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All photos: Francisco Collazo

1. Don’t… visit MOMA or The Met

I don’t have anything against either of these museums. I used to be a card-carrying member of MOMA and I’m planning to check out their new exhibit, “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront.”

It’s just that a visit to MOMA will set you back $20 (unless you join the budget seeking horde on Friday night from 4-8 PM, when admission is free). The “recommended” admission for The Met is the same.

And besides, both of these museums are so huge that it’s hard to feel you’ve “done” them or squeezed the value out of that ticket price in just a single visit.

Do… visit MOCA, MOCADA, El Museo del Barrio, or The Jewish Museum

Given New York’s immigrant history, it shouldn’t be surprising we have a museum for almost every diaspora, including MOCA (Museum of Chinese in America), MOCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), El Museo del Barrio (located in Spanish Harlem, a museum for Puerto Rican and Latin American art), and The Jewish Museum.

Admission at all four of these museums is less than that wallet-busting $20 you’ll drop at MOMA or The Met. ($7 at MOCA and free on Thursdays; $4 suggested donation at MOCADA; $6 suggested donation at El Museo del Barrio with free admission every third Saturday; $12 at The Jewish Museum and free on Saturdays).

But the real reason to visit these museums is because they’re smaller in size and let you walk away feeling like you really saw everything and learned something interesting in the process.

Plus, these museums aren’t overrun by crowds and the facilities are excellent. MOCA is brand new and El Museo’s paint has barely dried after a recent renovation.

2. Don’t… do the Statue of Liberty

There’s something that feels unpatriotic about telling you to skip the Statue of Liberty, but I have my reasons. First of all, a visit to Liberty sucks up your whole day, what with long lines and strict security. Second, if you really just want to see the statue, you’ll get a much better view from the ferry or from Ellis Island than you will on Liberty Island itself.

Do… visit Ellis Island AND the African Burial Ground

The Statue of Liberty… skip it.

Ellis Island — the nation’s “premier federal immigration station,” according to the National Parks Service — is far more interesting than the Statue of Liberty if you’re really passionate about American history.

The 30-minute film, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” is a Ken Burns-esque documentary that tells the history of Ellis Island. If you’d rather walk than sit, guided tours convey the same information. And if you’re interested in genealogy, you can look up your ancestry here.

Another alternative is visiting the recently opened African Burial Ground, which, like Ellis Island is run by the National Parks Service. There’s no admission fee to enter the visitors’ center, explore the exhibits, or to visit the actual burial ground itself. You can read more about the African Burial Ground on my blog.

3. Don’t… go to Central Park

Yes, it’s enormous. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it even has wildlife.

But New York City has more than 29,000 acres of OTHER parks, and many of them are just as beautiful — if not more so — than Central Park.

My favorites are Ft. Tryon (at the northern tip of Manhattan, with elevated views of the Hudson River, it was built by the son of the architect responsible for Central Park); The Hudson River Park (a long, narrow park that runs almost the entire length of Manhattan’s West Side and offers areas for picnicking, watching movies and live performances, bike riding, skate boarding, rollerblading, and kayaking, among other activities); and The High Line (an elevated urban park built on an old freight line).

Outside Manhattan, my favorites are Gantry Plaza State Park (a waterfront park in Long Island City with multiple piers — has THE best views of Manhattan; great for photos; also has hammocks in the summer, a kayak launch point, and a nearby “beach” bar), DUMBO’s Brooklyn Bridge Park (a work in progress, also waterfront), and Governor’s Island (open June through October).

4. Don’t… assume a hotel is beyond your budget

“But New York hotels are so expensive….”

True, but your doctor bill may be more expensive after you spend a few nights on a bedbug infested hostel mattress or a few mornings in a sketchy hostel shower.

Do… check out hotels beyond Manhattan

Check out the Ravel in Long Island City (waterfront views — and no, it’s not on Long Island; it’s five minutes from midtown Manhattan), which currently has rates as low as $99/night.

Sunset in Long Island City

Hotels are popping up all over LIC, with a Holiday Inn being the closest to a subway line (39th Avenue stop on the N and soon to be defunct W train).

5. Don’t… go to Serendipity or Magnolia

Do you really want to spend an hour in line for a frozen hot chocolate or a cupcake?
Serendipity and Magnolia are popular because they were featured in “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sex and the City,” respectively. Do you think that makes their desserts any better than anywhere else?

