New York City, as one of the most diverse cities in the world, is broken up into even more diverse and unique neighborhoods, each with own personality and identity. With the continually changing layout of the Big Apple, there are always new places to visit in New York City.
While it’s easy to spend the day in Times Square or the Upper East Side, here is a list of some popular, but not as frequented, neighborhoods and some neighborhoods that are just now beginning to attract visitor attention as some of the best places to visit in New York.
Firstly, the “Center of the Universe”: Manhattan. This New York City bustling borough is filled to the brim with excitement and adventure. Whether this is your first, fifth, or 50th time to the Big Apple, there is no shortage of things to see in New York’s Manhattan that you’re sure to see something new every time you visit.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in New York City
- 1.1 Chelsea
- 1.2 Chinatown
- 1.3 Harlem
- 1.4 Hell’s Kitchen
- 1.5 Little Italy & Nolita
- 1.6 Williamsburg
- 1.7 DUMBO
- 1.8 Prospect Heights
- 1.9 Coney Island
- 1.10 Flushing
- 1.11 The Rockaways
- 1.12 Fordham
- 1.13 South Bronx’s Grand Concourse
- 1.14 City Island
- 1.15 Little Sri Lanka
- 1.16 Randall Manor
- 1.17 Richmondtown
- 1.18 South Beach & Midland Beach
- 2 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in New York City
Known as the artistic district of Manhattan, this flourishing creative haven is home to many of New York’s art galleries and off-Broadway theatres. Not only that, but shoppers can delight in an array of unique, and locally supported, boutiques. Visitors also interested in history can wander through the Chelsea Historic District, a locale on the National Register of Historic Places, and learn more about the first neighborhood of Chelsea.
Chelsea dates back to 1750 when Captain Thomas Cook bought the land for himself. Several generations later, the Moore family began working with the City of New York to convert their family estate into a neighborhood. It resulted in the creation of many factories, stores, and larger homes with personal green spaces. Now, on the outside, the neighborhood looks like many of Manhattan’s other areas with its rows of apartment buildings and townhomes, but on the inside, Chelsea is a diverse wonderment of creativity and artistic buzzings just waiting to be discovered.
If you’re looking to do some New York City shopping, Chelsea is the place to go. You can get the glitz and glamor of the world-renowned brands and fashion houses of Christian Louboutin and Alexander McQueen, or you can shop the local boutiques you may find at Chelsea Market or the various consignment and vintage shops you can see in the LGBTQ district of Chelsea. Known for its quickly growing theatre district, you can see a Broadway-caliber show in Chelsea for a fraction of the price.
The Irish Repertory Theatre produces plays written by Irish and Irish-American playwrights and is also officially recognized as an Off-Broadway Theatre, meaning they provide quality work for smaller audiences. Another favorite spot, if you want a performance a bit more edgy, would be the site-specific performance work of The McKittrick Hotel. Believed to be even one of the most underrated NYC attractions, the site-specific production, Sleep No More, has been formed in multiple cities around the world, but now has a permanent home in Chelsea.
If you want an immersive, interpretative, and borderline choose your adventure performance, this is the perfect way to spend an evening. If you want to see something a bit more traditional, Chelsea is the proud home of the Rubin Museum of Art. This art museum is dedicated to the preservation of Himalayan art as well as other works of Asian art. In addition to the Rubin, there are several contemporary art galleries, such as 303 Gallery, The Walther Collection, and the artistic magnate that is The Kitchen to name a few.
There is so much to observe and do in Chelsea that it would take you more than a couple of days to see it all. You can spend an afternoon walking the High Line, go gallery hopping, or go on a culinary tour of Chelsea Market and have still only just scratched the surface of this blossoming neighborhood.
Located in Lower Manhattan, New York City’s Chinatown is possibly home to the second largest ethnic Chinese population in the world, rivaled by San Francisco, California’s Chinatown. Even though there are other, smaller, Chinatowns throughout New York City, this is the largest and the oldest one, making it a New York must see. One of the best places to visit in New York City if you’re craving some quality food, Chinatown has plenty to offer.
