With New Yorkers having extremely busy lives, they love to squeeze in as much leisure time as they can, when they can, which is why New York is the city that never sleeps. With multiple bars, restaurants and delis open throughout the day and night, you can live by the New York ethos of work hard and play hard. You just need to know where to look.
As New York is such a big place with so much to offer, it’s important not to overbook yourself when it comes to seeing the attractions; if you’re rushing from place to place, it doesn’t give you enough time to truly experience the city. The best thing to do is make yourself a list of ‘must see’ places (there’s some really good New York package deals to choose from), and don’t opt to see more than four in a day. That way you’ll be able to enjoy the sights and see more of the city on the way.
By doing this it opens up the opportunity to wander aimlessly around New York whilst you make your way to your next ‘must see’. This is one of the best ways to experience this vibrant city as you check out unpredictable streets, unique market stalls, fashionable trendy boutiques and quaint cafes. For a more comprehensive look into New York culture, venture through the eclectic and colourful neighbourhoods, such as the East Village, The Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village.
Downtown New York
If you want the exciting bright lights of a Broadway show, rooftop terrace bars, cabaret and lounge bars with pianos tinkling away until the early hours of the morning, head to the city’s downtown district. Catching a Broadway show shouldn’t be too difficult, as you can check online or in the city’s newspapers, ask the hotel concierge or ask at the venues when visiting Times Square, to find show listings. Or visit a TKTS Booth in Times Square or the Lower Manhattan Theatre Centre, which sell tickets for 20-50% off the normal price.
Jazz in New York
To experience a true New York bar, head to one of the many atmospheric Jazz bars spread throughout lower Manhattan and across the borough. Jazz has become the soundtrack to New York City over the years, and places like Arthur’s Tavern, The Blue Note and 55 Bar are definitely worth a look with their excellent drinks, jazz and hospitality.
New York nightlife
What’s a holiday to the city that never sleeps without a trip to a nightclub? With many New York nightclubs coming in and out of fashion at the blink of an eye, it’s worth checking online for the current hotspots, or the free L Magazine, which highlights the latest place to be.
Alternatively try the Meatpacking District, a buzzing area of converted warehouses. Try Automatic Slims and Catch 22 with their trendy clientele, ultra-modern interiors and hip cocktails. For a glittering night out on the tiles, the Bowery Ballroom is a must. With gleaming Art Deco tiles, an elegant cocktail lounge, and 500-capacity concert hall; it’s now home to eclectic and electrifying alternative and electro club nights.
LGBT scene in New York
New York has a lively and vibrant gay scene, centred on Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighbourhood, but there are plenty of bars and clubs in Manhattan too. To get an at-a-glance guide to what’s hot, and what’s not, the free gay guide HX should be your first port of call. Or call in at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, between 7th and 8th avenues to find out more information.
Comedy clubs in NYC
Comedy is well represented in New York City; there’s plenty of stand-up ‘improv’ and cabaret to keep you laughing all night long.
New York food and drink
New York’s cosmopolitan communities combine to create more culinary styles per square mile than almost anywhere on earth. From burgers to borscht, delis to fine dining, there’s something to suit every palate in this city that loves to eat.
New York restaurants
Midtown Manhattan’s hotel restaurants, big name chains and tourist-friendly buffets run the gastronomic show, ensuring holidays in New York are filled with great flavours from start to finish.
In general, steer away from the ‘all you can eat’ world buffets, and blaring neon-signs of Times Square, Broadway and the main tourist spots and, instead, head to the streets lining the neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Upper Manhattan, the East Village, the Upper West Side, and Brooklyn for meals to remember – and at an affordable price, too.
New York’s not short of great, family-run Italian restaurants. Try the restaurants around the Lower East Side, and especially around Little Italy. Italian restaurants in Manhattan are fast, friendly and surprisingly good value; and the ice-cream is heavenly!
