New York, it’s the place that never sleeps, where the coffee’s always fresh and the sidewalk’s constantly bustling. Its glorious sights are known far and wide: The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building and of course, Central Park.
The only problem is, everyone’s heard of them and they’ve become quite commonplace. If you’re after an adventure and not just a tourist encounter, follow our guide and immerse yourselves into the very heart of New York, the way the locals know it.
But First, Coffee.
Ditch the high street chains and try something a little more personal for a change, after all, do you really want another Starbucks when there’s one on every block? Culture Espresso is an independent coffee shop that offers something different. They are aware of the entire process, from the farmers that grow the beans, to the delicious goodness that sits in your cup. For a real treat try one of their freshly baked oatmeal cranberry cookies to compliment your individual cup of coffee. This delightful café will have you forgetting about first and second avenue, sixth is where the coffee’s crispest!
Learn Houdini’s Secrets:
Tannen’s Magic Store
The oldest magic store in the city, Tannen’s Magic Store has been aiding magicians on their quests to greatness since 1925. Although the store has moved around a lot, and much like Harry Potter has apparated to various locations throughout the city, this little treasure still stands strong. The shop even boasts artifacts from Houdini himself, including those world renowned hand cuffs. You may even run into prestigious clientele such as, illusionist David Copperfield and Star Trek’s own J.J Abrams.
Did you know? The clerks are also magicians, ask them to perform any trick in the store!
A Bar to Remember:
Quite possibly the most legendary bar in the entire city, and the oldest too. P.J Clarke’s opened its doors in 1884 and has withstood two world wars, the general wear and tear of time and remained as popular as ever. It is the place Nat King Cole claimed to host “the Cadillac of burgers”, Rocker Buddy Holly proposed to his wife, and Frank Sinatra had table #20 permanently reserved. Making this bar one to remember for young and old alike.
I Scream, Experiment with Radical Flavors of Ice Cream:
Ice and Vice
If you fancy something different from your run of the mill vanilla, then Ice and Vice is the place to be. Claiming to be an ‘experimental’ ice cream shop, you can order delicious treats like the ‘Milk Money’: toasted milk, sea salt and chocolate ganache from their basic menu, or be a little more daring and try something from their Roulette menu, such as the ‘9am’ which consists of French roast coffee, chicory, Saigon cinnamon, condensed milk and donut truffle. Sounds delicious to us!
Explore the Weird and Wacky History:
Museum of the American Gangster
Above a former speakeasy in Al Capone’s old neighborhood sits the Museum of the American Gangster. Despite being only a mere two rooms in size, the organised crime museum holds documents, photographs and items from the height of the Prohibition Era. It is the current home of John Dillinger’s death mask, and a bullet from the shooting of Pretty Boy Floyd.
Morbid Anatomy Museum
The truth is in the title; this museum is morbid. Featuring Victorian hair books which were often used in crafts, Victorian women would weave their deceased love ones’ hair into jewelry, including rings and brooches – talk about fashion to die for. The weird doesn’t stop there, there are animals with multiple heads preserved in glass jars, and if that’s not enough and you wish to engage further into the morbid arts, the museum frequently holds workshops in taxidermy and crafting Victorian mourning jewelry. Attend at your own peril.
Books, Books and More Books:
The Strand Bookstore
For the book lovers out there The Strand will be heaven on earth. The slogan reads “18 miles of books” and offers over 2.5 million new, used and rare books, there are also numerous literary themed gifts on sale, including: onesies and mugs with your favourite Shakespearean insults. The Strand will provide you with hours of reading material for your next cruise!
Pick Up Something Unusual:
Green Flea Market
At Green Flea Market you don’t need to feel bad about splurging that little bit too much, as the proceeds go towards benefitting education. Since opening in 1985 the market has raised over $7,000,000! Featuring everything from quirky to vintage and boasting some of the friendliest vendors, who even offer delivery for a fee and accept credit cards.
Catch a Classic Under the Stars:
If you’re visiting the big apple in the summer, then get on over to Bryant Park for an open air movie experience you won’t forget. Bring a picnic and blanket for a film night under the stars, surrounded by the park’s lush gardens. Kick off your Sunday shoes and settle down to Footloose, or head on down to Chinatown on the park’s football field sized lawn.
Go See a Show:
Shakespeare in the Park
When in New York, you simply have to see a show. The obvious choice is Broadway where you can view musical classics such as, Wicked or The Lion King. However, for those of you who dislike the hustle and bustle of big productions then look no further than Shakespeare in the Park. Since opening nearly 60 years ago it has become a true NYC summer tradition. It has also played host to numerous celebrity guests including: Meryl Streep in 1978, Patrick Stewart in 1995 and Ann Hathaway in 2009. What makes this show even better is that the tickets are free!
For the View:
The View Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge
The View is New York’s only revolving rooftop restaurant, the floor makes a full 360 degree turn of the city every hour, enabling diners to appreciate the skyline in all its glory. Don’t worry though, the floor turns slowly so your food won’t be fighting its way back up! Not only are you an incredible 48 stories above the city, but their signature American dishes will provide a dining experience unlike any other.
The Rockefeller Plaza
If it’s a view you’re after, then go to the ‘Top of the Rock’ the observation deck at the top of the art deco skyscraper, a staggering 260 meters above the city. The building has recently been renamed ‘The Comcast Building’ due to a change of ownership. The deck has also been designed to resemble an ocean liner, making you feel as though you’re back on board your ship sailing on the concrete sea below. The building currently houses the NBC television headquarters, the home of America’s Got Talent, Law & Order and Saturday Night Live! We know what you’re thinking, why go up here when The Empire State building is higher? Well, the waiting times are also considerably shorter so you’ll get that killer view in less time– score!
What NOT to Do On Your Trip
Go Up the Empire State Building
It’s the iconic location from Sleepless in Seattle and considered one of the many romantic places in city, but that romance has a price. The lines are horrific and you have to fork out $50 just to skip them!
Go to Chain Food/Coffee Shops
Avoid chains you can find at home like McDonald’s or Starbucks, it’ll taste just the same and you’ll leave with your wallets lighter and feeling disappointed. New York is the city of culture and cuisine, sample something different!
Take a Taxi
One of the biggest fantasies of any non-new Yorker is to stand on the curb and whistle one of those iconic yellow cabs, but it’s a mistake. Not only will it cost you a small fortune, the moment you set off you’re guaranteed to get stuck in traffic. We recommend taking the subway for a cheaper, faster journey.
Waste Time in Times Square
When planning a trip to New York, it’s difficult to not get caught up in the fantasy that’s portrayed on the big screen. We know it looks magical, but don’t get dazzled by the bright lights, explore what the city has to offer and don’t just see the highlights!
That was the ultimate guide to discovering the secret must-see spots in New York! Have you ever been to the big city? What is your recommended off-the-radar spot? We’d love to hear what your favorite hidden gems are so leave us your comments below!