I'm an NYC local — here are 9 things you should see and skip when you visit

I'm an NYC local — here are 9 things you should see and skip when you visit

I'm an NYC local — here are 12 things you should see and skip when you visit

Visiting New York is always a multi-sensory experience: from the hundreds of skyscrapers, the heady smell of street food, and the multitude of neighborhoods begging to be explored. However, narrowing down the best sights and attractions can be overwhelming.

After living in New York for five years, I have found that some of the best places I’ve experienced have come from locals and insider recommendations. Here are 12 things I recommend people to do in the city, from visiting historic buildings, active adventures, to culinary hotspots:

1. Skip the Statue of Liberty, instead visit the 9/11 Museum at One World Trade Center.


The view of the statue is just as spectacular from Battery Park (a 10-minute walk from the museum) as going to Ellis Island, and you have a picturesque skyline as a backdrop.


The Museum tells the story of 9/11 through interactive technology, archives, narratives and a collection of artifacts. 


2. Instead of buying a hot dog or sausage from a Manhattan food truck, try an egg cream.


The food trucks are okay for quick bites on the go, but you can take your time, sit down, and savor an egg cream at a restaurant.


The quintessential New York City soda fountain drink contains neither eggs nor cream and dates back to the early 1900s. You can find it at many iconic establishments in the city, such as Katz's Deli, Russ & Daughters, and Yonah Schimmel's.


3. Skip jam-packed Times Square, and head to Columbus Circle instead.


The crowds in Times Square can be overwhelming at times, but Columbus Circle is not as busy, and is adjacent to Central Park, so you can take a nature-filled walk after shopping around.


At Columbus Circle, you can browse The Shops at Columbus Circle, have lunch at the French cuisine restaurant Landmarc, and burn calories with a day pass at Equinox.


If you do decide to head to Times Square, instead of taking a photo with one of the costume characters, visit Gulliver’s Gate, located in the heart of Times Square: the largest miniature world in the U.S. The permanent exhibition is 50,000 square feet of places around the world in miniature. You'll get a key when you enter which allows you to interact with different parts of the display.


4. Instead of spending your entire vacation in Manhattan, visit the outer boroughs.


Manhattan is the immediate borough that most tourists want to see, but Queens is the most culturally diverse borough in the city. Brooklyn and Bronx have unique attractions worth visiting, like the waterfront DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn, and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.


Bike along the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens; tour the historic brownstones of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; and have lunch at one of the seafood hotspots at City Island, Bronx.


5. Instead of going to the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain overlook in Central Park, visit the park’s Conservatory Gardens


The Terrace and Fountain are well-known by visitors, but the Conservatory Gardens are a hidden gem.


The six-acre formal garden with beautiful fountains is located on 5th Avenue and 105th Street. 


6. Instead of breaking a sweat in your hotel fitness center, spend a few hours at Brooklyn Boulders


The indoor rock climbing facility has 22,000 Square Feet of climbing surface, from basic climbing to slacklining (a type of tightrope walking that is popular with climbers).


7. Instead of having dinner at a restaurant at street level, take in the skyline with a rooftop dinner.


An elevated view of the city is spectacular, where many street level restaurants offer limited views if they fall on congested blocks.


Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel is set on the 30th floor with views of East River, Midtown Manhattan and the Chrysler Building, and has menu items like tuna tartare; beet salad; and truffle mac and cheese.


8. Instead of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walk around Chelsea.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers many intriguing permanent exhibits, from Papua New Guinea culture to Roman times, but is not adjacent to many other museums. Chelsea offers a broad range of cultural stops: from dozens of changing art exhibits to pop up shops in a small radius.


Check out the The Highline (an out-of-use railroad trestle that’s been converted to a public park), the new Whitney museum, and pop into a few galleries to get your fill of beauty and art.


9. Instead of going to a Broadway play, opt for purchasing tickets to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.


Popular Broadway plays can be in high demand and have soaring ticket prices or tricky dates.


The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre comprises a extremely talented African American dance troupe that has been performing across the country since 1958. If you are luxury, one of their acts will be Revelations, which is very moving- beautiful choreography to African American spirituals like “Wade in the Water” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”  


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