Ah yes, the Big Apple. The city of dreams; the city that never sleeps. The city where you can simultaneously spot rat holes in the park while walking past a women with a $15,000 Hermès purse.
I’m not a born and bred New Yorker, but I’ve come a long way from my first NYC trip when I was six and losing my favorite pink hat on one of those obnoxious red, double-decker tour busses, to proudly calling myself a part-time local since my mom moved to the city over 10 years ago.
Do I know all the street names and can help a lost tourist? Absolutely not (well sometimes I can but just don’t want to). But, I’ve gotten to know my second home well enough to know a few things here and there about what is fun to do around there. And no, it’s not Times Square unless you like chaos, being scammed by Big Bird, and getting angry.
Here’s a Short List of My Favorite Things to do in NYC (especially if it’s your first time):
The Broadway Browse
Here’s a fun fact for all of you planning on splurging on your next trip to NYC: there is no sales tax for clothing and shoe items under $110 in the city. Yes, you heard me, tax-free shopping!
I usually always start my shopping trip exactly from Prince St. station off the R and W train, and start walking south where you’ll find Nike SoHo, Uniqlo, Muji, and my personal favorite: Zara.
For all you streetwear + footwear fanatics: Stadium Goods, Palace, and many other stores are also scattered down this one street that eventually ends on Canal St. right by the market, and the infamous Popular Jewelry store.
Each block branching off of Broadway will also lead you to Reformation, the Glossier Flagship, and a short walk to other famous eats such as Xi’An Famous Foods, Canal Street Market, and so much more for your Instagram.
The High Line Hike
It’s no surprise you’ll be doing a lot of walking on your tip, so why not make it easy and take out road work?
The High Line has gained a lot of foot traffic since its opening in 2009 after its massive renovation from abandoned subway tracks to city park, and has become a prime spot for restate for celebrities (such as Ariana Grande), but also relaxation.
Stretching from Hudson Yards to Chelsea, I personally recommend taking the 7 train to one of its end points at 34th Street-Hudson Yards – where you’ll find the Vessel, luxury shopping stores, and the first Equinox Hotel – then walking the full line down to Chelsea.
Along the way you’ll find miniature good eats, plenty of stairs to walk back down to the real world, and lots of great overhead views of the city streets.
But beware: it’s usually tourist galore on the weekends so try to schedule in a time on a weekday and put on some comfy walking shoes. But please, for the love of god, don’t walk super slow or stop in the middle of the walkway – ask any New Yorker, someone will plow you down.
Okay I don’t know how many times I have to shout this into the void but: real Chinese food isn’t in Chinatown! And, if you’re at an Asian restaurant and the service is perfect – you’re not at an Asian restaurant.
Is there delicious food in Chinatown? Of course – everyone should try the very real dim sum experience of having old, cantonese ladies yell and grumble at you, waving their silver tongs while serving you the best darn siu mai 燒賣 you’ll ever have.
But I would challenge visitors to step out of Manhattan and check out The Blue Stove Bakery in Brooklyn, dry hot pot in Flushing, and those little hole in the wall stores that you’ll never find on the Insider YouTube channel (but only if they have a good sanitation rating).
If you’re at an Asian restaurant and the service is perfect – you’re not at an Asian restaurant.
Of course, visiting Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar, Katz’s Delicatessen and snagging some $1 pizza is also fantastic, but remember: you’re in a city of 8+ million people – imagine how many flavors there are.
In all, there is simply no way you’re going to leave NYC after visiting for the first time and think you’ve done everything. The city is constantly changing, and with that means there’s always something new to explore.