If you’ve been to New York City, I bet you’ve been to the Flatiron District but probably didn’t know it. Less famous than its NYC neighbors of Greenwich Village, Midtown, and the Upper West Side, the Flatiron District runs roughly from 25th Street down to 20th between 6th Avenue and Lexington. The Flatiron District is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s tourists and skyscrapers and spend a quiet weekend in urban parks, cafés, and boutiques.
Where to Stay
There are a number of boutique and big budget properties to fit every budget in this neighborhood. Hotel Giraffe, just north of the neighborhood at 26th and Park, has palatial rooms (by NYC standards), continental breakfast, and an evening wine and cheese reception. This Library Hotel Collection property has some of the best customer service in the city, along with deep soaking tubs and Juliette balconies.
If money is no object, the Gramercy Park Hotel is the place to see and be seen. This boutique property is right on New York’s only private park — guests get a key to enjoy the urban oasis.
If glamorous and urban is your thing, the W Union Square towers over one of New York’s best green spaces.
Where to Eat
Manhattan has more than 3,500 restaurants. Fortunately some of the best are right in this vibrant neighborhood. Shake Shack has taken the world by storm with its melt-in-your-mouth cheeseburgers, crinkle cut fries, and chocolate peanut butter milkshakes. (What? You didn’t know you could add peanut butter? Yes, sir!) But before this burger joint started popping up in DC, South Beach, and even London, the original shack started right in Madison Square Park. Grab some lunch in a little cardboard box and pull up a cafe table for a memorable lunch.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Gramercy Park Tavern is about the furthest thing from a little burger stand. This tavern/fine dining establishment boasts a vibrant atmosphere, a lively bar with delicious handmade cocktails, and some seriously good food. Grab a spot at the bar and enjoy their beer pairings, or make a reservation to sit in the dining room — you absolutely will not be disappointed. Note: reservations are a must!
If you’re looking to snack your way through a meal, Mario Batali’s culinary tour de force Eataly is the place for you. Part restaurant, part market, part espresso bar, part beer garden, you could spend hours in here pretending you’re walking the streets of Italy. Watch fresh pasta and mozzarella being made by hand and, during the warmer months, grab a beverage on the rooftop beer garden.
What to Do
Saturday morning in the Flatiron District is one of my most favorite places to be in the entire world. Head to Union Square to their giant farmers market. Vendors sell everything from exotic produce and organic meat to stinky cheese and seasonal flowers. Stop by Breezy Hill Orchard’s stand (right by the Union Square West subway entrance, across the street from the neon COFFEE sign) for the best apple cider donuts on the planet.
The Flatiron District is home to many boutique shops. Joe Fresh, at 16th and 5th, is a Canadian transplant who makes awesome basics (and sometimes unexpected pieces) at a great price. His Flatiron District store is intimate and comfortable (not finding what you’re looking for? The flagship store is in Midtown).
Fishs Eddy is one of my favorite stores in the world. I stumbled in here once while wandering the streets of NY and instantly fell in love. Their housewares are high in quality and design, but low in price. I’m absolutely obsessed with their NYC skyline dishes. Fact: in the epic 1990s romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail,” Tom Hanks’ girlfriend sips her espresso out of one of these very iconic black and white mugs!
If you love books, you’ve probably heard of The Strand bookstore (18 miles of books!). This literary masterpiece is lined wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with everything from Shakespeare to how-to manuals to rare hardcovers. If you don’t love books, it’s just another bookstore, but any bibliophile could spend hours in here.
If you’re tired of the crowds and noise in Midtown Manhattan and the hipsters in the Village, the Flatiron District just might be the perfect weekend getaway.
Photos are courtesy of the author.