Travel Guide | New York

Fun Summer Spots in the Concrete Jungle

3 NYC Hot Spots to Help you Live Like a Local

By Diana Odero, Chapman University

New York is known as the city that never sleeps right? I can tell you right now that whoever said that was NOT lying one bit! I have been to NY many times before but never in the summer time, weirdly enough I am always here at the worst time-winter! That’s a story for another day though… I relocated here from California so I literally am living like a local and will soon be local in months to come. I have spent about a month and a few days here so still on that tourist vibe, discovering new places everyday I step out my door. Some of you may wonder what fun things you can get up to in the big apple despite the usual shopping, eating and partying.. There is actually a lot more to this city then we give it credit for and I want to share some of those fun spots with you all so you can experience them next time you visit New York. I have 3 major spots to share today and as I go on more adventures I shall discover more and add them to this list. First up…


Specifically 125th st. I am currently living in Harlem and I absolutely love it! Most people wouldn’t consider Harlem as a fun, or enjoyable living environment due to the stereotypical stories out there but there are parts of Harlem that are serene, peaceful and still have that community feel to it. I live particularly on 125th and Broadway which is right near Columbia University so it’s mainly a neighborhood filled with fellow college students and professors.

Being here I have taken the time to explore Harlem for myself and what I love most about Harlem is the culture within it. You already feel like you belong even though you may be passing by or only here for a while.. it is very welcoming and homely. During my first few weeks here I have actually spent a lot of time experiencing different areas of Harlem and my favorite part has to be 125th street. It is the most iconic street in Harlem and is one of the busiest as well. Filled with shops, restaurants, salons, theaters, churches etc it literally has everything you would want or need on one long street.

Being the food lover that I am, I’ve gotten a taste of various different cuisines found here in the heart of Harlem. Here are a couple of restaurants I definitely recommend for my fellow college tourists and everyone else as well-

Manna’s: A buffet style restaurant serving up the best soulfood in New York city, if ever you have a craving for some good fried chicken, cornbread and mac & cheese, this is THE place to hit up, very affordable as well.

Les Ambassadeur: Also another authentic restaurant but this time serving up Senegalese cuisine with a classic touch. This restaurant is more high end than Manna’s, with its hotel like feel, its fine dining with great service and amazing food. If you like spicy food and wanna try authentic Senegalese food, Les Ambassadeur will hook you up.

Red Rooster: I put up an Instagram post about this place because I really enjoyed myself here. Located on 125th and Lenox, Red Rooster is a very famous restaurant due to the fact that world renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson owns it. Having just opened last winter it really is thriving with energy during the summer. It’s quite on the higher end price wise but the experience is very much worth your money. With a live band, full bar and exquisite dining area one cannot just pass by it. People of all cultures gather here to enjoy themselves be it Tuesday night or Saturday night, it’s always a buzz with activity and fun energy.

You cannot come to Harlem and not walk along 125th St and try out these restaurants, be adventurous and you may even become a regular like I will quite soon!

Red Rooster Harlem image

Red Rooster-Harlem


I recently stumbled upon this place while I was on Wall Street downtown meeting a friend for lunch. Having lived in California for so long the longing for the beach is a given and as much as there was no beach here, it kind of came close to that oceanside feeling I craved. Seaport is a little hidden gem of New York tucked down all the way on wall street. Right by the Hudson is this serene area filled with seaside inspired shops and restaurants as well as well known boutiques and stores. Along the pier are boats and water taxis parked waiting for the enormous number of tourists and locals who take rides from Seaport to the other side of the Hudson i.e. Brooklyn.

From here you can catch a fantastic view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge, enjoy some cocktails and crab while relaxing on the beach chairs placed on the deck. Perfect way to spend a sunny friday afternoon if you don’t have to work as the weekends get really packed. I like coming here to catch up on my reading sitting by the lake and just have a chill summer day out. P.S(Beware of the man holding a snake asking you to take a picture.. I am terrified of snakes so that really freaked me out!)

seaport new york nyc image

Prospect Park-Brooklyn

I don’t frequent Brooklyn as much due to the distance from where I am staying but just for the experience I decided to take a trip down there as a friend of mine had told us of a concert that would be taking place at Prospect park celebrating Brooklyn as a community… See how involved New Yorkers are within their respective boroughs??

Anyway, so Brooklyn is beautiful! I see why people still would rather live here than in Manhattan. It seems more of the suburban side of New York or the homely side I would say as it is one of the few boroughs that actually has houses as well tall apartment blocks. Lack of many sky scrapers here makes it less intimidating and less corporate and more wholesome with people walking their dogs and riding their bikes around the neighborhood… the usual neighborhood feel.

Prospect park is a large park right in the middle of Brooklyn with various picnic sites and of course a center stage for summer concerts that frequently happen here. We got to watch a band from Sierra Leone play their music here for the first time, had some awesome traditional American food and simply whiled the time away here. I am yet to fully explore Brooklyn while I still have time in New York so hoping I can catch a game at the Barclay center or better yet, catch Beyonce in concert!

Prospect Park brooklyn image

These are just but a few of the places I have toured and discovered for myself as I live like a local here in the concrete jungle! Hope you hit up some of these places when you can if ever you are in the city that definitely never sleeps!

Diana Odero

Chapman University | 19 stories

Diana is a recent graduate of Chapman University having studied Graphic Design & Sociology. She is an international student from Kenya and is currently working in Atlanta. She is an adventurous person who views the world with an artistic eye. She loves to travel, to read & write, design, cook and meet new people. In addition to writing for The College Tourist she is also working on building her brand as a freelance designer and lifestyle writer. Check out Diana's blog .

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