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NYC’s newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, is the hottest area of the city. It sits at the northern terminus of The High Line, itself a rather young addition to the NYC tourist map. Hudson Yards NYC is a great place to visit with the family, and you can even spend the weekend here.
Note: The writer was a guest of Toyota for a two night stay at the Equinox Hotel.
Hudson Yards, on the far west side of Manhattan, is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center. The area, near the Javits Center, stretches from the West Side Highway to Eighth Avenue, from 30th Street to 34th Street. It was built over the old west side rail yard.
In real estate speak, Hudson Yards is ‘mixed use.’ This means it combines office towers, residences and lots of retail. In fact, the 28-acre site will eventually include over 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, 5,000 residences, and a public school. It already has 14 acres of outdoor public space, a new cultural institution and the first ever Equinox luxury hotel.
To support this insta-neighborhood of office workers, condo dwellers, tourists and hangry shoppers, the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards has a great mix of food offerings, which is one of the best reasons to visit Hudson Yards NYC. Combine that with a new cultural center, access to The High Line, a climb-able public art sculpture and lots of shopping and voila! A new must-see destination.
Many New Yorkers have criticized the luxury skyscrapers and avoid the new neighborhood. You know what? Their loss.
Fit for Foodies
On the lower level of 10 Hudson Yards, Mercado Little Spain has tapas bars, restaurants and stands where you can eat authentic Spanish food, from specialty cheeses and unusual meats to pastries and ice cream. You can also stock up here on foodie gifts. Mercado, curated by Washington, DC celebrity chef José Andrés, has sit down restaurants, stools at counters or take away, so you can have a quick bite or a leisurely meal.
Mercado connects to the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, the seven story retail vertical mall that has most of the other tourist amenities. There are also great cocktails – and food – at a branch of the British restaurant Queensyard and TAK room, by Thomas Keller. Local celebrity chef David Chang has a new high end Korean restaurant, Kawi.
If you have a sweet tooth, Hudson Yards can satisfy it many different ways. Bouchon Bakery has amazing pastries and cookies, Dylan’s Candy Bar has candy and chocolate, and local chocolatier Li-lac Chocolates has great filled chocolates and specialty chocolate molds. Shake Shack has frozen custard (and burgers) without the usual lines. Neuhaus, the luxe Belgian chocolate store, just opened.
Where to Stay: The Luxurious Equinox Hotel
The Equinox Hotel is more than the ultimate expression of the Equinox Fitness brand. Sure, the hotel has a 60,000 square foot gym, one of the roomiest and most inviting gyms you’ll ever see. And there is a separate SoulCycle (making it easy to work off all those calories from the great food). And a full service spa. But the family friendly hotel also caters to well-heeled parents. When I stayed there, the hotel was teeming with kids. The indoor and (seasonal) outdoor pool will make the kids happy.
Equinox Hotel offers succor to the body and the soul, with an emphasis on good sleep. Rooms are optimized for sleep, with blackout shades, sound-proofed walls (no hearing a baby crying next door, or a siren wailing outside) and the perfect temperature and scent for a restful night.
I think back to the young parenting days when I would have given anything – ANYTHING – to sleep through the night. And I bet some parents who can’t get their kids to sleep will try a night or two here. What’s the harm, other than the dent in your pocketbook. The people next door can’t hear your kid if you’re Ferber-izing her, or if she has the night terrors. And they can’t hear you pacing or tearing your hair out because no one is sleeping. In fact, everyone (else) will be sleeping.
Equinox Hotel Food
If you can’t drag yourself across the plaza to all the food offerings in the shopping area, the Equinox Hotel has Electric Lemon, from James Beard award-winner Stephen Starr. We front-loaded our day here with protein, since we had so many athletic pursuits planned.
Electric Lemon has a huge outdoor dining area, with heat lamps and blankets for cooler weather. And great sunset shots over the Hudson River. A casual cafe on the pool level, Broken Coconut, has many vegan options.
Dog Friendly Hudson Yards NYC
The Equinox Hotel is dog friendly, though there is a 30 pound weight limit. I wonder if the sleep aids would help a new puppy snooze through the night.
You can bring your dog shopping, but you can’t stroll with him on The High Line. The High Line doesn’t permit dogs (though I have seen some smuggled in in handbags). There is a dog park in Chelsea, and a dog run near the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, both in walking distance.