You can browse the various street markets during the day and talk with the local fishmonger or produce vendors to learn more about the work that goes into what they do or the best ways to cook your new culinary finds. If cooking isn’t your forté, you can try one of the many authentic eateries in Chinatown rather than the Americanized Chinese food. You can have dumplings, Peking duck, Szechuan style noodles, Shanghai scallion pancakes, all kinds of seafood, or if you can’t pick, you can get dim sum and have a little of it all.
If you’re lucky enough to travel during one of the many lunar festivals, Chinatown is the perfect location to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, the Lantern Festival, or the summer’s Dragon Boat Festival. Each of these festivals comes packed filled with fun activities to partake in, and exciting celebrations to witness. Not only that, but there are often various treats and sweets specific only to these festivals, such as the sweet mooncake of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Even if you aren’t sure of what you want to do while you are in Manhattan’s famed Chinatown, you will undoubtedly be flooded with ideas, as soon as you start walking the streets of this bright and welcoming neighborhood. Be sure to think over all of your options while sipping on a pot of tea at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest in Chinatown.
Home of the world famous Harlem Renaissance, this Manhattan neighborhood has a certain pride that no other district in New York City has. Originally founded as a Dutch village in 1658, Harlem has had its share of tumultuous experiences throughout history, but it has always come out on top. To fully understand this proud history, visitors are welcome to explore the ins and outs of this unique neighborhood in northern Manhattan.
The Harlem Renaissance encompasses the mass creation of a diversity of art forms by a variety of African-American artists. It includes visual art, music, dance, literature, and theater. Many swing clubs and theaters from the age of the Harlem Renaissance still exist today, such as the Cotton Club, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Apollo Theater. You can dance the night away or see a show at these venues and feel like a part of history.
If you want to gain a much better understanding of the breadth of the Harlem Renaissance, spend the afternoon at The Studio Museum in Harlem, which is dedicated to showcasing the works of a variety of African-American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. To experience even more diversity in art, you can go to El Museo del Barrio to see the collections featuring Caribbean and Latinx artists as well as historical artifacts of the regions. With a neighborhood so affluent in culture, you can only imagine how delectable the food culture would be.
If you’re afraid you won’t be able to make up your mind between the soul food, Caribbean food, and Latin food, then you don’t need to worry, your needs have been realized. If you sign up far enough in advance, you can reserve a coveted seat along with the Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours and experience all of this and more. Not only that, but you’ll get to learn the historical significance behind some of the world’s most beloved dishes. However, if that’s a little too intimidating, go to a soul food joint known country-wide: Sylvia’s Restaurant. You can order just about any soul food item your heart desires, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new cause you know Sylvia’s is going to do it best.
Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do while you are in Harlem, merely walking around the neighborhood is a treat. There is so much street art to admire, so much good smelling food to delight in, and so many friendly faces that you’ll quickly understand why so many people call Harlem, “Heaven.”
You don’t need to worry that you could get in the way of Marvel’s Daredevil or Jessica Jones in this notorious Manhattan neighborhood. Known for its cobblestone streets and phenomenal eateries, Hell’s Kitchen has become a tourist’s delight. Part of the rise in tourism may have to do with the hopes of spotting a few Marvel celebrities like Rosario Dawson or Mike Colter as they film their shows based in Hell’s Kitchen, but there is so much more to discover on your own.
This neighborhood, once home to many immigrant workers and starving artists, is yet another New York City neighborhood where rent prices are quickly climbing. Almost every historic building in the area has been demolished to make way for high-rises. Even though Hell’s Kitchen was once believed to be the most dangerous place in America, that reputation is long gone.