Chinatown is the place to head for spicy, flavoursome and authentic Chinese, Asian and ‘fusion’ eastern cooking. And, increasingly, flavours from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are adding even more exotic combinations of tastes. In general, restaurants around Henry and Madison Street are dependable, serving set-price dinners for around $20-$30 – perfect if you’re on a cheap break to New York!
The Village, SoHo and Tribeca are some of the best places to eat in NYC right now, creating exciting and unique new flavours and styles of cooking, and it’s where the city’s rising culinary stars offer nightly displays of inventiveness.
For more earthy, and filling fare, the Meatpacking District, the Lower East Side and Gramercy are the places to eat out without fuss, in a range of great value, honest and sociable diners, restaurants and family-friendly grills.
The West Side’s the place to head for TexMex, Cajun and a range of restaurants championing ‘new American cooking’, blending centuries old ‘peasant food’ with a modern twist!
Elsewhere, the legendary Katz’s Deli (East Houston St) is home to that all-American institution – hot dogs. And their salami specials are meaty and delicious too. And, film fans, this is the place where they filmed ‘that’ scene in When Harry Met Sally.
For fabulous burgers, you have to head to the somewhat secretive, and worth seeking out Burger Joint, at the Le Parker Meridien. There are simply two items on the menu – burger, or cheeseburger (oh, and fries, of course!). When you’re this good at burgers, why complicate things?
Finally, for a view as impressive as the culinary fare, head over the East River to The River Cafe nestling at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Book a table for twilight and enjoy spectacular views across the water to Manhattan, as the lights are turned on.
Shopping in New York
The New York shopping scene is one of the best in the world. From the dazzling department stores of 5th Avenue to the sleek boutiques on the Lower East Side, there are more opportunities to find the perfect gift in Manhattan than any city.
Barneys is the place to head for edgy fashions and one-of-a-kind home wares, while Bergdorf Goodman is a more traditional store, with excellent shoes, accessories and leather goods. FAO Schwartz offers excellent crafts, gifts, jewellery, and games. Saks Fifth Avenue store offers a glittering collection of labels, luxury goods and cosmetics. For high end fashion, Madison Avenue is the place to head for, featuring flagship stores from some of the world’s top designers – from home grown greats such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren to Italian megastars of the fashion world, Prada, Versace and Fendi. And, for tourists looking for something shiny and new, Tiffany’s and Van Cleef and Arpels are on opposite sides of 5th Avenue offering a sparkling selection of gems.
Greenwich Village offers a dizzying array of up-to-the-minute fashions, funky gifts and collectables from comics to CDs. Bleecker Street and 8th Street’s cool fashions and footwear, and Carmine Street and 7th Avenue’s delis and galleries are all worth an afternoon’s wander, as are the boutiques and perfumeries of Christopher Street.
Another upcoming area is the Chelsea. With over 150 galleries, Chelsea’s ‘Art Quarter’ tag is deserved – and the area between 20th and 26th streets, is lined with art stores, antiques and retro home wares stores.
The Meatpacking District has bloomed recently, with Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin and Alexander McQueen setting up shop. But look out for Jeffrey New York, an offshoot of a cool Atlanta department store, with its fabulous shoes, menswear and leather goods.
Herald Square, where 34th Street, Sixth Avenue, and Broadway meet, is home to the American institution that is Macy's. The biggest department store in the world has an unbeatable selection of fashions, cosmetics, gifts, shoes, and home wares.
Soho is still a fashionable place to shop, with cobbled streets and cast-iron arcades, while you’ll find most of the recognisable brands on Soho’s Broadway. Check out the perfumes and cosmetics giant, Sephora, and A/X Armani Exchange, and hunt for bargains at the H&M hyperstore. Bloomingdale's chain – a trendy US department store, on a par with John Lewis - has a downtown branch on Broadway, and the Apple Store, Soho is geek central!
Shopping breaks to New York really do offer everything you could ever imagine.