How to Find the Best Manhattan Scenery

Ogling at the Maritime Hotel in New York.
Ogler's eye view of the Maritime Hotel.Photo: Jessica Craig Martin

Ogling is practically mandatory in the hot months—the key is quality (and focus), not quantity. For daytime gawking in the great outdoors, Central Park’s Sheep Meadow is the holy grail, especially by water fountains, where sinewy cyclists and bladers stop to rehydrate. To see hot dads pushing strollers (browsers only), stroll over to the grassy knoll between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges (Brooklyn side) on weekends. For random street sightings, it helps to carry a camcorder — pretend like you’re shooting your first indie (cute strangers might fancy themselves actresses). Or if you’re shy, make friends with someone who has a Manhattan roof deck and a pair of binoculars.

Of course, Manhattan is a target-rich environment. Shop for hotties by “just looking” at the new Soho Bloomingdale’s (504 Broadway), where the attendants are satisfyingly attentive—and the comfy chairs by the door are prime ogling real estate. For model-watching, the downtown “café trifecta” reigns supreme: Café Gitane (242 Mott Street near Prince Street), Café Colonial (73 East Houston Street), and Café Habana (229 Elizabeth Street). A few blocks away is Bari (529 Broadway), the coffee shop whose blocklong window unbelievably puts passersby at groin-level with stool-sitting patrons. And after all these years, waitressing at the Coffee Shop in Union Square (29 Union Square West) is still the first job for fall-down-stupid-hot girls fresh off the bus from Pensacola.

Once the sun starts to set, ride alongside environmental types with great calves in tight biker shorts every last Friday of the month, when Critical Mass ( takes back the car-clogged streets. Or watch as lapsed preppies gyrate to win a free margarita pitcher at Tortilla Flats’ Hula Hoop Wednesdays (767 Washington Street, at 12th Street). Bum a butt (while you check out theirs) from the Jersey girls outside Kenny’s Castaways (157 Bleecker Street, near Thompson). For cute, scruffy boys with complicated hair who look too cool to dance but do anyway, there’s 169 Bar (169 East Broadway, near Rutgers Street) on Thursdays. Wednesday nights at Noho suits bar Serafina (393 Lafayette Street, near Astor Place) are good for almost-famous fashionistas and the rock stars and wannabes who love them. Even better—if you can swing access to the soft launch—is Amy Sacco’s cabana bar on the roof of the Maritime Hotel (363 West 16th Street, near Ninth Avenue).

Wherever you ogle, remember to follow these basic rules: Wear dark sunglasses so people can’t see where you’re shamelessly staring. If you’re going to use someone’s slogan tee as an excuse to check out his pecs, then at least have the decency to use it (the slogan, not the chest) as a conversation starter. Never, ever point. And close your mouth.

How to Find the Best Manhattan Scenery