Saturday morning: Start in Central Park
Standing deep in the park, with no sense of the city and only the birds chirping in my eyes and the sight of tulips around me, I understood New York just a little bit more. If you only spend time on the sidewalks and inside the buildings, you begin to lose yourself. The expansiveness of this green space was staggering - and it wiped away the drab feelings seeping into my heart.
There were families, lovers, dogs - musicians, hot dog carts, and a hum of activity all around. The small lakes, the patches of grass large enough for lounging and playing catch, they were so quintessential I had to stop and watch for a moment. This is where the speed and incessant nature of New York came to rest.
Across the street, check out Albertine Books inside the French Embassy
You'll have to get passed security and some side-eyes from the surprisingly all-French clientele and staff. Everyone was nice, the space was serene, quaint, and cozy, and this gorgeous ceiling mural upstairs was so worth looking at covers of books pretending like I knew what they said. High school French didn't get my by here. But I did buy a sweet poetry book whose side-by-side translation value was verified by the perfectly bi-lingual Francophile at the counter.
Head south with a sense of adventure, popping in and out of the subway as you please.
Shopping in Lower Manhattan and Lolita, including:
Sunday morning, head to the DUMBO Flea
Anchorage Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Food stands, vintage furniture, and more denim than I have ever seen in one place can be found at the Dumbo Flea. I saw so many vintage bags, handmade leather goods, and a stunning array of clothing from all genres/eras. Prices were reasonable and the vendors were extremely kind, happy to discuss their goods, handmade or reclaimed, in great detail.
A must-see: Front General Store, 143 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
The most in-depth, carefully curated shop. Vintage and raw denim, hipster stationary, brass trinkets, vintage sunglasses, handmade sandals, cultural artifacts, woven baskets, and so much more.
I happen to run into the owner who graciously showed me around the shop, first to the impressive raw and vintage denim selection, and then to the edges of the trinket department, where he left to help another customer and share with them he'd been curating for decades.
I just happened to stumble into this place. It wasn't on my initial map and had I not been thwarted on my journey by a child mad-dashing ahead of their parents, I might have missed it.
Right on Front Street between the studio of an Australian illustrator - musician - activist with a cute shop cat and a couple small faceless businesses still not yet absorbed by the ever-present progressive and stylish demand, you'll be grateful you gave yourself at least an hour to enjoy this collection.
Get caffeinated and sit for a while in the lofty and impressive Brooklyn Roasting Company
25 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Be sure to get a gorgeous keepsake photo of the Brooklyn Bridge
Bonus: Ask a stranger to capture you with it.