Start Spreading the News: A Local’s Guide to New York, New York

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Advisor - Celine Serrao
Curated By

Celine Serrao

  • USA

  • New York City

  • Arts & Culture

  • Family Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Luxury Travel

  • Entertainment

  • Foodie

  • Nightlife

Flatiron building and a yellow taxi cab in NYC.
Curator’s statement

Growing up in NYC, I took for granted having so many incredible places to eat and things to do right at my fingertips. Now that I live outside of New York, I am the go-to person for colleagues and friends for tips when visiting the Big Apple. Whether it is your first trip or 100th time to NYC, you can always discover new things by staying somewhere different, trying new restaurants, or visiting new sites. The possibilities are endless in a city that never sleeps. By letting me take care of the details, you can be a part of it, New York, New York.

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Where to stay In New York City

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Things to do In New York City

Buildings lit in blue at night. in New york

For the best arial views of NYC go to Top of the Rock. I suggest this over the Empire State Building, since the crowds/lines tend to be much better and you can see the Empire State Building from here.

Go to a Broadway show! Most people want to go to Times Square when they visit NY, but as a local I usually suggest avoiding it, unless you are going to a show. There are plenty of options to satisfy your entertainment preferences and it gives you an excuse visit “The Center of the Universe.” If you are not picky about what you see TKTS is a great option for discounted tickets.

If you want to enjoy a beautiful walk in NY, go to the High Line. It is an elevated public park that runs along the lower west side. It was created along the tracks of an old freight train. It is great for a walk with your family, a stroll on a date or just some alone time.

People call it the cheapest date in NYC…. The Staten Island Ferry. It is a free and a perfect way to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Taking a tour to Liberty Island usually takes up a good portion of your day and comes at a cost. By taking the 30-minute boat ride, you can sail right by the Green Goddess while enjoying a beer or glass of wine. There is not much to do/see on Staten Island (I know, I grew up there) so just hop off, go through the terminal and reboard to go back.

Like the Staten Island Ferry, The Roosevelt Island Tram is a fun ride to go one way and back, but you must pay a small fee. It is another unique way to get an aerial view of the city. There is not too much to do on Roosevelt Island, but you can get off enjoy a drink at an Irish bar near the tram, take a stroll by the water and go back toward Manhattan on the big red cable car. (A lot of my family lives on Roosevelt Island, so I am bit of a regular.)

Central Park is on just about everyone’s list of things to do when visiting NYC. I would say be sure to go during the day and not after dark. The Central Park Zoo is fun to do with kids. There are often events going on in Central Park (ex. Shakespeare in the Park, Concerts, etc.,) worth looking into for whenever you are there. There are many playgrounds within Central Park. Some people like to picnic on the great lawn or go to view certain statues within the park. Some rent boats or ride bikes, whatever it is, Central Park is a beautiful place to include during your visit. If you have some extra days and zoos are your thing, try to visit The Bronx Zoo. It is one of the largest zoos in the US.

New York has some great museums. The MET is fabulous for enjoying a wide range of art. It can be a bit overwhelming, so if a more intimate setting is more for you, try out The Met Cloisters. A bit more out of the way, but a gorgeous setting for admiring medieval art. The Frick is also one of my favorites since it also offers a more intimate setting. The MOMA and The Guggenheim are also great art museums. If science is more your thing, The American Museum of Natural History is fascinating for all ages. Visiting Ellis Island is a cool experience (often paired with a trip to the Statue of Liberty.) If you do not want to spend the whole day learning about immigration but are a bit interested in it The Tenement Museum is informative and takes less time. For something more interactive and fun for the kids, you can visit the Museum of Ice Cream. The Intrepid is an old aircraft carrier, now museum docked on the west side. (Cool fact: My grandfather served in the navy on the Intrepid.) The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is emotional, but beautifully done.

Places to eat & drink In New York City

Close up of group's dining table with food and drinks.

Uva is a place a tend to go to a lot when I go back home. It has a cozy atmosphere and tasty Italian dishes. Great for a romantic evening or enjoying a wine night with the girls.

Serendipity is an iconic ice cream parlor. Known for its frozen hot chocolate and eclectic décor it is a fun location to visit. They also serve food (foot long hot dogs are YUM.) Bring the kids, go for a date, enjoy with friends… great for any occasion!

Stone Street is a short block in the Financial District lined by different bars/restaurants with seating pouring outside to the cobblestone (hence the name.) On a nice day, it is a great area for dining al fresco with lots of different cuisine options. My personal favorites are Mad Dog and Beans… (Great Margaritas) and Ulysses.. (I come from an Irish family, so I enjoy Irish bars. They often have live music.)

If you want to feel like you are eating in someone’s home Cellini it is. The staff welcomes you as if you are their own family. The food is amazing, a real taste of Italy. (Get dessert too, you won’t regret it!)

Just about any bodega in NY has great bagels, but if you want the official NY bagel spot go to Ess-a-Bagel. Be prepared to wait in line, but your taste buds will thank you.

If maundering floors of beautiful home décor followed by a rooftop cocktail is your idea of a great afternoon Restoration Hardware is the place for you. The glistening chandeliers and outdoor terrace will make you feel like you have entered a serene retreat right in the heart of the concrete jungle.

Want to feel like you are part of Manhattan’s elite? Stop to drink out of crystal at The Bar at The Baccarat. The cocktails are pricey, but if you want to feel posh and mingle with wealthy diplomats and businessmen, this is the place.

Seafood, steak, or a bit of surf and turf, Sea Fire Grill’s elegant atmosphere, delicious food and first-class service makes it worth the splurge.

Junoon is a high-end Indian restaurant. Not only is the food authentic, but the presentation of the dishes is also artistic.

Olio E Piu is a great spot for people watching, enjoying a cheese plate and a glass of wine.

Advisor - Celine Serrao

Travel Advisor

Celine Serrao

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For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jenny Kager’s guide, Fall in Love with New York City: The Perfect 7-Day Itinerary.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New York City.