Come here often? The pace of change in New York City is so whiplash-inducing that even frequent visitors will be excused from not knowing the latest and greatest things to hit the Big Apple. Anything that happened more than 15 minutes ago is old news to New Yorkers (so locals should look away - or better yet, chime in), but for those that only visit New York City occasionally, here are some of the new sights, tastes and experiences to look out for if you're visiting in 2012.
Seeing more green
Brooklyn Bridge Park – the biggest new park to be built in Brooklyn since Prospect Park in the 19th century – has staggering views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and a restored early 20th-century carousel.
Michelin fare for a song
Chef John Fraser has attracted a strong foodie following and a Michelin star status for Dovetail, an unpretentious Upper West Side eatery, which focuses on only the freshest produce. It’s also a deal: on Mondays the restaurant offers a three-course vegetarian menu for only $46.
With a name as catchy as it is pun-y, Eataly is officially the largest Italian grocer and market space in the entire world, commanding over 50,000 sq ft in the heart of the city’s Flatiron district. It is, without a doubt, a major game changer in New York’s gourmet market scene – don’t miss the beer garden on the roof.
High Line 2.0
The High Line, NYC’s golden child of urban renewal recently made its first of two planned expansions, effectively doubling the size of this thin haven of green. Up next? Redevelopment of the veritable urban dead zone orbiting the Javits Center. (See our other tips on what to do around the Javits Center if you're travelling to a conference there.)
Cutting edge design, enter stage right
The top-notch Signature Theatre – a well-known company that champions contemporary American plays – has moved into its impressive new Frank Gehry-designed premises, the Signature Center on 42nd St. The center includes a bookshop, cafe and various performance paces.
Downtown yarmulke chic
Check out Kutsher’s Tribeca, a hot new contemporary-Jewish restaurant/bar in Tribeca, opened by Zach Kutscher – a fourth-generation member of Kutsher’s Country Club (a legendary ‘Borscht Belt’ resort in the Catskills).
(S)wine & cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with kimchi and pork belly. Yum. Earl’s Beer & Cheese in the upper-Upper East Side is high-end eating for the budget gastronome, with craft beers to boot.
Old New York with a twist...of lime
The guys behind cocktail bar Ward III in Tribeca have restored the Edison Hotel’s old piano bar in Midtown and opened it as The Rum House. A pianist plays each night, well-mixed drinks; a ‘refreshed’ slice of old New York.
The northern star
Aloft Harlem is a brand new boutique hotel in Harlem that offers chic, reasonably priced sleeping quarters at a stone’s throw from many of Manhattan’s major attractions. A deal.
Snails & market-ing
The New Amsterdam Market is a stronghold of seasonal food where locally sourced edibles are sold to urban foragers. Themed days are not uncommon, and plans are in the works to move into the now disused Fulton Fish Market.
The Chinese cottage
These days fusion cuisine may seem a bit old hat, but the city’s latest East-meets-West marriage on a plate – RedFarm – plays with a delightful assortment of international flavors, with scrumptious results.
So new, this one has barely entered the New York atmosphere but is already making a splash. Get ready to beam up - NYC has its very own space shuttle: the Enterprise, no less. Trekking up the Hudson by boat in mid-June, the shuttle exhibition is planned to open to the public in July 2012 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Pier 86.
BLDG 92, a new (and free) museum opened late last year on the Brooklyn Naval Yard showcasing the remarkable history of a sprawling riverfront property that even many Brooklynites have never visited. And if sailing through history makes you hungry, local Cobble Hill foodie fave Ted & Honey has recently opened in the museum’s light-filled café.