Local Living In New York
POSTED BY Mavy | June 12, 2015
Label: City Breaks, Food Travel, New York City, North America, Travel Tips
If you’re planning a stay in New York you might be thinking it’s all about the Empire State Building and Times Square. But while there’s something to be said for the tourists sights, any local will tell you to avoid Midtown and check out all the amazing treats the rest of the city has in store.
For true local living in New York, you’re best to rent an apartment (you can find greats deals in Brooklyn and Queens and some bijou places in Manhattan) and check out Wholefoods and the food markets, as well as dining out. You may even want to explore by bike, if you’re feeling brave…
With so many opportunities for sightseeing in New York, it’s hard to know where to start, so here’s our guide to The Big Apple’s hotspots that locals love.
While most New Yorkers say they “wouldn’t be seen dead” in Times Square and that much of Midtown is “a wasteland”, Manhattan still has a huge array of very cool attractions, bar and eateries.
One New York institution that’s as popular with locals as it is with tourists is
MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Founded in 1929 it’s home to more than 100,000 pieces of modern artwork, by artists including Van Gogh, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Pollock and Picasso. It’s a vast space with lots to see, but as you’ll find most of the major works in the top two floors, start from the top and work your way down. Current exhibitions include one dedicated to the work of Yoko Ono (running until Sept 7th 2015) and Gilbert and George: The Early Years (running until Sept 27th 2015).
But while every city guide raves about MoMA, the museum locals describe as “amazing and underrated” is The Frick Collection. This spectacular Upper East Side art museum is found in a Millionaires’ Row mansion built by prickly steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. Rarely busy, this stunning space feels intimate and a million miles away from the bustle of the city.
You’ll also find locals mingling with the tourists at The New Museum, The Guggenheim and Chelsea’s galleries.
If you're looking to escape the crowds and get away from it all, copy the locals and head ABOVE it all. The High line is a beautifully planted mile long public park built on a historic freight rail line, elevated above street level. Running from 34th Street down to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District between 10th and 11th Avenue, this creative landscape boasts spectacular views and sunsets and is the perfect place to stroll and relax.
Shoppers can dip into nearby Chelsea Market, with its food hall and boutiques, or stroll across to the Flatiron District, a great destination for artisan food, clothing and lovers of design.
Foodies should also check out Gansevoort Market, New York’s newest food hall, located in the Meatpacking District.
Food and Drink in Manhattan
When it comes to drinks with friends and restaurants in New York, you will always find yourself spoilt for choice in Manhattan, with hundreds of establishments the locals love.
Once known as NYC’s dullest neighbourhood, the Upper East Side (or UES), once is having a fashionable renaissance thanks to some great new eateries and bars.
Italian food fans will love UVA, or for incredible seafood and an award-winning dessert chef check out Flex Mussels.
Stop for drinks at The Penrose Bar, a venue “inspired by old American and Cork traditions”. Here you’ll find old-fashioned cocktails alongside hefty beer and whisky lists.
Away from the UES, if you’re after American staples such as mac and cheese, steak and lobster, head to The Smith (East Village). This hip hangout has an upbeat vibe and also served up a Brooklyn style calamari and a terrific bibimbap (Korean rice dish).
If you’re on the hunt for an amazing pizza try the Neapolitan delights of Luzzos in the East Village or Keste Pizza and Wine in the West Village. Or for authentic tapas head to Despana in Soho and Boqueria Flatiron in Chelsea.
ABC Kitchen in Gramercy is a gorgeous restaurant with spectacular organic farm to table food and Osteria Morini in SoHo is another favourite for Italian food.
For drinks nearby, take in the views at Above Sixty SoHo, a cool rooftop bar that’s re-opening in July 2015.
While some New Yorkers shun brunch, it’s still a big deal with locals and visitors alike. If you are prepared to queue on weekends, try Lower East Side’s The Egg Shop, a cafe dedicated to the art of the egg sandwich. If you become a bit brunched out, try a totally different blend of breakfast and lunch at Miss Lily’s downtown, known for its tasty Caribbean menu and lovely staff.
