It’s not hard to fall in love with New York City, even if you’re not really a city person. The 24-hour energy; the stunning skyline; the incredible cultural and gastronomic offerings.
But the New York tourist trail is nothing if not well worn. If, like me, you’ve visited NYC before or if you prefer to see the more off-the-beaten-path attractions when you travel, here are my top 5 alternative tips for New York:
See: New York’s skyline from Water Taxi Beach
Just beside the East River opposite Manhattan Island a city beach has been constructed near Long Island City. Water Taxi Beach is the perfect setting to enjoy the famous NYC skyline. There’s beach volleyball, deck chairs and a cute bar with reasonably-priced drinks
Do: The Circle Line Cruise
Ok so the Circle Line Cruise in NYC is a popular tourist attraction. But most people just do the short version, see Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Did you know you can do a cruise right around Manhattan Island, taking you to places where you can’t see the city at all?
Drifting through the Harlem River and around the north end of the island, this feels a million miles away from the towers of Midtown. Trees grow down to the muddy water’s edge and a group of young boys squat around a campfire on an old wooden jetty, laughing and waving. It is the opposite of a world where the pursuit of money and fame are the dominant theme.
Explore: The High Line Park
So you’ve gone roller blading and smiled indulgently at the dog walkers in Central Park. How about exploring the High Line park?
A 1930s railway line that runs 30 feet in the air over Manhattan’s industrial district may seem like an unusual place to site a park. The last train ran on the High Line in 1980 but it wasn’t until the dying years of the century that some community-minded people began to agitation for the creation of a public space here.
It would be another decade before their dream became a reality but now this amazing elevated public park is set between Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street in Manhattan. There are plans to extend the park as far as West 34th Street, utilising the old rail yards.
The High Line includes green lawns for picnicking and people watching; flower and vegetable gardens; pathways to stroll along; and yes there are a number of elevator access points!
Drink: Roof terraces and piano bars
I have a few of tips for great places to go drinking in New York City. Firstly, did you know the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a cocktail terrace on the roof? Here you can chat to New Yorkers who come here every day or every week and often enjoy an outside art installation as well – this summer it is Tomas Saraceno’s incredible Cloud City.
My next tip is also a roof terrace (so trendy in NYC the past few years). At street level it’s just a normal entrance off 5th Avenue but zoom upwards and 230 Fifth offers yet another trendy drinking spot, or go for brunch in the weekends. It has full frontal views of the Empire State Building and the gold summit of Madison Square Garden from its 14,000-square-foot deck.
If you don’t feel like being outside of an evening try Marie’s Crisis, in the West Village (on Grove Street between Bleecker St and 7th Avenue). A piano bar with a difference, here you can let your hair down and singalong with the show tunes or just people watch.
Stay: Rent an apartment
New York City hotel rooms are notoriously small and their shoe-box-like proportions have cramped the style of countless visitors to the city. The best alternative is to rent an apartment. From luxurious Manhattan condos to apartments in Brooklyn or Harlem, this accommodation option offers flexibility, comfort, and value for money.
When to go to New York City
My favourite time of the year in New York is Spring – it’s warm without being oppressive and that relaxed summer vibe is already in evidence, with people wearing shorts and sandals. Also in Spring is the 9th Avenue Food Festival, set in New York’s famous Hell’s Kitchen district. A local festival writ large with an amazing array of international food, this is a great way to enjoy New York.
Read more about my alternative things to do in New York City here.
By Natasha von Geldern
What are your top tips for New York City?
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