You could argue that almost all of New York is touristy, from the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue to the beautiful scenes in Central Park, you will never be able to fully escape the tourists. New York provides so many photogenic backdrops, that no matter where you are, you are more than likely surrounded by other tourists doing the exact same thing as you and trying to act like a local.
That said, this is a little guide to the not-so-touristy locations I would recommend if you are revisiting the city or just looking to avoid getting swarmed up into a crowd of people holding selfie sticks…
Obviously, if it’s your first visit to New York, then hell yeah take a boat over to The Statue of Liberty, get on an open bus tour, and take 100 pictures on the steps of The Met and every other iconic New York setting, but if you’re looking to explore a little further then keep reading…
Dumbo, Brooklyn: This up and coming area of New York City is definitely worth exploring, with its cobbled streets, boutique stores and trendy cafes, there’s plenty to see and do on this side of The East River.
Brooklyn Bridge Park: DUMBO, which actually stands for “Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass” is probably one of the best spots to view the Manhattan skylines. Although it was cloudy on the day we visited, the views were still spectacular. The Brooklyn Bridge Park is the best spot for photos as there are walkways and open spaces perfect for a relaxing walk along the water’s edge.
The Brooklyn Bridge: This is actually the second time I’ve walked across the bridge, but what I would recommend is taking the subway across to Brooklyn and then walking across so you are facing Manhattan to make the most of the views. This then also leads you to Downtown Manhattan and the Financial District which is another great area to visit.
Getting that candid snap: There are plenty of spots to stop across the bridge but be careful to watch out for bikes as this is a popular commuter route between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and as expected the locals don’t like people standing in the way trying to take photos, so be prepared to hear plenty of bike bells dinging.
Dining and Shopping in Brooklyn’s Boutiques: There are plenty of independent boutiques and eatery’s to explore in Dumbo, possibly even more in the summer as they had plenty of open spaces that appeared to be used for markets and other activities when the weather is slightly warmer.
We stopped a small cafe called Butler to warm up and refuel with caffeine, we were all a little peckish so filled up on sausage rolls and cake. No word of a lie, I think this was the best sausage roll I’ve ever had (almost as good as Flour Pot in Brighton – if you know, you know!) Butler brings together sweet and savory baked goods from Michelin starred pastry chef, Ryan Butler, with beautiful interiors, it’s the perfect spot to relax in.
📍40 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA,
There are also plenty of little independent boutiques and oddbot shops along Main Street and the surrounding area, it reminded me a lot of The Lanes in Brighton, so as you can imagine – I was in my element.
📍Main St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Soak up the Culture in Chelsea…
Walk The High Line: We picked the perfect time to do this – Thanksgiving afternoon. The High Line was almost empty which made it such a peaceful place to wander along after spending the morning squashed in the crowd for the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade.
📍New York, NY 10011, USA
The High Line is basically an old railway track, elevated across the streets that have been turned into a walkway/public park that in the summer months showcases art, sells food and hosts events. It’s a great place to see some of the iconic buildings from afar and also explore local graffiti art that has been placed directly for the pleasure of High Line visitors.
Wander around Chelsea Market: This urban food court/ indie shopping mall is an ideal place to spend an afternoon. With plenty of little stores to explore and dozens of food choices, you won’t know where to start.
📍75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
I will have a post up soon all about the places we found to eat and drink around the city, which features the colourful food dishes we discovered here! I started writing it all as part of this post but I definitely had too much to talk about so I’ve saved it for another post!
Take a Trip to The Village…
Greenwich Village: also known as The Village, always makes me think of the 90’s sitcom Friends. It’s the location of Monica, Joey and Chandlers apartments in the show and also home to the building that is used in all of the transition shots. Some of the streets I recognised in reference to the show, so if you’re a big fan like me, just wandering around this area can be really fun.
Also, Greenwich Village is home to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City. It’s not located far from the Friends apartment so you can kill to birds with one stone if you’re a fan of both shows!
📍Friends Apartment: 90 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014, USA
📍 Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment: 66 Perry St, New York, NY 10014, USA
We visited both of these spots in the evening in the pouring rain, so, unfortunately, no photos of either of them! However, this area of Manhattan is filled with popular cafes, bars and restaurants and is also home to jazz clubs and off-broadway theatre, so it’s a great place to spend an evening!
Take in the Views of Central Park…
Probably my favourite place in Manhattan, but also the one place I haven’t seen enough of. Its size is obviously a big factor in this but there are so many parts of Central Park that I have not yet explored. I remember saying after my first visit that I wanted to go to further in and see Bow Bridge and Bethesda Terrace (Gossip Girl fans won’t want to miss this spot) but we didn’t get a chance to fit them in on this occasion. That said the south of Central Park (the part I have seen the most of) boasts beautiful views of the city skyline and is also home to the Wollman Ice Rink (defo worth a visit if its the right time of year – you will feel like you’re in a Christmas film!).
The ideal backdrop for your Instagram snaps too! Also, if you’re visiting at Christmas you can pick up little bags of roasted chestnuts and other nuts to make you feel even more Christmassy as you wander through the park.
Other Touristy Locations That Are Always Worth a Visit (Even the Second Time Around)…
The Rockafeller Centre: A beautiful location at visit at Christmas time. The iconic Rockafeller Christmas tree is coated in lights and the ice skating rink has you feeling like you’re in a Christmas card. We also found that The Rockafeller Centre was our favourite skyline view of Manhattan, so if you’re deciding between The Rockafeller and The Empire State, I would suggest here is better if you’re going up for the better views.
📍 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA
Macy’s and Bloomingdales: It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without at least a little bit of shopping… Even if you’re not looking to shop too much, it’s always worth a visit just for their displays.
📍 Macy’s, 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001, USA
📍 Bloomingdales, 1000 Third Avenue 59th Street and, Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States
So, those are just a few of the places I loved when I visited in November and would recommend to anyone that is planning a trip! Each area of Manhattan and the five boroughs of New York all have so many different things to offer that there really is something for everyone if you plan in advance!
Are there any other places you loved visiting in New York? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading,