This week I had the pleasure of spending a few days in New York City with Winnie and her friend. Winnie was finally cashing in on her 16th birthday gift of seeing a show on Broadway with a friend of her choice.
Yes it was one year and four months after the fact but who’s counting? (clearly not me)
We spent the first day roaming the city and shopping, making our way on foot from Soho up to Chelsea, over the High Line to Midtown, with plenty of stops for gelato and photography along the way.
The second morning we spent visiting our Guiding Eyes dogs in training in Yorktown Heights and then went back into the city. I had eight hours to pass while the girls saw two shows.
I’ve never had that long to myself to explore the city and surprisingly, most shops (apart from Times Square) close at 6pm, 7pm at the latest. I find that surprising - or maybe that’s just my suburban lifestyle talking? But still, 7pm, really? (I’m still surprised)
Despite all our stops and miles and miles of walking, it was a very calm, quiet trip. Thankfully we had time on our side the whole time so we never had to rush, which contributed to the peacefulness.
It’s hard to imagine spending a few days in New York City as relaxing, but we did it. In case you’re looking for the same, here are five quiet spots that I found to be sources of creative inspiration:
1. The Whitney Museum
On previous trips to New York City we’ve explored the bigger museums and the Whitney is quite small by comparison. But its size is its greatest asset, since you can see the whole museum in less than four hours (and that’s with time to read all the descriptions on the walls and a quick lunch break) and not emerge with a headache and a backache. The crowd was manageable but that could differ by exhibit - most of the museum is dedicated to the work of one artist. The current exhibit is the work of Jeff Koons, which was all-absorbing for both its whimsy and dark undertones.
2. The pond at Central Park
Though I’ve walked through Central Park before, this week was the first time I spent any amount of time just hanging out there. I really wanted to see the zoo, but it closes at 5pm (suburban expectations foiled again!). So instead I strolled through the park slowly, stopping at the pond to sit and sew for a while. Although it was rush hour and there were people everywhere, I was surprised at how quiet and peaceful the park was. I guess everyone else in the park was there for the same reason I was - to take in a breather from the city streets and recharge for a bit. It’s shocking how insulated you feel from the city crazy when you’re only a few hundred yards from it.
3. Purl Soho
This is one of my favorite fabric shops anywhere. It’s tiny and half of the space is dedicated to yarn (and I’m not a yarn shopper). But the fabric they do have is scrumptious. They have the complete collection of Liberty Tana Lawn (the softest, most beautiful floral fabric made from vintage designs by the UK company Liberty of London). They also sell other modern prints as well as a wide assortment of wool felt. The store itself is an inspirational feast for the eyes, with completed projects on display all over the shop. You won’t be disappointed by stopping in!
This place was new to me until Winnie’s friend mentioned she wanted to go there. We went out of our way to find it and wow, was it worth it! I’d best describe it as a preppier, more practical version of H&M. It’s a Japanese company that’s just becoming available in the US and the design of their stores takes a cue from Apple. The store is well-lit with a minimalist design, which keeps the focus on the orderly racks of clothes. Best yet, the prices are completely reasonable (I bought myself a super cute skirt and shirt and the total was $27). The combination of great design, cute clothes, and affordability is an inspiration right there!
5. Times Square
I know it probably seems utterly unlikely that I’d describe Times Square as quietly creative, but surprisingly it was quite a breath of fresh air when I spent several hours there one night this week. If you haven’t visited recently, they’ve closed a fair amount of Times Square to cars, making it much more pedestrian-friendly. In fact in several areas they’ve filled the open plazas with tables and chairs perfect for passing a summer night people watching. Or hand quilting, as I did. It was the perfect combination of spending several hours alone with my thoughts, but in the company of thousands - the entire time I sat there stitching, no one said a word to me. Who knew Times Square could be something other than excessive crazy? (which was definitely still there, so if you’re looking for that, you won’t be disappointed either!)
Have you found unlikely sources of solitude or inspiration while in New York City? We seem to find ourselves in the City every six months or so, so I’d love to hear about your special gems. And as I find more, I’ll be sure to share!