Saturday, January 28

New York travel guide: do what the locals do

Every year New York City welcomes millions of travelers; in 2019, more than 65 million stopped in the City that never sleeps. Despite many dreaming of jet-setting to America’s highest-energy melting pot, sailing can be a nightmare. Of the millions that pass by each year, not many get to see the city as the residents do.

For the most part, this could be a good thing. After all, most locals deal with the horrendous smells of the subway, the small mountains of piled-up garbage, and the unstoppable and escalating cost of living. But tourists get to the best of the city with a round-trip plane ticket in their back pocket.

So how can visitors get a real slice of the Big Apple during a short trip? Read on for some of the best places to visit to get a feel for what it’s like to live (or, more appropriately, survive) and eat in the Concrete Jungle.

Sports: Knicks & Nets

There’s a surefire way to get into the New York City scene: attend an NBA game. The city identifies most closely with its basketball teams, which are located in Manhattan (the Knicks) and Brooklyn (the Nets). Tickets are affordable, the game moves fast, and best of all, sports betting in New York has just been legalized.

Visitors, like locals, have access to a variety of betting markets that will fuel the excitement around any game. Not sure which team to choose? The Nets are the flashiest side with a new arena built by Jay-Z. The Knicks, on the other hand, are probably the team the locals are supporting.

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Kitsch stores: The Strand and Kinokuniya

One way to feel like a local is to shop like one, and most don’t head to SoHo when they pull out their shopping lists. Many choose to peruse bookstores, like The Strand. Used books are always on sale for little money, while the store also houses some of the biggest trade authors while on tour.

Kinokuniya is located further north of the city and offers a unique atmosphere. There are stationery, manga, novels, and many unique finds in between. With multiple floors and a coffee shop, it’s a one-stop-shop for a relaxing look at one of New York’s growing obsessions: kawaii.

Neighborhoods: Greenpoint and Red Hook

Most travelers will be limited to walking around Manhattan neighborhoods, but those heading to Brooklyn can visit two interesting neighborhoods. Greenpoint, located near the famous Williamsburg, has a mix of traditional Polish food along with a postmodern flair. Think: pierogis and vintage vinyls. Red Hook, by contrast, exists far off the beaten track. Its eclectic shops and bars reflect the island’s interests in the area. Think: dive bars with locally sourced furniture.


Pizza and other food groups

Now that we’ve covered where to go and what to do, let’s give a brief overview of what it’s like to eat like a New Yorker. Locals prioritize price, quality, and speed, and there are places that meet all three.

A slice of New York: artichoke and Tony’s

Pizza is its own unique food group in New York City, primarily because it’s affordable, tasty, and convenient. However, those looking to discover some gems can head to an artichoke pizza in Manhattan. Those staying in Brooklyn can head to Tony’s and Orazio Pizza.

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Here’s the important caveat: none will look attractive based on decor. Anyway, get a slice.

Sweeter things: milk and ladurée

Once again, we’ll divide the best dessert locations by district, and in this case, by quirkiness. Those looking for a unique experience can head to Ladurée, which combines Parisian culinary sensibilities with a Wes Anderson interior design angle.

Those in Brooklyn can head to a Milk Bar location. Ice cream parlors and dessert shops are known for their specialty “cereal milk” shake, which will leave you feeling an itch you never knew you had.

After Hours Eats: Veselka and Empanada Mama

Those heading to the city that never sleeps are likely to find themselves with a good appetite by 3am. And since most locals use their stoves for storage rather than cooking, there’s always a 24-hour restaurant nearby.

Two of the best are Veselka and Empanada Mama. The former serves Eastern European specialties, from borscht to potato pancakes, in a warm and friendly restaurant. The second is a functional and simple empanada shop with delicious options.

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