What to do in Manhattan? There are oh-so many options! This borough of New York City is constantly abuzz. Said to be the economic and cultural center of the entire United States, New York City is home to some of the country’s most popular attractions: Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, the Lincoln Center, Little Italy, the Theatre District, and more. New York County is the most densely populated country in the country. Add in commuters from all over the state (and New Jersey), and the city becomes a whirlwind of people, sites, lights, and never-ending stimulation. Visitors could spend days or weeks in each neighborhood and still not see it all. Understandably, it can become overwhelming to plan a trip. But luckily, Trust the Locals can help:) Check out our interview with Upper East Side local, Ryan, for some tips on what to do during your time in the Big Apple.
THE LOCAL: Ryan
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM: Ryan, 31, moved to New York in 2013 from Philadelphia. Now living on the Upper East Side, Ryan frequents the diverse neighborhoods of Manhattan, visiting wine bars to coffee shops to late night hidden gems. We sat down with Ryan to hear about his favorite jaunts in The Big Apple.
1. Favorite Coffee Shop?
Oslo Coffee on the Upper East Side (75th Street in Yorkville) serves a delicious roast. They’re actually a Brooklyn roaster with two locations in Williamsburg and one on the UES. If you don’t find yourself near Olso, look out for Joe’s, Gregory’s, Think Coffee, or any number of mom and pop shops throughout Midtown and Lower Manhattan. La Colombe also pours a great cup of coffee, and there are locations all over the city.
2. Best Happy Hour Spot?
I like going to Stone Street in the Financial District. Admittedly, it’s because it’s so close to other spots I like to frequent late night. But it’s also because of the four pubs, six restaurants, outdoor picnic tables, a patisserie, an oyster bar, huge lofts in historic buildings and a wine bar all along the cobblestone streets. Route 66 Smokehouse is my restaurant of choice, as they offer up a variety of bourbons and smoked BBQ meats. After happy hour, check out The Bounce Boat– literally a club on a boat that docks at Pier 36. They’ve headlined some legit artists, including Capital Cities and Chromeo.3. Best Place to Day Drink?
In the summer, there’s no better place to sip on cocktails than Pier A. Arrive in the late afternoon, enjoy some oysters and watch the sunset. The views there are incredible- you can see the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. If your looking for the best cocktail in the city, head to Dead Rabbit in the Financial District and order the punch. I’d venture to say they’re making some of the best cocktails in the world (but they also have a slew of awards to prove it!)
4. Best Steak?
Peter Luger or Wolfgang’s both serve great steak. If you’d prefer something besides steak, try wine-and-beer bar Jones Woods Foundry. They don’t serve spirits (just beer and wine) but the pub food is on point. Order the Chicken Pot Pie. It won’t disappoint.
5. Great Place or Area to Stroll in Manhattan?
Basically anywhere in the city is great for a stroll or people watching. I love St. Marks, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue is the East Village. St. Marks offers great nightlife- jazz, karaoke, hookah and even barcade (yes, an arcade inside a bar). I’ve spent many hours sipping on top notch selections of craft beer and mead while playing classic arcade games. After too many drinks, stumble to Mamoun’s for amazing lamb, falafel or shawarma sandwiches. Or try Veselka, for delicious Ukrainian pierogis – open 24 hours! If you’re looking to get out of Manhattan, I’d suggest Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Once gritty and crime-ridden, the neighborhood is quickly developing into one of the city’s premier hoods with restaurants, shops and even juice bars popping up everywhere.
Another solid option for a stroll is the High Line, an urban park built into a historical elevated freight rail line. The 1.5 mile path has lots of benches and nooks to stop and relax, several installations of public art, and a few dining options closer to Gansevoort and Washington Streets.
MANHATTAN RESTAURANTS TO TRY
- L & W Oyster– Cozy seafood spot on 5th Ave near Herald Square. Go during happy hour for $1 oysters!
- The Smile– An below ground cafe serving healthy Mediterranean fare (breakfast, lunch and dinner!) in the Bowery.
- Dimes– An L.A. transplant, this Lower East side spot will have a wait, so put your name in early. Bonus: breakfast is served until 4pm!
- Añejo Tribeca– Mexican small plates in Lower Manhattan. Great for a group lunch or dinner.
Insider Tip: There are tons of excellent restaurants throughout Manhattan, so don’t agonize over where to eat. For a quick search, pick your neighborhood and a desired cuisine and type it into Yelp. If I have more time on my hands, I prefer to ask a hyper-local by grabbing a drink and asking my bartender for a recommendation nearby. Also, servers are career professionals here. I can’t think of an instance where I’ve had bad service during my time in Manhattan.