Travel Guide: Insider's Guide to New York, NY

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side
These mini city travel guides are something I've been working on for a long time ... I've been missing the idea of traveling a lot, and I thought that I'd walk down memory lane and pull out some of my best memories and budget travel tips (if I have any) and share them with anyone who can use them. These posts will be as thorough as I can make them without touching upon a lot of the obvious stuff you can find in common travel guides.

I'm going to try to post these once a month, though they take tremendous amounts of time to write and research, so hopefully you'll excuse me if I happen to skip a month here and there. And if you have any questions about any of the cities or would like me to delve more deeply into any particular section or explanation, please leave me a comment.

I'm starting out with my hometown of New York City, the city with which I am most familiar. I was born and raised here in New York City and I've had the pleasure (and displeasure) of watching it change through the years. Because I've lived here for so long and know the ins and outs of the city so well, this New York City "guide" will both be longer and more critical than the ones to come.

Before I get into it, there are a couple things that I feel are absolutely essential to know about traveling to New York City.

When to go ...

Try to go between September-December or April-early June. Summers here are unbearably humid, and add to that the closed-in nature of Manhattan and you're just asking for a sweat-soaked stroll through the city ... with all the other tourists who think summer's the best time to go to NYC. Winters here are a gamble, though for travel purposes, you might run into a freak blizzard and have to cancel your trip. Snowstorms in early April are not unheard of. Daylight hours are significantly shorter during the winter (the sun sets between 4:30pm and 5:30pm), and it can get very cold outside. Personally, I think late autumn is the best season to visit New York City -- it's slightly brisk, very romantic, and the city will just be beginning to get into the holiday spirit.

Lower East Side
Lower East Side, Manhattan

Safety

New York City is not that dangerous. Pickpocketing and petty theft happens, but it's more likely that you'll be accosted by someone trying to sell you some sort of comedy show ticket or tour around the city. As a rule of thumb, leave heavy backpacks and fanny packs at home, and make sure the opening or zipper of your handbag is always facing forwards. If you're going to carry a backpack, tuck your most important items deep inside the bag, where it's least likely someone will be able to reach before you notice.

Try to minimize conspicuous use of maps. Preload a digital map or PDF onto your phone, or use your phone's GPS system if you have to. Call 9-1-1 if you feel threatened or are having an emergency.

Public transportation

Public transportation is one of the best ways to see and experience New York City. The MTA subway and bus system can be quite confusing to those who aren't used to it, but it's often the quickest, most efficient and most affordable way to travel around the city. The subway system runs 24 hours a day, though during odd hours and weekends, service can be limited. Safety is pretty much a non-factor on subways -- unless you're traveling alone and to remote parts of the outer boroughs, there is pretty much no bad time to take the subway. I've seen more people ride the subway at midnight than I have at 3pm on some subway lines. In general, I recommend sticking to the subway rather than trying to navigate the bus system (something I'm definitely not comfortable doing after all these years), but there are some exceptions, like the oh-so-convenient crosstown M79 (79 for 79th Street) bus.

If you miss your stop on the subway and don't want to walk from the next stop, look for the next "express" stop (usually denoted on the subway map by a small, white circle with a black outline) after the one you missed on on your subway line. Oftentimes smaller subway stops will not have a walkway that allows you to cross over to the train heading in the opposite direction without having to exit the station and re-enter it, costing you another ride.

You can purchase a "regular MetroCard," which you preload with money that is deducted at the rate of $2.50 per ride (including a transfer within 2 hours, if you plan on riding a bus after you get out of the subway). There is now a $1 fee for any purchase of a brand new MetroCard, so if you know someone who's visited NYC in the past and has an old MetroCard lying around, ask them if you can have it. If the MetroCard's expired (the date can be found on the white side of the card), try talking to one of the sometimes helpful MTA employees in the "boxes" inside the station, and see if they will exchange the expired card for a brand new one. The regular MetroCard can be shared with others, meaning if you and your entire family will be going to NYC, each person can swipe through the turnstile on the same card. The same cannot be said for the unlimited MetroCard.

If you plan on taking the subway a lot, you can buy an "unlimited MetroCard" that covers 7 consecutive days or 30 consecutive days, beginning the moment you first swipe your MetroCard. The 7-day card goes for $30, which comes out to exactly 12 rides at regular price. So if you know you'll be taking more than 12 rides in a 7-day period, go with the unlimited MetroCard. The 30-day card costs $112, which comes out to just under 45 regular fare rides. As I said before, the unlimited MetroCard cannot be shared, as the MTA would go bankrupt (for real this time) if it could be shared. If a whole bunch of you need to go somewhere, sometimes it's cheaper to just take a cab (though unless you manage to hail a minivan-sized cab, it's 4 people per taxi).

