New York is one of those cities where you really don’t need a guide. Get up, head out the door, and wander. Manhattan is laid out in a walker-friendly grid and adventure awaits across every street (or avenue, depending which way you’re walking). A casual stroll in New York inevitably turns into a sightseeing tour, as every neighbourhood has a unique and historic past, and vibrant present.
However, we’d be remiss not to get the insider tips from our resident New Yorker, Jenny. So if you’ve seen all the major sights already, or simply like being a little offbeat, this guide is for you. Wether you’re in the city to run the marathon, support a friend, or just take a holiday we think you’ll enjoy:
Instead of Central Park: The Highline
New York’s green spaces offer an escape from the skyscrapers and noisy streets that define city life. Central Park’s many trails and meadows allow you to forget the hectic rush of Manhattan. And while locals might appreciate the retreat (and plenty of visitors), when only in town for a short visit, spend the time getting the best of both worlds at the Highline. An elevated park built on old railway tracks, you’ll walk in between buildings, passing attractions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Chelsea Markets, while also enjoying relaxing gardens and outdoor loungers.
Instead of fancy restaurants: cheap eats!
If you’ve ever had a craving for a particular world cuisine, New York certainly offers plenty of satisfying choices. A true culinary destination, some of the finest restaurants operate in this city. The cheap eats of New York rival many of the more upscale options. Begin your day trying the endless combinations of bagel and cream cheese flavours–most corner shops offer an overwhelming selection. Continue on to Chinatown and don’t miss filling $2 dumplings to snack on while exploring the neighbourhood’s diagonal alleyways. Try not to get too full, because you have not fully experienced New York’s delicacies without tasting the famous $1 pizza, available on almost every corner. While it might sound too good to be true, dollar slices are massive, cheesy and can be loaded with hot sauce, ranch, or any other number of toppings.
Instead of SoHo: The Strand
SoHo is a shopper’s paradise. And sure, you can window shop to your hearts content on designer goods, or even bag a bargain. But if you’re after something a little more accessible, and that you can enjoy on the plane, a park bench, or over brunch don’t miss the Strand bookstore.
A massive independent bookseller, the Strand carries rare books as well as all types of gifts and trinkets. Besides the latest best sellers and classics, expect to find shelves of cookbooks, scripts and screenplays, and old, gorgeously bound hardcovers. Dig through the outdoor carts of heavily discounted novels for a unique souvenir before heading inside and getting lost amid the overflowing cases and making friends with the knowledgeable staff.
Instead of the Empire State Building: One World Trade Center
The historic Empire State Building draws massive crowds every day of the year, as people queue for the breathtaking aerial views of the city that never sleeps. Go even higher at One World Trade Center, colloquially known as Freedom Tower, that stands at the reconstructed World Trade Center complex. Together with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the area memorialises the 2001 attacks. Plan to spend a few hours at the incredibly extensive and sobering museum before heading up the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Don’t miss the nearby Oculus, a futuristic train station and mall.
Instead of a Broadway play: watch a basketball game
A visit to New York isn’t complete without a Broadway play, but for something more local why not catch a basketball game? New York has two local teams to choose from, the New York Knicks housed in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden and the Brooklyn Nets, whose home court is Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. America has plenty of fanatical sports fans and basketball games may be the best place to observe that passion. You’re guaranteed to see some famous players and other celebrities sitting courtside. If you’re still after some dancing and music, the halftime shows will surely entertain. Don’t forget to wear your team’s colours or pick up a keepsake jersey.
The basketball season runs from roughly October – April so you’re a good chance of catching a game.