Get the inside gen on NYC with our local's guide to 10 of the best things to see, do and eat in New York.
From East Village eats to skywalking on the Big Apple’s wildside, native New Yorker Tripbod Craig reveals 10 of the best things to do and see in the city that never sleeps.
1. Red Rooster: hip Harlem comes home to roost
Uptown is hotter than ever, and at the center of it all is celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant/bar/jazz club that opened in 2010 and has been jam-packed ever since. I come here to dig into gourmet plates of global-influenced comfort food like jerk chicken and Swedish meatballs as I take in the lively vibe that’s driven by a diverse crew of beautiful people that fills the handsome interior and sunny outdoor sidewalk tables. You’ll have to wait a bit and the subway ride from Downtown can take a while, but it is well worth it for an experience that captures a current snapshot of what I love about New York. There’s also a downstairs jazz club bringing a taste of old-school Harlem back to the neighborhood with live music and cocktails.
310 Malcolm X Boulevard
Harlem, NY 10027
Red Roster Harlem
2. Eisenberg’s: classic New York deli
Whenever I slide up to the counter or grab a table in the back, I know I’m in for a real authentic New York lunch experience. Sandwiches stuffed with pastrami and corned beef come on rye bread with a side of pickles. I top it off with a chocolate egg cream, which doesn’t include egg, but does contain plenty of sweet flavour with chocolate syrup and seltzer. It’s refreshing and 100% NYC. When I come in the morning, I sit up front for a cup of coffee and a classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, a New York staple that might not be a health food, but is one heck of a way to start the day.
174 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
3. Brooklyn Bridge Park: a green destination with a view
Spanning 85 beautifully designed acres, this recent addition to the New York parks collection is a new favourite of mine for taking a romantic after-dinner stroll or an adventure with the whole family. Your kids will love Jane’s Carousel, a merry-go-round from the 1920s. I just like to relax on the green banks or take a seat on one of the many benches and take in breathtaking views of Manhattan just across the river. There’s also an outdoor wine bar and other local food vendors onsite selling everything from lobster rolls to fancy sandwiches.
334 Furman St Brooklyn, NY 11201
Brooklyn Bridge Park
4. Juliana’s Pizza: old school pizza, new school style
Coal oven New York pizza is one of my all-time favourite foods. Opened by a true New York pizza legend, the 80-something-year-old pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi, Juliana’s is my new go-to for a taste of that classic charred crust that only a coal oven can create. I love that I can choose from traditional pies topped with mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes or innovative pizzas featuring ingredients like shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese. The dining space is small, but it boasts a little bit more style than your average pizza parlour which adds to the experience.
19 Old Fulton St New York, NY 11201
5. Mighty Quinn’s: authentic BBQ comes to the East Village
When I need a mental and culinary break from the New York streets, the authentic barbecue at Mighty Quinn’s quickly transports me to the backwoods of the Carolinas and Texas right in the heart of the city’s most eclectic neighborhood. Using traditional smoking methods with real wood, the flavours that come through in juicy meats are unreal. This place has been drawing fans like me every night of the week to its casual dining room decked out in cabin chic decor. And with pricing by the pound for succulent cuts like brisket, pulled pork or ribs, I can load up on a huge meal for a group of friends or just enough to feed two. I always throw in a few hearty sides and wash it all down with craft beer on tap. You’ll definitely be ready for a long walk around the city after this meaty feast.
103 2nd Ave New York, NY 10003
Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
6. Grand Central Terminal: one of the world’s greatest railway stations
Welcome to the beating, pulsing heart of Manhattan. I get a rush every time I step through the door, and although millions of commuters swarm through here every week, this spot is much more than a train station. It’s an impressive historic landmark with an iconic main hall where flash bulbs constantly go off from gawkers gazing at the amazing ceiling. It’s filled with numerous eating, shopping, and drinking options from a fresh market for produce and cheese to one of the world’s largest Apple stores. After I take in the architectural grandeur, I’m usually hungry and thirsty for some old New York ambience. Luckily, Grand Central Oyster Bar is just steps away and offers a full range of seafood dishes, an expertly shaken martini, and of course, dozens of types of oyster ready to be shucked.
87 E 42nd St
Manhattan, NY 10017
Grand Central Terminal
7. PS1 MoMA: art field trip to Queens
Like most New Yorkers I love the Museum of Modern Art, and one big reason is that with an admission ticket, you can also jump on the 7 train and visit PS1 in Queens. This cutting-edge museum in a handsome former school shows off up-and-coming artists from around the globe and is the cooler, younger sibling of MoMA. I recommend adding extra time for your visit, so you can dine at the super hip onsite restaurant M. Wells Dinette. I also love taking visitors to the lively events like the Warm Up series in summer that brings DJs and dancing to the outdoor garden.
22-25 Jackson Ave Long Island City, NY 11101
8. Highline: walking above It all
Stretching from the trendy Meatpacking District all the way up to 30th Street, this groundbreaking public park has changed the way we New Yorkers interact with our city. I like to walk along this restored elevated railway line to experience the architecture and street life of New York from a whole new angle. The breathtaking design features quirky details that require many visits to explore, and the stunning plantings are wonderful as they change with the seasons. But seeing the city from a completely different vantage point is the real draw for me. To beat the crowds, I go early in the morning or later in the evening to enjoy a peaceful, car-free slice of the city.
519 West 23rd Street
New York, 10011
9. Museum of Natural History: whales, bears & faraway galaxies
There’s always a fun and exciting exhibit on display at this massive museum spanning 27 buildings and 45 exhibit halls. But it’s the classic experiences that keep New Yorkers like me coming back again and again. From the mammoth whale hanging in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life to the handmade dioramas that offer an intimate glimpse into natural habitats from around North America, these relics are part of the fabric of New York and beloved by all ages. When I’m in the mood for a trip to the other side of the universe, I see what’s going at the Hayden Planetarium that shows the latest stargazing attractions in a state-of-the-art theatre.
Central Park West New York, NY 10024
10. Roosevelt Island: a serene escape a tram ride away
For one of the best sightseeing deals in the city, you can’t beat a trip to Roosevelt Island on the tram. For the same price as a subway ride, I can fly over Manhattan for an unbeatable view of the city where I can peer into New Yorker’s apartments as I hover over the East River. The fun doesn’t stop once you step off the car. Stroll to one of the city’s newest monuments, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which offers stunning views of the skyline. Manhattan is so close, it looks like you can almost reach out and touch the United Nations building.
2nd Ave & E 60th St
_Tripbod Craig is an editor and writer living in Manhattan who loves to get off ‘the island’ and explore the other four NYC boroughs as much as possible. _For advice and help planning your trip to New York you can contact Tripbod Craig directly on Tripbod.com
And of course, you can find flights to New York on Skyscanner
Read more: 20 things to do in New York for $1 or less