Do… chase down the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck and eat some Wafel and Dinges

Van Leeuwen serves artisanal ice cream out of a roving truck — red currant, giandujia, hazelnut, and ginger, to name a few flavors. They have a storefront in Brooklyn if you can’t catch up with the truck.

If ice cream’s not your thing, look up the Wafel and Dinges truck, which serves Belgian waffles with all manner of dinges — toppings — or find a truck to suit any craving you might possibly have. Check the City Room Blog’s Twitter list for a full roster of food trucks (many offer special deals to Twitter followers).

6. Don’t… go see a movie

New York is a great place to see a movie because we have so many specialty theatres, like the ImaginAsian, an arthouse cinema featuring Asian films.

But did you really come to New York to see a movie?

Do… go see a movie being filmed

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting lists films and TV shows currently being filmed in the city, and if you follow @olv on Twitter, you can find out where and when filming is scheduled to occur.

7. Don’t… shop for knock-offs on Canal Street

“Psst. Want a Coach bag? Prada? Prada?”

You don’t believe that $20 Coach bag on Canal Street is real, do you?

Besides being cheap, your purchases on Canal Street support an underground economy, the consequences of which are largely hidden from view (and involve immigrants living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in stairways and closet-sized rooms in the buildings where you’ll be taken to view the merchandise).

Keep your conscience clean and get something real by browsing Union Square. Local artists sell paintings, photos, jewelry, homemade t-shirts, indy films, and lots of other wares at tables arrayed around the southern end of the park. You’ll get something that’s really original…and you don’t have to feel bad about it.

8. Don’t… visit Little Italy or Chinatown

Again — nothing “wrong” with Little Italy or Chinatown (visit the former during the San Gennaro festivities, the latter during Chinese New Year celebrations). Both of these neighborhoods remain cultural enclaves that have somehow managed to resist encroaching gentrification.

Do… visit lesser-known immigrant districts

But why not explore one of the lesser known neighborhoods like Koreatown, Little Brazil, Polish Greenpoint, and predominantly Greek Astoria? These immigrant neighborhoods are just as lively — and less touristed — than Little Italy and Chinatown.

And if you’re headed to Astoria, let me know. I’ll meet up with you at Omonia for some Greek coffee and Sokolatina.

Explore a less familiar venue.

9. Don’t… go to a show at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, or Broadway

Like MOMA and The Met, these are all world-class venues, but there are dozens of other event spaces where incredible concerts, lectures, and performances are given by well-known and totally fresh talent.

Do… get your culture fix at a venue you’ve never heard of

Some places worth checking out include BAM (the Brooklyn Academy of Music), Bargemusic, The LAByrinth Theater Company, the Manhattan Theatre Club, and The Chocolate Factory.

What NOT to do


 

About The Author

Julie Schwietert

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator currently in New York, formerly of Mexico City and San Juan.

  • http://ramblelust.wordpress.com Hiroki

    Good article.

    I’d add checking out the Brooklyn Museum.

    Also, I don’t think one should miss Chinatown and also check out St. Mark’s Place (closest thing to Little Tokyo in NYC)

    H

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Hiroki-

      Agreed- Brooklyn Museum’s a good visit (and bonus points because it’s next to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden!).

  • http://t3mujin.tumblr.com João Almeida

    Being a photographer this would be a great reason to visit MOMA

    http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/cartier-bressons-modern-century-at-moma/

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Joao- No doubt! That exhibit is indeed tempting. And considering that the other exhibit I mentioned in the intro is also running, this would be a good time to spend $20 on a ticket! (Just watch out for the lines for the Tim Burton show!)

  • http://www.evaholland.com Eva

    Okay, stupid question – How do you skip the Statue of Liberty and still get to Ellis Island? The only reason I bothered with the statue, instead of just seeing it from the ferry, was because the combo Circle Line tour was the only way I knew of to get to Ellis Island…

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Eva- Good question! The Statue of Liberty is on Liberty Island, so you can choose not to disembark when the ferry stops at Liberty Island, disembarking instead on Ellis Island. You do have to look at the ticket options pretty carefully- of course the Circle Line has a vested interest in selling you the full deal.

  • http://www.rebeccakinsella.wordpress.com Rebecca

    this is great Julie!

    i spent 5 days in NYC last month and checked of all of your don’ts :) I can’t wait to go back so i’ll be referring to this on my next trip. And as a cupcake lover i did think magnolia was a bit overrated but NYC is one of the friendliest places i’ve ever been too – loved it!

