Travel like a local

New York City, USA Travel Guide, Tips & Info

Touristy things

  • Top of the Rock - Stunning views of the city from the top of the Rockefeller Center, including of the Empire State building. Do this at night and maybe in the day too. You can book a time-slot online.
  • The Empire State building - I've done this twice now and I feel it's probably something you need to do but it's not particularly amazing. If you go, get there really early to avoid the massive queues.
  • Statue of Liberty - only if you have time. You can see it from various places and it takes up a lot of time to queue and go on the boat. It depends how much time you have spare.
  • Central Park - Allow quite a lot of time for this (it's easy to spend a whole day), it's massive and really great to walk around and take it all in. Bethesda Square is fun and has live music. Hire bikes, go on the row boats, get drinks and visit the Natural History Museum.
  • Times Square - obviously see it but it's a bit hectic!
  • Brooklyn Bridge - really nice to walk over it (possibly towards Manhattan but either direction works)
  • The High Line - old railway line that's been converted in to a walkway on the west side of Manhattan. Really nice.
  • UN Headquarters - I visited years ago and got to sit in on a session and listen to people being translated live through a headset in loads of different languages. You get a tour of the building. Very interesting but you have to be in the right mood for it.
  • Grand Central Station - Worth visiting for the ceiling alone. While there, get some oysters (see below).

Food & Drink

  • Momofuku Ssäm bar - you have to go here, it's amazing. Get the steamed pork buns. I also had the duck (their speciality). So good!
  • Momofuku Noodle bar - they also do the steamed pork buns. This one is a cheaper place to eat. Again really good.
  • Momofuku Milk bars (notice a theme here?) - These are little places dotted around the city (including Williamsburg, right near where I was staying). They do an amazing steamed bun with shredded pork - really different to the buns at their other places. It has an egg on top. It's so good we went back the next day for another (as a brunch both times). They also do bakery stuff and crazy drinks.
  • Strip House - amazing steak, pretty damn expensive, but worth it.
  • Roberta's Pizza (Brooklyn) - possibly my favourite dining experience in NYC. We went 3 times. It's cheap, has a great outside bar (like a festival), amazing pizzas (with unusual toppings) and a brilliant foodie menu of things like scallops. If I lived in Brooklyn, I'd go every week. Highly recommended!
  • Brooklyn Brewery - Great beer. You have to book quite far ahead to do the tour of the brewery, which I didn't do. There are free tours at weekends.
  • Mast Brothers Chocolate - Really lovely little shop in Brooklyn where you see them make, package and sell the chocolate.
  • Serendipity 3 - Cute little place that's famous for its Frozen Hot Chocolate that's pretty epic.
  • Shake Shack - Cool place for burgers
  • Peter Luger Steak House - Apparently amazing steak. I tried to go but you have to book months in advance as it's crazy popular.
  • Grand Central Oyster Bar - Down in the basement of Grand Central Station is a cool restaurant specialising in loads of different types of oyster. It's worth the money for the experience. Only if you like oysters, obviously.
  • Kesté Pizza & Vino - Great pizza on the gorgeous Bleecker Street.
  • Tick Tock Diner - Cool 50's style diner.
  • Bagels - Eat as many as you can. Apparently Ess-a-bagel is good but there are so many places. Try a bagel with a 'schmear'.
  • Pretzels - Big ones


  • Brooklyn Bowl - On a Thursday night, DJ Questlove has a residency of Soul music. It was really fun. Plus there's bowling!
  • The Pony Bar - On the Upper East Side & Hell's Kitchen. We accidentally went to the one on the Upper East Side on the 2nd night it opened. They have an ever-changing menu of different beers and they only have 1 barrel of each, so they change the beer every time they finish a barrel (signalled by the ringing of a bell and everyone shouting "new beer!"). It's $5 for every type of beer (although the really strong ones come as halves). Fun!
  • Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg - in general for night-life seemed more my type of thing. I always struggled to find really fun things in Manhattan at night, but maybe I was unlucky.


  • Ferries - There are some very cheap ferries on the river which take you from various parts of Manhattan but also over to Brooklyn. It's a good way of getting around and seeing the city from the water. There's also a free ferry from Wall Street to Red Hook run by Ikea!
  • Metro card - get the card and top it up. It's like a temporary Oyster card. You save some money and it stops you getting stuck when you don't have the right change for a ticket.
  • Taxis - don't bother with taxis unless you have to (like from the airport). The subway is easy & cheap and it's great to just walk around taking in all the sights.

Areas of the city

  • Greenwich Village - really cool place to chill out and walk around
  • Brooklyn - definitely don't miss out Brooklyn - it's my favourite part of the city. On my latest visit we spent all our time there and stayed in Williamsburg, the best area with some amazing bars, restaurants and clubs. Check out Bedford Avenue.
  • Chinatown & Little Italy - great for walking around and getting lunches.
  • Upper East Side - very trendy and expensive - some cool bars, etc.


  • Century 21 - Massive department store. It's a bit of a free-for-all but you get amazing bargains.
  • Macy's - I've found this is one of the best places to get cheap Levi's.
  • MoMA Store - Store for the Museum of Modern Art. It's like an American version of Muji.

Events & Shows

  • Broadway - check what's on before you go but you can queue for cheap tickets if you can be bothered
  • The Tonight Show - I went to see David Letterman once for free but now he's retired. Even better will be seeing Jimmy Fallon!
  • New York Knicks - Check if they're playing at home and try to go if you can. I had a great time.
  • Saturday Night Live - To get tickets in advance you need to apply in the August before. You can also arrive at the studio by 7am on the Saturday to be on a stand-by list but that seems like a lot of effort.

New York in the Winter (aka Home Alone 2)

  • Rockefeller Center Christmas tree - Amazing! There's ice skating right next to it too. So Christmassy.
  • Wollman Rink in Central Park - More ice skating surrounded by amazing scenery.
  • Macy's 'Holiday' window display - It's quite impressive and over-the-top.
  • Eggnog - Drink it. Go on! If you're too scared, just try the Eggnog Latte at Starbucks.

Visits: 3 (about 18 days in total)

Last visit: 2012

Last Updated: 12th June, 2017