The Frick Collection is located on 1 East 70th street—a block of Madison Avenue. Admission is free with your Pratt ID. The collection is housed in a former private residence, and feels more like an excruciatingly posh house than a traditional museum: the furniture, rugs, books, curtains, and paneling are all untouched since the gilded age. The paintings are grouped by theme and atmosphere rather than school, so you’ll spot a Rembrandt next to Manet or a Tuner across from a Goya. You can also bring a book and spend an hour or two reading on a bench by the fountain in the lush inner courtyard. Alternatively, you can lounge around on the velvet sofas in the ladies restroom atrium, pretend to swoon, and revive yourself with smelling salts.
You can then window shop along Madison Avenue, where luxury flagship retailers line the streets. The staff at these stores are immaculately polite, even when it’s clear you’re not going to buy anything, so feel free to try on that $3,000 coat at Alexander Mcqueen (749 Madison Ave.), Oscar de la Renta (772), or Ralph Lauren (867, 878, 888).
If all this materialism is grinding down your soul, retreat to the St. James Church at 865 Madison Ave. Built in 1810, it’s a cream-colored, soft-lit, sanctuary. Come in the afternoon to light a candle and admire the stained glass, or catch a service to hear the 5,538-pipe organ.
If you’re hungry by now, stop by the Laduree New York Madison (864 Madison Ave) - an upscale pastry joint in an ultra-femme rococo setting. Laduree, based in France, claimed to have invented the French macaroon. Apparently, the original French macaron can’t be reproduced on American soil because they literally fly them overnight from Paris, which is extra bougie, but that’s kinda the point. Yes, you’ll end up dropping ten bucks for a croissant and a latte, but it’s not really that much more than Starbucks - and you can spend a while basking in the ambiance of cream and European accents and tasteful serif-font placards before you schlep home on the subway like the peasant you are.
Pro Tip: DON’T accidentally lose your debit card on this adventure. I did, and someone tried to buy a Prada handbag with it.
Illustration by Sue Lee