- New York City can be pricey! Although you can definitely find deals and things on a budget, prepare for a bit of a more expensive adventure, especially when it comes to accommodations if you're staying in Manhattan or the surrounding area (including Brooklyn).
- The metro and the bus are the best way to get around, aside from walking. Taxis and Ubers are available, but the traffic can get so crazy that it will be much more expensive, and often times much slower to get around.
- New York isn't just Manhattan! Although this itinerary focuses only on Manhattan, it's worth it to explore more of this area, including Brooklyn and Queens.
Bagels for Breakky ($)
There's no better way to start of your New York experience than with a New York City bagel! That delicious thick cut, perfectly cooked dough covered in schmear (cream cheese), a slice of smoked salmon, and a couple red onions and capers is the way to go. Get it with a side of fresh black coffee and hit the road for the day.
Stroll Through Central Park (& Find Hidden Messages) (Free)
Of course while in NYC you have to visit Central Park. Free entrance to this amazing green space ... right in the middle of the city! Look up and see tall trees, and in the distance, towering iconic skyscrapers. It's one of the most "Ney York" things to do. There are many entrances and exits, so take your time to walk around. It's rumoured that the lamp posts hold hidden messages ...
Bethesda Terrace (Free)
While in Central Park, you must visit the Bethesda Terrace. The Bethesda Terrace and Fountain are two architectural features overlooking the southern shore of the Lake in New York City's Central Park. The fountain, with its Angel of the Waters statue, is located in the center of the terrace. They're both iconic and make for some amazing photo opportunities.
Although NYC is famous for its fantastic broadway shows, expect something a little different and quirky with an Off-Braodway production. There are many to choose from and you can find that list here. Check what's playing when you go, and try something new! I recommend Newsicle - a hilarious musical of the recent news. Bonus: there's a bar in many of the theatres and you can drink at your seat. Finally!
Breakfast in the Lower East Side (Jewish Cultural Capital of NYC)
Head over to this less-explored area of town where you'll find less tourists and many more locals. This magical area is considered to be the Jewish cultural capital of New York and with that comes some amazingly delicious food! Stop into one of the many cafes or even bodegas to sample a few different delicacies. I recommend stopping in at Kossar’s Bagels & Bialys!
Get Cultured at The MoMA ($$)
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It plays a major role in developing and collecting modern art, and is often identified as one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. Student discounts are available for admission. This quirky gallery features some seriously interesting works! Sometimes there are live art performances and unique installations.
Lunch in Little Dominican Republic (Varies)
Head uptown on the metro to Little Dominican Republic for lunch and shopping. Little Dominican Republic is located Washington Heights, also referred by locals as “The Heights.’ With the large influx of Dominicans in this area, it has become one of the most culturally vibrant neighborhoods in New York City. There are a ton of cute cafes and shops here, and I would definitely recommend stopping in for a hearty and huge lunch at Malecon. The portions are huge, delicious, and very well priced!
More Culture at The Cloisters ($)
Since you're in the neighbourhood already, definitely head over to the lesser-known museum: The Cloisters. The Cloisters, also known as the Met Cloisters, is a museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights specializing in European medieval art and architecture, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The surrounding area is very beautiful as well.
House of Yes ($$)
I don't want to say too much here for fear of spoiling it. This off the beaten path nightclub shows off the wonderful, quirky, and fantastical. From drag shows to acrobatics all set in a former ice warehouse, you have no idea what is in store for you. Check the event itinerary on their website or Facebook for the upcoming shows.
Diner Breakfast & Bottomless Mimosas (Varies)
There are so so so many diners across the city that serve up all all day breakfast or brunch. Wander around the area where you're staying and scope out a good old fashioned diner. Pair your breakfast with a fun mimosa to kick start the day! I recommend Poco for bottomless mimosas on the East side, or the Crooked Knife on the West side.
Museum of Sex ($$)
Described as "an intimate museum chronicling the evolution of human sexuality in ever-changing exhibits" but is truly strange and fun. NSFW obviously, so maybe don't go with your stuffy coworkers, but it's a super fun and weird place to spend some time. Unlike many other museums in NYC, you don't need to spend a full day here - a couple good hours will do the trick. Enjoy your experience!
New York City Pizza (Varies)
I'll keep this one vague, because if you're in Manhattan, it's hard to go wrong. Walk around a bit and stop in wherever smells good. Always check the restuarant health and safty bulletin to make sure it's a legitimate establishment, but other than that, get crazy! Make sure you fold your giant slice in half and prepare some napkins.
Home to a dense population of Asian immigrants, Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of NYC's most evocative and eclectic neighborhoods. Chinatown’s Canal Street offers an exciting new shopping experience, with its open-air-bazaar feel, vendors willing to bargain and haggle, and an impossibly wide assortment of goods for sale. Snag some seriously good sales here! If you're in the market for it, there are a ton of really well done knock offs of luxury bags and other goods. Walk around here and take in all the sights.
Speakeasy in Chinatown (Varies)
Once again, continue your adventure down through Chinatown until something looks good to you. It's hard to go wrong in this area, but again, always check the health and safety bulletin outside the establishment. Pop into a dark and moody speakeasy for some small bites and amazing cocktails or whiskeys. There are a ton of options here!
Dim Sum at Jing Fong ($$)
Back again to Chinatown! One of the most versitile neighbourhoods in the city, there are a ton of options here if this one doesn't suit your interest or budget, but Jing Fong is truly the best one! It feels like you've been teleported to Hong Kong with its classic Dim Sum serving style and even with the traditional decor. It does get very busy, so try not to go on a Sunday, and GO EARLY. You might have to wait in line if you come too late.
Museum of Natural History ($$)
Take the metro directly into the museum - it has its own stop! You can buy tickets in advance to skip the line, and there are student discounts available. Spend some time learning about some wicked cool science and natural history and see some life sized dinosaur skeletons!
Dream House ($)
Head over to the uber-trendy area of Tribeca for some serious weirdness. No spoilers here, so come prepared with your admission fee ($10 USD), remove your shoes, check your coat, and enter into the Dream House. To lightly summarize, this is an art exhibit that you can become a part of. Warning: sometimes there are flashing lights. The house sits hidden away on Church Street, behind a sleek, black door with a slightly ominous-looking sign that simply says “The Dream House”.
Oysters in Tribeca (1803 NYC)
I would highly recommend dining at 1803 NYC, but there a TON of great options around here if seadfood isn't your thing. Stop in at 1803 for some fresh and delicious oysters, some hearty po-boys, a huge pile of hot French fries, and of course, a delicious mug of beer. The bar here is beautiful and classically New York. Again, if oysters and seafood isn't for you, there are so many great options here - just wander around and see what looks best!