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In the hustle and bustle of the city, New Yorkers look for serene escapes as much as they do opportunities to jump in the mix. These beloved mainstays and hideaways provide opportunities for both.

Good for
  • Art and design lover
  • Outdoors explorer
  • Peace and quiet seeker
  • Budget traveller
  • Hidden gem seeker

9 Places

5 City Tips

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9 Places

Governor's Island

Islands, Military Bases/ Facilities, Historic Sites

McSorley's Old Ale House

Bar/ Clubs

Prospect Park

Parks

Alta

Restaurants (Mediterranean, Spanish)

Barbes

Bar/ Clubs

Tenement Museum

History Museums

Chelsea Market

Flea/ Street Markets

Housing Works Used Book Cafe

Shops, Performances

Brooklyn Flea Market

Suzanne R's City Tips

  • If you plan on riding the subway 13+ times during your stay, the $30 weekly pass will save you money. That said, walking is the best way to explore if the weather allows.
  • Talk to people (your server, cabbie, the guy in the park...). New Yorkers love to share their favorite spots, so the more you ask, the more cool tips you'll discover.
  • In New York, it's standard to tip 20 percent at restaurants (unless the service is terrible).
  • It's fine (and advisable)to take your time and look around when walking through NYC, but remain aware of the people around you so you can step aside if faster walkers are coming.
  • If possible, avoid using the subway during rush hour (8-10 am; 5-7 pm).
  • Save
    Governor's Island
    Islands, Military Bases/ Facilities, Historic Sites
    Suzanne R Says:

    A former military base turned public park, Governors Island is only a five-minute ferry ride from Manhattan, but it feels worlds (and centuries) away. With idyllic grassy expanses lined by stately historic mansions, a sculpture mini-golf course, and even a hammock grove, this is the perfect place to wile away a lazy summer afternoon--grazing on delicacies from local food trucks, exploring the original fort, or just admiring stellar views of Lady Liberty.

    Good for
    • Peace and quiet seeker
    • Budget traveller
    • Local favourite
    • History enthusiast
    • Art and design lover
    • Outdoors explorer
    Tips
    • Flags in front of houses designate art exhibits or pop-up shops, both great excuses to get a peek inside these beautiful historic homes.
    • Head over early on weekends to claim a hammock and ride the ferry for free. (Check the website for full ferry schedules.)
    • Bike rentals are available on the island, and are great for cruising the island. Get a free one-hour rental on weekdays from 10 am until 12 pm.
    • Check the island's event calendar, as there are often cool happenings (my favorite event of NYC summers, the Jazz Age Lawn Party, transforms the lawn into a Gatsby-worthy fete).
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #58 of 852 attractions in New York City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Only a 10 minute ferry ride away 17/09/2014
    • Lovely but one big problem... 14/09/2014
    • Governor's Island
    Address:
    New York Harbor
    New York City, NY 10001
    Phone:
    212-427-4040
    Other:
  • Save
    McSorley's Old Ale House
    Bar/ Clubs
    Suzanne R Says:

    Established in 1854, this tiny bar holds claim to the title of New York's "oldest continually operating saloon," and it maintains a homey, old-timey feel even when populated with drunken revelers. Littered with yellowed photographs, wishbones purportedly left by soldiers going off to war, and even the chair in which Abraham Lincoln enjoyed his share of McSorley’s ale, this is not just bar but living museum. As for drinks, you've got two options, light or dark ale, and since they come in two small glasses, you can try one of each.

    Good for
    • Budget traveller
    • Local favourite
    • History enthusiast
    Tips
    • As it did in 1854, McSorley's accepts cash only. (Hint: The bar doesn't even have a register--watch the money system when you pay!)
    • There isn't much in the way of food here, but the cheese and onion plate is popular with the regulars.
    • Visit in the afternoon, when the crowd is more "legit," it's easier to score a table, and you might just get a few good stories out of the notoriously curmudgeonly bartenders.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 781 nightlife in New York City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Light or Dark 16/09/2014
    • Check off the bucket list 14/09/2014
    • McSorley's Old Ale House
    Address:
    15 E 7th Street
    New York City, NY 10003
    Phone:
    (212) 473-9148
    Other:
  • Save
    Prospect Park
    Parks
    Suzanne R Says:

    Yes, Central Park is lovely, but Prospect Park was designed by the same gents (Olmsted and Vaux), and is said to be truer to the vision they originally had of Central Park. I may be biased (I live only a few blocks away), but I find it amazing that I can be in the heart of Brooklyn and feel like I'm hiking somewhere far out of town.