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Rebecca-
      New Yorkers ARE really friendly! A couple years ago, I was in the subway and a couple of older out of towners were sitting on a bench, waiting for the train. I noticed a glove at the man’s feet, so I reached down to pick it up and hand it to him. He started laughing and said that it wasn’t his glove, but so many people had tried to give it to him that he was forced to reevaluate his perception of New Yorkers as cold and stand-offish!

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

      I’m in NYC for a month, about 1 week in so far (we’re actually seriously considering extending the stay). The friendliness of New Yorkers is the first thing I noticed arriving. My wife and I were carrying heavy suitcases (our folding bikes inside) and many people offered and did carry my wife’s suitcase onto a bus, up stairs (too many train stations without lifts!).

      If we stop to look at a map, we’re guaranteed to have people approach and ask where we’re going and help out. At 1:30 AM cycling back from Queens to Brooklyn we got a little lost. No one was on the street except for this guy on a bike cycling by, sure enough he stopped and asked and then led us back on track.

      People just striking up conversations out of nowhere.

      I’m amazed at the friendliness here. For such a massive city, it’s very shocking.

  • mason in mississippi

    i understand these are some good suggestions for travelers looking for alternative things to do in NYC. but skipping out on MOMA/The Met, Central Park, and MSG? c’mon now. those are some of the main attractions travelers want to experience in NYC!

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Mason-

      As I say in the article, all those places are just fine. I’m just offering up some other places that, as a visitor, you’re not likely to know about.

  • http://valeriewng.wordpress.com Valerie

    What a great list! I’d like to add that if you must have your Chinese or Italian fixes in NYC, go to the Chinatowns on Main Street in Flushing or 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, both of which have a completely authentic feel with no souvenir shops or tourists; and the Little Italy on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Valerie-

      I am totally slapping my head. Your suggestions are excellent! I used to live in the Bronx and I went to the market on Arthur Ave every Saturday for cappuccino- so good!

  • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

    If you’re jonesing for a good coffee, like, a REALLY good coffee, head to Park Slope in Brooklyn…on 7th Ave there is a teeny cafe called Grumpy. I lived 2 years in Melbourne (which I consider one of the coffee capitals of the world). They make flat whites. It was like drinking silk. Really.

  • Andy Mesa

    What a ridiculous article. I’ve been to New York twice, and both times the best part was visiting the Met. Yes, it’s big, but that’s why I’ve gone twice and will continue to go. Also, the *suggested* donation is exactly that, a *suggestion*. The Met is arguably the most well funded museum in the country, you’re not hurting them by donating a couple bucks or even nothing at all. And like you said, MoMA is free at certain times too.

    I agree that the Statue of Liberty isn’t worth the time and effort, but not visiting New York’s greatest museums and parks is kind of silly. Especially when none of it costs you a dime.

  • Andy Mesa

    Also, way to perpetuate the hostel stereotype. I love staying at hostels; it’s a great way to meet people and they’re often better situated and than even the priciest hotels, and I can cook in them. If given the choice I’d rather stay at a hostel for free than a hotel for free, and often do (even on business).

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Andy- You’ve missed the point, which is to offer alternatives to places everyone already knows about. As I think I make clear, all those places are world class for a reason; they ARE exceptional. But why not try something different and enjoy discovering that it’s at least as amazing?

      As for hostels, I’ve never been a big fan of them, and prefer home swaps. There are some decent hostels here, but stay at the Chelsea Intl and then try to tell me that the hostel stereotype doesn’t exist for a reason.

      • Andy Mesa

        What I got from your article was “don’t visit these places because they’re too expensive (they’re not) and don’t stay in hostels because I don’t like them”

        I don’t have a problem with your opinions, I have a problem with you purporting your opinions as facts.

  • http://itchyfoot.tumblr.com Sara C.

    If you’re a huge art nerd (like me!), MoMA and The Met aren’t to be missed. The same way I’d pay almost anything to visit the Tate in London, the Louvre in Paris, etc. I’m an art nerd, and if I’m traveling I’m going to take in as much art as I can.

    But if you’re just the average traveler? I agree, there are a lot of other smaller museums that will give you better insight into the city.

    Re The Met specifically, what others have said is true – the suggested donation is a “suggestion”. I live in New York and have been known to pay $0.50, especially if I really just need to use the restroom or want to go up and have a drink in their very overpriced yet amazing rooftop bar.

    The Tenement museum is amazing – it’s a restored apartment building on the Lower East Side where you can take a guided tour of a family’s home from any of a number of different historical periods.