Now, the area is teeming with pride, food, and art. Although much of history has been washed from Hell’s Kitchen, one essential element remains Pier 86. Visitors to Pier 86 can spend time at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Often considered one of the top things to do in New York, the museum is home aboard WWII aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Visitors can learn all about American’s maritime involvement in World War II as well as the many technologic strides that have occurred since then. Intrepid is even home to the space shuttle Enterprise, the one from NASA, not Star Trek. You can go below deck and explore all that USS Intrepid has to offer and even ride in a flight simulator.
Nowadays, the emphasis is placed on the “Kitchen” part of Hell’s Kitchen. Considered to have some of the best restaurants in Manhattan, there is guaranteed to be something to delight your taste buds. All you need to do is take a walk down Restaurant Row. You can find Italian, Japanese, Mexican, American, French, and so much more on this remarkable street.
It is such a culinary whirlwind that it’s surprising that Restaurant Row isn’t on the official list of New York attractions. Before you slip into a well-deserved food coma, immerse yourself in the arts either in one of the many galleries, such as SCOPE or the macabre Last Rites Gallery which focuses on dark contemporary art. Or you can go to the Drama Book Shop and pick up a manuscript of your favorite plays and some you may have never even heard of.
If you can’t find an artistic vibe that interests you, Hell’s Kitchen sides up to Broadway, and there’s no harm in trying the luck at a Broadway lottery. This distinctive little neighborhood is quickly making a name for itself. No matter what your passions are, you are guaranteed to be enthralled with Hell’s Kitchen.
Little Italy & Nolita
New York City is known for its NY-style pizza, but do you ever wonder where that pizza hails from? Even though most of the population nowadays isn’t made up of people of Italian descent, you’re still going to find the best pizza in New York City in Little Italy. Initially considered part of Little Italy, Nolita, which stands for North of Little Italy, has since developed into own little slice of Manhattan. Everybody knows the Italian food staples of pasta, pizza, the mouthwatering pastries, and the almighty tomato, but there is so much more to Italian food.
To fully appreciate the diversity that is Italian food, make a reservation at one of the renowned Italian restaurants in Little Italy. Vincent’s, an institution since 1904, is famed for their tomato sauce, Lombardi’s is famed for their pizza, and Puglia boasts live entertainment and a family-friendly atmosphere. No matter where you choose to eat, you’re going to have a molto buon time. Nolita has since removed itself from its “Little Italy” identity and stands on its own a sort of mini-Chelsea.
You can shop in a variety of boutique and one-of-a-kind stores, like the McNally Jackson bookstore, or take in some contemporary art at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. If you’re craving something sweet after your meal in Little Italy, you can get a dessert crêpe at Nolita’s Eight Turn Crêpe or even some fanciful rice pudding at Rice to Riches.
If your head starts spinning from all of the culinary choices, you can take a breather in the small, but magnificent, Elizabeth Street Garden. The Garden is home to many small statues and a variety of flowerbeds guaranteed to delight and help you take a moment to slow down in this always-busy city. While most people go to Little Italy and Nolita looking for food, be sure to take the time to experience what else the neighborhoods have to offer. You don’t want to miss anything.
While Manhattan is plenty of fun, sometimes the overall cost of the “Center of the Universe” can get a bit overwhelming. Not only that but if you solely stay in Manhattan, then you haven’t indeed experienced all that this great city has to offer. Some of the best things to do in NYC lie outside of Manhattan in the other boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
The Midtown of Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Williamsburg is a haven for artsy young professionals and day-trippers alike. Although the Dutch illegally settled the land that belonged to the local natives in 1638, they eventually bought it in 1661 and continued to develop it into a bustling farming community. When the English took over just a few years later, the farmland began to develop into more of a town. When Brooklyn came to be part of New York City in 1898, a bridge connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn was built and called the Williamsburg Bridge. It allowed people from Manhattan easier access into Brooklyn, via Williamsburg, and has since continued to help make Williamsburg the bustling neighborhood that it is today.
