Filled with winding avenues and soaring skyscrapers that are cooped up next to bustling bars and calm Sunday-morning cafés, New York is one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world, and an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys history, culture, good food, and an exciting nightlife. However, navigating the busy streets of the ‘city that never sleeps’ can be quite challenging and understandably overwhelming for any first-timer. So, here is a local’s guide to the most delicious food and the most enriching cultural experiences in NYC that will help any first-time visitor enjoy a truly unique local experience:
Eating breakfast in delis and bodegas
There’s no better way to start your day in NYC than by visiting one of the many century-old Italian delis in the city, such the iconic Faccio’s in the West Village. From house-made sausages and delicious deli meats to olive oils and endless imported cheese options, these fantastic sandwiches will offer a breakfast experience like no other. Alternatively, nothing can really beat a greasy bacon, egg & cheese in any local bodega, as it’s one of the most distinctly New York breakfasts you’ll ever get to experience, curing everything from a morning hangover to a broken heart.
Trying famous NYC pizza and hot dogs
Large, cheesy and piping hot, but never doughy, trademark NYC pizza is quite possibly the hallmark of casual local cuisine. However, don’t be foolish enough to look for a bready pizza with a thick crust, as every New Yorker will be quick to put you on a bus straight to Chicago. Instead, enjoy a local take on this iconic dish by ordering pizza by the pie or by the slice in some of the most popular NYC pizzerias, including Di Fara, Lucali, Ops and Razza. Being another unavoidable part of New York eating, hot dog carts are an experience you simply can’t miss; regardless of which corner you stumble upon, you are bound to find the best hot dog you’ll ever eat in your life.
Opting for fine dining in Manhattan
If you’re looking for something more luxurious and indulgent, however, Manhattan boasts some of the best fine dining scenes in the world, where tourists eager for high-quality NYC food can enjoy a truly unique dining experience. Known as being the birthplace of cocktail culture, as well as some of the most legendary cult cocktails, New York is also the ideal place for tasting new, authentic drinks. Combining the best of both worlds, Hell’s Kitchen is a bustling neighborhood filled with famous bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a high-class gastronomic experience combined with a performance from an expert mixologist from NYC who will mix up an ideal cocktail to complement your exquisite meal right on the spot.
Tasting delicious local desserts
From flapjacks to iconic pancakes, you can end your meals with a wide variety of heavenly desserts in popular cafés, such as Chez Ma Tante in Greenpoint. However, you shouldn’t leave New York without trying a world-famous cronut in the Dominique Ansel Bakery, a place that made this ingenious doughy dessert such a popular feast. If you want to take a sip of your favorite drink while nibbling on a delicious local dessert, you can also find exquisite cocktail and food pairings in some of the most charming and unique eateries in any neighborhood from Brooklyn to SoHo.
Watching a Broadway show
It’s often been said that no one does theater bigger and better than Broadway, which makes catching a show at this iconic location an absolute must when visiting New York. If you take a walk through the Theater District in Manhattan, you’ll be able to see endless marquees glowing with advertisements for upcoming shows and musicals, and you might even be able to spot a few big Hollywood names making unique guest appearances. While the options on Broadway are truly endless and always changing, that also means that the tickets are quite pricey, and require booking well in advance. However, it’s truly worth it, for a completely distinctive and absolutely incredible theater experience.
Exploring the beauty of The Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as The Met by New Yorkers, is one of the largest museums in the world, and a cultural site not to be missed when visiting NYC for the first time. Boasting an astonishing collection of artifacts and artworks spanning over 5,000 years of colorful history and unique cultures, you can easily spend days exploring and taking in The Met’s wonderful exhibits. Whether you decide to peruse antiquities from Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, wander through the halls dedicated to African and Islamic art, ponder over the beautiful European Impressionist paintings, or even enjoy one of the special exhibitions that’s held every year, The Met truly offers a staggering cultural experience that’s bound to leave everyone in awe.
Visiting the spectacular MoMA
If a walk through history doesn’t spark your interests, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan is a true paradise for contemporary art lovers. From sculptures and paintings to impressive art installations, the MoMA enjoys one of the most substantial and most spectacular collections in the world. Famous paintings from some of the most influential artists, such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Warhol, grace the walls of this wonderful museum, while endless educational programs, special installations and cultural events ensure the MoMA is always buzzing with something new and exciting that’s bound to impress every art enthusiast.
From delicious unique dishes to some of the best museums in the world, New York is filled with an abundance of distinct and absolutely life-changing experiences, and this extensive local’s guide will help you get to know each and every one of them.
Article written by Diana Wills, Biochemistry graduate from Sydney and editor at lifestyle blog https://highstylife.com. Her passion is to write about useful and up-to-date food and travel topics.