Taking a trip to New York this summer? Make sure you add these to your itinerary.
I’ve got up close and personal with New York City a grand total of three times in my life.
With every trip – including reporting from New York Fashion Week – I’ve found myself being caught up in wonderfully weird events like the moment I found myself standing in Washington Square Park watching a man swing a giant homemade bubble-making net on an idle Sunday afternoon.
And then there was the man who whizzed by me on a skateboard with a real large, bright yellow python wrapped around his neck like a statement necklace.
Earlier this year while making my way to the subway I suddenly found myself starring in disbelief as DJ Khalid literally stopped traffic on Fifth Avenue as he emerged from the sunroof of his Bentley, recording every screaming fan on Instagram Stories while promoting his new single.
I didn’t bat an eyelid when actress Karen Gillian casually walked by me as I looked up at Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional apartment on Perry Street.
Therein lies the real beauty of NYC: go off the beaten track to expect the unexpected. So once you’ve ticked all the famous landmarks, leave some time to explore the lesser known parts and you’ll really get to discover what else the city that never sleeps has to offer.
Here’s our edit of the best alternative places to visit in the city.
Best and coolest things to do
Take a guided tour of the city
You’ve been wowed by the Whitney and marvelled at MOMA, so whats next for the art lover who is visiting NYC? How about a curated tour from an actual artist.
From the 22 June, the Crosby Street hotel is offering a guided tour starting with its own collection of art (the 12-foot cat sculpture is a must for your Instagram feed) followed by a walking tour of some of the local galleries in Tribeca and Chelsea by French landscape artist Lyora Pissaro.
After two hours (the perfect amount of time if you ask us) and for an extra $45 you can have lunch at the hotel too!
Jump into the biggest ball pit
The colour factory is an interactive and multi sensory experience celebrating all things colour.
From life-size flow charts and edible treats, to a music lesson and a spearmint-coloured ball pit, each room ‘invites curiosity, discovery and play’. One of the best thing about this experience is you get to take photos and make gifs as you go on your rainbow journey.
You must book in advance and do not go on a Thursday as its closed. Oh, and if you go late at night, there’s less chance of children in attendance so you have more space to be a big kid!
Eat at the coolest, newest restaurant
The location isn’t local, the decor isn’t fancy and the menu changes daily so you cant Google in anticipation, but all of this is what makes SoHo restaurant KING exciting.
The two female chefs, who you can watch in the open kitchen, are River Cafe alumni and the food is good quality simple local produce, full of flavour with deserts that are far from fancy; think polenta cake and big scoops of rhubarb ice cream.
When Stylist visited King in early May, ANJELICA ACTUAL HOUSTON was on the next table. She ordered the bread to start FYI. If its good enough for her…
Drink with the cool kids on a barge
Over the bridge from Manhattan in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Barge is a waterfront hang out with about 10 tables on board and many more on dry land. Totally hidden out of the way from the main road, discovering this place immediately makes you feel like a proper local slash extra in Lena Dunham’s Girls.
The food menu is tacos and wings, fries and burgers and yes of course, gluten free buns are available. There is table service for food not drinks. But no-one really minds queuing for frozen margaritas do they?
Go foodstagram croissant crazy
Over 10 types of pastry, baked goods in both sweet and savoury, with holographic packaging, the best donuts in the city, an open plan kitchen so you can see the Wonka-esque creations getting made, AND croissant butter-flavoured soft serve ice cream? We are not making this up.
You’ll want to order one of everything at this lower east side, uber-trendy Supermoon Bakehouse. Do not eat breakfast before you visit.
Best places to stay
Located in Brooklyn, Wythe Hotel has the best view of Manhattan’s skyline in the whole of New York. With a fantastic cocktail bar, in-house restaurant and some of the friendliest staff you’ll ever come across, it’s a stay worth its weight in gold.
The Whitby Hotel
Positioned in Midtown Manhattan, The Whitby Hotel is a fairly new addition to NYC’s hotel offerings. Every one of the 86 rooms, spread across 16 floors, has been given its own style (with a British touch). And some rooms even come with a personal roof terrace. What more could you ask for?
The Marlton Hotel
Found in the heart of Greenwich Village, The Marlton is snug, comfortable and oozing Parisian charm. The nine-story stay, which was once home to legendary artists like writer Jack Kerouac, is only a five-minute walk away from the nearest subway stop.
And with a cool café, cocktail bar and great restaurant on offer inside, it tick a lot of boxes.
The Standard, High Line
Formerly known as The Standard, the recently re-branded The Standard, High Line is an 18-floor high hotel in prime view of the Hudson River and High Line Park. With a beer garden, nightclub and TWO rooftop bars, there’s a high chance you won’t want to leave.
Best places to eat and drink
Jack’s Wife Frieda
Jack’s Wife Frieda is one busy little café. Nestled between Bleeker and Bedford Street, it’s just as incredible as it looks on Instagram. Not only does it serve up varied meals with great flavours, but the atmosphere is nothing short of infectious.
Where: 50 Carmine Street
Found in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, the Reynard dishes up seasonal plates with aplomb. With an extensive wine list, unbelievably friendly staff and deserts to die for, you can easily spend an entire evening there.
Where: 80 Wythe Avenue
Located inside Roman and Williams Guild in Soho, La Mercerie celebrates the best of Parisian dining, NYC style. The sophisticated new hotspot offers up breakfast, lunch and dinner. The smell of the inside bakery alone will definitely leave you wanting more.
Where: 53 Howard Street
Olio e Piú
With a great wine list and enticing outdoor dining space, Olio e Piú is an Italian restaurant definitely worthy of the hype. From its flower clad walls to friendly staff, it’s a cosy place to eat and drink any month of the year.
Where: 3 Greenwich Avenue
Inspired by the Twenties, Café Colette in Williamsburg is the ideal place for brunch. Expect a vibrant atmosphere, big (and delicious) portions and a laidback vintage vibe.
Where: 79 Berry Street
Best things to see
New York Public Library
Located on Fifth Avenue, the New York Public Library is a bookworm’s dream. From the never ending shelves of books to the stunning architecture, the library is a peaceful place to be. And it’s free to take a jaunt around it, too.
You can cycle or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, but whichever way you opt to do it, just make sure you do. There’s good reason for it being featured in so many movies.
Located on Fifth Avenue, 230 Fifth offers some great sights of the city’s skyline. While sipping on a cocktail or tucking into brunch, the venue is certainly worth a stopover.
You can book a spot here.
Add these to your itinerary
Getting to Coney Island is as simple as hopping on the subway and getting off at the end of the line. If old school rides, corn dogs and soaking up an excitable atmosphere ticks your boxes then it’s definitely worth taking a trip to the funfair.
10 years ago Brooklyn looked very different. Fast forward to 2018, and the area is home to many a hipster and cool hang out. Venture there on a Sunday to lap up the laidback vibes.
Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment on Perry Street
Every Sex and the City fan needs to take a closer look at Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional apartment on Perry Street. You won’t be disappointed.
Cycle around Central Park
Walking around Central Park is great, but cycling is even better. Not only do you get to see a lot more trees, activities and statues but you also get to experience the sheer scale of the glorious greenery.
You can find out more about booking bikes here.
Images: Unsplash / Instagram