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22+ Cultural Hangouts That Will Help NYC Feel Like Home

New York Insider Guides
by Matador Creators Mar 15, 2017

New York City runs non-stop on an energy that is unrivaled elsewhere in the world. The city with more than 8 million inhabitants never sleeps and rarely stays the same. New restaurants and shops open and close daily. The list of iconic New York City landmarks is extensive, almost overwhelming. Along with the big name attractions, there are thousands of cafes, bars, theaters, and clubs that are there to be discovered. A flurry of things to do and places to see can be quite disorienting for a newbie. I spent three years trying to tame this city — and failed. Don’t repeat my mistakes. Here are some well-known and off-the-radar places in the city that will help you get to grips with culture and place.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Brunch it up with the best at Jack’s Wife Freda.

 Jack’s Wife FredaNew York, United StatesJack’s Wife Freda is definitely a trendy brunch spot, and one that’s undoubtedly Instagram-worthy. You might even get a glimpse of one of your favorite fashion bloggers here, too.
Side note: Being that it’s such a popular spot you might want to consider making a reservation ahead of time.
Photo courtesy of JWF

One of the few things that will get New Yorkers out of bed early on a weekend is the promise of brunch and some breakfast-y cocktails.

Pack and picnic for The Hills on Governors Island.

 The Hills on Governers IslandNew York, United StatesScenic spot on Governors Island that’s perfect for a bike ride, jogging with friends, or just a lazy Sunday picnic #park #photography #outdoors

Escape the city and get your nature fix. The 70-foot tall Outlook Hill offers breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York Harbor. Silde Hill boasts four slides for children and there is plenty of picnic space.

Visit the High Line.

 The High LineNew York, United StatesThe best and lovely path @ NYC. ☘️ #highline #chelsea #manhattan #newyorkcity #lovely #path

The park is built atop an abandoned rail line that was originally constructed in the 1930s, the High Line was an urban eyesore from 1980 until 2009, when a 10-year-old dream of the Friends of the High Line was finally realized. Back in 1999, the city had slated the elevated rail for demolition. But some folks didn’t want to see this part of New York City history destroyed, and they effectively rallied to turn the space into an ambitious and unique urban park.

Order a Pickle Back at Bushwick Country Club.

 Bushwick Country ClubBrooklyn, United StatesAs the birthplace of the pickle back, you probably can’t find a bar of a more hipster persuasion. The crappy put put course out back is still running and nothing beats getting drunk on bad whiskey and Mclures pickle juice #casual #hipster #whiskeyhangover

The Pickle Back was first popularized at the Bushwick Country Club by bartender Reggie Cunningham in 2006. Originally, the idea was to use McClure’s pickle juice to eliminate the harshness of Old Crow whiskey (the cheapest shot available), but it only took a few years before hundreds of New York bars began combining different brines and whiskeys for more selective palettes.

Skip Times Square and enjoy the view at Main Street Park.

 Main Street ParkNew York, United StatesFor a New York view as iconic as Times Square, visit Main Street Park in DUMBO. Washington Street will take you to a perfectly lined up view of the Manhattan Bridge, and the nearby shops and restaurants will satisfy your cravings for art and good food. The Archway under the bridge is a public cobblestone gathering space that serves beer, wine, and mean hot dogs (seasonal hours).

Find a spot on a bench and enjoy a concerto or two at Washington Square Park.

 Washington Square ParkNew York, United StatesNew York city’s second most popular park. It’s got an arch modelled after Paris’s Arc de trimphe, impressive musicians including a pianist who plays a grand piano on wheels, a fun dog park, a beautiful fountain and more.

Get up early and jog Brooklyn Bridge.

 Brooklyn BridgeNew York, United States

Actually, to immerse yourself fully in NYC culture, I’d recommend walking or jogging over Brooklyn Bridge at a few different times of the day.

Get lost in the Guggenheim.

 Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumNew York, United StatesThe Guggenheim is perfect for introducing babies to art! Small but great collection and a perfect spiral for strolling. #kidslearning

New York’s Guggenheim Museum is an architectural landmark in the city. It holds one of the nation’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art and a great place for a date.

Pack a book and enjoy a free afternoon in The Conservatory Garden.

 The Conservatory GardenNew York, United StatesNortheast in Cental Park, just south of Harlem Meer, check out this formally manicured garden. #free #bringabook

New York City has more than 29,000 acres of parks, and many of them are just as beautiful — if not more so — than Central Park. Other than The Conservatory Garden, 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).

