Whether you’ve lived here your whole life, or have just one day to pack it all in, New York is full of wonderful, cliché surprises. But hey, clichés are cliché for a reason, no? Flip through for our favorite New Yorkers, from Aerin Lauder and Stacy London to Carlos Quirarte and Peter Davis, on their favorite touristy things worth doing!
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Bronson Van Wyck, Event Planner
It has to be Amateur Night at The Apollo. The sheer talent is unbelievable. It has to be – if it’s not, the crowd boos them off the stage. Dress down not up – I’ve seen a drink thrown from the balcony at an aspiring but unfortunately tone-deaf opera singer, and I’ve also ended up post show dancing in the basement of Red Rooster with a troupe of synchronized performing Storm Troopers.
[Photo Cred: @nurbekv.amanotov]
Stacy London, Stylist
My favorite tourist spots in NYC are right next to each other for maximum convenience. The Museum of Natural History for dinosaurs and butterflies. And The Hayden Planetarium for the awesome 360 theater and Neil DeGrasse Tyson narrating about the whole known Universe. Also, make sure you get a soft warm pretzel from a street vendor. Basically, that’s a perfect day in the city for me!
[Photo Cred: courtesy Cynthia Rowley]
Cynthia Rowley, Fashion Designer
When I can’t be on my yacht (haha), the Circle Line Tour is the next best thing!
[Photo Cred: @gennefer]
Aerin Lauder, Creative Director of Estée Lauder
Nothing better than a great street pretzel or a burger at JG Melon.
[Photo Cred: @kimchuuuu]
Stacey Bendet Eisener, Founder Alice + Olivia
I love the Central Park Zoo! And if you go in the spring you can also see the Central Park cherry blossoms!
[Photo Cred: @suzy_matthews]
Nate Berkus, Interior Designer
Dinner in Chinatown and running on the Hudson River park!
[Photo Cred: @chandlerhurych11c]
Jon Oringer, CEO of Shutterstock
The Staten Island ferry at sunset! Best free view in town.
[Photo Cred: @oppsjessie]
Pat Kiernan, News Anchor
Real New Yorkers avoid Times Square for good reason. But if you’ve never sat on the risers above the Duffy Square TKTS booth you should. Grab a coffee on a warm summer night and just sit and take it in for 20 minutes. You remember what a special place the city is when you watch others experience it for the first time.
[Photo Cred: @juniorscheesecake]
Sofia Sanchez de Betak, Art Director, Fashion Consultant
Eating Junior’s Cheesecake at their Times Square or Brooklyn location!!
[Photo Cred: @lovenyork_]
Casey Fremont, Executive Director of Art Production Fund
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to ride the carousel in DUMBO. Pro tip: walk the bridge on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds!
[Photo Cred: @_rang2]
Carlos Quirarte, Co-Owner of The Smile and Le Turtle
Hmmmm things I like to do, hmmm, honestly rent a bike and ride the west side highway. Stop at Shake Shack in Battery Park and eat a shack burger. Also city bike over to BK / Dumbo area and walk Brooklyn bridge park which is redone and gorgeous. Get on the merry go round, get a slice at Juliana’s, cause we all know it’s the real Grimaldi’s hahahaha.
[Photo Cred: @steporr]
Timo Weiland, Fashion Designer
The Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island is pretty special… taking the gondola over the Queensborough Bridge to get there is spectacular as well!
[Photo Cred: @cree_orah]
Claire Distenfeld, Founder of Five Story
Going to an old school “Greek” NY diner, my favorites being Viand on Madison, or Nector on 82nd, or Three Guys across from the Whitney and eating a great burger or grilled cheese, french fries and a milk shake. I grew up going to diners my whole life and never appreciated just how incredibly delicous they are. Everything there is delicious because of the years and years of grease that’s built up on their pots and pans…. you can’t overthink it or else it’ll gross you out but in reality, it’s what makes it magical.
[Photo Cred: @empirestatebldg]
Peter Davis, Editor / Wrtier
As a born and bred New Yorker, I love being a tourist in my hometown. And I never get bored of visiting the top of the Empire State Building, which I did for the first time at 25. It’s scary and glamorous and romantic in a Hollywood movie type way. It’s worth braving my vertigo to take in that insane view.
[Photo Cred: @offthelight]
Julie Rice, Co-Founder of SoulCycle
See a Broadway Show!!! I am a theater addict. Whether it’s a hot new play or a classic that has been running for years. Broadway and Times Square are NYC musts!!!!
[Photo Cred: @daltonyco]
Valerie Macaulay, Co-Founder of La Ligne
Seeing Woody Allen play with his jazz band at The Carlyle. I went to see him recently with my husband, it was the perfect date night-dinner and a show!
[Photo Cred: @discovering_new_york]
Ira Silverberg, Literary Agent / Editor
The Circle Line: See the city from the outside and get the equivalent of Chicago’s architectural boat tour. Three hours of breezes and a new perspective on our town.
[Photo Cred: @jeanhsu]
Oberon Sinclair, Partner at Neuehouse
Kerb’s Memorial Boathouse. Rent a super cool remote control sail boats with friends and have a race-one of the best things to do – and not that many people know about it. Tea at Inn At Irving Place. Another wonderful gem that not many know about Minton’s Playhouse 206 118th Street in Harlem. Afro-asian food with jazz – super cool.
[Photo Cred: @serendipity3nyc]
Rachel Blumenthal, CEO of Rockets of Awesome
Serendipity! Classic NYC dessert extravaganza. You go there for the Frozen Hot Chocolate and it is as over-the-top and magical as it sounds. My dad used to take me on dates there growing up and now I take my kids. It’s still the exact same line, tchotchkes, tourist gifts and recipe.