    Good for
    • Peace and quiet seeker
    • Budget traveller
    • Hidden gem
    • Local favourite
    • Adventure seeker
    • Outdoors explorer
    Tips
    • Wander off the beaten trail to find hidden paths, waterfalls, and even a sunken "secret garden" (the Vale of Cashmere).
    • The lake (at the southern end) is a perfect place for strolling on bucolic paths, lounging by the stately boathouse, or even rollerskating or standing around the drum circle.
    • The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is worth a visit, especially during cherry blossom (April) or rose (June) season. Admission is free on Tuesdays, and most Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 115 attractions in Brooklyn
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful Park 16/09/2014
    • Zoo 15/09/2014
    • Prospect Park
    Address:
    450 Flatbush Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11225
    Phone:
    718-965-8951
  • Save
    Alta
    Restaurants (Mediterranean, Spanish)
    Suzanne R Says:

    You're likely to walk right on past this building, taking its plant-festooned entry for another lovely West Village residence, but head down the steps and into a literal hidden gem of a restaurant. The ever popular spot is dim and romantic, with an interior that resembles a Spanish plaza, and food to match the look. Order small plates to share, and sample as much as you can stomach, but be sure to order at least one plate of the brussels sprouts (I guarantee you'll want to add on a second!).

    Good for
    • Food lover
    • Hidden gem
    • Local favourite
    • Trendy traveller
    Tips
    • Trust your server's warning to take your sangria by the glass. That lady is fiercely strong (and delicious).
    • Alta accepts only cash or American Express, so be sure to come prepared.
    • Although it's somewhat hard to find, this spot is popular, so it's advisable to make a reservation. Or go early evening or late night. The bar is also a nice place to take a meal.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #482 of 8,503 restaurants in New York City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Hostile Service 08/09/2014
    • Well worth looking for 08/09/2014
    • Alta
    Address:
    64W 10th St
    New York City, NY 10011
    Phone:
    (212) 505-7777
    Price range:
    $21 - $30
    Hours:
    Sun
    18:00 - 10:30
    Mon - Thu
    17:30 - 11:00
    Fri - Sat
    17:30 - 13:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Barbes
    Bar/ Clubs
    Suzanne R Says:

    Taking its name from a Paris neighborhood, this bar and performance spot oozes all things hip, international, and artsy. Its French café style features wooden tables, tin ceilings, and bare light bulbs, but the focal point is the entertainment, an array of musicians from the solo French-Algerian pianist to bluegrass groups, all greatly enjoyed whether or not you're under the influence of creative or classic cocktails.

    Good for
    • Local favourite
    • Trendy traveller
    • Nightlife lover
    Tips
    • Arrive before 7 pm to take advantage of happy hour and snag a seat in the tiny space.
    • Barbes gets crowded every night of the week, so be prepared to get up-close-and-personal with fellow music lovers (weekdays tend to be slightly less crowded).
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #38 of 223 nightlife in Brooklyn
    • Be prepared for a Bohemian Adventure 18/12/2013
    • Disappointing 05/09/2013
    • Barbes
    Address:
    376 9th Street
    Park Slope
    Brooklyn, NY 11215
    Phone:
    718 965 9177
    Other:
  • Save
    Tenement Museum
    History Museums
    Suzanne R Says:

    As a history buff, I can't get enough of this museum. Set smack-dab in the Lower East Side, this old building once really was a tenement, and the organization that now runs it researched actual families who lived here. Guided tours tell you the stories of some of those real people, and show you what the apartments would have looked like when they lived there. It's a great look back at history.

