In preparation for a friend’s brother’s week-long visit from London, I’ve recently been scouring the internet and my brain for some the best non-touristy things to do in NYC. So after creating a list, a spreadsheet, and somewhat of an itinerary I’ve narrowed down some of my favorites, all of which I’ve done myself. Here’s to experiencing some of this city’s lesser-known gems. These are for you.
McSorely’s Old Ale House… Established in 1894, McSorely’s is known for being New York City’s oldest, continuously operated saloon (even throughout prohibition)! The most novel characteristic of McSorely’s is that fact that in its 150 year history, the pub has always and only served one beverage – ale! According to the pub’s website, visitors include everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon. For a peek in New York City’s alcoholic-history, drop into McSorely’s!
The Top of the Standard… The Standard, High Line is a boutique hotel on the edge of the Meatpacking District, and at the very top on the 18th floor, is a relatively small supper lounge that provides some of the best views of the city I’ve seen. In the evening, with live jazz, small plates and specialty cocktails this sort of retro-ambient scene is definitely one of New York’s best kept secrets from the tourist circuit. (Cocktail attire required.)
Brooklyn Bridge… Sure you can walk it but by far my favorite way to experience this iconic New York City structure is by bike. The Waterfront Bicycle Shop offers great hourly or date rates bike rentals (you could use a citi bike but these bikes are designed to suit those 5’ 5” or higher, plus you have to “check-in” with a bike station every 45mins with these bikes). The benefit of seeing it this way is actually avoiding the massive crowds that are usually always walking the bridge – there are far fewer cyclists and therefore it is easier to maneuver. Once you’ve made it across, make your way to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s famous ice cream shop, The Brooklyn Ice Cream factory, or for a full day out, bike to Williamsburg and enjoy the flavors of Brooklyn’s famous weekly food festival Smorgasbord! (The brisket here is well worth the ride!)
City Hall Station… In order to see this defunct underground station, you’ll have to take the Brooklyn-Bridge bound 6 train past its last stop (when everyone else gets off, stay on!). Before turning to go back uptown the train will loop through the City Hall station. I’ve done this only once but it was such a cool old-New York experience! Pay attention or you might miss it!
Tavern on the Green… This bar/restaurant is one of my favorite ways to enjoy one of New York City’s most iconic features, Central Park. Located on the Upper West Side near the 66th street entrance, and originally designed to house grazing sheep, Tavern on the Green caters to those looking for a formal-feeling gathering or those who’ve just wondered in from the park (I’ve experienced it both ways!). Whether you’re a local or visiting the park for the first time, this spot offers an experience to true the spirit of the park itself and the city surrounding it.