21 things to do in New York
Liz de Fegely spent three months living in New York for an internship back in 2010. She recently returned for a week in May at the end of a two month trip around the States. Although not quite as long as she would’ve liked to spend there, it gave her a pretty good taste of the city that never sleeps. We have twisted her arm to let us in on the best things to do there.
- Brooklyn Bridge: Walking across the bridge you’ll get an amazing view of Manhattan and out across the harbour. It’s an incredible piece of architecture and gives you a perspective of just how massive New York is.
- Outdoor Cinema Brooklyn Park: A friend and I stumbled upon this after walking across the bridge and having a few wines at the River Café on the Brooklyn side (definitely worth the splurge for one drink). During Summer, the cinema is set up on the Harbour View Lawn at Pier 1, and has an insanely good view of the New York skyline across the water.It’s hard not to be torn between watching the screen and the sun setting over the city scape. BYO a picnic rug and a sneaky bottle of wine for the perfect
Summer evening. Movies with a View is on every Thursday night from July until the end of August. A DJ warms the crowd up from 6pm before the sun goes down for the movie to start.
- Jump on the L train: And head to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.You can spend the day trawling thrift and vintage stores, like Beacon’s Closet, which has racks brimming with second hand gems, costume jewellery and one-off vintage wares.If you’re after a more cultural experience, have a look into Art 101 (101 Grand Street), a gallery that showcases artists from all walks of life, but also a lot of up and coming locals. Bedford Ave and Lorimer St are both havens for bars and cafes and will have you entertained for hours. Have a peek at The L Magazine before you head to Williamsburg. This blog will give you the lowdown on music, film, art, food, events, and has a whole bunch of entertaining reviews and blogs. Check out their article on the 50 Best Blocks in Brooklyn: it’s a guide on everything from the Block for All the Asian Food to the Block for Accidental Voyeurism.
- Hit up Alphabet City and the Lower East Side: This is one of my favourite areas of Manhattan. There are so many bars, coffee shops and restaurants at every turn. There’s also a ton of live music at any night of the week, so it’s pretty tough to find yourself left wanting.
- Galleries: Even if you don’t think you’re much of an art connoisseur, you’ve got to venture into at least one gallery. The MET and MOMA are probably the biggest standouts. Also up there is the Guggenheim, the Frick (my favourite, the Frick collection is one of the largest private collections of art and displayed in Henry Frick’s original home opposite Central Park), and the NeueGalerie (an eclectic collection of German and Austrian art). All are beautiful buildings just to wander around and most have fantastic cafes and restaurants when you get gallery fatigue. The admission for these can be pricey so choose your visiting time wisely. MOMA has free admission on Friday nights 4-8pm, the MET has an optional donation entry (even though this isn’t really advertised) and the Frick is is pay-what-you-want on Sundays from 11am-1pm. There’s a list of the hundreds of galleries and museums here at NYC Go.
- Central Park: You can’t go to New York and not go to Central Park. Whether it’s walking/running around the lake or having a picnic in a quiet shady nook somewhere. It’s beautiful at any time of the year, and the perfect place to get lost in when the city gets a bit too hectic.
- Bryant Park: Along with Central Park, this is another not to be missed. There’s always something going on – yoga, music, ping pong, an outdoor cinema, performances
off Broadway, an artist in residence and, in Winter, it’s transformed into an inner city ice skating rink. The gardens and lawns aredotted with tables and chairs, so take a picnic lunch and catch some respite from the craziness of midtown. It’s also the New York Public Library’s back yard, so on your way to the Park, pop in to wander through the maze of corridors and beautiful book-lined rooms. After, grab a drink at the Bryant Park bar, pull up a seat and watch the world go by.
- Couchsurf: New York is an expensive place. Even though Melbourne and Sydney are hot on its tail, accommodation in New York is pretty exponential for someone on a budget. And, really, NY just hasn’t worked out how to do hostels very well (although I
have heard the Loft in Brooklyn is worth a shot). With couchsurfing you can stay with a local and they’ll give you guides and tips that are a hell of a lot better and up to date than mine here. It’s a great way to meet new people and feel a little less like a tourist.