If you know you'll have limited time to get to your destination or you're traveling on a weekend or a holiday, be sure to check the MTA website before you get on the train. Trains are more often than not re-routed or out-of-service completely on weekends. And if you can, download a copy of the MTA subway map for your phone before you leave home so you won't be scrambling to find one if you get lost somewhere.

Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue and 59th Street

Tips, taxes, and other customs

If you're from out of the country, know that gratuity is not included. This means that at a restaurant with service, you'll be wanting to tip about 2Xs the tax rate (8.875%) at lunchtime (10-15% is typical for lunch) and 18-20% at dinner. If you find the service particularly bad, tip on the lower end. But whatever you do, please do not leave without tipping! If you're at a bar or pub for drinks, the general rule is to leave $1 for every drink ordered.

The sales tax on clothing and accessories here is 0% unless you are purchasing over $110 in goods. There is no sales tax on what the city considers necessities, like groceries and bottled water.

Walking pace. I know ... you're probably like, "What!?" New Yorkers, myself included, get extremely testy when they're making a beeline from work to subway and find that they have to slow themselves down or dodge tourists on the way. New Yorkers walk at a quick pace that you can probably pick up pretty quickly, but then again, you're on vacation. The best thing to do when you're in a large crowd of people who look like they may be on their way to work or on their way home from work is to ... move aside. In Times Square, which is really the only place you'll have to worry about this, you can walk in the streets.

Try not to travel in large packs. The streets of Times Square get very crowded very quickly, and it's easy to lose people. Split your groups up into 5-8 people, at most. And whatever you do, do not stop abruptly in the middle of any street (Times Square or not) to take a photo unless you feel like getting yelled at. Swiftly move to one side before taking your photo.

Essex House New York City
From Central Park, Manhattan

Miscellaneous

While there really isn't much left about NYC that's "dangerous," don't get scammed or talked into something you didn't realize you had to pay for. While most people trying to sell things in Times Square are fairly legitimate, occasionally someone might try to talk you into buying a salon or spa package that has a lot of "fine print." Similarly, the characters (SpongeBob SquarePants, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, etc.) that roam throughout Midtown Manhattan (mainly Broadway and Sixth Avenue) are not posing for pictures because they like making people happy -- they expect you to pay for the picture. This is true for any Statue of Liberty mimes you see, and maybe even the Naked Cowboys or Girls.

If you're planning to see a Broadway show and didn't purchase tickets in advance, visit the TKTS booth, located under the bleachers at the newly named "Father Duffy Square" (Broadway and 47th Street) and stand in line for a chance at discounted tickets the day of the show. Or, you can save yourself some trouble by downloading the app, which seems to be constantly updated with ticket availability. There are other TKTS booths in the city, located at South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn. Check the TKTS site for hours and locations.

Attractions

I'm going to now outline the sights and places I feel are worth seeing in the form of an itinerary ranging from 3 days to 5 days, divvied up by neighborhood -- which means you can walk between sights (the best way to see the city!) or take a bus or cab. You probably won't need any more than 5 days to see New York City unless you want to take a number of day trips or want to go off the beaten path.

"Must-sees" are coded pink and "only if you have time" sights in teal. *For restaurant recommendations (marked with a yellow map marker), click on "view larger map" for detailed versions of each itinerary I've created. If I did a write-up of all my favorite eateries, I'd never finish this.

Itineraries after the jump!
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan

Day One: Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan is typically the first place people think of when they think of New York City. It's where those beautiful nighttime shots of Broadway and Times Square are taken, where Central Park begins, and where the famous Macy's at Herald Square is located. All of the glitz and none of the glamour can be found here, but it's a must-do since, for most, Midtown exemplifies what is expected of New York City.


View Larger Map
(zoom out to see all sights in same frame)

Times Square 
(42nd Street and Broadway)
In a nutshell, Times Square is a commercial area and tourist trap. But like Central Park, you really can't go to New York City and not visit Times Square. What sets it apart from the rest of New York City is its overwhelming display of flashy billboards. A couple of quirky museums are located here (Madame Tussaud's, Ripley's Believe It or Not and a slew of pop-up museums), along with Broadway shows. Please avoid the chain restaurants in Times Square, as they are overpriced and probably something you can eat at home. Try John's Pizzeria (260 West 44th Street at 8th Avenue) for NYC pizza, or any of the fancier restaurants for theatre-goers. (You can do research based on cuisine and location on Menupages.)