    Good for
    • Local favourite
    • History enthusiast
    Tips
    • Leave time before or after to visit the museum shop, a great place to pick up unique souvenirs or gifts to take back home.
    • Because the historic building has not elevators, it's impossible to visit with a wheelchair or stroller, but the museum also offers accessible waking tours of the neighborhood.
    • As you can only visit the museum on a guide tour, check the schedules (and even book your tickets) in advance.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 852 attractions in New York City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth a stop 18/09/2014
    • Informative but not for children 18/09/2014
    • Tenement Museum
    Address:
    103 Orchard Street
    Lower East Side
    New York City, NY 10002
    Phone:
    +1 877-975-3786
    Other:
  • Save
    Chelsea Market
    Flea/ Street Markets
    Suzanne R Says:

    It's not a secret that the Chelsea Market is fabulous. The former factory of household food name Nabisco (makers of Oreos, Graham Crackers, and more), the cavernous brick space has a distinct urban feel, and has stayed true to its roots in food. Now it's home to myriad food stalls, from the beloved Amy's Bread to bewitching Fat Witch brownies, plus an authentic Italian deli, a well-stocked wine vault, and stalls specializing in everything from cheese to nuts to fresh-squeezed juice. I love stopping to watch bread being made or picking up a treat and sitting down to people watch. Don't forget to check out the artwork and Nabisco memorabilia on display throughout too.

    Good for
    • Food lover
    • Must see
    • Budget traveller
    • Local favourite
    • Shopping enthusiast
    Tips
    • The ever-popular spot is often overrun, especially on weekend mornings. It's best to stop by in the afternoon, or any time on weekdays.
    • While just about anything you can eat here is great, Los Tacos is a winner (fresh tortillas), and Amy's Bread sourdough chocolate twists are a must try.
    • Decadent brownies from Fat Witch Bakery are delish at any hour, but for a bonus treat stop by in the early evenings, when the bakery offers "witching hour" deals.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 576 shopping in New York City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun place to go 19/09/2014
    • Clean modern market 18/09/2014
    • Chelsea Market
    Address:
    75 9th Ave
    New York City, NY
    Other:
  • Save
    Housing Works Used Book Cafe
    Shops, Performances
    Suzanne R Says:

    I'm a sucker for bookstores, and thankfully New York has no shortage of them, but Housing Works ranks among the very top. Not only can you wander through an incredible, chock-full of books space (think a book wall with rolling ladder, nooks of books, and major discount carts), but you can pick a few and camp out at one of the tables in the cool cafe to peruse. Plus, every dollar you spend in store or cafe goes right back into the nonprofit's mission of helping those with HIV/AIDS.

    Good for
    • Peace and quiet seeker
    • Local favourite
    • Shopping enthusiast
    Tips
    • The store is also event space, with something cool almost every night. Check the calendar to see what's on (and because there are sometimes private events).
    • The cafe offers free Wi-Fi, so you can connect on the go while you enjoy a treat.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #49 of 576 shopping in New York City
    • Charming & Wonderful Local Bookstore 30/05/2014
    • What a great find! 07/05/2014
    • Housing Works Used Book Cafe
    Address:
    126 Crosby St., between Houston and Prince Sts
    New York City, NY
    Phone:
    212-334-3324
    Other:
  • Save
    Brooklyn Flea Market
    Suzanne R Says:

    Whether you're into vintage shopping or looking for hip new local designers, the Brooklyn Flea's got something for you. You'll find everything from funky jewelry to eco-conscious sandals, and you can wash it all down with local eats from some of the city's most popular food vendors.

    Good for
    • Food lover
    • Local favourite
    • Trendy traveller
    • Shopping enthusiast
    • Art and design lover
    Tips
    • The Sunday Williamsburg Flea comes complete with Smorgasburg, a riverside cornucopia of 100 food vendors, all with spectacular skyline views.
    • Hit up the Fort Greene Flea on Saturday, and then lounge around Fort Greene Park a bit before grabbing some delicious locally sourced food at the General Greene.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 37 shopping in Brooklyn
    • we love the vendors selling their selfmade stuff 12/08/2014
    • Brooklyn Flea Market
    Address:
    185 Wythe Ave
    Brooklyn, NY
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