Mini-guide to New York: If you are going to New York for the first time, and even just for a few days, it is easy to get lost in a huge number of places that guidebooks vying with each other advise. Therefore, we have compiled an alternative must-see list in New York, with which we recommend starting your acquaintance with the city. In our version there is no Statue of Liberty, but after visiting the places from our list, you will definitely be able to speculate that “Manhattan, of course, is not fire compared to Brooklyn.” We will also share with you a secret place with the best panorama of the city, where, moreover, there are no tourists.
1. View of New York from the LIC embankment
As soon as you arrive in New York, head to our secret location for your first – and foremost – experience. Fear not, you will see 5th Avenue and its bustle very soon. But first, it is important to be imbued with love for the city. So you take the subway and go to one of the three neighboring stations to choose from – Court Sq. (Lines E, M, and G), 21 St. (Line G) or better at Vernon Blvrd Jackson Av. (Line 7, one station from Grand Central Station).
Now you’re technically in LIC (Long Island City) – a small part of the larger Queens neighborhood. You leave the metro and go to the embankment (of course, you will see many skyscrapers sticking out in the distance – this is the direction of the embankment). From the metro walk about 5-10 minutes, depending on the station. Don’t be lazy, after all, only when you step out onto the embankment, you immediately realize why all this was: the best panorama of New York will open before your eyes. The Empire State, the Chrysler Building, and the grandest things in Midtown will appear in all their glory.
You can grab a coffee at a local coffee shop and throw the bones on the sun loungers on the waterfront itself. There are almost never tourists here, and only local runners with dogs distract from contemplation of the views. We advise you to walk along the promenade to the large Pepsi sign and back to the place where the ferries leave. If you want to have a tasty lunch, there is a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant Cyclo in the area.
2. East River Ferry
All popular travel guides unanimously advise taking the free ferry to Staten Island or taking the ferries themselves to the Statue of Liberty. Yes, you can do it if you are not at all sorry for the time. But if it is not enough, then it is better to ride on one of the NYC Ferry routes. Previously, there was only one route, but since the spring of 2017, there are several different directions, which have become much more convenient to use. You can catch the ferry right on the LIC waterfront from the previous point, as well as at several points in Manhattan and Brooklyn. See all boarding points and routes here. A one-way ticket will cost only $ 2.75.
3. Highline Park
We return to Manhattan, where a whole park has grown on an abandoned subway line and turned into a great place for walking. Everything is very New York-style – iron and concrete, on which gardens of rare plants have grown. The branch runs from 14th Street all the way to 34th. In total – about 2.5 km. If the day is hot, it is better to choose evening or morning time, because in the park itself you can’t really hide from the sun. But you can take off your shoes, sit on the lawn, and admire the city. We advise you to take with you a snack bought at the old Chelsea market, which is located right at the entrance to the park.
4. Artichoke Pizza
Americans are fans to line up for any reason. Especially if some authoritative guide wrote about a specific place. “Best Pizza” and “Best Donuts” are not always so fantastic, but the line turns around the corner to the next street.
We suggest you visit the place with almost no queues, but with food that is definitely worth trying. Pizza with artichokes sounds unattractive, and you can’t tell from the looks that it can be tasty. But one has only to bite off the first piece from the slice …
Even the staunchest meat-eaters celebrate the great taste of this pizza, which makes you want to come back for more. In the morning, at lunchtime, or better – in the evening after going to the bar, when it’s time for pizza. One of the points is located near Highline Park, the second is in a strategic location on 14th Street, not far from the party venues in Union Square. The addresses of all points are here.
Williamsburg is an old borough in Brooklyn that has gone from a neighborhood of old warehouses and factories to one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city. Lofts, workshops, shops, clubs, and bars – housing prices are already even higher than in Manhattan.
Williamsburg is a kind of hipster mecca of the city, but there is enough space here for the Polish diaspora, offering fashionistas on every street corner, and even Hasidim, although the latter is not very fond of the new neighborhood.