Bryant Park / New York Public Library 
(Bryant Park website / NYPL website; 42th Street and 5th Avenue)
This isn't a must-see, but since you're in the area ... Bryant Park is located between Times Square and Grand Central Station, and has seasonal attractions within the park. It's not a particularly large park, taking up one square city block, and features one large lawn and walkways lined with bistro tables and chairs. On the other side of Bryant Park is the famous New York Public Library, the one with the giant lions outside. It's not really worth going in unless you're okay with being extremely quiet, going through a security check, and staring at books or staring at people who are staring at books.

Grand Central Station 
(website; 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue)
I don't personally think Grand Central Station is that great, but it is kind of a majestic structure on the inside. The layout is kind of confusing, but with a little bit of patience, you'll be able to find your way around. In the concourse, there's a huge number of food kiosks for the foodie, including Magnolia Bakery, Ciao Bella Gelato, Two Boots, etc. There are also a handful of full-service restaurants at Grand Central Station, including the posh Cipriani. Try to go there during "off-peak hours," which will probably be between 10am and 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. This is a fully functioning train station, so if you go during peak hours, you risk getting lost in a huge crowd or yelled at by a New Yorker lacking patience.

Top of the Rock 
(website; 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues)
I don't think it's ever really worth the time to stand in line for hours just to catch a glimpse of a city's cityscape, but if that's your thing, go with the slightly pricier Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center rather than the Empire State Building, which is a hefty workout and has the lesser of views, I've heard. I mean, you won't be seeing the Empire State Building from the Empire State Building.)

Rockefeller Center 
(website; 50th Street and 6th Avenue)
If you're already visiting the Top of the Rock, you might as well visit the Rockefeller Center "block." It's really just another commercial area, catering this time mostly to Midtown employees, but you can peek inside the NBC Studios, watch ice skaters at the Rockefeller Rink and view the Rockefeller Christmas tree (the latter two during winter time only). Radio City Music Hall is on the same block.

Tip: If you need to use the restroom and don't feel like buying a cup of joe in order to do it, go underground to what's called the Rockefeller Concourse. There are bathrooms located near the Post Office, but you can follow signs or ask for directions.

+ Fifth Avenue 
(5th Avenue all the way up to 59th Street)
It's almost impossible to miss Fifth Avenue, no matter what part of Manhattan you visit. The more exclusive part of Fifth Avenue that you see in the movies is located in the upper 40s and 50s. You can walk up the street towards Central Park and admire the beauty window dressings. Abercrombie and Hollister have somehow made a stamp on Fifth Avenue, so it's not all unaffordable.

The Museum of Modern Art 
(website; 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues)
If I had to choose one museum in New York City, I'd choose the Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA). This is mostly due to personal preference, but the MoMA partners with UNIQLO and offers Free Fridays after 4pm. My tip is if you're planning to take advantage of the free admission, is to go at about 4:30pm, after the initial crowd has thinned out. The museum is open late on Fridays.

Skip: Herald Square. I know the Macy's there is iconic, but it's a hot mess at all times -- a battle to get through the crowds. And you wouldn't be missing much -- two H&M outposts, Old Navy, Payless Shoes ... nothing you can't see at home. Empire State Building. Avoid the long, arduous lines and look at it from afar, preferably the Top of the Rock. Also skip Madison Square Garden and Penn Station, as you will probably become disillusioned, standing outside both of these.

The Conservatory Garden at Central Park
Central Park, Manhattan

Day Two: "Upper" Manhattan

The Upper East Side (home of "Gossip Girl" and most of the "Real Housewives," as far as I know) is known mostly for its more conservative, old money feel. It's where the famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, glam Fifth Avenue and the ritzy designer stores are located. The Upper West Side has quite a different feel to it, though it is arguably no less rich. Central Park West is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the city, and where many of Donald Trump's buildings live. Lincoln Center, Columbia University, the Museum of Natural History all rest on the West side, which was traditionally thought to be more bohemian and home to artists and intellectuals (you can probably thank Columbia University). If you're a John Lennon fan, you can visit the site of his death at the Dakota on the UWS.


