht excursion.