Considered to be one of the foodiest areas in New York City, there is no shortage of restaurants and bars in Williamsburg. Whether you’re looking for classic American cuisine or some of the trendiest foods, like the ramen burger from the outdoor food market of Smorgasburg, you’ll always find what you’re looking for. One thing is a fact: the people of Williamsburg know how to have a good time. They look at a typical bowling alley and decide that it isn’t enough. Add a music venue, an award-winning kitchen team, and you have Brooklyn Bowl. The people of Williamsburg look at a typical movie theatre and add not just food and cocktails, but menus catered explicitly to each film at Nitehawk Cinemas.
If you’re looking to experience something a little more functional, you can sign up for cooking classes at Brooklyn Kitchen. You can take a variety of courses like how to make the perfect doughnut or some of the best dumplings you’ve ever had and then take your newfound skills home and show off to your friends. Even if you aren’t sure how you want to spend your time, window-shopping along the various boutiques of Grand Street or taking a stroll through McCarren Park are perfect ways to spend the day.
No matter what, this trendy neighborhood will always be ahead of its time, and the entirety of Williamsburg easily earns its spot among the top things to do in New York.
The only reason this eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood shares its name with Disney’s beloved cartoon elephant is that “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” is a bit of a mouthful. DUMBO may be the tech-hub of New York City, but there is a quickly growing food scene developing under the bridge as well as an increase in the presence of an artistic sense.
Formerly a manufacturing district, the development of the Manhattan ferry helped turned this neighborhood into the multi-faceted dominion that it is today. As rent prices dropped due to the deindustrialization of New York City, artists began moving to DUMBO in droves. Now, this once hush-hush artist community is quickly becoming one of the top things to see in NYC.
DUMBO is the proud home of a variety of artistic endeavors, installments, and celebrations. The playground for the DUMBO Arts Festival until 2014, the festival achieved its goal of putting DUMBO on the arts map. Now, DUMBO is packed with art galleries that allow every creative the ability to explore what is happening in the art world for a fraction of the price of some other Manhattan art museums and galleries.
One everyday stop is the Klompching Gallery, which focuses primarily on modern photography and manipulated images. Another favorite spot, the A.I.R. Gallery focuses on showcasing the work of contemporary female artists. The exhibits change almost monthly, so you may even see two separate sets of displays if you time your trip just right. Additionally, Brooklyn Art Project showcases artists from around the world that specialize in just about every medium imaginable. Often boasting 100,000 works of art at any given time, BAP has gained world-fame and inspires rising artists every day.
If none of these art galleries interest you, go for a walk down Water Street where you will find plenty of galleries to spend your day in. After your mind-opening tour of some of Brooklyn top art galleries, you’ll probably be craving something sweet. Lucky for you, Jacques Torres Chocolate offers locally made chocolates and candies that are manufactured just a couple of neighborhoods over in Sunset Park.
If you want something a little more substantial, but still equally as sweet, you can stop by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. A DUMBO institution since 2001, this ice cream shop is in a repurposed 1922 fireboat house. It is often considered the best ice cream in all of New York City.
This small, unassuming neighborhood tucked under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges offers an escape from the rest of the city. You can spend some relaxation time at Brooklyn Bridge Park, or enjoy a Sunday at the Brooklyn Flea Market, or even work with your friends to select the perfect filter for the most Instagrammed spot in New York City. No matter what you do, your day in DUMBO will be one you never forget.
This relatively quiet neighborhood of Brooklyn withholds its charm in the brownstones and tree-lined streets and the one-of-a-kind boutique shops that dot the main boulevards. But there is inevitably more than meets the eye in this predominantly residential neighborhood. The jewel of Prospect Heights is Prospect Park. Visitors to the park can relax on the lawn, or boat on the lake. You can even peruse the stalls at the GreenMarket for some fresh food to munch on as you walk along the many nature trails that wind through the park.