    Re coffee and the above poster: Grumpy is in Greenpoint, not Park Slope, and I believe they also have a location in Manhattan somewhere. I also would recommend any of the Joe locations around the city, as well as Porto Rico in the East Village.

    There is really not much to do at Madison Square Garden unless you are a huge basketball fan or want to blow several hundred dollars on nosebleed seats to a concert by some band decades past their prime. There are a million better venues for music/entertainment.

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Yep- Tenement Museum is a good one, too!

  • http://itchyfoot.tumblr.com Sara C.

    Oh crap – I just double checked and it turns out that Grumpy really does have a location in Park Slope after all! Being the north Brooklyn snob that I am, I assumed Carlo must have gotten his neighborhoods switched around. Glad to know there’s somewhere to get the elusive Flat White if I’m ever in need of a caffeine fix in the slope…

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

      :) I’m not crazy after all…

  • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

    Andy- I clearly indicated that the Met’s entry is suggested. Is it worth it? Definitely, especially if youhave lots of time. But there are lots of other wonderful museums, too. And asfor hotels, thefact is that they’re not all expensive, which lotsofpeople believe.And I don’t think anyone would read my opinion of hostels as anything other than that: an opinion.

    Thanks for sharing yours.

    • http://itchyfoot.tumblr.com Sara C.

      I used to work at The Met, and one curious thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of tourists there who didn’t have any interest in art, they just saw that it was a Must Do in their guidebook and showed up. The Met also takes an old-school approach and doesn’t do a lot in the way of interactive displays or creative ways to introduce the art to the viewers – if you didn’t take Art History in college, you might not get a lot out of it. (MoMA is better in this regard, which makes it nominally worth the price of admission.)

      Which is the main reason I agree with you here – The Met is amazing, but if you’re not much of an art connoisseur, there are dozens of other museums that would interest you more.

      And isn’t that the point of this series? It’s a tongue in cheek look at getting off the beaten track, not necessarily a set of commandments.

      (hint: I would lovelovelove to write an article on the pros and cons of different New York city museums…)

      • Andy Mesa

        I’ve visited every major art museum in the US and Europe, and still count the Met as among the best. I didn’t study art (or even go to college), but I rent audioguides and/or read guidebooks and pamphlets to gain insight into the major works. I think that’s really all you need. Sure it’d be nice if they had interactive multimedia guides like Tate Modern, but it’s not essential to the experience.

        This idea that these museums are massive and therefore you shouldn’t even try is bogus. Every museum has major works; the Prado is huge but they give out a pamphlet of 40 or so major works. Rick Steves has great audio tours of the Louvre and Uffizi and both are two hours long, but include all highlights.

        Obviously it’s great to get off the beaten path and discover less touristy sights, and I’m all for that. Maybe I misunderstand the point of these articles, but this article is clearly telling people NOT to visit some great things.

      • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

        Sara-
        I like your article idea a lot- if you’d like to write it, could you forward me a more detailed pitch: julie[at]matadornetwork[dot]com?

  • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

    The point of the What NOT to do series at Trips is to point out similar alternatives to their already-known/popular and sometimes (many times) overhyped counterparts.

    They’re written by residents of the cities, people who know the city inside out (although, I’m not sure knowing NYC inside out is possible?), to give a glimpse into how locals view their city.

    An underlying point, at least to me, is to also question WHY travelers visit many of the sights they do. There is a certain “obligation” to go see things in cities, just because they are “must-see” and talked up in guidebooks…we just want to encourage travelers to ask themselves this question. There is no such thing as must-see and you shouldn’t have to feel bad about skipping something just because it’s famous.

  • http://www.parisianspring.blogspot.com Tanya

    Thank you for the awesome tips, Julie! I’m going to bookmark this list and refer back to it while living in NYC for the summer.

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Tanya- So glad you’ll be here for the summer! I hope you’ll email me so we can get together!

  • http://travelerahoy.wordpress.com Alouise

    When I was in New York I viewed The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry because I just wanted some photos. I couldn’t get over the fact it was free, bonus. I did see/do some of famous attractions like The Empire State Building (which was really busy, I preferred Top Of The Rock because it was quieter, less expensive and still had good views of the city) and Times Square. But there were things like Central Park and MOMA that I didn’t have time for (my trip was only a few days). Next I go to New York I want to spend more time exploring some less know sites, so I’ll keep these ideas in mind. And I want to explore more outside of Manhattan, because I really spent most of time there.

