Things to do in New York City

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Fun things to do in NYC

1. Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum is an interesting look into the immigrant experience in NYC over the centuries. There are restored buildings from different eras as well as various walking tours throughout the neighborhood. It's a great way to see the Lower East Side (LES) before it became one of the hipster capitals of the world. Before Manhattan becomes overrun with skyscapers this is refreshing look into the beginnings of this amazing city and the incredible people who have contributed to it.

2. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg

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Williamsburg is only a few stops out of Manhattan on the L Train and will take you into the heart of hipster Brooklyn. Bedford Avenue is a great place to go if you want to explore cool shops, cafes, music venues and restaurants. You can stroll along all the way to McCarren Park and find tons of stuff on the street but there are also lots of great things nearby.

If you like your coffee, you could make a pit-stop at the world famous, Blue Bottle Coffee, grab some authentic Japanese food at Zenkichi, go bowling at Brooklyn Bowl, see a movie while eating a meal at Nitehawk Cinema, genuine BBQ at Fette Sau, some of NYC's best Chicken and Waffles at Pies 'n' Thighs, catch a show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, or stroll around Smorgasburg on Saturdays right by the East River.

3. The High Line

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This elevated park is an old trainline converted into a pathway spanning almost 1.5 miles. Since opening in 2009 the park has become increasingly popular amongst New Yorkers looking to take a stroll among some greenery and admire the outdoor art.

There are some popular hotels along the route and you'll see the occasional piece of artwork from the folks who live along the park. Yes, it's busy but it's still a great way to see the west side of the city. Bring along your camera for a popular photo spot that overlooks 10th Avenue.

Pro Tip: Start on North side (get on at 30th St, 10th Avenue and walk along the High Line and you’ll finish up at Chelsea Market).

4. Chelsea Market

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There are a number of sections to the market, an urban shopping space and a foodhall.  You will find artsy stalls where you can buy jewellery, vinyls, footwear, paintings, hats etc along with a world class food hall with excellent restaurants, but you couldn’t sample all of them even if you had a whole month in NYC! Sample as much as you can and maybe even go back for a second time!

5. See a show Off Broadway

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A show on Broadway is high on anybody’s list, but there are equally as good shows Off broadway too. If you're intending to buy tickets to any show there are ways to get yourself to some great shows without breaking the bank or having to book in advance. 

TKT’s is a ticket seller that sells tickets on behalf of shows that haven’t sold out. Sometimes there can be a queue but it can be a great chance to get tickets at a heavily discounted price usually at a minimum of 50% off original price.

Some of the most popular shows are Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Lion King, Harry Potter, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, and the list goes on. If you are looking for something possibly a bit more sophisticated take a look at what's playing at Lincoln Center.

Pro Tip: If you're determined to see the hottest ticket in town, Hamilton, then take a look at our post for some advice!

6. Search for a hidden Speakeasy Bar

The age of neo-speakeasy bars is upon us! If you look carefully enough, you’ll find them in most modern cities in the world but few do them quite like New York City. The allure of the secret location is enough to get you through the ‘door,’ but it’s the passion and creativity that goes into the cocktails that keep you coming back!

Our favourite speakeasies are Death & CoLittle BranchAngel’s Share and PDT (this one is an entrance through a phone booth and the bar is in the back of a hotdog kitchen).

Pro Tip: Little Branch (Get there at early at 5.30pm, it opens at 6pm and you'll get a table).

7. Find your groove in a Blues Bar

The Blues and Jazz communities are celebrated as being among the original music genres in america and is still reverred today. There are Blues bars sprinkled all over the city, but our favourite is Blue Note in the West Village. Other great venues are Joe's PubParis BluesSmalls Jazz Club.

Pro Tip: Blue Note is a world famous club so booking online is the only guarantee you’ll get in!

8. Dine in the Sky

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There is nothing like seeing the New York skyline at night and while many restaurants with impressive views can come with a large bill, we have found some that are great value for money.

Gaonnuri is a Korean restaurant that has spectacular views of the Empire State Building, along with delicious Korean BBQ and cocktails with costs of around $50 per person. The Rainbow Room is a bit more of a splurge but the views are unparalleled. While the food usually isn't as good, check out our list of Rooftop Bars below for more places to eat with a view!

9. Watch live music at a local venue

While NYC has lost some of its famous venues, like CBGB, there are still great places to catch your favorite musicians in intimate settings. There's someone worth seeing every night so check out some of the venues below to see who's playing.

Joes Pub (east village) has live music with seating. Bowery Ballroom (booking essential)Music Hall of WilliamsburgTerminal 5 and Le Poisson Rouge.

10. Hang out at a Rooftop Bar

If the weather is nice, there are few better things in life than sipping a cocktail while looking down on the city. The Rainbow Room (see above) is a great option but isn't outdoors which may be good if the weather isn't perfect.

If you want to hang out in the open air then try Gallow Green in the McKittrick Hotel that creates a warm vibe in the dense garden. Another option is 230 Fifth with a view of the ESB and a great place to watch the sunset. Top of the Strand has a retractable roof and if you're in Brooklyn then check out Westlight for views of Manhattan.

11. Manhattanhenge

If you happen to be visiting around the summer and winter solstices, you may be in luck to witness Manhattanhenge! This solar alignment happens twice a year where the sun rises and sets along the east/west streets in Manhattan and makes for some amazing pictures. The streets will be crowded with photographers around 34th Street but be patient and you'll get a picture of a lifetime!

Looking for more things to do in the City, or some great eats too? Check out more articles here.