Visit all the great New York sights such as the Empire State building, Rockefeller Center, and the South Street Seaport. But, be sure to stop into these exceptional stores. You'll get to play a game of chess, see magic tricks, get acting tips or take a language lesson. Pick up some unique New York souvenirs and go home saying, "Only in New York!"
The Compleat Strategist (11 East 33rd St.; Tel: 212-685-3880; www.thecompleatstrategist.com) Open: Mon-Wed & Fri-Sat, 10:30am-6pm; Thurs, 10:30am-9pm; Cost: Free gaming.
If you come into town with your "army," head straight to 33rd Street for maneuvers. This store is a haven for aficionados of war-gaming, board- gaming, and role-playing. There are no video games here! This is a place for folks who actually like to get off the couch and get together with other people to play games. On Thursday nights (5-9pm), it's miniature gaming for fans of War Hammer, War Machine, Hordes, etc. On Saturdays, there's all-day gaming. 1st Sat of each month: role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons; 3rd Sat: war-gaming and board-gaming.
Idlewild Books (12 West 19th St.; Tel: 212-414-8888; www.idlewildbooks.com) Open: Mon-Thurs, 12-7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 12-6pm; Sun, 12-5pm. Cost: Language classes: $240-$300, 8 weeks.
This cozy bookstore specializes in world literature and travel guides, with an extensive selection of books in French and Spanish. All this reading might inspire you to travel abroad. Before leaving, learn to chat with the locals. The bookstore offers language lessons in French, Spanish, Italian, and German, focusing on vocabulary useful for travelers. There are also free readings and other events (and a branch in Brooklyn).
The Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th St.; Tel: 212-944-0595; dramabookshop.com) Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-7pm; Thurs until 8pm; Sun, 12-6pm; Cost: Free events.
This store is a hotbed of theatrical activity. Aspiring thespians can pick up scripts for everything from Greek tragedies to current Broadway hits. There are also tons of books, magazines, and periodicals relating to the performing arts as well as sheet music and librettos. In addition, the store has free weekly events such as well-known playwrights reading from their latest work, occasional staged readings and acting workshops taught by veteran actors and directors.
4) A Little Bit of Magic Goes a Long Way
Abracadabra (19 West 21st St.; Tel: 212-627-5194;
www.abracadabrasuperstore.com) Open: Mon-Sat, 11am-7pm; Sun, 12-5pm. Cost: Free tricks.
It's hard to keep kids amused, but this huge store is so filled with interesting oddities, they'll be kept busy for hours. Even better, just ask and one of the magicians in the store will do a few tricks and free magic demonstrations.
Chess Forum (219 Thompson St., at 3rd St.; Tel: 212-475-2369;
www.chessforum.com) Open: Daily, 11am-midnight; Cost: $5@hour
Admire and/or buy lovely chess sets and chess pieces up front; in the back, play a match. Beverages available.
Village Chess (Zinc, 82 West 3rd St., btw Thompson & Sullivan; Tel: 212-475-8130; www.chessnyc.com) Open: Daily, 10am-5pm; Cost: Free
While the store is no more, the action has moved a few doors down to Zinc (a great jazz club at night). During the day, seven days a week, you can play a match or get lessons. Coffee and baked goods available. Whether you're a novice or a Grand Master, you'll find some interesting players to challenge at both spots.