City Guide to New York City
New York City is the epitome of a melting pot, taking in aspects of all cultures to create this unique and vibrant city.
New York City needs no introduction. New York City is the epitome of a melting pot, taking in aspects of all cultures to create this unique and vibrant city. There is something for every traveler, from some of the world’s best restaurants, eclectic art galleries and historic museums to the fantastic shopping of anything your heart desires – this city has it all. Amongst world-renowned attractions, it’s hard to forget that this city has roots that trace back to 1624. Previously New Amsterdam, it was founded as a trading post by Dutch settlers and eventually gifted to the Duke of York, giving the city its namesake. With its rich history, there is much to discover…
What to See: These are the top five tourist attractions in NYC, with an emphasis on tourist – but they are still worth visiting!
The Statue of Liberty: The iconic statue situated on Liberty Island is not to be missed. You can take a ferry which will range from $10-$25 depending on tours and add-ons, such as Ellis Island. If you don’t want to go through the whole process it can be easily seen from Battery Park, which is wonderful in itself.
Central Park: As most visited urban park in the United States, Central Park is always full of life and provides a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is HUGE and there are plenty of activities apart from the casual stroll. Among them are the multiple trails through the ramble, the Central Park Zoo and you can even watch a free Shakespeare in the park play at Delacorte Theatre! There is a lot to love in Central Park.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: NYC houses a plethora of world-class museums but if there is time to only visit one, it would be a shame to miss the MET. The museum has an extensive collection with over 5,000 years of art – they also have a rooftop where you can grab a drink and catch sweeping views over central park.
9/11 Memorial: Everyone remembers where they were on the day of this horrific incident, making this memorial personally impactful for all; NYC did a wonderful job in creating this to commemorate the lives lost on that day. Newly opened is the Oculus Building which is impressive architecture, it is the site of the new official mall of Manhattan and is now home to the new (smaller) downtown Eataly.
Top of the Rock: Skip the top of the Empire State Building and head to Top of the Rockefeller Center for the most breathtaking views of NYC. With three floors of viewing decks, you’ll be sure to get that Instagram worthy pic with the Empire State Building in the background that you’ve been pining for.
South Street Seaport: The Seaport is a historic area in downtown’s Financial District. Lined with cobble streets and cafés, this once quiet enclave downtown is gradually becoming more well-known because of recent boutique openings and indoor Smorgasbord. It’s the perfect brunch spot, I’ve been to almost all the restaurants and they are all equally amazing.
Cloisters: Not many make the hike up to the Cloisters (all the way up in the 200s) but it is truly magnificent. The Cloister’s are a part of the MET museum, dedicated to medieval Europe; it is made up of parts from a European abbey surrounded by gardens. This place is so peaceful, you don’t feel like you’re in NYC anymore… they even stipulated the land across the river to ensure the views remain unspoiled.
5 Pointz: located in Brooklyn, this former industrial complex is now a graffiti mecca where all the greats in the world of street art showcase their work. There are talks of one day making it into an official museum, so get there before everyone knows about it.
The Highline: The highline is a train track that has been converted into an urban park stretching from 34th street down to the Meatpacking District. The park is lined with gardens and art (you can even catch a Banksy!) as well as food stalls. It’s perfect for people watching or just for a stroll on a nice day.
Piece of the Berlin Wall: Unbeknownst to most locals, there are five pieces of the Berlin Wall scattered throughout the city; 520 Madison Avenue, two at Battery Park, The United Nations, Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum and at The Intrepid Museum.
Fun for Free:
MoMA Fridays: the Museum of Modern Art is free to the public on Fridays, but get there early because the lines are always long – on the bright side, they usually move pretty fast.
The Museum at FIT: The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is a gem known to most in the fashion industry. It’s free and known for their innovative exhibitions; the museum also houses over 50,000 garments stretching from the 18th century to present day.
NY Public Library: The New York Public library is one of the largest in the world; they offer free tours daily or you can explore on your own and they also host the occasional exhibition. This building is one of my favorites in the city – the architecture is simply stunning.
Brooklyn Brewery Tour: Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 1PM – 5PM. They are located in Williamsburg, just one stop from Manhattan on the subway.
