There is something special about New York City, a bustling metropolis that seems always to be moving forward while lauding its storied past. But even if you love New York, how well do you actually know it?
Tourists and newcomers may find they have a lot to learn, and even longtime residents would be hard pressed to stay abreast of all the frequent changes and developments in Manhattan and other boroughs.
Here are a few insights and tips to help augment your experience as a visitor, or even a resident.
1. View a sunset from a bridge
Yes, the Brooklyn Bridge (better known by New Yorkers as simply “the bridge”) is high on most people’s lists of sites to experience, either as a visitor or inhabitant. However, as Amber Jamieson writes for The Guardian, the Pulaski Bridge – which connects Greenpoint to Long Island City – is a great alternative that offers “the best skyline sunsets, with the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings visible just across the water,” and it can be walked or biked.
2. Take to the bay
Even for bargain-hunters, the Staten Island ferry is a steal: for no cost, you can go out on the New York Bay and savor a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the southern tip of Manhattan. On weekends, the Ikea ferry will transport you from Wall Street to the furniture store in Brooklyn, also for free (on weekdays, the cost is $5).
3. Drink with a view
Observation decks at such tourist traps as the Empire State Building, the One World Trade Center and the Rockefeller Center can be costly. This article from The Guardian advises you instead “go to a rooftop bar and make a drink or two last while you enjoy the view.” Suggested locations include the Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District; 230 Fifth in Midtown; and the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
4. Enjoy international cuisine
You are almost guaranteed to find any cuisine you desire somewhere within New York City. You should take advantage of that with a willing spirit. One delicacy especially worth trying, writes Jamieson, is the chocolate babka from Oneg, a Jewish bakery in “the middle of the deeply traditional Hasidic area of South Williamsburg.”
5. Find at least one piece of art you like
There are many options for exploring art in the city. Take, for instance, the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor that combines art and nature; you can bring a picnic and rent a bike on site. Of course, the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art (which only has a recommended admission donation of $25) and the Natural History Museum are the two largest, followed by the Brooklyn Museum, which has excellent exhibits featuring both local artists and household names, according to The Guardian. If you’re on a tight budget, visit the Whitney Museum of American Art between 7 and 10 p.m. Fridays or the Museum of Modern Art after 4 p.m. Fridays.
6. Experience the city on foot
Yes, whether you’re a resident or visitor, you’ve already done this. But you may not have yet attended a Free Tours by Foot outing to Manhattan or Brooklyn. Although you are encouraged to tip your guide, the walking tours are (true to name) free. If you’re hungry and desiring to affordably experience the flavors of the city, consider going on the Greenwich Village Food Tour or the Lower East Side Food Tour.
7. Listen to live music or make your own
Jamieson’s article includes several places to find live music: Silvana and Shrine, in Harlem; Pianos, in the Lower East Side; and Baby’s All Right and Rough Trade in Williamsburg. Want to try something different and fun with friends or family? Reserve a private karaoke room at Gagopa in Koreatown where you can bring your own beer. Rates start at $32 per hour for one to four people.
Of course, these tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best, cheapest or most meaningful way to visit or live in New York. Above all, adopt a spirit of adventure as you take on a city that offers immense cultural and social diversity at your fingertips.