Walk first along Bedford Avenue and then towards the waterfront. Interesting and worthwhile places to visit are found at every step. Finding great coffee is even easier than finding a trash can on the street for an empty cup later. If you have time, you can drop in on an excursion to the Brooklyn brewery, where the famous Brooklyn lager is brewed, which can be tasted in establishments throughout New York (bars in Stockholm are even named after him).
Another place is Rugh Trade – a huge hangar that houses a music store. A real paradise for vinyl lovers. You can find all the newest releases here. And if you need old ones, here you can calmly tell you the addresses of the best places in the neighborhood with the old records.
It’s better to spend the evening in Williamsburg bars. You won’t have to search for a long time – there are excellent places at every corner, you can safely go into the first door you like. Sometimes even behind an unobvious sign hides a great bar where beer is brewed right on the spot.
Even if you are not a big fan of American sports and do not know anything about the local teams, it will be unforgivable not to go to the stadium for at least one game. After all, the culture of sports and entertainment around him is simply enormous. Many go not for the sake of the game itself, but for the atmosphere and entertainment that arenas offer.
You can watch basketball at the new Barclay’s in Brooklyn, where the Brooklyn Nets, a favorite of Jay Z, play. Or you can go to the New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
Baseball favorites, the New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and the New York Mets alternate boys play in Queens.
You don’t have to choose a stadium to watch American football – the New York Giants and New York Jets play at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Don’t forget to dress up in local team colors (the most stylish are Brooklyn Nets), beer, and the obligatory hot dog.
7. Strand Bookstore
A large bookstore dating back to 1927 that sells both new and old books – and often at very low prices. A must-see. Be ready, you will be stuck here for at least an hour and a half or two.
“Strand – my home away from home” – says the advertisement and does not lie. A huge selection of publications in all areas, and especially in art, will make you stick on the floor with books until late at night, which many visitors do. An additional reason for visiting is a bunch of events – presentations by star authors and musicians, taking place in the store.
Pay special attention to old books. A lot of good publications from the 1950s and 70s, which have not been reprinted since then, can be found only in this store. And also “new old” editions – books that have just been published, but have already been read by someone, can be bought 3 times cheaper.
Music is a big part of this city, and no matter what style you like, the best performers will definitely give concerts in New York.
The easiest way to track all performances is through the Songkick service. Don’t be surprised if it turns out that three of your favorite artists are giving a concert on the same day.
All venues are equally good, from the large arenas of Madison Square Garden and Barclay’s to medium-sized ones such as Irving Plaza, Terminal 5, Williamsburg Music Hall, etc. But there is always a chance to get to local small performances in speakeasy bars, as well as to spontaneous jams of jazz musicians because this is New York, which has been breathing jazz for many decades.
9. Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
Slightly less famous observation deck than the one on the Empire State Building. Better than the last one is that you can see everything from Top of the Rock, incl. and the Empire State itself.
The 360-degree view is well worth heading up – perhaps the most coveted and regal view on the planet. Nevertheless, the queues here are much less than at another famous site, and there is much more space to not push with anyone and enjoy the panorama. With one ticket, you can admire both sunset and sunrise on the same day – i.e. to catch the best hours, when the light changes every 5 minutes and glides along the facades of houses, and in the evening the city lights gradually turn on and the lights in the windows turn on.
But first, check the weather forecast and, if the day is sunny, feel free to book your tickets. It is better to book in advance via the Internet or come to Rockefeller Center a day in advance to redeem a ticket for a specific time.
10. Movies in Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, or Central Park
During warm hours of the day, film screenings are organized in the parks. Every week of summer, for example, the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival takes place. The whole clearing is filled with people with blankets, wine, and food baskets. It will not be easy to find a vacant place, but everyone politely shares the space, and the neighbors in the clearing will even pour a drink if you thoughtlessly forgot to buy a bottle.
PS Just walk around the city.
Spend the day walking around the city. Do not seek to see any landmark – and you will find your equivalent to the Statue of Liberty, which will leave an impression forever.