New York City can be overwhelming and exciting and expensive, especially if you only have a few hours for yourself when you’re here for a convention. But New York is also a one-of-a kind experience, and even if you’ve been here a hundred times, there are always exciting, unique things to do that won’t be here the next time you come.
Lucky for all of you, this year’s RWA convention coincides with the semi-annual Restaurant Week, a two-week promotion in which 100 of the city’s most awesome restaurants offer a three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner special menu at $26 and $42 respectively. This is a great time to experience some of the city’s classic restaurants like the 21 Club (no jeans and men must wear a jacket), Michael’s (the former jet set locale of the literary set in the last decade) or The Monkey Bar, as well as number of Danny Meyer of Daniel Boulud experiences. But do make a reservation ASAP. https://www.nycgo.com/restaurant-week?neighborhood=midtown-west
Of course, people come to NYC for the theater, and there’s plenty of Broadway shows to catch. My suggestion there is What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schrek, which was a Tony nominee and a Pulitzer finalist. It is a powerful female-centric play that will surprise you with its feminism. https://constitutionbroadway.com/
If you’re a Harry Potter fan (and who isn’t?), there’s the two-part Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, which is an amazing theater experience featuring a grown up Harry Potter and the further Hogwarts misadventures of the Potter gang’s kids. Although J.K. Rowling’s name is on the playbill, it’s really just really good Harry Potter fan fiction or fan theater. https://www.harrypottertheplay.com/
If you don’t have a whole day for theater, and/or you can’t spend quite as much on tickets, there’s Puffs the Play. This heartbreakingly hilarious yet loving send-up of Harry Potter tells the story of seven eventful years at a certain Wizard school through the eyes of the misfit members of Hufflepuff. Excellently acted and produced at the New World Stages complex, tickets start at only $39. After a three-year run, the show will be closing August 18th (and opening in Australia!) so now's the time to see it. New World Stages is only a short walk from the Marriott Marquis at 340 W 50th. http://www.puffstheplay.com/nyc-tickets.
If you’re a little adventurous and willing to leave the island of Manhattan, there are currently two amazing Alice in Wonderland productions in Brooklyn. Then She Fell is an interactive experience in a three-story edifice that has you walk through different rooms of Alice’s adventures, with an entire tea party towards the end. There are only about a dozen “seats” sold each night, because you are literally walking through the play from room to room. A one-of-a-kind experience that is different each time you go (I’ve been twice). Worth every penny. https://constitutionbroadway.com/
Queen of Hearts is an Alice in Wonderland burlesque show that is part Cabaret and part Cirque de Soilel in a fabulous hidden Brooklyn space that will shock you with its elegance and decadence. You can watch the show while drinking specialty drinks or absinthe, as you are waited on by the scantily clad performers, both male and female. Another once in a lifetime/must-see experience, http://companyxiv.com/queen-of-hearts.
New York is also one of the art centers of the world, and there are two shows you should try to see while you are here. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently showing Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock’n’Roll, which is as good as any pop culture music exhibit I’ve ever seen at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page lent quite a lot of his personal collectibles, as well as gave a great interview about how he feels about his instruments, and there are equally revealing interviews with Tom Morello, Eddie van Halen and Keith Richards. https://www.metmuseum.org/press/exhibitions/2019/play-it-loud
Every two years the Whitney Museum gathers art from all over the world that the curators feel represents the zeitgeist. Known as The Whitney Biennial, it is currently going on. If you’re at all curious about how Trumpworld has translated into art, you might want to make the trip. https://whitney.org/exhibitions/2019-Biennial