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What to do at Hudson Yards: Climb The Vessel, The Shops, the Shed and more

Your guide to a full day at the retail/residential complex on Manhattan's far west side, from sunrise to sunset.

Intimidated by Hudson Yards? No need. We've outlined

Intimidated by Hudson Yards? No need. We've outlined how to spend a day there for you. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

With 4,000 apartments, 100 shops, two dozen restaurants, an arts hub and a humongous sculpture-turned tourist attraction, Hudson Yards represents a massive transformation of Manhattan's far west side.

Yes, it bills itself as "a place for life maximizers," but everyone can enjoy a day there, even if shopping at its high-end stores isn't an option. The district has beautiful public spaces, including part of the High Line, restaurants that serve wildly different cuisines, and ways to experience some culture.

To help you take advantage of the new area, we've outlined how to spend your time there, from sunrise to sunset.

Grab a coffee and pastry to go and explore the public gardens 

After hopping out of the pristine Hudson Yards subway stop, we suggest starting with breakfast at Old Country Coffee nearby at 455 W. 34th St., where you can order one of 10 styles of coffee, a Belgian waffle, a muffin, or a croissant.

If you don't stay to eat, take it to go and head over to the Public Gardens and then the last stretch of the High Line called The Spur.

With more than 29,000 plants and 200 trees, Hudson Yards' public garden has 14 acres of green space open to the public, who can lounge, drink their coffee and just breathe there.

About 5 acres of that include wildflowers like echinacea, monarda and rudbeckia, which attract bees and butterflies, and shrubs and fruiting bushes like serviceberry, spicebush and winterberry between 35th and 36th streets.

If you haven't seen The Spur yet, we suggest you head over to the High Line at 10th Avenue and 30th Street (walking from Hudson Yards' Public Gardens). The new piece of the park has panoramic views up and down 10th Avenue and 30th Street, the largest gardens in the park, 60-foot-tall cathedral ceilings in the "Coach Passage" entranceway, and the Plinth — a space for showcasing artwork, which currently holds Simone Leigh's "Brick House" sculpture.

Take a walk, sit, and contemplate before you begin your shopping day.

Take your pick of shops inside the mall 

Finally, it is time to shop. Hudson Yards Shops & Restaurants has more than 100 stores, galleries and salons including Athleta, BLVD Beauty Salon at Neiman Marcus, Sundays nail salon, H&M, Kiehl's, Lovepop, Muji, Sephora, UNIQLO and Zara.

It can be a little overwhelming to figure out where stores are, so the mall has very helpful kiosks that give you directions to where you'd like to go, and those can even be sent to your phone. You may also want to know where you want to hit before you head in so that you don't miss anything. A full directory can be found on hudsonyardsnewyork.com.

Explore new cuisine at Mercado Little Spain 

After all that shopping, you must be hungry. While you can stop at any of the two dozen restaurants, bars and cafes inside The Shoppes, we suggest heading to its bottom level where Mercado Little Spain awaits. Likened to a Spanish Eataly, it celebrates the cuisine and culture of chef José Andrés’ native Spain through three restaurants, two bars and more than a dozen kiosks serving tapas.

"New York is a city of beautiful immigrants, Spanish and many, many others, and what we’ve tried to create with Mercado Little Spain is our tribute to my native country, a little piece of Spain in an exciting new corner of Manhattan," Andrés said in March

From paella you can watch cook on large cast-iron skillets to fresh fish and shellfish you can pick from, Mercado has something for every appetite.

Check out Snark Park or an art gallery 

Between hopping between shops, stop into Snark Park on the second floor.

You'll find an immersive installation called "Lost & Found" by New York-based design studio Snarkitecture. After walking past a giant claw machine and through a velvet curtain, visitors will come upon 75 white columns of varying heights in what looks like a forest and ruins. Twenty-six of them are outfitted with surprises — some can be sat in, walked into and peered through. All of them can be touched and should be because many of them are furnished with Ping-Pong balls, faux fur, beads, mirrors and more. Tickets are $18 per person and $10 per child at snarkpark.com.

Fun fact: Snark Park is named by Snarkitecture, which takes its name from the Lewis Carroll poem, "The Hunting of the Snark."

While you're there, get an early dessert at Kith 

Clearly, we don't respect traditional eating schedules. Snarkitecture has partnered with KITH Treats, which has a full menu of ice creams, right in its lobby. Although we haven't tried all the flavors, we'd suggest ordering "The Snark." It is a delicious blue-tinted ice cream made with Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp cereals. If you didn't know, Kith makes all of its ice cream with cereal, and that's why we love it.

Work it off by climbing The Vessel 

It's quite a spectacle to look at from afar and it is a marvel to climb, too.

The Vessel, which resembles a hive, is a steel colossus that rises from the center of Hudson Yards with 2,500 individual steps, 80 landings and 154 interconnecting flights of stairs that together create a mile-long vertical pathway within the public gardens.

Fun fact: The huge platform, designed by Heatherwick Studios in England, was actually created in Italy and traveled by ship to New York City.

There are two options to climb it — either you book a same day free ticket in advance for a one-hour climb or you can pay $10 for the Flex Pass to have the ability to arrive at any time between 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Just FYI, the Flex Pass isn't likely to have day-of access.

Grab dinner at Queensyard 

You've probably worked up an appetite from climbing The Vessel, so head back down to queensyard (20 Hudson Yards, level 4), the British-inspired restaurant on the fourth floor of the Shops and Restaurants. The beautifully decorated posh eatery has views of The Shed performing arts center and dishes that pull inspiration from British cuisine, in its lunch, brunch and dinner menus. Try the buttermilk chicken sandwich, the fish and chips, the double-decker burger, crab risotto (pictured) or salmon for dinner. The "Fab!" cocktail made with vodka, lavender elderflower, lemon and prosecco is a crowd-pleaser. For reservations, call 212-377-0780.

See a show at The Shed 

After dinner, walk down to The Shed, which you saw from queensland's windows, for a show.

The 200,000-square-foot arts center at 545 W. 30th St. always has something going on, from gallery exhibits like one on Agnes Denes in the fall to the action-packed "Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise." 

Check its website for scheduling and to buy tickets ahead of time.

Fun fact: The Shed has a 500-seat black box theater and a flexible hall that can seat 1,250 people or 3,000 standing. The flexible hall, which is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, has a wall that moves on a double-wheel track like what is found in shipping ports and railway systems. It can withstand hurricane-force winds, too.

Grab a drink at Cedric's 

After a long day and a good show, grab a drink to end your time at Hudson Yards. Luckily for you, Cedric's is inside The Shed's lobby and resembles a high-end living room, which makes for a comfortable place to sit and wind down. Cedric's is Danny Meyer's second bar and it's led by the team behind Porchlight, which means its drinks are legit, whether you order the Hudson Highstep (a boilermaker with "a spirited kick"), the Squeaky Wheel Negroni, a craft beer or glass of wine. It's open most nights until midnight.

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