A few months ago, I wrote a post on what to do, see and eat in New York City. That first overview was for the NYC newbie — the person visiting New York for the first or second time looking for things to do both on and off the beaten path.
This time around, I'm sharing more of what to do, see and eat in NYC except I'm going to stray a little more off the beaten path to highlight things you may not necessarily find in a guidebook. For those who've been to New York a few times (or many times) and are looking for new things to do, this overview is for you:
- See the city from the water: Perhaps it's because I'm a Pisces or because I have Caribbean island roots (or maybe both), but I have always been a fan of the water. Either I want to be near it or on it most of the time. So what does a water lover do when in NYC? See the city from the water, of course. I've done a few boat cruises around New York and always love them so much. My most recent cruise was with Hornblower, which offers a few options to choose from. Another inexpensive way to see the city from the water: get an all-day pass and take the East River ferry from one end to the other and back.
- Take a fitness class: Yeah, that's right a fitness class. Even if you haven't worked out a day in your life, you're in a city in which everything from hula hoop classes to sword fighting are available to try. Many fitness studies offer discounts or newbie specials for first-timers, plus it's a great way to balance out all the eating that is surely also taking place. If you're hoping to take multiple classes, sign up for a trial with ClassPass and choose from their extensive list of options around the city.
- Go market shopping: When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is visit a market — usually a food market but other types of markets are also great. The same goes for where I live. New York offers so many great markets to check out, from the well-known Brooklyn Flea to the not-as-touristy (but still nice to visit) GreenFlea Market and many others in between. During the summer, there's also the standard street market, which can often be found every weekend in some part of Manhattan and elsewhere.
- Take a day trip: Who says you have to stay in New York City when you visit? There are so many great day trips you can take, regardless of the time of year. I've written in the past about some of my favorite escapes from the city. There are also some beautiful towns in Westchester and Connecticut where you can go for the day. My favorites are New Canaan, White Plains and Essex, but there are many towns I have yet to explore, so I'm sure that list will grow.
- Speakeasy hop: If you like a good cocktail like me, then you've come to the right place. New York is chock full of cocktail dens with some of the most inventive (and, let's face it, pricey) drinks you'll find anywhere in the world. But why not take it a step further and narrow down on the speakeasies. From PDT to Raines Law Room to Attaboy, there are many to discover. This article gives you a great list to choose from.
- A park NOT in Manhattan: Yes, Central Park is great and everyone should see it, but it's not the only park in New York City worth seeing. In fact, NYC has hundreds of parks, many of which you should take the time to see while visiting the city. My personal favorites are Prospect Park (the largest public park in Brooklyn) and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn and Astoria Park and Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens. But those are just four — visit the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website for more.
- Long Island City waterfront: For those seeking something different, head to Long Island City in Queens, or LIC as many call it. Located just across the East River on the 7 train, LIC used to be a predominantly industrial area that has become packed with waterfront condos. The downside is the skyrocketing cost of living, but the upside is the development of LIC's waterfront. Gantry Plaza State Park (mentioned above) is an amazing place to get stunning views of Manhattan while also enjoying the calm and beauty of the waterfront park itself.
- Governors Island: Another great place for gorgeous Manhattan views that feels like you're not in New York City is Governors Island. Only a short ferry ride away, Governors Island is a seasonal oasis from the city that's open to the public during the summer and often has numerous great events taking place every week. You can come here and walk around, rent a bike, have a picnic, play with your family or just sit and enjoy the view.
- Art in a Chelsea gallery: The art in the museums of New York are great, but something else worth checking out is the art in the galleries of Chelsea. In fact, every Thursday night, many of these galleries are open to the public from 6:30-8:30pm for opening receptions, closing receptions and general let's-get-together receptions. They often have complimentary wine and offer many opportunities for stimulating conversation.
- A rooftop: I realize just saying "a rooftop" is very vague, so to be more specific: see one of New York City's many interesting rooftops. Whether that's a rooftop bar (there are many) or a rooftop garden or even a rooftop vineyard (in Brooklyn, of course). Even better, if you have a friend who lives in a building with an accessible rooftop, buy some food and a bottle of wine and head to the top of that roof. It's one of the best parts of city living.
- Food market grub: New York City has a growing list of food markets and food halls that are present throughout the year. I already mentioned the holy grail of food markets, Smorgasburg, in my last NYC overview, so there's that. There's also the ever-popular Eataly as well as the lesser-known Le District (basically the French version of Eataly). Then there are all the markets offered year-round by Urbanspace as well as the Gansevoort Market and plenty of others. And soon, Anthony Bourdain's food hall will arrive, and I.Can't. WAIT.
- Greek in Astoria, Queens: I realize that I could have easily recommended the Chinese food in Flushing or the Indian food in Jackson Heights (both really fantastic) or many of the other cuisines found in other parts of NYC, but I felt like talking about the Greek food in Astoria. Why? Because I love Astoria and it's a neighborhood with really fantastic food. My favorite Greek spots include Taverna Kyclades (known for its Greek seafood), MP Taverna (Greek fusion) and Aliada (straightforward Greek comfort food).
- Vegan food at By CHLOE.: So, I am very much a meat eater. I love seafood, I love chicken and I loooove pork. All that said, I think I could happily eat at By CHLOE. every day for the rest of my life. Well, maybe not every day but most days. Mind you, By CHLOE. is completely vegan. There is no seafood, chicken or pork anywhere to be found. But the food is so good! I've now eaten there three times and have found myself suddenly craving their guac burger and their quinoa taco salad. One of these days, I plan to try their breakfast, and then I think that will determine if I could truly eat there every day.
- Unique ice cream: Yes, I realize ice cream can be found in many places around the world, but New York has such amazing ice cream, that one has to try some while they're here. If you want ice cream with an Asian twist, head to my personal favorite, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (ginger ice cream for the win). I also recently tried Van Leeuwen and it is some serious stuff. So go there, too. As for the latest craze, Thai-style ice cream rolls, popular spots for those include Juicy Spot Cafe and 10 Below.
- All the sweets: Separate from ice cream, New York also has a ridiculous amount of options for those with a raging sweet tooth like myself. If you love macarons, New York has plenty. Want something more unique like a cookie shot or a frozen smore? That would be Dominique Ansel Bakery. As for the best cookie, there's only one place to go: the happiest place on earth (besides Disneyland), Levain Bakery.
That's it for my NYC recommendations! If there's anything else you want to know, send me a note and I can hopefully point you in the right direction.
What do you like to do, see and eat in New York City? Let me know your favorites!