New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world and a staggeringly popular vacation destination. People from all over the globe travel to NYC to see its iconic and world-famous sights, and whether you are just there for the weekend, in town for a long stretch or seeing NYC from a cruise, it is a pretty special place.
The famous sights, attractions, and experiences are well-known, and of course worth seeing. But curious travelers often want to dig a little deeper into New York and discover the side that tourists don’t often get a chance to see, through the eyes of a local. These are some of the best and most authentic experiences you can have in NYC, vacationing just like a local.
They might well be iconic and amazing, but you won’t find many local New Yorkers visiting the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Locals tend to head to the slightly less well-known museums, like the Tenement Museum, the Fashion Institute Museum or the Museum of the City of New York or even head out on a ferry to the Rockaways for a spot of relaxation on the beach. If Lady Liberty is a must-see, then do as the locals do and take the Staten Island Ferry. You get a superb view of the iconic statue, and, best of all, it’s free!
New Yorkers love a show but tend to steer clear of Broadway. Luckily there is always a fantastic array of superb off-Broadway shows to choose from, with places like the Public Theater in the East Village, where Hamilton was first performed, leading the way. Live music, and particularly jazz is a big deal in the Big Apple as well, and there’s nothing quite like a dingy, atmospheric jazz club like Antique Garage to provide an elegant and sophisticated night out.
Thrift shopping in the East Village is about as ‘New York’ as you can get. Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Beacon’s Closet have branches across the city, but in the East Village, you’ll find a far more select, curated collection of vintage pieces and bargain finds. Places like Buffalo Exchange, L Train Vintage, and the Housing Works in SoHo offer up a wonderful shopping experience. For an entirely different environment, head to the Union Square Greenmarket. This outdoor market is where locals stock up on fruit and veg, as well as artisan crafts and home-made produce.
The most New York meal of the day, locals in NYC take brunch very seriously. Most weekends are defined by this superb mixture of breakfast and lunch, and you should get involved if you want to truly experience New York like a local. Some of the best brunch options in the city include Cafe Mogador in the East Village, Tiny’s on West Broadway, Jack’s Wife Freda in Chelsea, the West Village and Soho, and Bar Pitti in Greenwich Village.