The Insider’s Guide to New York City
These hidden gems of the Big Apple that will have frequent visitors re-think where to go in the megacity.
Written by Truc Nguyen
The wonderful thing about New York City is that even after countless visits, the Big Apple still has the ability to surprise and delight even the most discerning of travelers. Whether you journey there for business or pleasure, there are always new and hidden gems to be discovered in every borough—fresh exhibitions to see, award-winning restaurants to try, and beloved-by-locals haunts to frequent.
For your next visit to The City That Never Sleeps, why not take the time to experience something new and outside of the well-worn tourist track? NYC hosted a record-breaking 62.8 million visitors last year; if nothing else, these slightly under-the-radar, insider-recommended finds will help you plan a trip that stands apart from the city’s tourist crowds.
SEE AND DO
Once you’ve checked must-see sights such as The Met, The Statue of Liberty and The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (and nearby One World Observatory) off your list, why not look to lesser-known attractions for your cultural fix? “Two ‘off-the-beaten-path’ sights I would recommend are the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side, and, for a really cool day trip, Snug Harbor on Staten Island,” says Meg Davis, founder of the field trip platform Explorable Places. “It feels like stumbling across a secret garden — there’s a light house museum, botanic garden, and the museum of Staten Island in the complex of old buildings.”
It’s also possible to enjoy popular sights without facing the crowds, if you know what the locals know. “The Staten Island Ferry is totally underrated, I think because it’s free and the main purpose is for commuting, but that’s precisely why it’s a hidden gem,” recommends Benjamin Liong Setiawan, a lifestyle editor who also runs the popular Instagram account @hungryeditor. “It offers riders some of the best views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.”
For a nice view of the city without the line-ups, Alexandra d’Archangelo, Brand Director of Premium Women’s Fashion events at Informa, suggests forsaking a trip to Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, and booking in sunset drinks at Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room instead. “Most of the view, and less of a crowd,” she says.
There are always new stores opening, and closing, in the city. Fashion insider d’Archangelo recommends visiting The Fluid Project for a different shopping experience. “It’s a new, gender-free shopping, event and resource center at 684 Broadway that is the brainchild of long-time fashion executive and activist Rob Smith,” she says. “There’s apparel, accessories, beauty items and gifts.”
“10 Corso Como just opened in the Seaport District,” says Setiawan. “High fashion, art, cuisine, and design all converge at this 28,000-sq ft shop.” If you’ve already been to Dover Street Market and love curated stores like Fivestory and The Apartment by The Line, make time to visit the New York location of this editor-favourite Milanese retailer.
EAT AND DRINK
Not surprisingly, there are countless numbers of superlative restaurants at all price points in NYC; from swanky date-nights at Tao Downtown to weekday brunches at the Chinatown eatery Dimes, you can’t really go wrong as long as you do a bit of research in advance.
“I always recommend Café Altro Paradiso to out-of-town friends,” says Setiawan. “Top notch Italian cuisine and the space is always buzzing with that New York energy. Going with a group is fun because you can try more dishes and share them family-style.” For drinks, he recommends The NoMad Bar in midtown. “The food program is overseen by Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park — the chicken burger has foie gras and black truffle mayo, the Humm dog is wrapped in bacon with black truffle. And, of course, the drinks are equally amazing,” says Setiawan.
“The Alchemist’s Kitchen is a great place to stop by for a tonic or treat on the go, or you can sit down to a nice big cup of healing tea and a plant-based dish,” recommends d’Archangelo, who is always on the lookout for vegetarian-friendly dining options in Manhattan. “It’s also a great destination to shop for conscious lifestyle gifts or beauty and holistic living items that you may have had trouble finding — plus, they always have an herbalist present to answer your questions.”
There are plenty of new hotels in Manhattan, but very few can claim to be both trendy and budget-friendly. Located close to the city’s buzzy Garment District, one year old Moxy Times Square is an affordable, 612-room boutique hotel with stylish guestrooms designed by Canadian firm Yabu Pushelberg. Developed by Lightstone, which is opening another Moxy location in Manhattan’s Flower District later this year, the pet-friendly hotel offers modern lodgings with must-have features like 300 thread-count Egyptian linens, multipurpose custom furniture in-room, and Instagram-worthy public spaces that double as chic co-working areas. (While you’re there, be sure to head to Legasea on the second floor for super fresh, sustainable seafood — the shellfish towers and grilled lobster on the menu are must-haves — and try your hand at mini-golf between drinks at Magic Hour, which also happens to be the city’s largest all-season, indoor-outdoor hotel rooftop bar.)