If you want something a little more structured, you can visit the Prospect Park Zoo and get up close and personal with some prairie dogs, kinkajous, and red pandas. Or, you can go to the Lefferts Historic House from the 1700s and tour the period rooms and the still functioning garden. No matter where your interests are, you will find the perfect way to spend your day in Prospect Heights.
If you’re maybe looking for something a little quieter, but still outside, try the Brooklyn Botanical Garden instead. You can walk among the cherry blossoms in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden or see the rare flora of the tropics in the Tropical Pavilion. You can easily escape into nature in Prospect Heights, and no one would blame you for it.
If you’re looking where to get out of the sun, the Brooklyn Museum is the perfect place to go. This art and cultural museum founded in 1895 boasts over 1.5 million works of art and artifacts in its possession, making it the third largest museum in New York City. The international art collection caters to every individual, however with such a breadth of information and culture, it may be hard not to try and see everything in one day. From ancient works of art to contemporary masterpieces and everything in between, it is surprising people don’t get lost here.
While in Prospect Heights, be sure to wind your way through the more residential sections. You’re sure to find one-of-a-kind restaurants and stores that will help you piece together a more authentic feeling of living in residential Brooklyn.
It’s not just an amusement park; Coney Island is a whole neighborhood. Sure, the amusement park is the biggest draw, but visitors to Coney Island can soak up the sun on the beach, watch the Brooklyn Cyclones in a minor-league baseball game, and an aquarium. Regardless of what you want to do, this historic seaside resort is going to prove to you why it has been the top summer destination for New Yorkers since 1829.
There are two theme parks in Coney Island: Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Both amusement parks are home to a variety of rides and carnival games. Some of the rides are from the original Steeplechase Theme Park that closed down in 1964, and some are new, like the high-speed rollercoaster Thunderbolt. If you want a calming ride on a Ferris wheel or an adrenaline-pumping ride on a roller coaster, Coney Island’s amusements parks are guaranteed to deliver.
Visitors can also spend the day at the beach. Some beaches are for private use only, but visitors can relax and splash the day away at Brighton Beach or Manhattan Beach. And if you start to get hungry, don’t fret, the Riegelmann Boardwalk is connected to the beach and has a variety of food stands.
If you feel yourself burning in the sun, maybe duck into the New York Aquarium, which also lies on the boardwalk. Coney Island offers an easily accessible fun day away from the grind of the big city. Whether you’re just there for a couple of hours, or there for a couple of days, Coney Island is going to give you some of the best memories you could ever hope for.
Home to one of the top business districts in New York City, Flushing in Queens is filled with hidden gems. Certainly one of the most diverse communities in the entire city of New York, the area had come a long way since its reasonable colonial beginnings in 1645.
Being the closest Queens neighborhood to Manhattan, the growth that has and will continue to occur in Flushing means that there is always a good time to be had and a memory worth making. If you want to experience the real diversity that is Flushing, take a day to travel among the different subsections of the neighborhood.
Flushing is home to its own Chinatown, its own Koreatown, a Little India, as well as strong Italian, Russian, and Greek, Colombian, and Salvadorian presences, to name a few. Head to the areas of Northern Boulevard and Main Street and try a self-guided progressive feast: get some dumplings in Chinatown, some BBQ in Koreatown, a samosa or two in Little India, an empanada from one of the many mouthwatering Colombian restaurants, and then finish with the European pastry of your choice, maybe some baklava? You could probably eat all day and still not sample every type of food that Flushing has to offer.
Once you decide you’ve eaten enough and need to either work off all you’ve eaten or succumb to the food coma, continue your walk south down Main Street, and you will eventually run into the Queens Botanical Garden. You can visit the art gallery and see what they have on exhibit, or you can wander through the Arboretum, learn more about the importance of bees in the Bee Garden, or stroll through the Fragrance Walk and stop to smell the roses.
