What can you say about the formidable New York City that hasn’t already been said? A beacon of culture, fashion, nightlife, food … you name it, this city quite literally has it all. It’ll take you many lifetimes to experience every single nook and cranny of the Big Apple, but here are few good places to start.
In the morning, be sure to visit Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village for a classic NYC breakfast on the go, but if you have the time, head over to Egg, a Brooklyn hotspot with a walk-ins–only policy that serves some of the best breakfasts in the city. New York is brimming with world-class restaurants, and delicious cheap eats lie pretty much around every corner. So, whenever you’re feeling hungry, just take a stroll around the neighborhood and see what you find. For a step in the right direction, walking along Mulberry Street in Nolita or Waverly Place in the West Village should provide some great options, or, if you’re brave enough to weave through the crowds, you can always try your luck on Restaurant Row (West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth).
Manhattan’s East Village remains one of the most eclectic neighborhoods on the island, and despite years and years of gentrification, it still offers some fantastic off-the-wall opportunities for shopping, dining and general tomfoolery. Our favorite oddball shop? That would definitely be Obscura Antiques & Oddities (of Science Channel fame).
Over in Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, along with sister neighborhoods Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens—collectively known as BoCoCa—is a charming, tree-lined area that boasts tons of first-rate dining and shopping. Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue are the main drags here, both of which are worth taking the afternoon to explore. You won’t run into many (if any) chain stores here.
If you’re still hanging in the East Village and are in need of a nondescript place to grab a quick drink, try Big Bar on East Seventh near First Avenue. It’s literally the size of a studio apartment, but the red-lit room and cool, mellow vibe is pretty refreshing. To mingle with the cool folks, you’ll want to jump on the L Train toward Bedford Avenue and head to Williamsburg. From the upscale (Hotel Delmano) to the divey (Turkey’s Nest Tavern) to the purposely old timey (Maison Premiere), you’ll find it all here.
Visiting places like the Met and Central Park is a must if you haven’t been there, so go ahead and get those out the way. A walk across the relatively new High Line should also be added to any NYC to-do list, as should an evening spent grooving to some of the city’s best live music. Jazz aficionados worship at the stage of the legendary Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village, while rock fans can be found waiting outside the Bowery Ballroom in the Bowery to see whatever trendy band is coming through. As far as smaller venues go, Glasslands in Williamsburg is your best bet to see some of the buzziest bands you probably haven’t heard of yet, Death by Audio in Williamsburg hosts some stellar underground shows, and Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn is quickly becoming the ultimate stop for heavier acts and metal fans across the city.
Jennifer Sanchez is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.