What to Eat:
Grand Banks: is an oyster bar aboard a wooden schooner docked at Tribeca’s pier 25. Their specialties are small seafood plates, raw bar and crafted cocktails. It’s seasonal, and the perfect place to wind down and catch the sunset after a long day. ($9-$27)
Jack’s Wife Freda: specializes in American-Mediterranean cuisine and classic cocktails. Most loved dishes include the green shakshuka, rose water waffles, duck bacon and prego roll. Don’t skip the Cantaloupe mimosa and be sure to have your camera ready as this is one of the most instagramed brunch spots in town! ($7-$25)
Buvette: Buvette is comparable to a mini Parisian café. This small-plate only establishment changes their menu often and it is always exquisite. Be aware that this place is tiny and there is almost always a wait but it is well worth it. Try the Croquet Madame. ($6-$20)
Waverly Inn: one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. The historic Waverly Inn was built in 1911 and still maintains its charm today. The dining room’s interior wall is a hand-painted mural of all the west village greats – artists, writers and poets by Edward Sorel. Request garden seating in the back. ($18-$60)
Dirty French: this upscale French bistro is located in the lively Lower East Side neighborhood. Trendy and vibrant with the food being equally that in addition to killer cocktails. ($18-$60)
Try this: local favorites that are sure to hit the spot!
Katz’s Deli Pastrami on rye – located in the Lower East Side, this place has been open for more than 120 years!
Russ & Daughters lox bagels – a New York staple, the lox bagels here are the best in the city.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza – so ridiculously delicious, this hearty slice is made with mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese, cream sauce, spinach and artichoke hearts.
LeVain Cookies –$4 a pop but they are huge and worth it!
IL Laboratoria Del Gelato – life changing gelato.
Le Bain: located on the 18th floor of the Standard Hotel, Le Bain cannot be missed. The duplex club has a lot to offer. Upstairs is open air lined with glass railings so you can take in sweeping views of the Hudson River and downstairs is dimly lit with thumping music and even a Jacuzzi! The best time to go is during sunset where you can lounge back with your pitcher-sized libations and take it all in.
Biergarten at The Standard: Also located in the standard is the Biergarten. A classic, non-pretentious beer garden where you can get a soft pretzel with your beer while you play ping pong.
Pod 39 Hotel Rooftop: is lined with terra-cotta columns and Mexican tiled tables with stringed lights that seem to blend with the surrounding views. Grab a taco at Salvation Taco in the lobby before you head up to catch the sunset with cocktail in hand.
Beauty and Essex: The entrance is a fully functioning pawnshop but once you head into the back door there is a grand room with dining space and massive chandelier. P.S. Free champagne in the ladies room!
The Jane Hotel: The Jane always hosts a youthful crowd while the space holds old-world ambiance, lavishly decorated with antique rugs and a grand fireplace.
Subway: The cheapest way to get around the city is the subway. New York City’s subways are one of the easiest to figure out – you can even download one of the many apps, such as CityMapper, that will give you step by step directions on how to get from point A to point B. ($2.75 one way)
Bus: Buses are great to get across town from east to west or vice versa. Their fare runs the same as a subway ride ($2.75 one way) and a MetroCard can be used.
Taxi: Taxi’s are prevalent throughout the city, just walk towards a street and you’re sure to run into one. To figure out cost ahead of time, visit taxifarefinder.com (Base fare is $2.50 and goes up 40 cents every one-fifth of a mile)
Uber/Lyft/Via: Car service apps are abundant in the city. There is Uber which ranges around $10-$35 depending on distance – they also have UberPool, which is a cheaper alternative ($5) but will pick up others that are heading in the same direction. Similar to UberPool is Via, which ranges $4-$8 and is also ride sharing. Lyft is a good alternative to the classic Uber; most find their fares to be cheaper than Uber’s. ($6-$30)
The weather here is capricious. Make sure you check the weather every day before going out and if your app says 40% chance of rain, it will probably rain.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. NYC is a walking town and it can’t be stressed to visitors enough. If you are really adamant about wearing heels, be sure to bring flats with you.
Don’t stand in the middle of a sidewalk. This is one of my biggest pet peeves of tourists – It’s just common sense!
It will probably take you much longer to get to a destination than you expect. With traffic and train delays one should allocate a reasonable amount of time to get from point A to point B.
GET LOST! There are streets that I still have yet to walk down myself, especially in the west village and SoHo; you never know what you’ll find.