Free Things to Do in Hudson Yards NYC
Although luxury is the name of the game at Hudson Yards, there is also a Uniqlo and a Muji in the retail mix. But if you don’t want to spend money, you can find plenty of free attractions, too.
Tops is The Vessel, the sculpture in the middle of the public space. The Vessel, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, offers free timed tickets for the climb to the top. Reserve tickets online up to two weeks in advance. You can also get day of tickets at The Vessel. And if you stay at The Equinox Hotel, the concierge can get you special tickets, good for any time. Go in day light AND at sunset.
The Vessel has 154 flights of stairs with 2,500 steps. Most people walk up and down, and stop for selfie shots. For a more intense way to experience The Vessel, The Equinox fitness center offers an outdoor running class, spring through early fall, where you run up and down The Vessel, (at least four times) interspersed with pushups and burpees.
The class is held early in the morning, before the sculpture opens to the public, so it’s also a prime way to experience The Vessel without crowds. The Equinox trainers who run the class actually have you turn in your phones at the beginning of class so you aren’t tempted to stop and take photos. At the end of class, you get your phones back.
Arts at Hudson Yards
The Shed, the new cultural center, has movable panels that open onto the public plaza. This is used for performances and events. The $475 million cultural and arts center has galleries and performance spaces, with low cost and free tickets for many events. The unusual structure was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with the Rockwell Group
Venturing a little further to midtown, be sure to check out the Museum of Modern Art. If you don’t want to spring for the $25 admission fee, the lobby has several art-filled galleries that are open for free. And you can explore the interior sculpture garden without a ticket. But the museum is worth the price of admission.
You can walk right onto The High Line from Hudson Yards. The elevated park, designed by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf, presents contemporary public art along its almost one and a half mile length. There are free guided tours every Saturday.
Shopping at Hudson Yards
Tiffany, Fendi, Tory Burch, Cartier and Louis Vuitton are just some of the luxury retailers here. If you want to take a yoga or spin class, or run on The High Line and forgot your exercise gear, lululemon and Athleta are here. And no worries if you don’t have the right night cream or mascara. Kiehl’s, MAC and Sephora are just some of the places.
There is also eco-friendly baby gear at Milk & Honey Babies, a play space for kids called CAMP and bathing suits for all at Vilebrequin. Although I had only traveled in from Brooklyn, I needed a little retail therapy, and the shops at Hudson Yards NYC fit the bill.
Hudson Yards Holiday Time
Shine On is an indoor-outdoor artistic light and music installation. The nightly show includes LED lit stars that change with classical music. There are also musical performances on Tuesdays, hot chocolate samples and special holiday discounts.
Getting to Hudson Yards NYC
The 7 train extension brings the end of the 7 subway line to Hudson Yards’ doorstep And Penn Station, where Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit come, is within walking distance. If you are driving to New York, the Equinox Hotel is one of the few hotels in Manhattan that is actually easy to reach. It is just off the West Side Highway, and there is a driveway, and room to park a car and wait for the valet. I once drove to a hotel in Philly where two valets had to stop traffic while a third backed our car up down a one way street to the parking garage. No such shenanigans here.
I recently drove a huge Lexus RX 450h, a luxury hybrid SUV that fit in with the cars in front of the shopping complex. You can valet your car here if you are visiting for the day.
Although the Lexus is not an easy to car to park on NYC streets, you likely wouldn’t want to leave a nearly $60,000 car on a narrow Manhattan street. But the smooth ride let us glide over cobblestones and bumpy roads in a cosseted luxe interior. There is plenty of room for a family of five, and a dog. And all the things you buy at Hudson Yards (high rise and office building not included).
Soaring Above Hudson Yards NYC
The Western Yard portion of the development hasn’t yet opened. The Edge, purported to be the highest sky deck on the Western Hemisphere, opened briefly in March, then shut down for Covid-19. The observation deck just reopened, at reduced capacity.
There is a glass floor that lets you feel suspended in the air, and three points where the glass walls jut out over the city. From 100 floors up, everything else in the city seems small.
I recently checked out out the glorious views at The Edge, courtesy of a CityPASS C3 ticket. This pass allows you to choose three NYC attractions – and skip the line. This is critical during reduced capacity. Although The Edge was sold out, I was able to walk right in. There were still long lines once I was inside, but once you are on the sky deck, you can stay for as long as you like.