    The idea that you must see something because it’s famous or popular is silly. Everyone has there own must see list, whether it includes the popular attractions or not doesn’t really matter . Next time I’m in New York I’m gonna see 3 or 4 musicals on Broadway instead of just one. But that’s just me, I happen to love musicals. Different strokes for different folks, right?

    • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

      Alouise- That’s the spirit! :)
      If “Fela” is still on Broadway when you visit, I recommend it! And if you need Queens recommendations, let me know!

      • http://travelerahoy.wordpress.com Alouise

        Sounds great. Hopefully I’ll get to New York sooner than later, but when I do I’ll be sure to ask for some suggestions.

  • http://girlunstoppable.com Ekua

    Julie, this article has got me itching to visit NYC again. My two visits to the city have barely scratched the tourist surface. I’m slightly afraid that if I decide to dig deep into all NYC has to offer, I might get stuck there and never leave ;)

  • http://amandasfulbright.blogspot.com Amanda

    There are so many tourists at the Met, which is why I would agree to avoid it.. but it’s donation based! I’ve given quarters to wander her glorious halls. I say avoid the impressionists and head to asian art.. it’s always empty.

    • http://itchyfoot.tumblr.com Sara C.

      There’s this tiny little Japanese tea garden deep in the heart of the Asian wing which is one of my favorite parts of the museum. Always deserted, too.

      Though if you’re a 19th century European Painting fan, you really ought to battle your way through to the Monets, Van Goghs, and the rest of the impressionist stuff.

  • http://www.travelmuse.com Jessica Skelton

    Another great post on things to do in New York that doesn’t conform to the usual, touristy spots. I love it. Definitely going to heed your advice next time I go to NYC.

  • http://www.deliciouschaos.com Nick

    Great post – especially for someone like me who knows nothing about New York… and yet is hoping to visit soon!

  • Jeffrey

    This is great, fulll of good ideas. I cannot wait to try some out. I have been to NYC and among other things I have been to The Met, Statue of Liberty and Central Park. I agree with you on the first but I still love Central Park. I have also been to Little Italy and Chinatown. I agree in some form, but I recommend Chinatown if you have never been there because no other Chinatown compares. In regards to Little Italy, I live half an hour from Providence and half an hour from Boston, I don’t need to see it.
    I have been to Little Brazil, which is different from a lot of the neighborhoods because it is located right in the heart of Manhattan where all the skyscrapers are, its kinda weird. its small but cool.
    I am really looking forward to seeing El Museo De Barrio, Greek Astoria and Ellis Island someday.
    Thank you Julia,
    great article!

  • Cristian

    Well, it’s like if you come in italy, you go to Rome, and you do not visit Coloseum…..mah…..your choice…..

  • http://www.hostelvideoguide.com hostelvideoguide.com

    For years I am trying to get up the Statue of Liberty, but you really need a full day for this… There are better things to do then to wait for a whole day in NYC.

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

    Lots of good tips. Haven’t been to NYC – or America – for 15 years. Lots of new things to discover this summer, I see. Would love to see an article of kid-friendly NYC too, btw.

  • http://www.etstudio.net Emily

    another suggestion – The Rubin Museum on 150 W 17th St.
    yes, there is a sorta hefty fee to get in, but once you are in you are transported to a beautiful world of Himalayan art. and the cafe has the best meal for under $10 in the city, in my opinion. don’t overlook their concerts, either. Some lectures are free with admission. but mostly, get lost in the huge Thankpa Buddhist paintings, much cheaper than a trip to an ashram!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsp100677/ Gurpreet

    Great article! Nice to hear about some less well known alternatives to the usual clichéd things to see and do in NYC.

  • Trvlr4Life

    I agree with what you are saying but after traveling all that way sometimes you just want to say that you’ve been there. Who is going to care if you saw a show on at a little theatre no one has ever heard? But Broadway? That’s impressive. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is. :) I do wish that I had had more time when I was there to fit in more of the “tourist” spots as well as some local favorites. There is just too much to see and do in New York, I guess I’ll just have to go back! :) http://www.hotelcentralpark.com

    • http://travelerahoy.wordpress.com Alouise

      Why should you care what other people think? When I saw Hairspray on Broadway I didn’t go just to say I’ve seen a a show on Broadway. I went cause I love musicals, and have since I was a kid. When you travel you should do what interests you and if that includes spending a day wandering around some unfamous neighbourhood or going to a museum no one at home’s heard of then you should. Travel is about learning and new experiences, at least for me. It’s not about bragging rights or trying to look cool for your friends back home. If they have problem with what you’ve seen and not seen, tell them to pack their bags and take their own trip to NYC (or wherever else).