View Day Two: "Upper" Manhattan in a larger map

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(website; 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue/Museum Mile)
I don't recommend trying to visit more than one museum per day, but if you're just really into museums, go for it! The Metropolitan Museum of Art (or The Met, as we call it) is located on the east side of Central Park, at 82nd Street. Admission, as with admission with most museums in New York City, is a far stretch from cheap. Fortunately, admission is usually only "suggested," which means you can get away with giving them what you can afford. The Met is big and will likely take you upwards of 2 or 3 hours if you want to examine the art closely. The exterior has been made extra famous by the "Gossip Girl" show, so if you were a fan ...

Central Park
(website; begins at 60th Street and stretches to 110th Street)
You could start every day of your trip in Central Park and still not see all there is to see. My favorite part of Central Park is the Conservatory Garden, located at 104th Street and 5th Avenue, which is a bit out of the way for the average visitor. It's a serene pocket of nature, and is bound to be beautiful no matter what time of year you visit. The park begins at 60th Street and stretches all the way up to 110th Street. It's free, it's huge, and it's a very pleasant "spot" in the middle of an otherwise noisy, busy, crowded city. In the spring and summertime, you can picnic throughout the park or go on a flower hunt. You can traverse the width of the park to the West side or take the crosstown bus (M79) at 79th Street.

American Museum of Natural History
(website; 79th Street and Central Park West)
While the Met is on the east side of Central Park, the Museum of Natural History is on its west side, at 79th Street and Central Park West. It wasn't until I visited the famous Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that I realized how lucky we New Yorkers are to have gigantic museums at our doorstep. The Museum of Natural History is HUGE. It houses a planetarium and an IMAX theatre, both of which you'll have to pay extra for.

+ Lincoln Center
(website; 64th Street and Columbus Avenue)
Not a must-see by any means, but it's beautiful at night. It's the home to the Metropolitan Opera House, Juillard School of Music, the American Ballet Theatre, the fall New York Fashion Week shows, and some lovely water fountains.

+ Columbus Circle
(website; 10 Columbus Circle)
There's really nothing special at Columbus Circle, but again, it's beautiful at nighttime. The Trump International Hotel & Tower (where the Miss USA/Miss Teen USA/Miss Universe live during their reigns) is located here, along with the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle, a building full of shops and eateries. You can hire one of those horse buggies to ride around the city or park from here, though I'm sure it'll cost you a pretty penny.

Skip: The Guggenheim Museum. It's pretty to look at from the outside, but not nearly as interesting on the inside. Serendipity 3. I don't know if the effects of the movie "Serendipity" are still making waves, but this restaurant is seriously overrated. The frrrozen hot chocolate is basically a Mocha Coffee Coolatta from Dunkin Donuts. The food is mediocre. There is a minimum charge per person. Mice run amok just outside its 59th Street home.

The High Line
The High Line, Manhattan
source: Iwan Bann / thehighline.org

Day Three: Lower Manhattan

I use the term "Lower Manhattan" to cover a lot of ground: SoHo, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, the Gramercy area and the Flatiron District, etc. This entire area is über trendy with the young ... and the trendy. Overall, it has a much more laid-back feel, with a nice mix of "fashionistas" and college students (though the two are definitely not mutually exclusive). There is so much to see, do and eat in this area, and if you are particularly interested in the trendy, the arts and design, celeb-spotting, or the "downtown vibe," I'd suggest focusing most of your time in this area. It's always alive and buzzing, youthful and frenetic. Don't be afraid to walk across the entire width of the island (Manhattan, that is), as there is something to see as far left as 12th Avenue and as far right as Avenue D (Alphabet City). Just don't wait until dark to do it, as this area is generally less safe than Midtown and the Upper East and West sides.


View Day Three: Lower Manhattan in a larger map 

+ The High Line
(website; Gansevoort to 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues)
The High Line, which opened in 2009, is a park that was converted from an old freight rail line. It's truly a modern public park, complete with public art, foodie spots and family (and hipster) friendly activities. You can find outposts of some of New Yorkers' favorite eateries here, such as L'Arte del Gelato, La New Yorkina, Brooklyn Soda Works.

+ SoHo
This is the second most famous shopping area of New York City. There are shops of all kinds, from high-end to casual club clothes. The energy here is very different from Midtown, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side. Generally speaking, Lower Manhattan is a lot younger and full of what native New Yorkers assume are "NYU students," though there are a number of art, fashion and design schools in the vicinity.

+ West Village
West Village is, hands down, my favorite neighborhood in New York City. I like it because it's like a little haven from the madness. It's a cozy little village-like area, with non-gridded streets (so you're bound to get a little lost) and the original Magnolia's Bakery. The shops in this area are a little more boutique than SoHo tends to be, but mostly because there's a higher density of them.

