New York City Tour: Metropolitan Museum of Art Area
World-class art, tony real estate, and upscale shopping define this classic—and family-friendly—New York City neighborhood.
The Met Museum gets more than five million annual visitors, making it the most popular of the prestigious art institutions that line Fifth Avenue, a.k.a. Museum Mile. An earlier nickname, Millionaire’s Row, referenced the mansions of Gilded Age barons like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. While both their properties are now museums, this slice of the Upper East Side—70th to 95th streets, Lexington Avenue to Central Park—remains primarily a millionaires' territory of prewar apartments and gracious townhouses. The most picturesque blocks are in the leafy, low-rise enclave of Carnegie Hill (mid-80s to mid-90s), whose residents have fought to maintain its intimate scale, sense of community, and historic Queen Anne and Neo-Grec homes. Prepare for a case of real estate envy—and for scenes among the eclectic indie shops and private schools that could be from a Woody Allen film, which is only fitting, as he was a longtime local.
1 Guggenheim, New York
One of the worldâ€™s most acclaimed art museums, the Guggenheim in New York City is dedicated to modern and contemporary art from the 20th century to the present. The Guggenheim was founded by Solomon R. Guggenheim in 1937, when he created a foundation that would sustain a museum housing his personal collection of art. Throughout the years, the museum acquired other notable art collections, including those of Justin K. Thannhauser and Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, and these holdings combined to form the museumâ€™s primary collection. Artists on display include Chagall, Modigliani, Picasso, Degas, Van Gogh, and Monet.
2 Bemelmans Bar
Its clientele has included Harry Truman, Jackie Kennedy, and Cyndi Lauper (who sang impromptu with the house band last year), but one of the most celebrated locals at Bemelmans Bar, in the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, was Ludwig Bemelmans himself. In 1947 the Madeline author and illustrator lived rent-free upstairs while he painted scenes of Central Park on the barâ€™s walls. (Years later skilled art restorers used countless slices of wet Wonder Bread to sop up the decades of nicotine buildup on the murals.) Today the bar is a hangout for scenesters of every age. Case in point: after Hurricane Sandy, the leather banquettes were so filled with electricity-deprived fashionistas that it was deemed the â€œUptown Boom Boom Room.â€
3 The Frick Collection
Pittsburgh-born, 19th-century robber baron Henry Clay Frick spent his coal-and-steel millions filling his opulent Fifth Avenue limestone home with this staggeringly well-chosen collection of old masters (kudos to controversial art wrangler Joseph Duveen). Standouts among the holdings: Belliniâ€™s dreamy and exquisitely preserved St. Francis in the Desert, a clutch of hard-to-find Vermeers such as the saucy and suggestive Officer and a Laughing Girl, plus three works by Piero della Francescaâ€”snapped up long before the artist gained his current A-list reputation. The home is largely unchanged since Frickâ€™s day and provides a 3-D snapshot into the lifestyle and habits of an Upper East Side multimillionaire from another era.
Admission: $18 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students; pay what you wish on Sundays 11 a.m.â€“1 p.m. Closed Mon.Â Children under 10 are not admitted to the Collection.
4 Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the world's great museums, this Gothic Revival labyrinth tries to be all things to all art loversâ€”and with its expansion over the past two decades it often succeeds. The museum's breadth makes it dauntingly huge; grab a map and decide to focus on one wing at a time.
5 Roberta Freymann
If Auntie Mame had a store, it would be this vibrant Upper East Side boutique, which designer Freymann fills with women's and children's clothing, accessories, and gifts gathered on her world travels. In a refreshing change from a city full of white-walled shops, this one is filled with brightly colored clothing and painted in exuberant shades. Freymann specializes in everything you need to live the good life, from straw hats for the beach to silk throws for the bed. Despite the first-class atmosphere, the globe-trotting goods (beaded Masai jewelry, silk tops from India) are affordable even for those who don't fly first class.