New York City is one of the best places on earth.
Despite having a love-hate relationship with this concrete jungle that I have called home for almost fifteen years, New York is a place that I could not easily tire of. One of the main things that I love about my city is that there is ALWAYS something going on.
Since the city is a such a popular destination for tourists, I constantly have friends coming to visit, and I am always giving recommendations, I finally decided to turn some of my many recommendations of things to do in NYC into a list.
This list does not include made-for-tourist places like the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, or Rockefeller Center. Instead, this is a list of places that I enjoy going to and experiences that I enjoy having here in my hometown.
Experience Cupcake Culture
Yes, my friends, cupcake culture is a thing in New York City. (To be more precise, the act of eating is a thing in NYC, as you will find out in this post).
Experience New York City’s cupcake culture by enjoying a cupcake from some of New York City’s most famous bakeries such as Magnolia Bakery or Molly’s Cupcakes.
Here are some cupcake shops you should try out:
- Molly’s Cupcakes | 228 Bleeker Street, Manhattan
- Billy’s Bakery | multiple locations
- Two Little Red Hens | 1652 2nd Avenue, Manhattan
Check Out A Museum (For Cheap/Free)
From time to time, I enjoy visiting the City’s museums.
One recommendation that I always give people visiting is to find out how you can get into a museum either discounted or for free. One way you can do this is to see if a museum’s admission sign says ‘Suggested General Admission’ (which will usually be in very small print). When the sign says this, it means ‘pay-what-you-wish‘.
- Museum of Natural History | Central Park W & 79th St, Manhattan (suggested donation)
- Brooklyn Museum | 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn (suggested donation)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) | 1000 5th Avenue, Manhattan (suggested donation)
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) |11 West 53 Street (Free on Fridays 4-8 PM)
- Guggenheim Museum | 1071 5th Avenue (pay-what-you-wish Saturdays 5:45-7:45 PM)
Visit an Urban Winery
Want to visit an urban winery without leaving New York City?
Check out Brooklyn Winery, Red Hook Winery, or City Winery, where you can experience both wine production and tastings.
- Brooklyn Winery | 213 N. 8 Street, Brooklyn
- City Winery | 155 Varick Street, Manhattan
- Red Hook Winery | 175 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn
Walk Across A Bridge
Something that I really love doing when the weather is warm is walking across either the Williamsburg Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The Williamsburg Bridge is much less crowded than the more famous Brooklyn Bridge, however, it will take you between two really cool neighborhoods: the Lower East Side and Williamsburg.
The Brooklyn Bridge offers stunning views of downtown Manhattan and will take you between the Financial District and DUMBO. This bridge is really popular with tourists, so it can be extremely crowded at times.
Tip for crossing Brooklyn Bridge: STAY OUT OF THE BIKE LANE. No, seriously, unless you want to lose a limb or two.
Do Sunday Brunch
One of my favorite things to do in New York City on a Sunday? Go to Sunday brunch of course!
Here in NYC, bottomless (all-you-can-drink) brunch is the name of the game, and everyone loves to do it.
Here are some of my favorite (bottomless & non-bottomless) brunch spots:
- Good Enough To Eat | 520 Columbus Avenue, Manhattan (not bottomless – but very delicious)
- Essex | 120 Essex Street, Manhattan ($25 = one entree & 3 drinks)
Check out New York City’s Street Art
Visit A Food Hall
- Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place | 200 Vesey Street, Manhattan
- Chelsea Market | 75 9th Avenue, Manhattan
- Gotham West Market | 600 11th Avenue, Manhattan
- Gansevoort Market | 353 W 14 Street, Manhattan
Attend A Food Event
If there is one thing New Yorkers like to do, it is to eat! There are more than enough food festivals, fairs, and food events during the year to fill your social calendar from January through December.
One of my favorite food festivals to attend is the biannual Madison Square Eats in the Flatiron area of Manhattan, where you can sample unique and innovative food creations such as a fusion between Korean and Mexican foods.
There are also a number of other great food events and festivals including:
- Smorgasburg [Brooklyn] | Saturdays (April to November) at the East River State Park & Sundays (April to November) at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5
- Queens County Market [Queens] | Year-Round at various locations in Queens – check their website to stay up-to-date on all of their events
- New York City Wine & Food Festival [Manhattan] | Every Fall, the NYCWFF hits New York City and the best-of-the-best exhibit the very best food and wine that NYC has to offer
Travel to New York City’s Real Little Italy
When people visit New York City and they want to visit Little Italy, they usually head to the very inauthentic neighborhood in Manhattan.
New York City’s real Little Italy can be found in the Belmont section of the Bronx, where the famous Arthur Avenue has family-owned stores and restaurants that people in-the-know go to.
While you are in the real Little Italy, make sure to check out:
- Arthur Avenue Retail Market | 2344 Arthur Avenue, Bronx
- Calandra Cheese | 2314 Arthur Avenue, Bronx
- Madonia Brothers Bakery | 2348 Arthur Ave, Bronx
Take A Trip to Roosevelt Island
Journey across the East River from Manhattan by tram over to Roosevelt Island, where you can experience scenic views of Midtown Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens.
Every spring, Roosevelt Island has some of the most beautiful cherry blossoms in New York City that are definitely a must-see!
Discover NYC through a Food Tour or Cooking Class
New York has a number of food tours and cooking classes in neighborhoods all across New York City. The great thing about this city is that there are so many different cultures here and so many food options due to the amount of diversity the city has to offer.
If you are interested in learning about NYC History and trying authentic Jewish, Chinese, and Italian foods, take the Urban Oyster Food Tour of Lower Manhattan.
If you are curious about Trinidadian food, take a cooking class with Dolly and the League of Kitchens.
If you want to taste some delicious Italian food created by Mario Batali, take a tour with Walks of New York.
Travel to Brooklyn to Eat
When visiting New York City, don’t limit yourself to only eating in Manhattan. The outer-boroughs (the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn) have wonderful food as well!
Make sure to check out:
- Vinnie’s Pizzeria | 148 Bedford Avenue (Williamsburg)
- Sweet Chick | 164 Bedford Avenue (Williamsburg)
- Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory | 1 Water Street (DUMBO)
- Mable’s Smokehouse | 44 Berry Street (Williambsurg)
Of course this list could go on forever and ever with things that I enjoy doing in New York City, but it would get out of hand…
So, I leave you with this:
If you are traveling to New York City and you are looking for more things to do that extend beyond this list, here are some of my best recommendations:
What To Read Before & During Your Trip:
- Eater NY – http://ny.eater.com – This is my go-to resource for any and everything food related. Any and all food news can be found on this site.
- Thrillist – http://www.thrillist.com/new-york – This is one of my absolute favorite websites. Ever. Anything that can be put onto a list is on this site, and I love it.
- Gothamist – http://gothamist.com – My everything-in-NYC website. I don’t read the regular news, I read Gothamist!
FREE Apps To Download For Navigating NYC:
- Four Square & Swarm – Now in two apps (ugh), Swarm is a check-in app that will not only keep track of places you have visited but will also give you discounts at some places that you check-in at. Foursquare is a rating app that will give you tips and ratings on every place in NYC.
- Lyft* – Lyft is a great app for getting a taxi in the city. Standing in the street trying to hail a cab has become a thing of the past (well at least outside of surge-pricing hours).
Looking for more things to do in New York City? Check out this extensive list of 150 things to do in NYC from blogger The Travel Dispatch!
Updated June 2018
Are you a NYC local? What would you add to this list?