Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs have a vibrancy that is completely unique and all encompassing. It can be overwhelming if you’ve moved to New York from a city with a slower pace, or even if you’ve lived in a similarly exciting environment. A good way to adjust to your new city is to have an adventurous mindset, and immerse yourself in the culture.
On your first day exploring, get yourself an unlimited subway pass. Take the 1 train to Zabar’s on the Upper West Side. Once there, order a heated up chocolate croissant, and take a seat in the cozy, usually crowded deli. Many of Zabar’s patrons are people who have lived in the neighborhood for years, and they are happy to strike up conversation. Simply listen in and enjoy your pastry if you’re feeling like you’d rather observe.
Central Park is very close to Zabar’s. Order a drink to go (their smoothies are excellent), and walk 10-15 minutes to the beautiful greenery in the heart of Manhattan. The famous park holds numerous attractions, including the Central Park Zoo and the Belvedere Castle. Since you’ll be in the Upper West Side, you won’t be far from Strawberry Fields, the memorial in the park dedicated to John Lennon. Head there, take a look at the lovely “Imagine” inscription, and grab a spot on a park bench. There is often a talented musician playing Beatles songs nearby.
When you’re finished being serenaded, it’s time to take the subway again. Find the A train headed downtown. Get off at the 34th Street stop. Now, you’re a soon-to-be real New Yorker, and you may not want to spend much time in this jam packed area of Manhattan once you’ve seen the sights like Madison Square Garden, and gone shopping in the famously huge Macy’s, but these things are worth doing. When you’re done, you can grab a slice in the area at NY Pizza Suprema. Try the Bianca pizza, and you may want another piece or three.
If you are a freelancer, such as an aspiring actor or musician, you might consider walking to the Central Casting office, which is in the same part of town, and signing up to become a background actor. Doing extra work on TV and in films can be wearing, for the shoot days are often long, but it’s a great way to see different parts of the city and meet new people. Plus, you may catch yourself on TV sometime, pretending to order a coffee behind your favorite actor or something. Could be fun.
After you’ve signed up with Central, make sure your phone is charged and that your navigation app is open. You’re going to walk about 20 minutes to The High Line, an elevated public park built on a previously used railroad line in the Lower West Side of Manhattan. The High Line runs from the Meatpacking District to Chelsea, and while walking along the path, you will encounter unique art and a stunning view of the Hudson River. Soak it up, but get ready to jump on the subway again. You’re heading to Williamsburg to take in the sunset.
Walk 10 minutes to the 8th Avenue subway station, and catch the L train heading toward Brooklyn. Get off at the Bedford stop, and walk another 10 minutes down 9th street toward the Bushwick Inlet Park. The recently built community property has a huge field where people will probably be playing soccer. Pass by this, and head toward the water. This park boasts an incredible view of Manhattan from across the East River. Take photos, or sit on one of the benches and contemplate the scene.
After you’ve shaken yourself out of this beauty coma, head back toward the hub of things on Bedford Avenue and wander around. Williamsburg, which has grown greatly in the past few years, has many shops to peruse and restaurants to choose from. Traif, Pies-N-Thighs, and Rabbithole are all known for having excellent food. If you land at Rabbithole for dinner, enjoy the cozy, brick-walled ambiance and flavorful American cuisine. Though the restaurant name sounds like the menu could be purely vegetarian, there are plenty of dishes for meat lovers here, too, including a huge, savory burger served on a house-made brioche bun.
Now that you’re nice and full, walk it off and head to Baby’s All Right, which is a nearby restaurant and music venue. Order yourself a drink at the bar if you’d like. Some of their cocktails are fittingly named after musicians, like the Woo! Tang cocktail. Take your drink and head to the music area. The petite club holds events nearly every night, whether it’s a band performance, a record release party, or a music benefit that helps organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Once you’ve enjoyed what Baby’s All Right has planned for that evening, you may or may not want to wrap up your night, depending on your energy level. If you’re good to go, continue checking out the Williamsburg scene or head back into Manhattan to see what’s going on in the vibrant East Village.
Remember that there are many, many more days of adventure to come. New York City and the five boroughs it’s composed of have countless esteemed museums to visit, theaters to see shows in, celebrated restaurants to try, and, of course, slices of pizza to devour.
Image Source: Rae Johnson