The Dog Who Went To: New York City
By Jane Turner
Jane Turner is the author and illustrator of The Dog Who Went to Main Street, a children’s book celebrating adventure, a perfectly imperfect dog, and Main Streets everywhere. Jane travels frequently with her Shih Tzu mix, Dozer, and shares their favorite dog-happy destinations with our readers. Dozer is a rescue, a therapy dog, happens to be totally blind, and is always ready to go.
New York might seem all bright lights and big city, but it also happens to be grounded by a vast and vibrant park system that rolls out the green carpet for dogs. And lucky for dog lovers, many hotels with easy access to parks are welcoming our best friends with open arms – and special beds, toys, and treats.
Whenever we stay in New York with Dozer, we choose our home base with an eye for two must-haves: a dog-celebrating hotel and a sense-stimulating park. Here are a few of our favorites by neighborhood – downtown, uptown, and in between.
Downtown: The Meatpacking District has been in the press for its nightlife, but by day the area’s wide open feel and cobblestone streets are made for a dog stroll. Upscale designer shops and restaurants have edged out meatpacking plants in much of the district – roughly defined as running from West 14th Street south to Gansevoort Street, and from the Hudson River to Hudson Street. On the National Register of Historic Places since 2007, the area shows sure signs of creative currency – the arrival of an Apple store and a new, second home for The Whitney Museum in the works.
Favorite park: The High Line. Sometimes called “the park in the sky,” the High Line opened in 2009 as a greenway built on the historic elevated rail line that once ran above the streets from Gansevoort to 30th. We love the mile-long walk with its unusual perspective on New York and the river. Meanwhile, Dozer thrives on sniffing the ornamental grasses and perennials surrounding the salvaged, artistically designed hardscape. A walk experience not to be missed.
Dining with dogs: As soon as weather allows, the broad sidewalk surrounding the Gansevoort becomes the Carte Blanche Café where your four-legged friend can join you to have a bite and watch the people and pups pass by. Pastis, a creation of Keith McNally of Balthazar fame, is another great nearby option with outdoor tables.
Where to stay: Hotel Gansevoort. An oasis of modern cool, the Gansevoort exudes warmth when it comes to dogs of all sizes. All 186 rooms are available to canine guests along with just about every public space from the Carte Blanche Lobby Lounge to the open-to-the-sky rooftop pool (Dozer’s go-to nap spot with its large, cushy chairs). The pool, bar and many rooms have king-of-the-world views of the skyline, the Hudson, and panoramic sunsets. A quick two blocks away is the southernmost entrance to the High Line.
Uptown/ Midtown: From the Theater District to Central Park, the vibe ranges from Broadway electricity to museum sophistication to open space serenity … with a little world-class shopping thrown in. Midtown sidewalk traffic can get a bit dense for our small dog in the big city, but it thins out at night and farther north. Many stores along the way from Tiffany to Bergdorf's happily welcome shop-along dogs.
Favorite parks: Central Park is, of course, the mother of all parks, encompassing 843 acres, stretching from 59th to 110th Streets. Concerts, Shakespeare, restaurants, a zoo, trails, pathways and lakes … it’s all here. Dogs are a ubiquitous part of life in Central Park with the exception of a few designated areas. Before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m., your dog can even walk or run off-leash with you.
Bryant Park has the buzz of being smack in the middle of 42nd Street action and the beauty of plantings inspired by Paris’s Tuileries. Next to the library and around the corner from the theater district, it’s a fraction of the size of Central Park but packs enough sensory fuel to keep Dozer’s nose fully engaged.
Dining with Dogs: Outdoor dining options seem to pop up everywhere--along with other signs of spring--especially in or near parks. At Central Park’s Boathouse (near East 72nd Street), you and your dog can enjoy views of the lake. Or sit outside at Sarabeth’s (home of the renowned “spreadable fruits") for breakfast on Central Park South. In Bryant Park, your pup can join you at the Café (of the same name), while some of the theater district brownstone restaurants like Barbetta offer garden seating.
Where to stay:
The Kimpton Muse.
Tucked among the theaters on W. 46th Street, The Muse is an intimate and warm but crisply designed boutique hotel. Its pet-centricity is legendary; word has it that the occasional eagle or small bear in town for TV morning shows has slept here. But dogs take center stage. Dozer was greeted with his own welcome sign, organic treats, and a big wag from fellow guests, the Yorkie duo of Tiki and Shmuey (who promptly followed us to our room for a playdate). Bryant Park is nearby and Central Park just a short distance away.
The Taj Pierre. Facing Central Park, the historic Pierre pampers canine and human guests alike with classic luxury and service. With its focus on small dogs, the Pierre even provides special steps so your pup can climb into bed with you with ease.
It’s often said that behind New York’s bigness is a collection of wonderful, small neighborhoods with their own distinct personalities. Add parks to that definition and Dozer and I couldn’t agree more!
Photos: Dozer strikes a pose on the High Line; Dozer chilling out at the Hotel Gansevoort's rooftop pool; author Jane Turner with Dozer in Central Park.