+ Lower East Side
(take the 6 train to Astor Place or Bleecker Street, or the F train to 2nd Avenue)
This area, despite being overrun by "NYU students," is still quite bohemian. And by bohemian, I mean "dirty." Visit St. Marks Place (and 8th Street) for some cheap and eclectic eats and buys. 2nd Avenue (between 1st Street and 11th Street) is full of interesting restaurants. Explore the nooks and crannies in between these streets, as you never know what you might stumble upon! Walk along East Houston Street and check out some of the streets with proper names (Ludlow, Essex, etc) for some tucked-away restaurants and boutiques. Katz's Deli, made famous by That Scene in "When Harry Met Sally," is located at Ludlow Street and East Houston Street. But make sure you really want to eat there, because the prices and attitudes are high inside.

Skip: Union Square. It's high energy and often full of eccentric people, but there's nothing to see there. The same can be said of Washington Square Park. Chinatown/Little Italy can be skipped unless you're looking a knockoff bag or some family-style Italian food.

Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn

Day Four: Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn

Low, lower Manhattan is quite boring. The Financial District is your average "central business district," except in New York City, there really isn't a center. The Financial District is less exciting than other business districts in Manhattan in that it's not nearly as commercial. After hours, you can find yourself in want of a decent restaurant or even decent company. It can be dead at weekends, unless you find yourself wandering into Chinatown.
Across the East River in Brooklyn, you can find much more going on. There's a mix of artists, hipsters, trust fund babies, families, and those who have migrated to Brooklyn from Manhattan. It's more mixed than Manhattan is, generally speaking, but still quite singular in its trendiness (though it's perhaps a little less glamorous over in Brooklyn).


+ The Financial District / Battery Park
(website; Battery Place and State Street)
There's certainly no need to visit Wall Street or the New York Stock Exchange, but you might want to drop by the September 11th Memorial. Keep in mind, however, that if you want to visit the memorial, you'll have to reserve a pass in advance or visit the Preview Site at 20 Vesey Street for a ticket available through a first-come, first-serve basis. Battery Park is, however, worth a visit for some nice Hudson River and New Jersey views.

+ Brooklyn Bridge
(website; enter the pedestrian walkway near City Hall, at Park Row)
They say the view on the walk from Brooklyn back to Manhattan is more stunning because you'd get a view of the Manhattan skyline, but this one is easier to find. If you don't feel like walking (1.13 miles), you have a few options in terms of subway lines alone. The A/C lines to the "High Street - Brooklyn Bridge" stop will take you within a quarter of a mile to the bridge's pedestrian walkway. The 2/3 lines to "Clark Street" will take you within a third of a mile, and the 2/3/4/5/N/R lines to the "Borough Hall" stop will take you within two-thirds of a mile, but a straightforward walk to the walkway. Under or near the bridge on the Brooklyn side, you'll find a host of famous eateries, including Grimaldi's Pizzeria (where there's bound to be a long wait), the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Ignazio's Pizza, and the very famous (and expensive) River Café.

+ Williamsburg
(take the L train to the "Bedford Avenue" or "Lorimer Avenue" stops)
If you are a hipster or enjoy interacting with or watching hipsters, this is the place to go. It's mostly been gentrified to the point where its artistic roots are fairly difficult to spot, but there's certainly a lot of quirk to go around. A lot of little (yet pricey) boutiques line Bedford Avenue and its adjacent streets. There's a high density of cozy and good restaurants in Williamsburg and most of Northwest Brooklyn (Caroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights -- all worth the "stroll"), so do your research.

+ Prospect Heights
(take the 2/3 lines to the "Grand Army Plaza" or "Eastern Parkway - Brooklyn Museum" stops)
Again, not a must-see, but this neighborhood is beautiful and houses the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, the majestic Brooklyn Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum. If you're adventurous, the Botanic Garden is free on weekdays from November through February, but otherwise free year-round on Saturday mornings (except for event dates) if you enter between 10am and noon. If you've seen Central Park, Prospect Park won't be nearly as exciting, but it's still huge and beautiful compared to an average park (check out the Boathouse). The Brooklyn Museum is free each Saturday evening from 5pm until 11pm, except in September, and isn't as exciting as its Manhattan counterparts, but also worth a visit if you're in the area.

Skip: Wall Street/the New York Stock Exchange. I'll sum it up for you in a string of words: businesspeople, suits, busy streets, commerce, dead at night. South Street Seaport, which is mostly just a mall and commercial area. Coney Island, unless you are a New Kids On The Block, vintage theme park, hot dog or mermaid fanatic.

