by Chrysa Smith

New York is always interesting to visit. You just never know what you’re going to find there. And with one of the best seasons coming up to do the city, take a tip from someone who spent today wanting for more.

Every year, I do an outing with a long-time friend. We head up to New York City and do facials at Mario Badescu. It’s a wonderful European skincare salon where the commoner and celebrity can sit side-by-side in the waiting area. I’d say, at $65 for an hour-long facial, it’s one of the best beauty bargains in NY. Because not only do they do a thorough cleansing of the skin, they steam and squeeze and astringe??? and moisturize and paraffinize??? you right into a heavenly glow. You leave looking and feeling pampered, clean and alive. It’s wonderful enough for someone like me or maybe even Martha Stewart to enjoy—and by the way, she was there. Yep, walked right in front of me.

So after I got my beauty and celebrity gawking in check, we went looking for something to eat. But where to go in Midtown Manhattan? Why, church, of course! Actually, the Inside Park restaurant on the grounds of St. Bart’s Church on Park Avenue and 51st St. Where else could you find a buzzing bar scene, outdoor sofas, television and dj? I just had to chuckle as I sat outdoors, enjoying  a glass of pretty decent chardonnay—definitely not what’s served at the altar.

Other favorite NYC haunts? If time permitted, I would spend a late summer’s day in Central Park. The zoo is a delight –easy to navigate and nice habitats for the animals. Somehow, watching seals or bears surrounded by a concrete city is joyful juxtaposition. And a ride on the carousel? You’ll feel like a kid again.

Speaking of kid, Serendipity’s isn’t just for kids. This fun ice cream parlor located on East 60th Street, has served as a backdrop to feature films, and serves up some interesting and humongous treats. They were one of the first to do a frozen hot chocolate, with enough straws to serve the whole family.   

So, the day-tripper needn’t save NYC for a Broadway show—there’s plenty to do that won’t cost as much, and leave you with that same feeling of doing something very special and not available in the ‘burbs.

Perhaps you live in a city or find your way into one every so often. The energy is life-affirming and magical. What do you or can you do to get that burst of feeling special, without a vacation?