There’s a drinking den in the city to suit everyone. From McSorley’s, one of New York’s oldest bars, complete with sawdust-covered floor, to the bespoke cocktails of Ward III, in the Financial District.
Chinatown offers a taste of ‘real’ New York at 169 Bar on East Broadway. A place with an 80 year history, pool and dancing, locals love it as it’s “one of the last, oldest and original bars, in one of the last original hoods in Manhattan”.
Just a stones throw away, but at the other end of the spectrum is hipper than hip Apotheke. A hidden bar with no proper entrance, here you’re served cocktails from mixologists in lab coats.
Often over-looked, as New York’s most international borough, Queens is great on the food front, with restaurants serving very kind of cuisine imaginable.
Locals rave about the Bosnian dishes at Cevabdzinica Sarajevo, the Greek food at Ovelia and the many impressive Italian restaurants in Astoria.
But that’s not all Queens has to offer. MoMA PS1 in the neighbourhood of Long Island City is the smaller, cooler relative of Manhattan’s museum of Modern Art. Known for their talent of discovering and displaying the best and boldest new contemporary art, it’s a place to see and be seen.
Art fans may also enjoy The Noguchi Museum, celebrating the life and work of sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
Most NYC locals will tell you a trip to the Big Apple’s not hip, without a visit to the borough of Brooklyn.
A big draw is The Brooklyn Bowl. As well as “bad-ass” bowling, this is an amazing live music venue that also hosts big dance parties.
Just across the road is The Wythe Hotel, whose stunning Art Deco rooftop bar offers breath-taking views of the Manhattan skyline. This is the cheapest place you’ll find rooftop drinks in NYC, so definitely worth a visit. The hotel also has a screening room/cinema that’s home to The Brooklyn Film Festival (May/June).
Film fans will also love The Nitehawk Cinema, where you can order food directly to your seat.
If you’re visiting in June, you can’t miss the Northside festival, which boasts 400 bands, 150 speakers and 50 films spread in seven days.
Williamsburg, with its famous flea market, is hipster central and home to lots of great places to eat and drink. However, those in the know may tell you that Bushwick is the new Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, with its cool galleries and eateries, is actually the new Bushwick.
Brooklyn’s certainly not short of places to eat, with its vibrant (and occasionally accused of being overhyped) food scene. Known for its BBQ joints, try Fette Sau for your fix. Or head to the graffitied Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick for its justifiably famous pizzas.
This is the borough where you’ll also find Coney Island, familiar to so many of us from its numerous film appearances. Enjoy its beach, amusement park and aquarium and visit the original Nathan's Hot Dog stand. If you’re around in late June the unique Mermaid Parade is a great bit of fun.
While many locals will tell you Staten Island’s historical attractions are not necessarily worth the journey, the ferry itself is worth a ride on a clear day, with great views of The Statue of Liberty.
If you do decide to visit, The Ship Graveyard is perfect photograph fodder for Instagrammers and skaters will love 5050, New York’s only indoor skate park.
While you’re there grab a ribs or a burger and a beer at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. This slice of the Wild West is off the beaten track, so you’re guaranteed to be in the company of locals, who come for the cheap beer and country-heavy jukebox.
The birthplace of hip hop, there are still some interesting places from musical legend in The Bronx, such as Kool Herc’s house - home to the first ever true hip hop block party.
But there’s also more to be discovered in this borough, especially if you like seafood. Found at the extreme western end of The Long Island Sound, City Island is worth the trip. Reminiscent of a small New England fishing village, here you’ll find vistas of pretty boats and great restaurants serving up, crab, lobster, oysters and clams. With Bronx’s only decent public stretch of sand, Ocean Beach, nearby, you can combine a visit to the two.
A visit to New York is a must when visiting America. With an endless supply of things to do and see, you can truly see why the call it the city that never sleeps. To get the most out of it, fit in as many local experiences as you can. Stray from the crowds and make your own tracks.