Local Expert Recommendations on What to Do in New York City


Do you want to see the sights in New York City, but you’re not sure where to start? You can easily be forgiven – there are countless activities to undertake in The Big Apple.

We’ve put together some recommendations to help you make some informed decisions before your visit. Olga Maria Czarkowski writes for Dreams in Heels blogazine, and she’s kindly offered the following advice.

Which local snack would you recommend to a friend?

Either a great cheesecake from Juniors – there are several around the city – or if not, a salted pretzel from one of our street vendors.

Which city sight-seeing tour would you recommend?

I would recommend the boat tours, because you don't have to deal with crowds, and you can go around lower Manhattan and see all the sights in a short period of time. It is very informative.

The tours give great views of the skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and the bridges. You also get to see Ellis Island, Ground Zero, and so on. There are so many different boat tours to choose from. Some are more informative, with music, dancing, wine/beer tasting, and much more. Alternatively, you can get a New York Pass Tour.

Which café would you recommend to a friend and why?

I would recommend Cafe Grumpy. It has a great local vibe and relaxed setting. They have a great in-house bakery next door. Their coffee is amazing – one of the best espressos in the city. They also host coffee-brewing classes.

  • Cafe Grumpy, 200 W 39th Street New York, NY 10018

Which museum would you recommend to visit and why?

The Met Museum – It’s one of the most famous museums in the world with amazing exhibits. You have so much to see.

They also have the lovely Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar. You can get the most fabulous views of Central Park and of the NYC skyline from there. You can meet lots of locals there as well.

  • The Met Museum, 1000 Fifth Avenue NY, NY 10028

Which landmark would you recommend to visit and why?

The Statue of Liberty National Monument in Downtown New York – She represents hope and freedom and the ability to start over. She is an awesome symbol of NYC. It is an iconic national monument and a must-see if you are visiting.

Which local pub or bar would you recommend to a friend and why?

I would recommend a rooftop bar such as 230 Fifth or the top of the Standard Hotel because of the fabulous views of the skyline. From 230 Fifth, it is like you are touching the Empire State Building!

For a local bar that is not on a rooftop, try Verlaine. They make the best lychee martinis, craft cocktails, plus happy hour is until 10pm.

  • 230 Fifth, 27th Street and Fifth Avenue NY, NY 10001
  • Standard Hotel, 848 Washington Street NY, NY 10014
  • Verlaine, 110 Rivington Street NY, NY 10002
  • Le Bain, 848 Washington Street NY, NY 10014
  • Gilded Lily, 408 W 15th street NY, NY 10011

Which nightclub would you recommend to visit and why?

I would recommend exploring the Meatpacking District. Visit Le Bain at the Standard Hotel for great views, music and ambiance. The Gilded Lily has great parties, good DJs and drinks. There are so many great places around there.

What souvenirs would you recommend to buy?

People really like the “I Love NY” t-shirts, key chains, luggage tags, mugs, and so on. Also, even though the following things are not technically souvenirs, it is good to surprise your loved ones (especially foodies) with edible treats like NY bagels, NY cheesecakes, fruit tarts, pizza or pastrami sandwiches. They taste so different in NY! I personally have given these to loved ones before.

What local delicacy would you recommend to try?

Definitely a bagel with cream cheese and lox – totally NY! – pizza, or Buffalo wings. For dessert: a New York cheesecake.

What are your personal recommendations for things to see or do?

I would say to go to visit Dumbo. It is a great neighborhood across the Brooklyn Bridge with amazing views, coffee shops, bars, and more.

Go to Korean Town for Korean BBQ and karaoke.

Also visit Long Island City/Astoria Area. You can try the best Greek food in Astoria at Agnanti restaurant and Taverna Kyclades. There are lots of great dessert places such as Omonia Cafe.

At the Long Island City waterfront you can enjoy the views of the city and have coffee, wine, beer at a local spot named COFFEED.

Any other recommendations for things to do in New York?

If you want to visit a nice botanical garden, there is one in Brooklyn next to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park.

There is a great zoo in the Bronx that is free on Wednesdays: The Bronx Zoo.

There is also Williamsburg, a very hipster neighborhood. It has nice street murals, great restaurants, lovely views, bars, concerts, underground places and more.

Also go to some speakeasies. I love Bathtub Gin, which looks like a coffee shop from the outside, but it is an amazing lounge with burlesque shows Tuesdays and Sundays – great craft cocktails and a cool local ambiance!

Learn more local knowledge tips with our New York hotel recommendations.

Ready to start planning your New York city break itinerary? It’s easy – just combine these insider tips with even more activities and attractions in New York

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By Olga Maria Czarkowski

Dreams in Heels blogazine