[Photo Cred: @janescarousel]
Julia Sherman, Author
Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. I don’t care what anyone says, that wooden walkway and the view are hard to beat. Bike to the pier in Red Hook and snag a view of the Statue of Liberty. Watch as locals fish in the river; the vibe in that hood is like a New England seaside town. When sun sets, get a beer at Sonny’s bar around the corner, the best dive in all of New York. Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park is fun for kids, and adults too. The immaculate restoration of the vintage carousel is as picturesque as can be, and the view and the grassy lawn are ripe for picnicking.
[Photo Cred: @advancedstyle]
Ari Seth Cohen, Creator of Advanced Style
The 5th Avenue Easter Parade is always a great mix of locals and tourists. All of Manhattan is out in their finest and it’s a spectacle to behold!
[Photo Cred: @braodwaycom]
Erik Maza, Digital Features Director at W Mag
Whenever New York is letting me down, I head to the biggest tourist trap of all: Times Square. That’s because, inside that overcrowded Valhalla, there is a little oasis of a class called the TKTS booth, where they sell discounted tickets to long-running Broadway shows. Let me tell you, nothing will cheer you up faster than seeing a bunch of chorus boys and gals prancing around, slaying routines they’ve been doing since the original production of Cats, which is back on Broadway by the way.
[Photo Cred: @brookfieldplny]
Chiara deRege, Interior Designer
Well, I’m guilty of loving the High Line and I enjoy walking all along the Hudson down towards Battery Park. I start at the High Line, come down and wander through the west village then I go back to the river and walk until I hit Brookfield Place at which point I’m usually starving and I have sushi at that weirdly nice food court. I love it when family or friends come to visit because I make this one of the things to do. The views are so pretty and the Statue of Liberty is so beautiful from the waterfront. It’s a really nice walk especially at this time of year!
[Photo Cred: @frangrit]
Isabel Wilkinson, Senior Online Editor of T Magazine
If you don’t mind braving a crowd to get your bufala di mozzarella or spending an arm and a leg on a head of lettuce, get on over to Eataly. Weekends are a disaster, but if you can dip in on a weekday late morning, you can browse relatively easily for fresh pasta, cheeses for days and super-fresh produce. You can find me in the vinegar aisle, drooling over Massimo Bottura’s balsamic.
[Photo Cred: @lydiashens]
Wendi Sturgis, CCO of Yext
Start the High Line walk in the high 20’s, jump off and check out Story, stop at The Standard for a drink and then do late hours at the Whitney (Friday and Saturday night open til 10PM).
[Photo Cred: @dmariestyledd_]
Cyndi Gallop, Founder of Make Love Not Porn
My NY touristy must: the Bryant Park ice-skating rink during its tenure November-March, whether it’s to skate or just watch the skaters. I live close by on 5th Avenue, and my favorite thing on my way home from the subway or at weekends is to simply stop and watch the skaters. The crowd is a total melting pot of diversity on ice, and everyone is just so happy – couples on dates, families, little kids, teenagers, older people. Everyone is smiling, laughing, having a wonderful time. Nothing cheers you up like watching the Bryant Park.
[Photo Cred: @newitmagazine]
Trisha Gregory, Co-Founder of Armarium
A visit to the Met’s Costume Institute is worth every minute in the line, always. It’s constantly inspiring and like nothing else you’ll see anywhere!
[Photo Cred: @dcbartel]
Rachel Sklar, Co-Founder of The List
Marie’s Crisis! The best piano bar in the city, and the best way to warble away a night, or the night after your night. It closes at 4am, and peak showtunes can happen anytime. Cash only, and bring extra to tip the piano player.
[Photo Cred: @icapture_nyc]
Serena Merriman Alvarado, Founder of Merriman Events
The One World Observatory at World Trade Center – whether you are a tourist or long-time New Yorker. They put on a great show and there is nothing like being on top of the city like that, it changes your perspective entirely!
[Photo Cred: @anyrojas]
Lorenzo Martone, Martone Cycling
I think going to the Empire State Building feels nice – obviously because of the view – but also because I always bring my boyfriend there with the hope he will just get really inspired and propose! Soho: once the land of galleries, now the land of shops – but also so many coffee places and restaurants I love – filled with tourists but still brings back that NY / butterfly in the stomach moment. I like the Mercer Kitchen for lunch. The food is delicious and you always spot interesting characters Lastly, Eataly: it’s by my office and overwhelmingly packed with tourists but EVERYTHING you buy / eat there is delicious – not to mention the restaurant on the rooftop with breathtaking bread, wine and views – I mean what else?
[Photo Cred: @nguimera]
Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder of Foursquare
Go for a run along the river and make sure to run by the Statue of Liberty. For someone who grew up playing Nintendo and “Mike Tyson’s PunchOut,” anytime I get to reenact this scene it makes me nostalgic. Go Little Mac, go!
[Photo Cred: @lost.in.traveling]
Violet Gaynor, Co-Founder of The Glow
Growing up on the Upper West Side, there was always a certain magic and wonder surrounding Strawberry Fields. We lived one block away from the memorial, and to this day, I still go out of my way to walk past the mosaic design, which spells out the word “Imagine.” While it’s a magnet for tourists from all over the world, there’s still a certain calmness and serenity that washes over me each time I visit. Lennon’s message of hope and peace is more relevant now than ever.
[Photo Cred: @rjchanter]
Erica Cerulo, Co-Founder of Of A Kind
Taking a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard! We did it as an Of a Kind team outing a few years back, and it was eye-opening — there’s such a rich and diverse history there that I knew about zero of before doing so.
[Photo Cred: @whit_walker]
Douglas Friedman, The Facinator
Every so often I will get on a circle line and take a trip around manhattan.