If you need a bit more exercise, you can head over to the Queens Museum and immerse yourself in contemporary art or go to the New York Hall of Science and learn more about the space race, the human body, or the fundamentals of light. You can also visit one of the many historical societies, like the Bowne House Historical Society or the Voelker Orth Museum. Both feature homes and rooms from years gone by as well as exhibits showcasing life in historic New York. Or even visit the home of jazz legend Louis Armstrong, which has now been turned into a museum commemorating his life.
There is so much to see, do and learn in the melting pot that is Flushing. This crossroad of Manhattan and Queens has much more than meets the eye. Don’t be afraid to inquire about some of the locals about the best places to go because Flushing is filled with hidden gems and secrets that are just waiting to be discovered.
This modest peninsula is home to a cluster of neighborhoods in the borough of Queens. Initially inhabited by the native Lenape and Mohegan tribes, they sold the land to Dutch and English settlers in the 1600s. Once people began moving onto the peninsula, it quickly gained a reputation as a seaside resort, and by the 1800s, the Rockaways had become a summer retreat for the rich and famous.
Today, the Rockaways are easily accessible by rail, bus, and ferry which only helps solidify its popularity among other New York City points of interest. Although it is primarily a residential community, there is still plenty to see and do in the Rockaways. The obvious go-to is the beaches. Considered to be so good you forget you’re in New York City, the white-sand and dark blue waters of the Rockaway Beaches can transport you to just about any tropical island you can think of.
The most popular among these is the Jacob Riis Park. This beach, opened in 1936, is situated on the Rockaway Boardwalk. It features roughly a mile-long sandy beach as well as its miniature golf course! Because Jacob Riis Park is easily accessible by trains and ferries, it sometimes gets a little crowded. If you want something more hidden, try Rockaway Beach. Not only is this coastline longer than Jacob Riis, but it also boasts having the only surf-able beaches in New York City.
If surfing is something you’ve always wanted to try, you can sign up for surfing lessons at one of the many schools situated along Rockaway Beach. Once you start to get hungry, you can hit up one of the various snack shacks for some ever-satisfying American classics like hot dogs and burgers.
If you’re looking for something not quite as hot and sandy as a beach, venture a day trip to the Jamaica Wildlife Preserve. Easily accessible by train, bus, or ferry, the Jamaica Wildlife Preserve is situated within Jamaica Bay. Due to its prime location for migratory birds, Jamaica Wildlife Preserve is every bird watcher’s dream. You can hike or bike along one of the many nature trails and take in the estuaries around you, or you can rent a kayak and take a self-guided tour throughout the bay.
You can also sign up for sailing classes and pick up a new hobby while enjoying the natural wonders of the beautiful Jamaica Bay. The Rockaways present local New Yorkers and visitors alike with the opportunity for the perfect day trip. While there is more to do in the warmer months, this isolated peninsula is a fruitful day trip year round.
Not only is this illustrious conglomeration of Bronx neighborhoods home to the renowned Fordham University, but it is also home to the world-famous Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens, among many other hidden treasures. The neighborhood of Fordham can trace its history back to 1666 when Dutch settler John Archer established a small community on his property.
If you want to get an accurate taste of historical Fordham, which was aptly nicknamed Old Fordham Village, you can take a tour through the Rose Hill section of Fordham University’s campus. You can see Fordham Manor and several of the other homes from the mid-1700s as well as the other breathtaking works of gothic architecture.
If you nonetheless want to look at more of historical Fordham, you can venture to famed American author Edgar Allen Poe’s final home. This humble cottage has been perfectly preserved and lives proudly on the National Register of Historic Places. While the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens are hard to pass up, be sure to spend time enjoying the other aspects in and around this diverse Bronx neighborhood.
If you’re craving a bite to eat, venture to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. You can get a wide variety of pasta, meats, and cheese to gorge yourself on while taking in the delicious aromas of the nearby Italian bakeries. After your Italian feast, you can walk through the gardens and halls of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
You can experience one of the lesser-known New York tourist attractions while learning a little bit of history of the unique country that is the United States. Fordham is a little gem tucked away within the sprawling borough that is the Bronx. Come to Fordham for the Bronx Zoo, but stay for the delectable Italian cuisine.
