My NYC top 10: Dan Rookwood


By Dan Rookwood, US editor of Mr Porter

As told to Zach Udko | Photography by Alamy

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JULY 2017

Originally from London, Dan Rookwood moved to New York in 2014 to take on the role as US editor of Mr Porter. Here, he shares the highlights of his adopted hometown, from exploring Brooklyn – where he currently lives with his wife and twin daughters – to getting stuck into the oh-so-New-York craze of boutique fitness classes.

Smorgasburg

This open-air food fair takes place every Saturday right on the waterfront in Williamsburg. There are around 100 stalls selling delicious street food, from ramen burgers and tacos to grilled cheese and doughnuts. It’s a great way to taste the different flavours of New York. Get there when it opens at 11:00 to beat the crowds, especially if you have little ones. It can get very busy by mid-afternoon, with long queues for the most popular stalls.

Most people go for the Empire State Building because it is so iconic, but the observatory at the newly built One World Trade is exceptionally well done for both adults and kids

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

There are botanic gardens and there are botanic gardens – and Brooklyn’s is particularly beautiful. There’s something in bloom at all times of year, of course, but it is most famous for its cherry blossom in April. The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden makes for a very tranquil walk and they have fun educational activities for kids to get their hands dirty (if they so wish). The best entrance is right next to Brooklyn Museum, which is also well worth a visit while you’re there.

Watch Dan Rookwood’s local guide to NYC

  • Give in to your foodie cravings at Smorgasburg © Smorgasburg/John von Pamer.

    Weekend bites

    You can also enjoy Smorgasburg on Sundays (11:00-18:00) at Prospect Park – Breeze Hill.

    Discover NYC food markets
  • Take a stroll through the exquisite Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Liz Ligon.

    Brooklyn in bloom

    Why not take a guided tour of the gardens? Guides will show you the best parts and what’s currently in bloom.

    Discover New York
  • See the sights of the city from the water © Getty Images.

    On the wire

    When the weather gets very cold, the wires of Brooklyn Bridge contract raising it up by up to three inches.

    Find a hotel in NYC

East River Ferry

This is one of the cheapest ways to see the Manhattan skyline – the ferry costs just $4 a person and goes from Midtown down to Wall Street, stopping at Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Dumbo en route and passing under the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.

One World Trade Observatory

You’re going to want to go up a tall building when you’re in New York. Most people go for the Empire State Building because it is so iconic, but the observatory at the newly built One World Trade is exceptionally well done for both adults and kids. In my opinion, it has better 360-degree views, from the Statue of Liberty to the BMW (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges over the East River) to the Empire State Building in Midtown. It’s also very much worth spending some time of quiet reflection at the 9/11 Memorial and also walking through Oculus, New York’s insane-looking $4bn train station meets shopping mall.

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  • Cross the city by park on the innovative High Line © Alamy.

    Park life

    The High Line not only offers visitors a place to escape the rush of the city, but also hosts regular events and classes, from tai chi and meditation, to plant tours and stargazing. Fly from London to New York from:£489 pp

    Book flights

SoulCycle

You’ll see a lot of people wearing work out gear around town. Boutique fitness classes are all the rage and I would heartily recommend taking a SoulCycle spin class or a Barry’s Bootcamp class as a classically New York experience just to check out how good the trainers are. That level of frenzied enthusiasm needs an American accent – and you’ll get swept up in it.

Westlight Bar

Go for a drink at this rooftop bar atop the new William Vale hotel in Williamsburg. The view at night is the best view of any bar in New York – you can see the whole of the Manhattan skyline illuminated in front of you. It really takes your breath away.

Discover more of New York’s rooftop bars

  • Catch a Broadway show such as the award-winning Hamilton © Joan Marcus.

    Did you know…

    There are a total of 40 Broadway theatres, even though only four of them are actually located on Broadway.

    Explore NYC Theatre
  • Get your fill of tacos and Mexican cocktails at Williamsburg’s Café de la Esquina.

    Street corner Mexican

    Café de la Esquina opens seven days a week, Sunday to Wednesday (11:00-23:00) and Thursday to Saturday (11:00-00:00).

    Find New York cheap eats
  • Get in shape on your stay at Barry’s Bootcamp © Thomas Engstrom.

    Finishing line

    The first New York City Marathon in 1970 was held entirely in Central Park. These days, racers start in Staten Island but cross the finishing line in Central Park.

    Find free things to do

Café de La Esquina

I never liked Mexican cuisine until I came to New York, and now I can’t get enough. One of our favourite local spots for our regular Thursday date night is Café de La Esquina in Williamsburg. It’s in a classic retro diner with booth seating, but my wife and I love to sit up at the bar, order a spicy Margarita (her) and an ice-cold Corona (me) and keep the tacos coming.

  • See some of the best views in the city from Westlight © Noah Fecks.

    Sipping and sightseeing

    The rooftop bar opens Sunday to Wednesday 16:00-00:00 and Thursday to Saturday 16:00-02:00.

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The High Line

This disused freight train line has been turned into a beautiful elevated public park and was recently extended to make it a much more worthwhile walk up the west side of Manhattan. It gets very clogged up with people at weekends so visit on a weekday. Walk from north to south and then when you get to the end you’re in a good spot because the new Whitney Museum of American Art is right there, and you’re close to the West Village, which is such a joy to walk around and get lost in.

Central Park

You can’t come to New York and not go to Central Park. I like to combine it with a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka The Met, which is situated on the periphery of the park on the east side. Get the 4, 5 or 6 Train up to 86th Street and walk a couple of blocks over.

Hamilton: An American Musical

Tickets sell out for this Broadway show months in advance, so be sure to buy tickets as soon as your book your flights. It really is worth the hype – it’s the best stage show I’ve ever seen, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a fan of musicals as a rule. We now have the soundtrack on loop.