The upper east side is home to a large clutch of museums, but these three facing Fifth Avenue make an excellent all-day museum outing, a great plan for a rainy day. Try to have lunch at Neue Galerie's Café Sabarsky.
Solomon Guggenheim Museum (5th Ave. at 89th St.)
$18 adults; $15 seniors 65+
Daily 10:00a-5:45p (except late Sat closing 7:45p)
Spend some time outside to marvel at the corkscrew spiral architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, this museum offers landmark works of modern art. The distinctive building, Frank Lloyd Wright's last major work, opened in October, 1959, six months after the architect’s death; Wright labored over the project for 15 years, and it was already "retro modern" when finally built, considering that construction took place at the same time as Lincoln Center.
The museum contains a renowned collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, modern and contemporary art. Internally, the viewing gallery forms a gentle spiral from the main level up to the top of the building, which is wider than the bottom, an unusual feature. Paintings are displayed along the walls of the spiral and also in exhibition space found at annex levels along the way. In 1992, the building was supplemented by an adjoining rectangular tower, taller than the original spiral (see photo at top of post). A large circular skylight illuminates the central atrium of the main building, casting deep shadows onto the exhibit areas, unfortunately. Many of the living artists represented in the museum's collection objected to having their works illuminated by artificial light. At the time of this post, much of the museum is closed to the public as a major retrospective on the works of Frank Lloyd Wright is being installed.
Dining options include the just-opened restaurant/bar simply called “The Wright.”
The Wright Restaurant (lunch 11:30a-3:30p, dinner 5:30p-11:00p; Sunday brunch 11:00a-5:00p)
The Wright Bar (appetizers/sandwiches 11:30a-5:00p)
Café 3 (on third floor) sandwiches/pastries with a view of Central Park (10:30a-3:00p)
Neue Galerie (5th ave. at 86th St.)
Austrian & German art circa 1900
$15 Adults; $10 seniors 65+; Building is the former home of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III
11:00a-6:00p (closed Tue/Wed) Complimentary coat check
Early 20th century Austrian paintings and decorative art (2nd floor). Be sure to view Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer
Early 20th century German art (third floor)
Café Sabarsky Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 9:00a-9:00p; Mon &Wed 9:00a-6:00p (separate entrance)
Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner “Echt Viennese” menu; exceptional pastries
Metropolitan Museum of Art (5th Ave. at 82nd St.)
A pay-what-you-wish museum (but $20 per adult recommended). If you can visit only one New York City Museum, this is the one that can't be missed.
Fri/Sat: 9:30a–9:00p (cafeteria open 11:30a-7:00p)
Sun: 9:30a–5:30p (cafeteria open 11:30a-4:30p)
Mon holidays (such as MLK Day): 9:30a–5:30p (cafeteria open 11:30a-4:30p)
Other dining venues at the Met:
Petrie Café and Wine Bar (a la carte menu; large windows overlook Central Park)
Fri/Sat from 9:30a; last seating 8:30p
Daily afternoon tea begins at 2:30p ($24 per person)
Reservations (dinner & brunch only) 212-570-3964
Great Hall Balcony Bar (live classical music)
Fri/Sat only 4:00p-8:30p (last call 8:00)
Wine/beer/cocktails & appetizers
New American Wing Café