  • http://www.wildflowerhikesmontana.com Carolyn Hopper

    Interesting suggestions – some I missed when I lived in CT and visited NYC often and some I missed when I lived in NYC for 4 years -
    I would suggest that visitors go to the Met and make a donation of what they can – then splurge on a coffee in the sculpture gallery, take time for quiet reflection in the Asian wing and then pick one section to really focus on.

    Another museum I always enjoyed was The Asia Society Museum at Park Ave and 70th.
    Or perusing the galleries on the upper east side – Knoedler is one. They are free, they always have innovative art.
    Visit the Cloisters – the Tapestries are worth the trip as well as views of the Hudson River. The garden is lovely when in bloom.
    The Museum of the City of New York is worth the trip – exhibits always changing -
    suggested entry $10.00

    While Serendipity can be crowded – isn’t New York for at least part of the trip about people watching. Order a coffee and watch people.
    Pretend like you are someone to be watched :-)

    Another great people watching place is down town at the Seaport.

    Definitely treat yourself to a hot dog. Or in the winter a pretzel from a street vendor.

    The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is lovely

    If it’s still open – Angler’s and Writer’s for tea on 420 Hudson St.

    Be sure to pack a camera – fun pictures every where – gives you a different “eye”
    –reflections, shadows …

    ride the Staten Island Ferry – - It used to be pretty reasonable – may still be.

    Coffee shops in NYC – there was a great one over on the East River near the
    tramway that took people to Roosevelt Island – split pea soup and corn bread.

    Some luxuries are inexpensive – flowers – for instance –

    Visit the MOMA gift shop –

    Window shop on Madison Ave.

    And in Central Park – If you do go to the Met – walk back down town through the Park –

    If you go at Christmas time – the definitely go to the Met to see the Christmas Tree. Then pick one part to focus on . I never miss Rosa Bonheur’s painting “The Horse Fair”

    It’s all rather like visiting the Grand Canyon or Arches National Park – you can find ways to get things down to your size -
    do some scouting on the internet – would you like to gawk in a pricey gourmet
    food store? Have tea? good soup?
    Broadway? – if you want to stand in line you can get some good deals on “two-fers”
    Or check out off off Broadway.

    Another museum – The Hispanic Society – Built by Archer Huntington in 1908 – it’s first exhibit and main exhibition today is Joaquin Sorollas paintings of the provinces of Spain. They have been on display abroad while the Sorolla Room has been refurbished. I see that it reopens May 10.
    At the time the exhibit opened in January of 1909 people lined the streets for hours to get in.
    This exhibit is a gem.
    There are small neighborhood places to eat. It helps if you speak Spanish , but it is not necessary. Just be an adventurer and have fun.
    My favorite “province” is Seville – Sorolla , a Spanish Impressionist painter captures oranges so beautifully you feel like reaching out and touching them.

  • http://www.wildflowerhikesmontana.com Carolyn Hopper

    and one more special feature at the Hispanic Society – Ann Huntington’s sculpture of El Cid. It’s outdoors in the court yard.

    I’ve been thinking about foreign travel pieces to share with Matador – but then I walk back through NYC in memory – While I am walking trails in the mountains now that are filled with wildflowers that I love – I have many “gardens’ that inspired me in NY. \

    A story perhaps?

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

      Damn Carolyn, thanks for the comment! Some great and detailed suggestions there. If you have a story you’d like to submit, just visit our Contributors page and fire away.

  • http://www.collazoprojects.com Julie

    Hispanic Society’s definitely great- haven’t been there in a few years, but it’s a good one to add to the list.

  • http://www.wildflowerhikesmontana.com Carolyn Hopper

    OK Carlos – I do have an idea and I’ll get some heat under the pot. It’s been on the back burner for awhile.

  • http://www.wildflowerhikesmontana.com Carolyn Hopper

    oops – Carlo – sorry. I didn’t turn the light on in my office and suddenly the room is dark. The sun set but there was no Alpen Glow on the mountains as they are obscured by snow. Happy April in Montana-daffodils and snow storms.
    Having a story about NYC and thinking about the planters at Rockefeller Center probably now with spring flowers will get me out of the snow fog.