South Bronx’s Grand Concourse
The Birthplace of Hip-Hop, the Champs-Élysées of America, the Thoroughfare of the Bronx, whatever you choose to call it, the Grand Concourse in South Bronx seamlessly connects eight Bronx neighborhoods. This Bronxite crossroad opened in 1909, and this four-mile road connects Manhattan to the Bronx and does a phenomenal job of bringing the adjacent neighborhoods closer together to form one giant community.
With wide pedestrian walkways that New York City is already working on making it even more pedestrian friendly, the Grand Concourse is a great way to spend a day. As you slowly walk up and down the avenue, you’ll get to see so many more fun things to do in NYC than you would if you just followed a tourist guide. Now own Historical district and a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places, there is no shortage of experiences on the Grand Concourse.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is one of the crown jewels of the Grand Concourse. This free museum showcases the work of African and Latinx artists, both local and global. If you’re not into the museum scene, just walking along the Grand Concourse is like being in a museum. There is a variety of street art lining the walkway as well as a New York and Hip-Hop Hall of Fame akin to the Hollywood Star Walk of Los Angeles.
As you walk the Concourse, you can learn more about one of America’s famed genres of music and the subculture it inspired. Just a little ways off of the Grand Concourse sits the famed Yankees Stadium. You can take a tour of the Stadium and learn all about some of the most famed players of American Baseball, including Babe Ruth.
One prime rule of the Grand Concourse is that if you smell something good cooking, step inside. You will find food from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, including soul food, Caribbean delicacies, and Latin American inspired dishes. No matter what you’re craving after your day of walking, you’re sure to find it on the Concourse.
One of the smallest neighborhoods in New York City, the picturesque community of City Island in the Bronx almost seems displaced from New England. The island of City Island used to be home to Siwanoy natives, but the English settler Thomas Pell bought the land from them in 1654 and modern-day City Island, along with other nearby islands, became known as the Pellman Islands.
A little over a hundred years later in 1761, the locals of present-day City Island attempted to build up the island so much that it would rival New York City. Despite the inability to match the American metropolis, the popularity of the island increased after the American Revolution and, eventually, the little fishing village became part of the Bronx. There are still hints of the classic City Island today. Indeed a proud fishing village, City Island almost feels more like a seaside resort town than a neighborhood of New York City, thus making it the perfect day-trip getaway.
You can sponge up the sun on a rented sailboat or hide from the summer’s heat at the City Island Nautical Museum, where you can learn all about the maritime history of City Island. While you’re visiting this once quaint fishing village, be sure to stop at one of the many seafood eateries and enjoy some freshly caught, local seafood for a fraction of the cost you would get in Manhattan.
If you’re looking for a little more artistic experience, City Island still has plenty to offer. The most obvious artistic expression on the island is in the Victorian architecture of the older homes. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you walk around and gawk at all of the Instagram-worthy residences. After all of that walking, you’ll want to take it easy and maybe catch a show by the City Island Theatre Group. Here, you can see a classic play for a fraction of Broadway. Don’t let the size of this island neighborhood fool you; there is plenty to see and do in this hidden gem of a community.
Lastly, the borough of Staten Island. Don’t let the locals lead you astray. Even though the majority of this borough-island is residential, there are still many things to see and do in this underestimated and under-represented borough. Also though it takes about 30 minutes to get to Staten Island and another 30 minutes to get back, the journey is worth it.
Little Sri Lanka
One of the closest locales to the Staten Island Ferry is beloved Little Sri Lanka. The neighborhood is officially known as Tompkinsville but has garnered the nickname of “Little Sri Lanka” because it is home to the most significant community of Sri Lankans outside of the country itself.
