Since folks have asked a few times, here’s my go-to things to do in NYC if visiting or just generally curious what to do.

First, it’s important to know that every neighborhood is vastly different from the next, and each have their own vibe. The Upper East Side (UES), for example, is quiet but accessible. The Lower East Side (LES) is full of energy, Chelsea is hip and newer development, etc. It’s worth visiting a bunch to see what you mesh with. I tend to gravitate towards parts of Williamsburg and Alphabet city, but you may not agree- and that’s fine!

You will not see everything on your first trip, nor by your seventh, and that’s totally okay. Just take it a day at a time and you’ll be good.


The single most important takeaway from this entire post is that the subway is incredible and makes it super easy to get around. I highly recommend using it vs. taxis. If you need to take a car (e.g. going across central park), take a yellow taxi. Ubers are weirdly expensive around here and the taxis are well regulated, so they’re generally a good experience. Ubers still work well around, so don’t worry if that’s a preference!

For getting around, I recommend either Google Maps for planning routes, or Citymapper, which is a little better at getting timetables right, but misses the actual “looking for locations” piece of it. Combining both will save you some time and headaches.


Times Square is worth seeing exactly once, and at night specifically. It’s a spectacle, but otherwise just an insane clusterfuck. I do still remember my first time seeing it, and it still does instill a certain wonder when you cross it at random times, taking friends and family across the city, but it’s not worth going out of the way except for that first time.

For those looking to see the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry instead. It’s not worth it (in my opinion) to actually go visit Ellis Island. It’s neat, but not waste a day neat.

Grand Central Station is worth the visit, and you’ll likely pass through it anyways as you ride the subway, so spend an extra half hour or so to see the main room. It’s a gorgeous venue.

Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller) is better than the empire state building, but both give unbelievable views of the city, and have also heard good things about the Edge in Hudson Yards. I do really love Top of the Rock for the view of Central Park.

Talking about Central Park, it is hella worth the visit. It’s an incredible bit of nature in the concrete jungle, and is quite the contrast when you get deep into it. Great way to waste a ton of time, but also can be the relief from all the insanity in the city elsewhere.

Central Park isn’t the only greenery in the city, however- do look for smaller parks dotted around the city, or go to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for a great walking museum.


The city has a great deal of museums, and most are world-class. I personally am partial to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met, for short), and happy to take you with my membership.

The American Museum of Natural History is also fantastic, as is the Transit Museum. I personally will recommend the Transit Museum here, as it’s a great NYC-specific museum covering the MTA (transit authority for NYC).

Lastly on museums- the 9/11 museum is an absolutely breathtaking and somber experience that I do recommend. It takes the right mindset, but it’s really well done and I can’t imagine not having seen it.

The concert venues are good around here, just busy usually. Not a huge fan of Webster Hall, but it’s the common place for a bunch of mid-sized bands.

The exception I’ve found is the Brooklyn Mirage, while it is incredibly busy and packed, has some of the best audio and one of the most unique stage setups around, in addition to being an outdoor venue in the middle of Brooklyn. I highly highly recommend catching a show there to experience it at least once.

Of course, it’s always worth grabbing a Broadway show, although with as often as the shows change (and the lack of me seeing many), I can’t specifically recommend one- but they’re all well-regarded for the most part.

Food and Bars

The short version of my favorite food places is on this Google maps list, and is constantly being updated.

The pizza around is really good and generally of a certain quality; kinda like how its hard to find a bad taco in LA or San Diego. The food scene in general is the best in the country, and among the best in the world. Pick your poison, so long as it’s not a burrito.

Also, get up early and get a bagel from a good bagel place. Like the pizza, most bagels are great around here. I personally like Tal’s but that’s 99% due to the fact there’s one on my corner. Lots of opinions here, but just grab a NYC bagel once and you’ll understand the hype.

And as mentioned, the neighborhoods vary wildly from each other, and that also applies to the food scenes. Manhattan chinatown is a good visit as it’s near midtown, so you can get good chinese food quickly via the subway. Arguably the best example of that is Wah Fung No 1, which is extremely popular for good reasons; there’s also a branch of the Taiwanese boba place a former colleague took me to there: Tiger Sugar.

Union Square is worth visiting on a saturday for the farmer’s market and picking up a snack or two. It’s busy, but it’s good fun to grab a snack and hit the park it’s connected to. Beyond that, there’s a ton of great shopping in the area if you need to do that.

On the icons side of things, Katz’s is 10000000% worth the visit and I will fistfight anyone that says otherwise. It’s an icon and for good reason- while it’s expensive, and maybe not the most incredible pastrami in the city (although that is hotly debated)- it’s consistent and known, which is important. Just leave lots of room as you’ll be stuffed by the end.

Veselka in the LES is really great Ukranian food; went there twice in a week once and it’s still in my top food places in the city.

NR in the UES (not Naruto Ramen, it is called “NR”) is also a great ramen place with superb cocktails. Get a reservation ahead of time and enjoy.

For omakase in the city, I’ve really loved Tanoshi as it’s relatively affordable, BYOB, and intimate. Great for a date night.

My usual recommendation for drinks beyond NR would lie on the “divey” side of things- Otto’s Shrunken Head is a prime example, but it’s a damn good bar with an excellent theme. Lucky is another example, right around the corner from Otto’s, and is a common spot for NYC burners.

Reif’s is close and also a great time. I don’t have a great cocktail bar recommendation, but let me know if you need one- I can always phone a friend.


Flushing is hella underrated generally and worth the trek to get some of the best chinese food around at good prices. has a good rundown but personally love love love White Bear.

5th ave is great for upscale shopping if you need to do that; all the major fashion labels have stores in the area, including the famous Apple borg cube.