There’s more to Murray Hill than an endless supply of postgrad-filled sports bars and high-rises.
Spend a day in the neighborhood, and you’ll find a plethora of dining, culture and history.
9 a.m.: With its country-kitchen vibe and tasty food, neighborhood fave Penelope (159 Lexington Ave., 212-481-3800) is the perfect place to start your morning — especially on a weekday. The small cafe is usually hopping during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays — making for a fun vibe, but usually necessitating a wait. During the week, though, you get the same homey atmosphere and breakfast delights as soon as you walk in the door.
10:30 a.m.: Browse the collections at the Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Ave., 212-685-0008), which began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan. More than a hundred years after its founding, the Morgan is now a museum, research library, musical venue, landmark and historic site.
12:15 p.m.: A true hidden gem is housed on 36th Street, between Third and Lexington avenues: Sniffen Court, a small gated row of private carriage houses dating back to the Civil War era. It’s so hidden, in fact, that to get a look at this lovely landmarked enclave (and read a plaque about the court’s history), you have to peek through the gate.
12:45 p.m.: Gourmet market Todaro Bros. (555 Second Ave., 212-532-0633) sells fresh sandwiches, pasta salads, grilled veggies and an amazing selection of cheeses. Grab some lunch to go and get moving to your next stop.
1:15 p.m.: Stroll on over to 35th Street and FDR Drive and hop on the East River Ferry for a quick, scenic ride to Long Island City (only five minutes away) or to Brooklyn and back. Introduced in June, the ferry costs $4 each way and sets sail every 20 minutes.
2:30 p.m.: St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral (630 Second Ave., 212-686-0710) is a massively beautiful structure that looms over Second Avenue. Pop inside for a tour and stop at the bookstore on your way out.
3:30 p.m.: A little refueling is necessary — hit Chez le Chef (127 Lexington Ave., 212-685-1888) for some French pastries and hot chocolate. The best part — besides the delicious baked goods — is chef Frederic Piepenburg, the white-haired, mutton-chopped face behind the sweets. If you’re lucky, he’ll greet you at the door.
4:45 p.m.: Mosey along Third Avenue and hit the boutiques. Must-stop shops include Precision (522 Third Ave., 212-683-8812), Shoebox (537 Third Ave., 212-937-5750) and Pookie & Sebastian (541 Third Ave., 212-951-7110).
6 p.m.: Indulge in a glass or two of wine at Vino 313 (201 E. 31st St., 212-725-8466) and be sure to take advantage of the happy-hour special: Buy one glass of pinot grigio, Bordeaux or rosé and get the second one half off (from 5-7 p.m. daily). The cozy spot also has semi-regular jazz nights.
8 p.m.: End the night with some fantastic Mexican food and sangria at El Parador Café (325 E. 34th St.), which opened in 1959 and still serves up great chow in a boisterous, unpretentious environment.