Gaining attention for its restaurant scene, this outpost of culinary mastery is the perfect place to stop and eat before going to explore the rest of Staten Island. The little island of Sri Lanka off the Indian coast has an impressive history, and when you taste Sri Lankan food, it’s almost as if you can sense the whole story. Given its history as a Dutch colony and its proximity and accessibility to many different parts of Asia, Sri Lankan cuisine is a conglomeration of Indian, Southeast Asian and Indonesian, and Dutch flavors to create a genuinely aromatic and flavorful experience.
Some staples you are sure to find in any Sri Lankan restaurant are rice, coconut, curry, roti, and spices like cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Not only that, but one of the most common desserts blends traditional Sri Lanka with its historic colonial powers to create a coconut treacle, which is then often made into tarts.
It’s got to the point where some locals will travel aboard the Staten Island Ferry, have lunch in little Sri Lanka, and immediately turn back around. All you need to do is take a walk down Victory Boulevard, and you’ll understand why. It doesn’t take long before you meet with some of the most mouthwatering aromas you’ve ever experienced. You can duck into some favorites like Dosa Garden or New Asha to satisfy your hunger, or you can try one of the other establishments like Ceylon Curry.
Once you’ve filled yourself on this delectable cuisine, its time to explore the rest of Staten Island. Or, if you feel a food coma coming on, take a minute or two to relax in Tompkinsville’s Jones Woods Park or the bordering Silver Lake Park.
This northern neighborhood in Staten Island, conveniently located relatively near the Staten Island Ferry, is home to some of the best things to see in New York. Randall Manor is a relaxing escape from the bustling big city where you can spend the day in your little world. Home to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Gardens and the Staten Island Museum, there are plenty of ways to distress. Snug Harbor, once home to retired sailors, is now home to nine gardens, three art galleries, and a performing arts space.
Visitors can attend a variety of artistic events and lectures or wander through one of the many yards. After you’ve spent your day in Snug Harbor, you can beat the heat and duck into the Staten Island Museum. With continually rotating exhibitions, you can see artifacts from all over the world, fossils, and exhibits about Staten Island’s history.
After your day of relaxation around Randall Manor, you will be fully prepared to return to the hustle and bustle of downtown New York City.
The historic town turned neighborhood of Richmondtown is a delightful way to spend the day learning more about the history of Staten Island. You can go to the Historic Richmond Town and walk among some nearly-perfectly preserved buildings, some dating back from the 1600s. You can walk around these impressive structures and imagine yourself alive during any period from colonial America to the modern day.
You can then explore the museum to learn even more from their rotating exhibits and the artifacts they’ve uncovered during their excavations and have been gifted by various New York families. After spending time in Historic Richmond Town, you can head to the northern border of the neighborhood of Latourette Park and wander among the many hiking trails.
If you get fortunate, you may even stumble upon the 19th-century mansion that once belonged to the Latourette family. If you aspire to learn more about the history of Staten Island and New York, Richmondtown is the perfect stop for you.
South Beach & Midland Beach
If you’re craving a little fun in the sun, head to the South and Midland Beaches on the eastern shore of Staten Island. With a variety of volleyball courts, shuffleboard courts, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk connecting the two beaches, visitors can enjoy these and so much more during their visit to the beaches.
If the sun gets a little too intense, you can retreat to the shade of Ocean Breeze Park and play a game of checkers or bocce ball. If it’s still too much, you can retreat to a seaside eatery and enjoy the views of the water without worrying about getting sunburnt. Despite the brevity of this list, there is no shortage of places to visit in New York City.
Whether you need an idea of what to do in NYC for an afternoon or your whole vacation, this list is just a starting point. Wherever you go in the city, ask the locals what their favorite thing to do in New York is, and you will undoubtedly hear things that aren’t on any travel guide out there.
These little discoveries and connections you will make have the power to lead you on the adventure of a lifetime in the concrete jungle that is New York City.
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