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A Local’s Guide to Visiting New York

By: Masha Komissarova

I think the best way to describe New York City is that it’s like every city mixed into one city. I have never heard more foreign languages spoken anywhere else than on the streets of NYC. There is something for everybody: China Town, Little Italy, Brighton Beach (AKA Little Odessa), Greenwich Village, etc.

As a New Yorker, I want to give you some suggestions on what to do and what to see if you ever visit the Big Apple. First, check the weather. New York City is a beautiful city but it’s also extremely busy and crowded. It’s true what they say: New Yorkers do everything at the same time: eat, talk, catch taxis, etc. Some love the energy, some find it overwhelming, but either way you don’t want to be worried about the weather. The best seasons to visit are winter, fall or spring.

Things to do:

Go all the way up to the 102nd floor in Empire State Building. When you’re up there, you can not only see the entire city but also the elegant Chrysler.

Photo from: ESBNYC

Buy the famous pretzels from any food trucks, walk to Rockefeller Center, and, once you’re there, why not go into Saks Fifth Avenue? It’s straight across from Rockefeller.

Have brunch at Plaza Hotel. Of course.

Order ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery (my personal favorite is banana flavor with caramel sauce in a waffle cup) and stroll around Times Square (best time is 6-7 pm) The sun will just begin to set or will already have set and you will truly experience Manhattan. 

If you get tired, take a horse carriage ride in Central Park (to Columbus Circle, for example). At the Center of Columbus Circle, there is Time Warner – they have great shops, restaurants, and cafes. The view is also incredible.

Go to Dylan’s Candy bar on 3rd Avenue. This is one of my favorite candy stores. A trick to save you time: Bloomingdale’s has two main doors: one that leads to 3rd Avenue and another to Madison Avenue. Just ask someone how to get to the door of the exit you prefer. Or you can stay on 3rd and walk to Madison, it’s not that far.

Side note: most of the things I’ve mentioned above are relatively close to each other. I recommend not taking a cab or at least not to all the locations. You’ll be stuck in traffic longer than it would take to walk there.

Museums to check out:

Make sure you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA the MET), the largest art museum in the United States. They have everything there from European impressionists, modern photographs to the ancient Egyptian sphinxes. They have 2 great cafés (I recommend going there early however, because it does get crowded especially on the weekends). I like to order coffee and some sort of a pastry and get some work done. Then, if I need inspiration, I go look at my favorite European paintings.

If you like modern art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is the place for you. If the MET is more “traditional” in its art, then MOMA has very new and contemporary art. Because of its perfect location, there are plenty of things to do after MOMA. For example, visit the legendary Henry Bendel (the store itself is kind of a form of art). And since you’re on 5th Avenue already—window shop! New York has the largest and best window shop design in the world.

Photo Credit: Time Out/Henri Bendel

Also, check out the American Museum of Natural History. This museum has mummies, lots of science, and dinosaurs. What’s not to love?  

Good walking tours:

I personally love to ride my bike or skateboard across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s so fun, you’ll get plenty of exercise, and the view is spectacular on all the skyscrapers and even the famous Statute of Liberty!

Another good walking tour is from China Town into Little Italy. These little streets feel like what New York City is made of. Plenty of Murals, street art, and people all speaking different languages. All the energy and movement around truly inspire you. I love to walk from China Town to Little Eataly and when I get tired, sit at a café and have a cup of coffee. Here, however, I do recommend walking with someone who knows all the streets, because it’s extremely easy to get lost if you don’t know the area.

I also absolutely love the High Line and Chelsea Market. First, go into the market itself because it does tend to get crowded. The market has tons and tons of small little shops. Everything from gelatos to spices! A great place to food shop and buy presents for your family. Tons of jewelry, clothes all very unique. After you’ve done shopping go up to the actual High Line, sit on a bench and eat your ice cream. The view from up there is stunning.

Photo Credit: The High Line

The beauty of New York City is that everything is much closer than you think. This map (below) can help you navigate your way around.

“London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.”  -Dorothy Parker


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Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.
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