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The Cole Haan Guide to New York City
We sat down with the creative polymath, and illustrator of our newest #WriteNewRules campaign, to discuss his process, the rules he lives by, and the place in Paris he’s missed most.
By Sarah Khan

New York is famously called the city that never sleeps, but what precisely is it about New York that paints a kinetic tableau at any hour of the day or night? Is it the skyline, forever glinting in the sun or lit up in an electrifying display after dark? Is it the people, who stride its broad boulevards with purpose no matter the hour? Or perhaps it’s simply something intangible steeped in the atmosphere, as Simone de Beauvoir once speculated: “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”

So how should you spend a sleepless few days in New York this fall? We have a few ideas.

All Illustrations by Russ Pope

What to See

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“When I was five years old I went to kindergarten, and at kindergarten we had an exercise where we were all supposed to draw some Easter themed drawing. I remember as a five-year-old I drew this rabbit. My mom came to pick me up. The teacher hands you—literally delivers you by hand to your mother—and says, ‘Russell, is a really great artist. Look at this beautiful rabbit drawing, this bunny that he drew.’ And I was like, I’m an artist…she just said it, I’m totally an artist.”

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With two million square feet to explore, you could return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art a dozen times and still uncover masterpieces you’ve never come across before. This fall, in addition to checking out long-standing favorites like the Egyptian Art and the Islamic galleries, save plenty of time to browse the Costume Institute’s new exhibition: “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” This eagerly awaited exhibit will take a deep dive into the nation’s sartorial history.

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New Yorkers descended on the city’s outdoors spaces in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic, and this spring they got a new place to soak up the sun: Little Island, a striking public park hovering above the Hudson River at Pier 55. The $260 million development—originally conceived by celebrated British architect Thomas Heatherwick—has been years in the making, but the result was worth it. Make sure to check their schedule for the most up-to-date info on outdoor performances, or just go for a stroll through the botanic gardens.

What to Eat

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Get a proper New York start to your weekend with the classic breakfast staple: a bagel with lox and schmear. The line snaking down the block might lead you to wonder if you’ve stumbled onto a buzzy upstart that’s newly trending with the TikTok set, but in reality, Russ & Daughters has been a Lower East Side standby for more than a century. Join an eclectic mix of loyal locals and curious tourists in line to discover what the fuss is all about.

Get a proper New York start to your weekend with the classic breakfast staple: a bagel with lox and schmear. The line snaking down the block might lead you to wonder if you’ve stumbled onto a buzzy upstart that’s newly trending with the TikTok set, but in reality, Russ & Daughters has been a Lower East Side standby for more than a century. Join an eclectic mix of loyal locals and curious tourists in line to discover what the fuss is all about.

Go-To

On a vibrant block of Nolita (“North of Little Italy”), chef Cédric Vongerichten’s Wayan has chic, moody interiors that make you want to settle in for awhile—think teak panels, amber glass millwork, tropical plants, marble tiles, and dim lighting filtered through latticed pendant fixtures. Inside, Vongerichten blends Indonesian and French flavors to create compelling plates: Try the crispy soft-shell crab with ramp sambal, dry-aged duck with gulai sauce and lotus chips, or beloved staples like nasi goreng and crab fried rice. But whatever you do, don’t miss the buttery, indulgent lobster noodles—and know that you won’t want to share.

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The buzzy new Indian eatery Sona has some serious star power behind it (Bollywood-Hollywood crossover actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas is a partner), but the real star here is chef Hari Nayak’s playful, yet refined, menu. Have a golgappa shot to start things off with a kick, then work your way through the octopus ghee roast, crab puri with caviar, and gruyere dosa, all inside Sona’s Art Deco-inspired dining room. Take note of the elegant gilt trimmings: Sona means “gold” in Hindi, after all.

What to Do

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The best views of the city are from the water surrounding it. Luckily, New York has an extensive (and inexpensive) ferry network to help you scope out every alluring angle, en route to beaches, riverside parks, the Statue of Liberty, and more. For a quick jaunt, consider hopping over to Governors Island, where you can ride along bike paths, check out art installations, and graze on the endless food truck offerings. From tacos to jerk chicken to Indian-inspired ice cream, there are no wrong choices here.

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New York’s most beloved pastime is back. After going dark for a year and a half, Broadway stages are ready to welcome eager patrons again this fall. Given the demand, tickets might be hard to come by, so plan well in advance. This season, longtime favorites like “Hamilton,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Wicked” will be joined by thrilling new productions including “Diana the Musical” and “Six.”

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From alfresco Shakespeare in the Park productions in the summer to a snowy wonderland in the winter, Central Park is a must-visit any time of year. But it’s especially resplendent in the autumn, when its 843 acres of trees turn brilliant shades of gold, saffron, and scarlet. One of the best ways to cover large stretches in a limited time is to rent a bike and cruise past the Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Castle, Central Park Zoo, Strawberry Fields, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and other park landmarks.

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