The Kent, located in the heart of the Upper East Side, sits in one of the most stunning neighborhoods in all of NYC. While life in the city may be busy, we encourage residents to make time to celebrate what’s in their own backyard, including some of the world’s greatest cultural institutions and the urban oasis of Central Park. How, you ask? Easy: be a tourist in your own town. We’re not talking about a full-blown stay-cation that covers everything from the Statue to the Bronx Zoo, but a carefully curated weekend right in your Upper East Side surroundings. The following are a few of our favorite ways to spend a weekend away while still staying close to home.
To get the full tourist experience of classic NYC, there’s no place like The Plaza. While you catch a bite to eat or just lounge in the lobby, consider booking a room and staying the weekend—to truly get a sense of what’s considered the grandest hotel in New York. Doing so will put you in the company of innumerable dignitaries, starlets, and luminaries, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who visited often enough that certain areas of the property were featured in his 1925 The Great Gatsby. Or maybe you’re a fan of Eloise, written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight, which follows the adventures of a girl who lives in the "room on the tippy-top floor" of the Plaza. Whatever your reference, the magic of the place cannot be denied. Even Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect known for his disdain of New York’s buildings, couldn’t resist this building’s beauty and took up residence here while he designed the Guggenheim. Speaking of which…
As we all know, Upper East Side residences are near a host of cultural institutions like the world-renowned Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which invite visitors to explore 5,000 years of art and design in the middle of modern Manhattan. The Guggenheim embodies Frank Lloyd Wright’s desire “to make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before.” Rather than meandering through rooms or displays of your choosing, you ride in an elevator to the top floor before winding your way down through the exhibit halls, taking in one piece at a time or possibly taking in the full gallery as seen from across the immensity of the open rotunda. The collection is not broken into schools or periods but integrated and interwoven to create a flow from top to bottom. (You are, after all, walking down a long ramp.) A single day is too little time to truly contemplate Impressionist, Surrealist, and Minimalist masters that form the core of the Guggenheim collection and have seeded the other art that has been added over the years. But that’s the benefit of being a tourist in your own town. You can come back as often as you like.
Meanwhile, The Met offers an unparalleled showcase of everything from cave art to weapons, furniture, jewelry, instruments, technology, and, of course, paintings, which fills more than two million square feet of floor space. By our estimate, this is more than enough to occupy a Saturday or your lifetime, for that matter. And don’t worry if your friends can’t tell a Van Gogh from a Gauguin. The Met offers learning opportunities, an ever-evolving collection, and an institutional mission that sees art as integral to many facets of civilization.
A sunny day beckons you to your own Upper East Side playground in Central Park. While you may be tempted to throw down a blanket and simply lounge on the grass (a fine idea, if ever there was one), we suggest you hold off on the picnic until after you get the full lay of the land. One of the many walking tours available through the Central Park Conservancy can provide expert info on the park, which is one of the most hallowed institutions in the entire city. Nature abounds in the Conservatory Gardens and the Reservoir, while history comes to life at the Belvedere Castle and the Vanderbilt Gate. Take your pick or (eventually) visit all of them.