Cooking Light Best Cities: New York, New York

A list of must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats.

Bicycle rides are a great way to explore our 15th-ranked city.

Douglas Merriam

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The self-titled Capital of the World is a metropolis of skyscrapers and fast talkers, not to mention many of the best restaurants on the planet. Most tourists stick to Manhattan, but adventurous souls are rewarded for heading into the outer boroughs, and for pairing up New York's indulgences with its more virtuous enjoyments.


New Yorkers walk far more than most Americans, and they do it quickly. But they slow down for green markets-25 in Manhattan alone. After exploring the flagship Union Square farmers' market, make a stop at the Blue Hill restaurant (212-539-1776) in the West Village. Chef Dan Barber-a 2006 James Beard award-winner-uses locally sourced ingredients, from the Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture (the home to his family's upstate restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns).


Take the A Train out of Manhattan for an undisturbed afternoon of birdwatching. Birdwatching, you say? In Brooklyn? It's true. At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, composed of more than 9,000 acres of marshland at the Brooklyn-Queens border, you can observe the mating ritual of the American Woodcock, catch the migrations of hawks and waterfowl, and search for the Great Egret or Glossy Ibis.

Back in Manhattan, rent a bike at Bike Heaven (212-230-1919). Ride across the Queensboro Bridge, then up through ethnically diverse Astoria for a swim at the Olympic-sized, Art Deco Astoria Pool (212-639-9675), first opened in 1936.

After all this outer-borough activity, head up the street just a couple of blocks to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden (718-274-4925) for justly deserved sausage and beer under the stars-well, what you can see of them. This is New York, after all, the city that never sleeps, or turns off its lights.


Staten Island is often considered square by New Yorkers, but it has its quieter pleasures. The Staten Island Ferry offers gorgeous city views-and it's free. Take it out to Richmond Town, which spans more than 300 years of American history, now transformed into a living museum. It was built by the Dutch, but The Parsonage Restaurant (718-351-7879), which occupies a cozy 1855 Gothic Revival house, serves wonderful food with an Italian bent.

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