- Harlem: Harlem’s got a great vibe and an incredible mix of people. Head out for some traditional creole/cajun/soul food (Sylvia’s at 328 Lenox Ave is famous for it) and follow up with a late night jazz club like the Lenox Lounge (288 Lenox Ave).
- Chelsea -High Line and the Chelsea Markets: The Highline is a city park that follows an elevated freight railway for about 19
blocks starting in the Meatpacking District. It looks out over the water and is lined with contemporary art, gardens and public spaces that host events throughout the year (including guided nature walks, stargazing and food tours). Once you’ve worked up an appetite head down to the Chelsea markets tofill your basket with gourmet fare – choosing from seafood, soups, thai, fresh fruit, baked goods, wine – everything here is sure to satisfy.
- Get out of the City: get a ride share (through craigslist.com) or jump on the train from Penn Station to Long Island. Last time I was there we went to visit a friend in Stony Brook, only 50 minutes out of the city but, once there, it felt like hours away. Great for some peace of mind walking through beautiful forests, along the beach, or just
wandering around admiring the massive old homes dotted along the sound.
- The Strand: This bookshop near Union Square boasts 18 miles of new, second hand and rare books. It’s easy to get lost in, but you won’t leave empty handed.(www.strandbooks.com)
- The Rockefeller: The Top of the Rock’s a bit cheaper than the Empire State’s observation deck and has arguably a better view as you get the Empire State in it. Go at sunset and make sure you pick a clear night so you can see all the way down Long Island Sound and back behind you to New Jersey. After, if you have a bit of extra pocket change, have a drink at the Rainbow Room on the 65th Floor.
- Head upstate: Connecticut and Upstate New York are both stunning areas with loads of quaint villages, beautiful homes and natural forests. Join New Yorkers migrating north in theFall season to see the brilliant array of autumn colours, or go apple picking and pumpkin harvesting.
- Go through the Weekend NY Times and grab a copy ofTimeOutMagazine or The New Yorker to peruse the listings of live music, festivals, plays, musicals and exhibitions to plan your week ahead. Grab a coffee (for the best brew on the Lower East Side try Ninth Street Espressoat 700 E. 9th Street, or Bowery Coffee at 89 E. Houston Street) a pen
and start circling.
- Staten Island Ferry: There’s nothing much on Staten Island itself, but worth the free ferry ride there and back just to get an incredible perspective of Manhattan and a close up of the Statue of Liberty.
- Markets:For vintage clothes and trinkets head to Hell’s Kitchen (426 W39th Street, between 9th and 10th Ave: 9am-5pm on the weekend), Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene (every Saturday), P.S. 321 Flea Market (Park Slope), Williamsburg Flea Market, or Noho (open 7 days!). Greenflea (Columbus Ave, between 76th and 77th) is a hotpot of local handmade and imported crafts, antiques, books and fresh produce. New Yorkers also love a good farmer’s market. Grow NYC has set up Greenmarket: regular farmers markets that are popping up all over the city (grownyc.com). Also try the one at Union Square; it’s small but great with anything from warm bakery treats to fresh fruit and veg.
- Lunch in Soho: Worth the splurge. Find a nice outdoor table and sit back for a long lunch and some good people watching. Soho is a never ending catwalk of trendy and crazy people. Try French restaurant Jacques on Prince Street for some mouth-watering mussels, fresh crusty bread and delicious white wine.
- See a musical on Broadway: The list of musicals to choose from is overwhelming.Get cheap early bird tickets by lining up at the ticket booth the morning of the performance, at least an hour before the booths open just to be safe. Post-performance try to stay clear of the epilepsy-inducing lights of Times Square and opt for somewhere cosy with a good wine list like Chez Josephine
(414 West 42nd Street, Theatre Row), a French jazz bar complete with pianist and a classy 50s décor.
- Have a drink at Grand Central Station: The main foyer is the spectacular hub of transport in New York. It’s an exciting experience to have a drink at either of the bars at the head of the main foyer and watch the masses of city commuters beneath you.
- WALK: Walk everywhere in New York – it’s the only way to stumble upon hidden deli’s, coffee shops, bars, parks, shops and people! Just get lost in the place.
There are so much more than 21 things to do in New York; these were just the first that came to mind.
Been to New York? Post any of your favourite things to do there below.