  • Carolyn

    This is a reply to trvlr4Life -
    I saw Liza Minnelli Off-off-Broadway before she made it “big”. So.. Broadway is a big deal and you can find some great “two-fers”, but for the $100 plus you’ll pay now for many shows – do some mining – have fun finding some gems. Be the first to say “I saw her/him when..”
    Have your picture taken in Times Square
    Go to the top of the Empire State Building
    Skate in Rockefeller Center
    Ride to Staten Island and back and sing at the top of your lungs from the bow
    Check out all the neighborhoods – how many countries can you count
    How many restaurants can you eat in in a … week?
    What’s happening at Ground Zero?

  • andyQ

    Hello. Thanks a million for the advice… I’ll be arriving in NYC on may 14th, so i will have the chance to check out at least few things if not all of them posted here…

    Thanks to the author and to the kind people to give some other insights about NYC.

    This city has been on the top of my to do list for a looong time so here we go.

  • Carolyn

    for AndyQ – May in NYC – perfect timing or should be – bring a raincoat and umbrella – Walk the Mall – “Literary Walk” in Central Park, give what you wish to make a donation to the Met Museum and have coffee in the sculpture area –
    Take in the Frick Collection and Garden at 1 E. 70th St.
    Catch public transportation and visit the Cloisters – tapestries, gardens and wondful views of the Hudson River
    If you don’t want to visit some of the more high priced museums, visit their gift shops – great and fun buys
    There’s an exhibit at the N.Y. Botanical Garden – Emily Dickenson’s Garden – the Poetry of Flowers.
    I hope you have comfortable walking shoes :-)

  • Frank

    Hi Julie,

    you mentioned a great hotel at point 4. Don’t… assume a hotel is beyond your budget. The Holiday Inn in LIC was just great. I liked the atmosphere there. The surrounding is dominated by small industries like garages and so on but:

    1. It’s close to the subway
    2. Has a great view (I stayed on the 12th floor)
    3. Price – value is unbeatable

  • Daniel

    ok, for the most part I understand this list and I understand the why’s behind the list, but seriously? Don’t go to the Statue of Liberty? So when the ferry that takes you to Ellis island stops at the Statue of liberty first, you should just stay on the boat and take a pass? There really is nothing like standing right underneath the statue that we’ve all seen in pictures! it’s wonderful.

    Skip chinatown? it’s one of the most unique features in Manhattan. All dirty and grimy etc. Korea town is sterile, just another NYC street that happens to have a lot of Korean shops and restuarants trying to look American! Don’t get me wrong, you can find some wonderful food there, great as a matter of fact, like Hangawi: http://www.hangawirestaurant.com/)

    And you are right, I made the mistake of going to Magnolias wow that was not good, so why not give us some recommendations like http://www.billysbakerynyc.com/ or http://www.amysbread.com?

    What about something fun to do like this: http://newyorkcityphotosafari.com/ or
    http://www.bigapplevisitorscenter.com/gt.htm

  • R

    I went to NYC a few months ago, and the recommended prices for the Met (and the Natural History Museum, which truly isn’t worth spending the time or money) are really just that….recommended. I paid $5 to get in, and had no problems. I did show my student ID, but I don’t think it would have made a difference. It’s a recommended donation, and it says at the counter to pay what you’re willing to pay. And the Met is certainly worth $5.

    And with regards to Broadway…you can get tickets for cheap (I saw two shows, both of which I won lottery tickets for and only paid $25), and it’s Broadway! Yeah, of course there are other places to see shows, and they may be well worth it, too, but to tell people to skip out on Broadway? That’s crazy.

  • Vanessa

    Hi Jullie!

    Born and raised here in nyc, i think this is all great! You’re absolutely right about getting into other boroughs to visit cultural neighborhoods, and lesser known museums… Great opinions that you shared.

    And the above comments are a breath of fresh air, each adding to the info in your article. I just happen to think A day started in the met, a lunch picnic in Central park (which is attached to the museum) and then wandering up to Belvederes castle’s (in the center of the park) top tower for incredible views of both the park AND the surrounding city sky scrapers and buildings, makes for an amazing summer or autumn day…

    Just my opinion as well! Thanks again, even I learned about something new here-the list of shows/films currently being filmed!

  • 333

    What?! skip the statue of liberty?!
    This article is for the cheap and irrational.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rachael.crawley Rachael Crawley

      Eh, I’ve been to NY a few times and never really missed seeing the Statue. I guess it’s what you want to get out of it. Good call on the Jewish museum, blogger, it’s moving and informative. 

