What To Bring
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Things to do:
1. Time Square – I typically try and avoid this now as it is very crowded but is cool if it is your first time.
2. Central Park – I don’t go every time I go back but it is a beautiful park, especially in the fall. Walking around can make you forget where you are as once inside it becomes very peaceful and the hecticness of the city gets drowned out.
3. The Metropolitan Museum – It is cool to see the historical artifacts. There is also a rooftop bar that is overlooking Central Park which is cool!
4. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) – I personally always bring an artsy friend I have to teach me what I’m looking at and always find that helpful. If you don't have that luxury they have audio guides which help also!
5. The Bull- This is located in the financial district. I’ve walked by it once or twice and it is always pretty crowded but is iconic.
6. Washington Square Park – This is right by NYU and has a pretty iconic arch and fountain. If you time it right you can stumble across street performers who will build up a large crowd and let you down with their performance but that is part of the experience!
7. Governor’s Island – This is kind of random thing but you can take a ferry that will go near the Statue of Liberty a to a small island. It was a prison on it but now there are coffee shops, ice cream stands, and even a hammock park to lay around.
8. High line - It is an old subway line that now has plants, I thought it was alright.
9. Play pick up at a park- I stuck to west and 4th and park. Playing on concrete can be rough tough on the ole knees though..
10. The Comedy Cellar- I highly recommended this one and that's why it's italicized. You'll need to make a reservation online and when you go you'll pay your cover charge and a requirement of two drinks. The guest list is always a surprise but thats what makes it fun. I’ve had the best luck seeing "famous people" going mid week, like a Tuesday or Wednesday at the second showing. While there I’ve seen Aziz Ansari 3 times, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow, Adam Driver, Paul Rudd, Pete Davidson, Judah Friedlander, Michael Che, and more I’ve forgotten.
11. The Financial District - There are some historical markers if you wanted to hunt them out. For example, near the bull there is a gate that used to have crowns on top for the king and was eventually cut off during the revolution and are still left jagged today.
12. Grand Central Station - It's another iconic place that you'll see in a lot of rom coms that if your in the neighborhood you can pop in to. I've taken a train out of there a upstate New York to some breweries which was also cool!
13. Rockefeller Center - Depending on the time of year you go this can either be simply an iconic place or where they have the giant Christmas tree and skating rink.
14. Brooklyn Bridge - I've walked the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn into the city and it is pretty cool. It is just crazy packed with a lot of people stopping to take pictures, naturally.
15. Events - New York City has 2 NBA, NFL and MLB teams in the area that you can check out. I've gone to free concerts in the park, charity soccer events with pro athletes, watched shows in the parks. Look up free events or things that may be going on whenever you visit, there may be some cool free options!
*I’ve never done the Statue of Liberty (you can cruise by it on your way to Governor's Island) or the Empire State Building. The time it would take to do these never seemed worth it to me. I've also never seen a show on broadway, that just sounds expensive!
1. Joe’s Pizza – (Greenwich Village) - There are a lot of places to grab a slice while in NYC and there are a lot of Joe's but the one on Carmine Street is my favorite. Celebrities like it also, and make sure you bring cash!
2. Via Carota - (Greenwich Village) - A slightly more expensive Italian restaurant.
3. Mintta Tavern – (Greenwich Village) - A good place for burgers.
4. Emily – (Greenwich Village) - They say it is Detroit style pizza, whatever that is!
5. Stone Street - (Financial District) – This area is closed off with tables all outside with a variety of restaurants.
6. Luke’s Lobster - (Financial District) – For a quick bite.
7. Pier A - (Financial District) – They have outdoor and indoor seating and views of the statue of liberty. It is also a historic dock.
8. Lan Zhou Hand Pull Noodle - (China Town) - They have great noodles!
9. Shanghai Café Deluxe - (China Town) - They naturally are serving up good Chinese food!
10. Xian Famous Foods - (China Town) – It is a mini chain but they have good noodles.
11. Kat’z Deli - (Lower East Side) – Get a pastrami reuben sandwich.
12. Russ and Daughters - (LES) – They have the best lox! You can either sit down or a pickup at the counter. For sit down they don’t take reservations so expect to be waiting for 1-2 hours. They send you a text when your table is ready so you can go explore and come back. Everything here is good!
13. Clinton St. Baking Company - (LES) – They are known for their pancakes. You can expect a 1-2 hr wait but you can wander and come back when they text you.
14. Barrio Chino - (LES)- If you are on the hunt for Mexican food while in New York.
15. Dimes - (LES) - For more of a healthier option.
16. Mission Chinese - (LES) - Naturally this is Chinese food!
17. Kiki’s - (LES) - If you want some Greek food!
18. Slouvaki GR - (LES) - I've only been to the one in the Lower East Side and it serves up Greek food with the traditional whites and blues on the inside!
19. Vandal - (LES) - A fancy tapas restaurant.
20. Gaia - (LES) - An Italian cafe that is right by Clinton St Baking Company.
21. Speedy Romeo - (LES) - Gotta have all the pizza options!
22. Ivan Ramen - (LES) - If you are in the mood for Ramen on a cold day.
23. Fat radish - (LES) - For British food!
1. Third Rail Coffee - (Greenwich Village) - It's a small little coffee shop near NYU and the Comedy Cellar. I've also sen Aziz Ansari there. I see him basically everywhere..
2. Hi-Collar - (Greenwich Village) - Small place that serves Japanese coffee by day and sake by night!
3. Birch Coffee - (Multiple Locations) - They are scattered all over and provide a lot of non-dairy options (even hemp milk) and a good variety of coffee.
4. Stumptown Roasters @ Ace Hotel - (Midtown) - This place can get busy but the line moves pretty quickly.
My Personal Tips
New York City Thoughts:
Getting Around: 9/10 - The city is relatively small so you can walk around and there is a subway. There are also cabs, ubers, and bikes to get around for longer trips. Traffic can be awful and subways can be super packed but you may also catch a subway so!
Things to do: 10/10 - Whether you want to go to a top ranked cocktail bar, a comedy show, a sporting event, a concert in the park, or an art museum, you can do whatever you want here.
Food: 10/10 - Although the whole city is expensive, you can find cheaper options if you want to by just grabbing a slice or if you want to get all fancy and spend thousands you can do that also.
Overall: 10/10 - This rating is a little unfair because I love New York. I first went when I was 15 (so like 2005) and was captivated by the lights and energy of the city. I loved watching people selling knock off handbags, it was so interesting to me! They had a system of when they heard cops were coming they'd wrap up their stuff, throw it over their shoulder and were on their way. I respected the hustle! I've then gone back in 2011, 2014, 2015 (lived in Brooklyn for 8 weeks), 2016, 2017, and 2018. It helps that two of my best friends live here.
New York has everything you could want. There are famous landmarks, historical places, great food and drinks, public transportation to easily get around, historic museums, cultural events, free events, and more. The city isn't perfect, it can be hot during the summer and cold during the winter, overly crowded and expensive, but hey, I've yet to see the perfect city. If you want a quiet day you can go into Central Park and you'll forget you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. If you're bored on a Tuesday you can go to the Comedy Cellar and might run into Paul Rudd, Adam Driver, and Jonah Hill as they watch Judd Apatow do stand up like I've done. You may be visiting your friend at the coffee shop he works at and see a Seth Meyers sketch be filmed. There are speakeasies, rooftop bars, and some of the best cocktail or craft beer bars in the world (check out As Is). From my experience, there really is no other place like it!
As I said at the top, this is no definitive list but should give you a good start! To see what I did last time I was there read this!
**This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you and allows me to keep the lights on around here. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
Read my story in the about me section.
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