NYC Hotspots for Tourists and Locals: 44 things to see, do, eat and drink in New York City

2016: I’ve been back and forth between Sydney and New York for almost three years. But in summer 2014, I spent three months living in the city, and kept track of everywhere I went. Unfortunately, I’ve had to cut a few things from the list because the places are now closed. I hope this guide helps you take a big, juicy bite out of the Big Apple.

But wait! There’s more…

My other piece, 17 Tips for Improving Your Relationship with New York City, will also help you enjoy the city, whether you’re a tourist or a local.

First thing’s first: Know your neighbourhoods. The map to the right will help you understand the lay of the land, so you’ll know what the heck I’m on about when I group places according to neighbourhood in my guide below.

Okay, here are your NYC hotspots: 44 things to see, do, eat and drink in New York City…

Greenwich Village

Otto: Go for the dessert (especially the olive oil gelato – nom!) and proximity to the iconic Washington Square Park

Analogue: Go for the speakeasy-style bar, tasty cocktails, yummy food and proximity to Washington Square Park

Greenwich Village Comedy Club: Go to support local comics and have an authentic NYC experience

West Village

Grounded: Go to work – with free wifi and hippy-style food, it’s laptop city

Little Branch: Go for the underground, speakeasy vibe – and don’t order off the menu. Instead, tell the bartender to mix you up something special based on your favorite spirit (eg. vodka, rum etc.). This place can be hard to get into, so go early, or midweek, or both.

Soho

Cocotte: Go for the authentic French food and atmosphere – perfect for brunch.

The Dutch: Go for the delicious food – especially brunch.

Meatpacking District

Spice Market: Go for dinner and the boneless rips – OMG, to die for! It’s a huge venue.

East Village and Alphabet City

Ost: Go for the good coffee, to work during the day (free WiFi Monday – Friday) or at night for a wine. It’s a charming little venue.

Doc Holliday’s: Go for the cheap drinks, pool table, fun atmosphere and country music.

The Smith: Go for any meal – it has a comprehensive menu and fun, casual atmosphere.

Lower East Side

Clinton Street Baking Co.: Go for the delicious food, especially brunch. Expect a wait!

Whynot Coffee: Go for work – with free wifi and little more than coffee and pastries, this place is like an office.

BabyCakes / Erin McKenna’s Bakery: Go for the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, wheat-free, refined-sugar-free, vegan and kosher treats – cupcakes, donuts, cookies etc. and prepare to be impressed!

Katz’s Deli: Go to this classic Jewish diner for the tourist factor (this is where they shot the ‘orgasm scene’ in When Harry Met Sally – “I’ll have what she’s having”), Ruben sandwiches, matzo ball soup and souvenirs.

Hell’s Kitchen

Hibernia: Go for the house-party atmosphere, fun music and table dancing – you can’t not have a good time here! Even the quesadillas are Texan-approved.

Mercury Bar: Go for the music and to dance after 11pm.

Casellula Cheese & Wine Café: Go for the cheese, wine and small, intimate setting.

$1 Pizza: Go for the cheap and tasty pizza – across from Hibernia on 9th Ave.

Westway Diner: Go for the classic American diner experience.

Mr Biggs: Go for the fun sports bar vibe. In 2014, they had great karaoke after 10pm here, but I believe they don’t anymore. I hope they bring it back! Call ahead.

Broadway Comedy Club: Go to support local comics and have an authentic NYC experience

Chelsea

Malibu Diner: Go for the classic American diner experience. The salads are great!

Chelsea Market: Go for the stylish indoor market experience, especially if you’re shopping for food.

Story: Go for a unique gift-shopping experience – the store changes its theme and all its stock every 1 – 2 months.

Coppelia: Go for the Cubanos (Cuban pressed sandwiches, as per the movie Chef) and Mexican hot chocolate. Yum and yum!

Union Square

Coffee Shop: Go for the Cuban sandwiches and convenient Union Square location near Barnes & Noble, Sephora, Wholefoods, Best Buy and Nordsrom Rack, not to mention all the street performers.

Gramercy Park

Pierre Loti Wine Bar: Go for the wine, cheese and intimate setting.

New York Comedy Club: Go to support local comics and have an authentic NYC experience

Flatiron District

Eataly: Go for the Italian grocery emporium, delicious coffee, yummy gelato, tasty pizza and Nutella bar (yes, you read that correctly – it’s all about Nutella).

Turtle Bay

The Smith: Same as The Smith above, but a different location.

Murray Hill

Mercury Bar: Same as the Mercury Bar above, but a different location.

Central Park

Central Park Zoo: Go for the nice, small zoo, followed by the Central Park Carousel and a stroll through iconic Central Park.

Upper West Side

The Lobby Lounge – Mandarin Hotel: Go for the view and relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere – perfect for any meal or just dessert.

The Smith: Same as The Smith above, but a different location.

Morningside Heights

Hungarian Pastry Shop: Go for the pastries.

Financial District

Ulysses: Go for the alfresco dining experience in a cobblestone street.

Many Locations

Argo Tea: Go here when you want a break from Starbucks. Like Starbucks, it’s also a good place to work.

BROOKLYN

Williamsburg

Bedford Avenue shopping: Go for the vintage clothing boutiques and trendy vibe.

Fort Greene

Brooklyn Flea: Go for the bargains.

QUEENS

Long Island City

Breadbox Café: Go for the shakshouka eggs. Yum!

HOBOKEN (NJ)

Marty O’Brien’s: Go for brunch after a stroll around Pier A Park and Sinatra Drive, and to experience ‘The 6th Borough’ – Hoboken, New Jersey.

WATER VIEWS IN NYC

Astoria Park: Go for a walk and/or picnic in Astoria Park and Long Island City, Queens

Roosevelt Island: Go for the peace and the views from the aerial tramway.

Henry Hudson Pkwy: Go for a run, bike or rollerblade along the Hudson River.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Go for a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and them take in the stunning views back to Manhattan.

Have any questions about New York? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

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