Visit one of the most spectacular Botanical Gardens in the world.

 New york botanical gardenBronx, United StatesLovely place to hide in this big city, especially in spring/summer, when you can lay on the grass a whole afternoon if you want :) #parks

Being in nature isn’t just about the physical environment, it’s about being conscious of the environments we build and in which we live, work, and play. The Botanical Gardens, in The Bronx, offers classes about plants and gardening. Perfect if you are thinking about creating an urban garden of your own.

Book a tour at the United Nations Headquarters.

 United Nations HeadquartersNew York, United States#history

If you are visiting during September, pause and appreciate the lights from Brooklyn Bridge.

 Tribute in lightNew York, United StatesTwo powerful beams of light lite up every year for the 9/11 remembrance. View from Brooklyn bridge park.
#history #memorial #911 #worldtradecenter #tributeinlights #downtownmanhattan

Enjoy some street art on Canal Street.

 Canal Street NYCNew York, United StatesBest of NYC street art: Garcia Lorca mural directly off of Canal Street heading west from Little Italy
#free #gallery #history

New York City is the birthplace of the graffiti “writing” movement of the 1960s, which evolved into the image-driven street art we have today. There are so many noteworthy, provocative, and eye-catching works currently on display in the city, but go now, before the authorities really hammer down on artists.

Also at The Bushwick Collective.

 The Bushwick CollectiveBrooklyn, United StatesThe Bushwick Collective is a cool way to get a different vibe of the city. Located in Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood still going through the gentrification process, the collective started by a Bushwick local Joseph Ficalora as a way of dealing with violence. It offers stunning street art on every corner from some of the world’s most famous artists, including JR and Beau Stanton. Bonus: stop by the nearby Roberta’s Pizza for a fingerlicking-good margherita. #streetart #food #local #free

And the Lower East Side…

 Ludlow StreetNew York, United StatesStreet art in the Lower East Side

Truck into dumplings and handmade noodles at Chinatown in Manhatten.

 Tasty Hand-Pulled NoodlesNew York, United StatesManhattan’s Chinatown (particularly around Bowery/Centre St) is a world of its own. Asian Street markets, traditional herbal medicine shops and Buddhist temples abound. A bare-boned hole-in-the-wall spot called Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles serves some of the best noodle soup outside of China. Cash only. #cheap-eats #open-late

Take a walk in the area south of Broome Street and east of Lafayette—a.k.a. Chinatown, NYC— and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different continent. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants in NYC representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries and shops.

Get out of your comfort zone at an interactive theater show.

 Drunk ShakespeareNew York, United StatesI honestly wasn’t sure what to think of this, but it was actually a TON of fun. The show was very interactive and the cast was so talented and hilarious. I highly recommend going to this! #NYC #theater #drunkshakespeare

New Yorkers are always looking for the next thing to keep them entertained. Immersive theater shows are very common and a great way to break into new circles. Drunk Shakespeare is perfect for anyone who likes to laugh and drink.

Support local art and culture at Angel Orensanz Foundation.

 Angel Orensanz FoundationNew York, United StatesAn organization dedicated to serving as a space for artists and other community activities. It is a vibrant and unique space to host events including live performances, galleries, conferences, weddings, etc.

Take an afternoon and visit The World Trade Center.

 World Trade CenterNew York, United StatesEmotionally draining but truly fascinating seeing the bravery of these heroes. A deep and painful experience that enables to live life everyday as it’s last. Live actual recordings on telephones of those who spoke to their loved ones on the planes.
Images of the hijackers going through security.
Photos and being 70 feel below ground zero.
An amazing museum built where I signed my name with love ❤️ for those who died. Worth a one time visit! 28$ a ticket #free #free #history #gallery #statue

Get lost on the subway.

 Fulton StNew York, United StatesBest of NYC Subway: Uptown #2 at Fulton Street. Pet friendly subways in NYC? Where have I been? Better than a trip to the Bronx Zoo. And cheaper.

If thought the New York subway would be similar to that of any other major city, the more you ride, the more you’ll realize the show Survivor could have dedicated a season to people trying to navigate the tunnels, stations, performers, and all the unspoken rules of the MTA subway system. Get lost and embrace it. It’s a great way to get to know the city.

If you’ve got a head for heights climb the skyline.

 Manhattan Pier 11 / Wall St.New York, United StatesThe greatest city on the world deserves the best view to see it! 1000 ft With no doors and your feet dangling out the side?
Xo #NYC #manhattan

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