There’s no other place on Earth like New York City. The Big Apple is unashamedly big, bold and boisterous and a feast for the senses.
There’s the sight of the Statue of Liberty and the roaring sound of the crowd at the Yankee Stadium. You can smell pretzels and ﬁlter coffee on every street corner and enjoy the taste of pizza and pasta in Little Italy.
Then, ﬁnally, there’s the feeling of knowing that you’re standing in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities.
Making the most of every single minute in New York is what visiting the city is all about, from seeing the bright lights of Times Square and experiencing the energy of Chinatown to relaxing with a stroll around Central Park and admiring an Andy Warhol or a Jackson Pollock at the MOMA.
New York, New York – it’s a “hell of a town”!
See New York’s best sites: but not in the way you think
Yes, despite what we’d have you believe, New Yorkers do hang at the big tourist sites. We do go to Broadway shows, the Met and Central Park. How could you live in the greatest city in the world and not take advantage of some world’s best attractions?
The difference, though, is this: we know how to do it better than the tourists. Here are some tips on checking out the best tourist spots in New York City, the way the locals do.
Visit the Brooklyn Museum of Art maybe, not the Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the biggest draws to NYC is the museum scene. There are around 100 museums here. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the Museum of Natural History are the heavy hitters, receiving millions of visitors each year.
Obviously, New Yorkers visit these museums. The Met’s and the Museum of Natural History’s donation-based entry fees are hard to pass up. MoMA’s free Fridays (though uncomfortably crowded) make for a great ﬁrst date.
But a lot of New Yorkers don’t make a habit of hitting up the big museums more than once or twice a year. The Brooklyn Museum of Art (BMA) is where all the cool kids go to check out shows.
For one thing, BMA shows a lot of contemporary Brooklyn art, which means you can browse the permanent exhibits in the impressionist, modern and Egyptian art galleries before checking out the cool hot thing.
Its free Fridays also blow MoMA’s out of the harbor. BMA hosts a freakin’ dance party in the museum, on a giant glass dance ﬂoor in the impressionist wing.
Honorable mentions: PS1 and the City Reliquary. Also, great; also not the Met.
Try Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room, not Top of the Rock
You won’t see too many New Yorkers at Top of the Rock anymore.
It used to be a pretty cool secret. “Go here instead of to the Empire State Building. It’s less crowded. It’s less expensive.”
Nowadays, everyone knows about Top of the Rock. Which means New Yorkers only come here if they get pressured by out-of-town guests to do so. And tickets are now upwards of
$34 a pop for adults. That’s like three drinks in Brooklyn. Maybe two in Manhattan. What’s a hip, starving artist to do?
Luckily, we have Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room. It’s a swank bar that’s one ﬂoor below the main observation deck at Top of the Rock. You can stay inside; you can go outside. Either way, you’re getting basically the same view as you would get with a Top of the Rock ticket.
The elevator up to the bar is free.
Of course, nothing in New York is really ‘free’. You’re going to have to buy a drink here and drinks aren’t cheap: most of them cost around $25. But before you start pulling your hair out at the costs of drinks in the city, let’s do the math, shall we?
One drink is cheaper than your Top of the Rock ticket. And you get a drink. Best. Math. Ever.
Honorable mention: the rooftop at the Met (open May through October) has awesome views and comes as a perk of admission.
See a show at the Bell House and maybe on Broadway
Broadway shows are half the reason to live in NYC. Every New Yorker I know spends a stupid amount of time every day signing up for the Hamilton lottery.
But New Yorkers also know that one cannot survive on Broadway shows alone. There’s just so much more the city has to offer.
The Bell House is one of the most popular places to see a live performance in Brooklyn and the cool thing about the Bell House is they don’t just focus on one thing.
They do music, comedy and spoken word shows (including podcasts).
One of their most popular offerings is The Moth story slam, a monthly storytelling competition that’s been featured on the TV show Girls.
Sit in Prospect Park as well as Central Park
As much as New Yorkers love taking a jog through Central Park, we hate getting harassed by the pedicab drivers, offering to take us anywhere we’d want to go. We hate dodging tourists. And we groan at the thought of leaving our boroughs.
The rule of thumb is generally that if you live in Manhattan, you go to Central Park. If you live in Brooklyn, you go to Prospect Park.
Prospect Park is Central Park’s little sister. Located in the center of South Brooklyn, the park was developed by the same guys who created Central Park just a few years before.
Just like Central Park, Prospect Park has a boathouse, a Grand Army Plaza, a Beaux Arts arch, an ice-skating rink and a Great Lawn.
The biggest difference? Fewer tourists.
So there you go, what things to do in New York. With a twist.