Everyone has their comfort zones and for most, familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt. But I really have a difficult time with visitors who travel all the way to New York City and seek out the same shops and restaurants they have at home. Like eating at McDonalds after shopping at national chain retailers.
I am quite guilty myself of frequenting a small group of restaurants in a city with tens of thousands. When my stomach calls for refueling, this is typically not the time I want to become a risk taker. I want the tried and true - to eat the things I know are guaranteed to bring satisfaction. But there are limits to living in the comfort zone.
When I guide visitors brimming with enthusiasm for those things unique to the city, I am galvanized; when I find myself with someone looking for the places that are familiar to them, I begin to short circuit and lose voltage. On one occasion, I had in my custody a woman who rejected every cuisine I offered. She commented "At this point, McDonalds is starting to look good." When we finally agreed on Italian, she rejected every entree. The only pasta she would eat was not on the menu.
The most frustrating outing was one occasion when visited by my nephews when young. Knowing full well what I was dealing with, I put quite a bit of thought into what kids would want and geared the day towards the big and impressive - things like the Brooklyn Bridge and the new planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. What was requested, however, was a visit to the large Toys "R" Us at Times Square. I've been in a bad mood ever since.
If you are a shopper, you could be visiting places like the Morrison Hotel Gallery. There are two locations - the older at 124 Prince Street in SoHo and the newer (seen in the photos) at 313 Bowery, appropriately, the former location of the CBGB Gallery. In my recent visit, I spent some time chatting with Rick Edwards and Vicki Albanese, sharing stories of music venues and encounters with music legends in the past.
The gallery represents a bevy of renowned photographers, such as the legendary Jim Marshall who recently passed away - see here. The Morrison Hotel Gallery was founded in 2001 by former record company executive and producer Peter Blachley, former independent record store owner Rich Horowitz, and music photographer Henry Diltz. In 2008, a deal was made with Sony to sell photos from the archives of Columbia Records.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery has some of the largest collections in the world of historic rock photos. If you are downtown, I recommend you drop in to browse. If you prefer, I also know of another little known place to visit for a unique New York City experience, located in an off the beaten path location. It's in an area called Times Square and the place is called Toys "R" Us :)