5 Pointz
Five Pointz, Queens
source: 5ptz.com

Day Five and Beyond: Harlem and the Outer Boroughs

Manhattan gets all the fame while the other 4 boroughs are often forgotten. New York City proper is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. If you're lucky enough to have the time to travel to the "Outer Boroughs," you will find the "true" flavor of New York City, where many native New Yorkers cling onto their city in a time when gentrification has pushed many natives out of Manhattan and even Brooklyn. For extended travel between boroughs, particularly if you're going to make a lot of stops (I recommend the subway), look into buying an unlimited MetroCard.


View Day Five and Beyond: Harlem and the Outer Boroughs in a larger map

+ The Apollo Theater
(website; 125th Street near 8th Avenue)
This is site with a lot of historical significance, and it continues to run its Amateur Night every Wednesday, along with other events. You can get a one-hour tour of the Apollo Theater if you can round up a group of 20 or call to see if you can join a pre-existing tour.

+ Yankee Stadium (in the Bronx)
(website; 161st Street and River Avenue)
If you're a baseball aficionado, this is a must-see. The Yankees' new stadium was uncovered in 2009 and has played host to a few concerts since its reopening (Jay-Z and Eminem, Paul McCartney, etc.). You can book a tour of the stadium, which runs every 20 minutes, starting at 12pm. You can book your tour in advance, or try for a discounted ticket at the stadium's ticket window.

+ P.S. 1 and Five Pointz (in Queens)
(website; 46th Avenue and Jackson Avenue)
If you board the 7 train at Times Square, Bryant Park or Grand Central headed towards "Flushing, Queens" (home of Fran Drescher's "Nanny"), you'll find a number of noteworthy spots along the way. The first of which, when you emerge from the subway tunnel, is MoMa's P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. I still haven't been there, but it's said to be a mix of interactive and contemporary art, and an all-around great time if you're into modern art. Across the street from P.S. 1 is "Five Pointz," which is famous with graffiti artists across the nation -- it's a legal graffiti site.

+ 7 train line (Manhattan to Queens)
(website; board in Manhattan via the Times Square, Bryant Park or Grand Central stations)
It would overly ambitious to do all of the above in one day, but if you're going to be taking the 7 train anyway, you might as well stop along its route to experience some international cuisine. The 7 train has, in the past handful of years, been given the nickname "the International Express" due to the vast number of different ethnic neighborhoods it travels through. You can choose to get off at the "61st Street - Woodside" stop for some relics of what used to be a predominantly Irish neighborhood. Walk east underneath the subway tracks (the 7 train is above ground for most of its path through Queens) and when you arrive at 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, you'll find yourself immersed in a number of different cultures, all at once. Along this route, you can find food of all kinds: Indian, (authentic) Mexican, Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Ecuadorian, Chinese, Filipino ... you name it. Hop back on the train, headed in the same direction as before, if you want some authentic Taiwanese and Chinese eats at the 7 line's final destination of "Flushing - Main Street".

+ Citi Field and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (in Queens)
(website; 123rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue)
I had to be fair and include Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The stadium, which used to be called Shea Stadium before it was rebuilt, also reopened in 2009. Shea Stadium is famously known as the place the Beatles opened their 1965 North American tour. The best way to get to Shea Stadium is to the take the 7 train (take the Express train, if available, if you want to save time), and get off at the "Mets - Willets Point" stop, the second-to-last stop on the 7 line. While you're here, the site of the U.S. Open (for tennis) is just across the train station. You can roam the grounds and the surrounding Flushing Meadows Park, which was the site of the 1964-1965 World's Fair.

Skip: Columbia University -- it's pretty average for a college in terms of looks, and unless you're going to a special event or lecture, there isn't all that much to see.


Helpful Links

+ The MTA website, with subway and bus maps, schedules and information on service delays and fares.
+ MenuPages.com, where you can look up menu and pricing info based on cuisine or neighborhood.
+ Time Out New York, for weekly listings of local events.
+ NYMag.com, for weekly listings of local events.
+ Self-guided walking tour itineraries for every interest and taste.

I hope this mini-guide was helpful. Of course, this has been curated by a girl who has particular tastes and interests, and yours might differ from mine. If you have any suggestions and feel strongly that I have left something off (and I know I have!), feel free to chime in!

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2 comments

  1. Great tips, as I love to travel to different places it will help me a lot. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete

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