I wore shorts today, for the first time this year.
Hallelujah! It’s finally spring!
And you know what that means…just like my winter-pale gams, pretty soon the tourists will be coming out of hibernation and visiting NYC.
I love my city. I’ve lived in NYC for seven years, and every day, I still have to pinch myself that I’m living in the greatest city in the world.
But I’m not going to lie, there’s a huge different between “Touristy New York” and “Locals New York.” For example: Ask any New Yorker, and they’ll lament to you how they stay away from Times Square like the plague. Which is a sensible practice if you want to keep your sanity. Or if you care to protect your blood pressure.
Here’s my list of how to “do up” New York like a local!
1. Skip the Uber, take the Subway!
Sure taxis are iconic, and Ubers are the epitome of convenience, but nothing will make you feel like a kick a** New Yorker like tackling the subway. It’s truly so user friendly. Download the MTA Subway app on your phone – or use Google Maps – and it shows you exactly which train to take to get to your destination. You’ll be sure to see awesome subway performers, authentic New York street fashion, and if you’re lucky, you might even end up on the Hot Dudes Reading on Trains Instagram account….a secret guilty pleasure of all NYC single ladies 🙂 hehe ((And while you’re on the train – support the blog by listening to a Free Audiobook 😉 ))
2. Bring good walking shoes
Nothing beats a beautiful stroll through the wonky streets of the West Village — unless, your feet hurt. New York is literally made for walking around. I know the island seems intimidating, but every neighborhood has its own feel and look. Soho, Hells Kitchen, Alphabet City, Midtown West, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy – they are all so different. But you’re not going to get the full experience from the back of a cab or *cringe* a tourbus. You’ve gotta have feet on the pavement. Go into the shops, stop at a non-chain coffee shop, go into a hole-in-the-wall art shop. Explore!
3. Skip Central Park, and go to a Rooftop Bar Instead!
OK, this one is going to be controversial, I know. But when it comes to Central Park…I’ve always been…underwhelmed. Unless it’s a Saturday afternoon in June, and I’m picnicking with my friends and we’re two glasses of rosè deep, I just don’t get that excited about it. It’s a big park. If you’re feeling like being outdoorsy and want to do something that will feel iconicly New York, go to a rooftop bar. The views are breathtaking, and you’ll get to experience why New Yorkers put up with the crappy, freezing, endless winters: for the rooftop parties and bars. Go at night, go during the day – just go.
4. For the love, SKIP BUBBA GUMPS.
OK – you are in NYC. We have more restaurants per square foot than anywhere in the world. (And that is not fact checked, so don’t quote me.) BUT – opening a restaurant in NYC is every chef’s dream. PLEASE DO NOT GO TO A CHAIN RESTAURANT!! I know the Olive Garden in Times Square is convenient, and serves unlimited breadsticks, but branch out, people! Book a table on OpenTable – it’s so easy. The Meatpacking District has some incredible restaurants. So does the East Village. And around Bleeker Street. Not only will you get to experience some incredible cuisine, but it offers fascinating “people watching.” I was walking past the Blue Water Grill last night in Union Square, and I literally saw Alec Baldwin sitting the window, having dinner. You never know who you’ll see!
5. Yes, do Broadway, but also show MUSIC some love too!
The live music scene in NYC is unreal. This city is bursting at the seams with talented people, just waiting to be discovered. I cannot believe I’m sharing this, because I don’t want the secret to get out, but “The Bar Next Door” at La Lanterna has amazing live music. Go for the flatbread pizzas and stay for the music. 🙂 Plus, you’ll get to see Washington Square park 🙂 (And – use the TKTS App to get discounted Broadway tickets!)
6. Skip the Statue of Liberty, Spend an afternoon in Battery Park City instead.
OK, so this one is a must. Everyone has two bucket list items on their NYC list: Times Square (ugh), and the Statue of Liberty. Here’s the thing about The Lady: she is in the middle of the Hudson River, and so taking the boat, and the tour, and getting the boat back…it is an all day deal. And when you’re there, unless you climb all the way to the top of the crown – it’s a bit of an over-hype situation. SO my suggestion is to spend the afternoon in Lower Manhattan.
Might I suggest:
Starting off at the 9/11 memorial. It actually is a “touristy” stop that really is worth it. In all seriousness, I think it is so important to remember and honor that tragedy. Afterwards, go to lunch at Pier A. It is a fun restaurant that is literally on The southern-most tip of Manhattan. You can sit outside, and practically spit on the Statue of Liberty. So take in Lady Liberty with a gigantic tower of freshly shucked oysters and a cold Brooklyn Brewery lager, from afar. Then afterwards, take a stroll along the Hudson River in Battery Park. The views are like none other.
7. DO BRUNCH
It’s a NYC institution. Carve out a couple hours on a Sunday after church and just pay for the overpriced scrambled eggs and avocado toast. New York is known for their boozy brunch with bottomless mimosas and party atmosphere. It is to be experienced. Come with an appetite, cancel your plans for later.
Three final tips: 1) All Taxis take credit cards – NYC is practically cashless. 2) If you’re a light sleeper and are sensitive to sirens/street noise, bring some ear plugs. 3) Screenshot the subway map below so that you can access it without the internet when you’re underground! 🙂
So there ya go. NYC is truly the greatest city in the world, and if you go – I hope these tips will help you get the real flavor of NYC — not the touristy version! 🙂
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