One of my good friends recently tied the knot and I had to make a quick visit to the US. The wedding destination was Colts Neck, New Jersey and I took advantage of that by taking a short trip to New York City. NYC was always on my list of must-visit cities because I kept hearing of how amazing the place was and I also have a childhood buddy who relocated there several years ago.
In New York City I decided to go all out and play tourist for a week. I had a clear idea of things to do and places to see but I was open to having unplanned adventures – I’m big on going with the flow – which may include random exploring OR being lazy and doing absolutely nothing for a day.
So if by any chance you are in NYC for a short trip, follow this guide and you’ll definitely end up having a great time.
1. Explore the city by bike
If you are like me and hate traffic, you will love being in New York City and speeding by all the cars stuck at the red light. NYC is a city that embraces the bicycle culture and it’s great to commute like the locals do every day. My favourite biking spots included downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River bike path, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge.
2. Have a slice of Pizza
Have you heard about the New York style pizza? Enough said.
3. Take a bus tour
Oh that’s so touristy everyone says! Who cares? If you want to quickly learn a lot of facts about a city, a bus tour is the best way to go. Although an excellent tour guide can sometimes be a hit or miss situation but you’re always better off since if you think about it, it’s their job to know the city from inside out. Have an open mind and try hard not to be annoyed by their silly jokes.
4. Take a boat tour
A boat tour comes with the sightseeing bus tour package. You get to go see a close up of the Statue of Liberty and learn many other cool facts about NYC’s waterfront. This allows for a spectacular view of Manhattan’s skyline.
5. Spot hipsters in Williamsburg
This is very entertaining but maybe it’s just me? In the picture above you can see two dudes out for a walk with their dogs. I had a blast observing these guys because they had previously tried really hard to make their dogs walk but their dogs were too lazy to even stand; they dragged their dogs from their leashes for a while before giving up and carrying them. My friend responded with the funny statement: “Their dogs are so used to being carried that they are too lazy to walk.” I laughed loud.
6. Hit up the popular tourist attractions
Even though I’m from Belize, I grew up watching American television and countless movies are set in New York City. I just had to visit the famous attractions and see them first hand! Empire state building! (check)
7. Eat like locals
You might have thought that i covered this when i mentioned having a New York style pizza but no, it didn’t. For me eating like a local implies street food that everyone commonly eats! From my research (advice of several friends), New Yorkers love food trucks and visit them regularly. My favourite was The Halal Guys… OMG it’s amazing and ridiculously cheap.
8. Hang out with locals
This should be common sense, hanging out with people who are from the place you visit will give you access to insider information and grant you access to all the local hotspots. For those of you that don’t have friends in NYC, I suggest you try couchsurfing – a good way to meet locals.
9. Get lost in the subway
Ok, this is scary but after completing it you’ll feel like you can conquer the world.
10. Explore the neighbourhoods
The various ethnic neighbourhoods in New York City remind me of Toronto but in a much larger scale. Above you can see Chinatown in NYC which reminded me of the Chinese enclave in downtown Toronto.
One of my best experiences was when I was exploring Sunset Park, Brooklyn (Chinese and Hispanic neighbourhood) and walking into a restaurant and it was a replica of a small restaurant in Mexico City. The owner was busy watching her telenovela and I could only order my food in Spanish. The food and horchata was amazing and how I wished there was something similar in Toronto. Yes, Toronto has Mexican restaurants but they don’t aim for an authentic taste, it’s mostly some hipster bistro bullshit.
I’m sure not everyone would explore New York City the way I did but I had a blast and felt compelled to share my experience. If you liked my travel tips, give it a go when you’re in NYC!