  • khushi

    I am sorry to say that her “what not to do in New York City” does not make any sense.  I have been here more than 40 years.  New York is a beautiful city and has no limits.  Statue of Liberty is one of the best sightseeing place, so is China Town and Little Italy.  I think she only knows about where she is from Mexico City.  By putting this information she is insulting New York Culture.  She should just stick to translating…I have never seen or heard MOCA MOCADA.  New York has best food from all over the world, museums, broadway shows, a ride in a boat around Statue of Liberty at Night.  Jackson Height for Indian Food, Chinese Food at Flushing area and nice hotels at Flushing, Queens, much less price than Manhattan.  PLEASE TAKE HER COMMENTS OFF before our Mayor Bloomberg reads it.  Julie Schwietert , how long are you living in New York City?  You just made everything up.

  • Used to be a tourist

    If you knew so much about NYC you should have mentioned that the best views of the Statue of Liberty are from the Staten Island Ferry. And it’s FREE!

  • Mama_fishy

    First, above all remember there are more than one Koreatown, Chinatown, Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian etc. neighborhoods in New York City. All have something to offer so do some research before you go.

    Chinatown in downtown manhattan has some of the best cheap food in the city. DO go. Little Italy in downtown manhattan  has some of the best gourmet food shops and nice cafes. DO go.  But NEVER  NEVER (Julie, what were you thinking?) go to either during festivals unless you have family down there and can escape into their home. The crowds can get oppressive and the street hawkers are out for blood. 

    While you’re downtown , visit the Tenement Museum to experience how so many of us started out in the New World. Eat a knish from Yonah Schimmel’s and a sandwich at Katz’s for good measure.

    Go see the World Trade Center site and THEN go see the Statue of Liberty and think deeply.

    Take a stroll over the Williamsburg Bridge and check out the scene in Williamsburg.

    Visit Brooklyn Brewery and take a tour and tasting.

    Do go to Chelsea and visit the galleries and shops there, don’t forget the Highline and the Piers.

    Do visit the NY Public Library main branch, then relax in Bryant Park just behind, and go eat some quality Japanese food in the East 40′s.

    Do go to Rockefeller Plaza, and don’t forget a tour of Radio City Music Hall -it’s a landmark building - take in a show there too, we won’t tell.

    Stand on line at TKTS and try your luck at buying cut-rate broadway tickets.

    Do visit Carnegie Hall. it’s one of NYC’s oldest cultural centers and tickets aren’t even that expensive if you’re willing to sit in the nosebleed seats.

    Ditto Lincoln Center even though they are in a bit of an identity crisis right now at least stroll through the plaza – magical on a concert night.

    Do visit the Metropolitan Museum (only an idiot would say it’s not worth it), especially during Christmas season when they erect their famous tree. Don’t expect to see everything ,just visit one or two galleries that really ring your bell and then take a walk in Central Park.

    Do visit the American Museum of Natural History. Also worth the admission, plus they sponsor scientific research expeditions all over the globe, a worthwile endeavor to cast your dollars after.

    Take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and contemplate a nineteenth-century world when Brooklyn and New York were competing independent cities.

    Visit the Brooklyn Museum, a relic of gilded-age Brooklyn and then visit the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens right next-door and walk through one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the US.

    Tour Prospect Park in Brooklyn, little sister to Central Park, and then stroll 5th Ave in Park Slope and grab lunch at one of the nice restaurants there.

    Do visit the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Long Island City for a look into the creative soul of one of the 20th century’s master artist/designers, then eat out in Astoria.

  • BuwadPinikas

    Okay can you just say straight away “don’t go to New York, just visit other places that look like New York.” What the heck is with this article. What’s the point of visiting New York anyway if your not visiting what it is known for? Might as well stay in the house and watch New York online.

  • Kit

    The Met and Broadways plays are FANTASTIC, I love them both! And there’s LOTS of select indie films that you can only see in nyc and a few other major cities. Alot of these things are definitely worth it! And the Met has a suggested donation, you can pay one dollar and get in, I’ve been there many times!

  • Nick

    A typical wannabe contrarian post. I want to show you all these esoteric places that I know about while I was attempting to find myself. Go back to San Juan and tell us not to visit the historic district or the beaches.

  • Derek Wolery

    Going to hit up Arlene’s Grocery when I visit next month. I’d join you for that cup of coffee but I’m not sure that I’ll have the time.

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