By Jackie Caradonio
The city is welcoming back its cultured devotees during its most photogenic time of the year, just as the leaves in Central Park begin to turn for autumn—and the long-awaited reunion is coming with a surprising burst of newness. With outdoor dining here to stay, al fresco restaurants are breathing new life into Manhattan’s streets, whether the night calls for a lively tropical celebration at Somewhere Nowhere NYC, the new rooftop lounge at the Renaissance New York Chelsea Hotel, or a more buttoned-up affair on Marea’s hydrangea-covered sidewalk dining room. Indoors, at Eataly, the covered rooftop is home to the new Serra by Birreria. The sun seems to shine there even on rainy days—and pre- or post-meal is the perfect time to stop in for a pasta-making workshop or cooking demonstration downstairs.
Manhattan’s world-class hotels are feeling fresh too, especially at downtown favorites like the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown and the Public, both of which have reopened with new restaurants. New to the scene entirely is the Pendry Manhattan West (from $625, pendry.com), which opens this month with an aesthetic clearly borrowed from its West Hollywood counterpart: Bright rooms with light woods, plant-filled public areas, and a rooftop lounge with panoramic views all make it a cheerful addition to Midtown. The hotel is also a stone’s throw from the theater district, where Broadway is brimming with its own optimism as critic favorites like Chicago, Hamilton, and David Byrne’s American Utopia resume performances in September. Long-awaited new productions Thoughts of a Colored Man and Paradise Square are also set to raise the curtain later this fall and into winter.
While New York was hibernating, the Catskills were flourishing, making the region the new weekend playground for urban escapists looking for a nearby retreat that’s less teeming with tourists—and far more au naturel—than the Hamptons. Stretching for hundreds of miles within the Appalachian Mountains, the Catskills can be reached in as little as two hours from Midtown Manhattan, making it easy and convenient for a weekend away. Check in to the new Kenoza Hall (from $499, kenozahall.com), a 22-room inn that sits at the edge of Kenoza Lake, where kayaks are always at the ready. The historic estate covers more than 50 acres, with private hiking trails, a spa, and a swimming pool scattered among garden-covered grounds.
A collection of renowned rural restaurants has lately been luring New Yorkers out of the city for a meal or two, and one of the best among them is the DeBruce, where new executive chef Eric Levieillee has revamped the seasonal menus brimming with local ingredients. Meanwhile, at the nearby Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre, celebrity chef Tom Valenti (known for Manhattan’s Le Cirque and Oxbow Tavern) is helming the kitchen of the recently opened Tango Cafe. And a few miles east, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has a full roster of fall events for farm-to-fork aficionados, including a six-week series of harvest festivals and, come October, a wine festival.
Of course, the hiking in this region is bar none (especially at the newly opened trailheads in the Catskill Forest Preserve), but surprisingly, the shopping is top-notch too. For local artisan pieces and antiques you won’t find in SoHo or on Fifth Ave, head to Narrowsburg, where Main Street is home to enough shops to take up the better part of an afternoon. The best finds are at Sunny’s Pop, an eclectic boutique from actress Sunrise Ruffalo; homewares hot spot Nest, curated by former Vogue design director Anna Bern; and MayerWasner, where Pratt Institute grad Pamela Mayer shows off her namesake collection of handmade women’s designer pieces.