New York sits at the top of most people’s bucket lists, and with good reason. An absolute must-see, must-do, must-experience – just as long as you spread your wings further than Times Square and the Empire State building. Around about this time of year, 3 years ago, I spent the best 6 weeks of my life in NYC, living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan I experienced amazing sights, food, nightlife and culture on both sides of the water. If you plan on checking New York off your list this summer then take a look at the list below, of some of my favourite and highly recommended spots to visit whilst in the big apple.
Manhattan certainly isn’t short of shopping hot-spots – Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Herald Square and Madison Avenue just to name a few. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to topping up your wardrobe but for me, my number one shopping destination has to be SoHo. The picturesque multi-colour painted 19th century buildings (some of the oldest buildings in the city), cast-iron exteriors and cobbled streets once home to some of NYC’S most famous artists’ lofts and galleries, adds a tranquil, sight-seeing experience to your shopping trip. As well as international chain stores to purchase everything you were looking for, you’ll also come across high-end boutique stores to purchase items you won’t find anywhere else. As well as endless shops to choose from, there are also some really cool bars and restaurants dotted around the neighbourhood so you can really make a day (and night) out of your trip down to SoHo. Imagery by Paul Arps
Brooklyn Flea Market was founded in 2008 and has grown in to one of New York’s top attractions, with up to 150 stalls selling vintage clothing, records, antiques, art, collectables and hand-made accessories – the perfect hunting ground for random treasures you didn’t think you needed but can’t leave without. Vendor’s at the market are open to haggling so have your change at the ready to bag yourself a bargain, there are also numerous international food stalls, so you can grab a bite as you shop. Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg (not far from the market) which similarly to SoHo was made ‘trendy’ by an influx of artists and musicians, is home to an abundance of independently owned boutique and vintage stores, where you can shop for one-off finds at reasonable prices. As you embark on your walk down Bedford Ave (the longest street in Brooklyn) you will also find retro-style bars, pubs, coffee shops and some amazing restaurants. Image by Marko Gligorov
Watch the likes on your annoying holiday-selfies soar as you snap yourself in this Indian restaurant on the east side of Manhattan. A visit to this restaurant and the reason why Panna II makes my list is much more about the experience of your night spent here (although the food is pretty damn good too). Chilli lights, Christmas lights, beach balls and random toys hang from the ceiling and anywhere they could possibly hang, it’s a little bit mental, but definitely a must-see! Considering its location, the restaurants prices are massively wallet-friendly and it’s also BYOB (bring your own bottle) what more could you ask for? Image by Stacie
Momo Sushi Shack is located in Bushwick, a growing, young, creative community in Brooklyn, inside what was once a junk warehouse in the neighbourhood for 50 years. The restaurant perfectly combines the trendy aesthetic of Bushwick with top quality Japanese food that has won major accolades such as a Michelin Guide Recommendation. Sushi is pretty serious business in New York and Momo’s is one of the top rated sushi spots in the city on yelp. com – a rating I can definitely confirm based on it’s amazing food, atmosphere and character. Momo Sushi Shack is a hidden gem with a laid back vibe and rustic tin ceilings and exterior, in a small, cosy space with long communal tables that create the perfect environment for socialising, meeting new people and large groups. Image by Marc C.O’Flaherty
DAY IN THE SUN
Central Park is probably the most ‘touristy’ spot on my list, however I would be doing something wrong if I didn’t advise that you go (and probably more than once!), if you visit during the summer, this is definitely your number one spot in Manhattan for a chilled out day in the sun. The park is 800+ acres of beautiful scenery and most importantly, space – something you will crave after spending time in the busy streets of Manhattan. The cheapest way to get a view (and a picture for Instagram) of the concrete jungle is to find the highest rock you can in Central Park and climb to the top.
You might see your trip to NYC as a city break as oppose to a relaxing beach holiday, but there is no reason why it can’t double up as both. There are plenty of beaches to choose from in New York including the Rockaway Beach, Orchard Beach, and Franklin D. Roosevelt boardwalk and beach but if you are in Brooklyn and are looking for somewhere you can make a day of it, then go for Coney Island. Not only will you be able to catch some rays by the sea but you can also visit Luna Park – New York’s largest amusement park, with rides such as the Coney Island Cyclone and the Sling Shot that will be a true test of the adrenaline junkie in you. Image by Thomas Angermann
Okay, so there’s already a food section in this blog post, but considering the two best pizzas I’ve ever eaten were in New York (and who doesn’t love Pizza?), it felt only right to dedicate a section to the food this city is probably most associated with. In Manhattan, visiting Little Italy is a must for pizza lovers – a small neighbourhood that is home to dozens of restaurants that serve authentic Italian cuisine. My favourite spot in Little Italy, for its absolutely mouth-watering pizza is Lombardi’s. Little did I know when I visited that Lombardi’s is actually America’s first pizzeria, opening in 1897, and is coveted as one of the best pizzeria’s in the United States. I can now justify my words when I say this was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, as it turns out that an entire nation agrees! Image by Oleg Brovko
Roberta’s is one of the coolest spots in what is arguably the coolest neighbourhood in Brooklyn – Bushwick, serving one of the most highly rated pizza’s in NYC. I couldn’t get enough of this place and may have dined there a little too much, its famous wood-fired pizza (amongst other amazing Italian food), rustic décor and chilled-out, communal atmosphere made it hard to keep away. The Italian restaurant also has an outdoor bar and beer tent making it the perfect spot to start your night out. Image by star5112
Head straight to the third floor to enjoy the South Beach style rooftop bar with floor to ceiling windows and retractable roof (open in the summer) that are perfect for people watching, and the view, of course… A pool with fountains sits at the centre of the room, surrounded by palm trees with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. As you stand in The DL holding a fancy cocktail whilst looking at the skyline, you’ll really think you’ve made it… until 4am when they kick you out. The DL makes for the perfect spot to start your night, and end your night, with its luxe décor and seating to make the most of as the drinks start to flow, and DJ’s playing a variety of music until the early hours. Image from The DL Facebook
For a night out in Manhattan you’re going to want to smarten-up, particularly for a club like The DL. For some reason, American’s seem to think we’re cool (and they will assume you’re from London, even if you’re from Oldham) so you don’t want to let them down with your style.
Brooklyn nightlife is definitely the best nightlife I have ever experienced, with clubs and bars that are generally set in old warehouse buildings that double up as art spaces during the day – which is clear in the industrial, creative décor (or non-décor) of the rooms. You’ll rarely find a playlist coming out of some speakers in Brooklyn, live DJ’s and bands from start to finish, no matter how small the venue, is the norm. One of my favourite places to spend my nights out in Brooklyn was The Paper Box in east Williamsburg. The backyard area and interior of the venue is covered in amazing graffiti and art, the space is one of the biggest in Brooklyn which brings in large crowds during the weekends, creating an unforgettable atmosphere as a variety of live musicians and DJ’s perform until the (very) early hours. Image from http://thepaperbox.nyc
One of the plus-sides to a night out in Brooklyn as oppose to Manhattan is that you don’t really need to dress up, but you certainly don’t want to compromise on style. Get your coolest clobber at the ready to stand out amongst a crowd of young creatives; this reversible camo/black bomber jacket from Nudie Jeans is the perfect choice.
Make sure you look the part when you hit The Big Apple – Pull your own outfit together using our collections of premium menswear. Think we missed somewhere? Tell us on Twitter @ where you’re favourites places are.